White Arrows' Mickey Church Shows That Strange Is Relative

It's probably safe to say that Mickey Church, founder and singer of White Arrows, has had the strangest band formation story we've ever heard. 
Church grew up seeing family friend J.P. Cabellero once in a while; when he formed White Arrows with Cabellero, he found out that Caballero was actually his half-brother because Church's father was his sperm donor. 
Church began the band as a recording project while studying at NYU. When he graduated early, he moved back to Los Angeles and recruited his newly-discovered half-brother Cabellero and younger brother Henry Schiff to play live with him. Soon after, Steven Vernet (bass) and Andy Naeve (keyboard) joined. They reportedly met in the sea and the sky. 
We spoke to Church on the eve of White Arrows' return to Mesa in Costa Mesa.

OC Weekly: It's been said that you've lived a “made-for-TV-life.” Why do you thing someone would say that?

Mickey Church: We never really thought about it until people started interviewing us and us retelling stories and having their reaction be so shocked and baffled. To me it just seemed like isolated weird events but not a narrative. Looking back on it, I guess everyone's life is book-worthy. There's got to be some strange things that happen. But with our life, I guess it's peculiar.

I was born blind, which I didn't know any different at the time and slowly regained sight. I can attribute that to my life path being of other senses, music being one of them.
And having the fact that J.P. ended up being my half-brother. I grew up thinking he was a family friend who I saw every once in a while. It's kind of surreal in hindsight, but as these things were happening, it didn't seem that strange. My family never made it that out of the ordinary. It's surreal being in my early 20s thinking that my life is strange having it all happen already. It's a first realization, like an epiphany that never was. Its almost as weird that I never thought it to be strange until recently that I've been in a band. 

What's it like when people say that your life is a strange one?
I think it's a good thing. It gives merrit to all the tribulations that one goes through. To have people thing that's impressive is a good feeling. It's a complement even though it's something I had no control over. 

Is there a correlation between the extraordinary events of your life and your music?
Yeah, there's a correlation between pretty much everything in all of our lives and our music. Whether it is the extraordinary events or ordinary events. Everything feels fantastical when you put down on paper and it has some chord progression and emotions that move to it. It's a mixture of the two: the ordinary and the extraordinary life that makes for compelling song. If you write about fantastical things that people can't relate to, then you're going to have a very stilted demographic of people that have only been born blind or only found out about a sibling later on in life.

You guys have had a pretty busy past year. Do you have a favorite moment of the last 12 months?
Yeah, I'd say when we played the Sasquatch! festival [in Washington]. It was one of the more momentous shows we've ever played. Just the scenery and the people, and the kinds of people, and the turn out and where we played. It was like the stars aligned for that performance and it was amazing to play to that kind of person. It was the most magical show we've ever played. It's something we're always going to remember.

It really is a special place because of the location and how beautiful it is. People told me there was a tariff on booze being brought over the border and a lot of the people who go to the festival are from Canada. So instead of bringing booze over the border, they'd bring other substances. It was like Woodstock where everyone wasn't drinking or belligerent but instead on whatever their poison was. That made it peaceful and psychedelic and awesome.

I imagine your set would be a good one to see in that state of mind.
Thanks. I don't know if that's the goal but it's the ideal.

What draws you to psychedelia?
Maybe it's the fact that it has a visual connotation to it. When you think of psychedelia, you think of saturated colors and dripping objects or things that you see every day but look different today. I've always been drawn to that since I can remember; since my taste has formed into what it is today. I'd say eighth or ninth grade is when I started being into Salvador Dali or Anger films. It's really visually stimulating. You can kind of make your own story.

I saw you guys at the Glass House about a year and a half back. You used a lot of colorful light projections. Do you still do that?
Yes, we do whenever we can, short of the shows we during the day or where the stage has a backdrop we can't cover up. We're heavy on the visuals for our live performances. The show you saw, visuals were done by Jesse Nikette who invented this whole entire rig that made all these crazy geometric patterns that he plays the visuals with you live while you play the music.

Our full-length is being produced by RAC who is a remix artist and a DJ. His name is Andre Anjos who created Remix Artist Collective. We hope to get it out in 2012. We're continually working on it and about three-quarters of the way through. It's a new direction from the demos we gave away for free before the band was even a live entity.

How did White Arrows get it's start?

White Arrows started as a recording project when I was at NYU. I graduated early and just recorded those five songs for a demo. It kept building on the internet as people found out about it. It took about half a year to three quarters of a year to assemble the band as it is today. My brothers are in the band and Andy and Steven joined the band then the band really started about a year and a half ago. My younger brother plays drums and he just graduated high school. He had been 17 when we were touring. My older half brother plays guitar. I met Steven, he plays bass, in the ocean and Andy, he does keys, we met in outer space.

Outer space and the ocean, huh? You always meet the coolest people in outer space, I swear.
Yeah, its probably because there aren't that many people out there so you have to force your self to make friends. It's pretty vast. So is the ocean.

Yeah, but some people I meet from the ocean are kind of dicks, too so…
Yeah, no, sea cucumbers are total dicks.

White Arrows performs tonight at Mesa, 725 Baker St., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6700; www.mesacostamesa.com. 10 p.m. Free before 10 p.m., $10 after. 21+. RSVP at info@sophisticatesunited.com.

When not running the OCWeekly.com and OC Weekly’s social media sites, Taylor “Hellcat” Hamby can be found partying like it’s 1899.

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