Josh Webster formed Arms Bizarre in 2012 with his sister Bekah, ten years his junior. Two of ten siblings from a fundamentalist Baptist home, their mother had minor local celebrity as a Christian singer once having performed with Larnelle Harris, a five time Grammy Award winner formerly of gospel mainstay the Gaither Vocal Band. In the Webster household, only Christian music was permitted.
Article by Rex Bonney
Photography by Richard Perkins http://www.parachutefullofforks.com/
Josh: I remember tongues being prayed in, the spirit being slayed upon folks, the casting out of demons. I’ve experienced those things, but I’ve also experienced the very ultra-conservative version of that and I look back on the way i was raised and how even with music…I listened to music. I listened to all the old Christian butt-rock bands like Petra and Stryper. I knew what rock and roll was to that extent and i remember hearing “Dust In the Wind’ by Kansas and thinking it was one of the most amazing songs i had heard in my life and thinking, ‘How could this be bad?’ This isn’t Christian but its rad.
Eventually influences started creeping in. Their dad could never relinquish his love of Star Wars and compromised by limiting the Beatles to instrumental versions. Other music filtered in as well: the Carpenters, Elliot Smith, Tooth and Nail Records bands, in particular Starflyer 59. Fast forward to adulthood: Josh and Bek got older, discovered pop and alternative music, moved out and started families, and intermittently played with bands. A couple years ago they worked on some demos together with drummer Barry Bright, and although neither of the siblings could play any instrument particularly well, those first Arms Bizarre recordings are really quite listenable. Moody, dark and reverb-y, they recall 80s post-punk ala Bauhaus, Joy Division, and early Cure, which is odd because neither sibling is very familiar with those bands.
HJT was recorded by Tim Reynolds [also of the Janks] at his modest but sometimes commercial studio that operates out of a back room in his Norfolk-based PC repair shop, Remedy PC. Micah and Tim have been friends since childhood having grown up in the same neighborhood in VB. After Barry’s departure Tim joined the group as beat maker using a laptop instead of kit.
Tim: I’m exploring the hardware side of performing electronic music because thats always been a goal of mine is getting a nice simple setup that you can jam live with. I feel like I’m not just pressing play like a lot of people that do electronic music because I have more control over it. I can follow them, they can follow me, I can improvise. i’m still exploring it. Its just a process.
Josh’s wife Candace is now playing with the band [on Bekah’s cherished vintage Casiotone] and the five-piece get together regularly to jam, but the new incarnation of the band has yet to fully assert itself. They share new demo recordings online nearly every week and even the most half-cocked of their offerings have a certain charm and seem to suggest a direction more complex and dynamic.
Josh: I love shitty recordings…Its a quirky, cool band. I love my band.
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