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On the verge of a national breakout are Fullerton's We Are the Arsenal, a riff-happy alt-rock quartet composed of Ryan Terrigno (vocals/guitar), Peter Moe (guitar/vocals), Kris Dufour (drums/vocals) and Alan Bauer (bass/vocals). They spent the past year placing songs in rotation on mainstream-rock radio, several MTV programs, Xbox games, and headlining at top-tier clubs in SoCal and elsewhere. No too shabby for a band currently without a label. We Are the Arsenal are currently in the studio tracking their second full-length album.
OC Weekly: In tracking your second LP, has your approach in the studio changed with experience?
Ryan Terrigno: We've always been a very focused group in the studio. Now, we're lucky enough to have a full demo studio arranged in our practice space, where we're able to track preproduction versions of each song. Doing all of this on our own time, without having to worry about studio fees or producer fees, has really opened up new doors for us creatively.
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In what ways has your songwriting matured?
We're finding the rhythm section to be groovier than it's ever been. The lyrical subject matter is continuing down a very socially conscious, politically tinged path, begging the people of this country and the world at large to think for themselves and not be afraid to ask questions.
One review of your last EP called your sound "Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie, and a little bit of A Day to Remember." Would you say that's accurate?
We're a very song-based band, and quite often, the original incarnation of a song will come from the singer/songwriter point of view, as it does Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab for Cutie. As for A Day to Remember, I can see why someone may hear our music and make that comparison; however, we don't take any kind of direct influence from that band.
What happened with your relationship with Radtone and Authentik Artists that you were connected with?
We've enjoyed pleasant relationships with both labels; however, both were on an album-to-album basis.
So who's handling the tour booking, paying for the new album, working out deals with MTV shows, etc.?
Our tour booking has always been 100 percent in-house. As an unsigned band, we've been lucky enough to put out two EPs and a full-length. A couple of small advances here and there have eased the blow a bit, but we've had to fund most of our recordings ourselves. This next release will be no different.
In 2009, you played the House of Blues, and more than 500 people showed up. What do you have in store to push this performance over the top?
We'll be debuting new music, as well as introducing some new aesthetic elements into our stage show. There is definitely a new spark and sense of reinvention driving us, and we couldn't be more excited to get onstage to show people exactly what we're capable of.
Your songs are featured on Real World/Road Rules Challenge, Parental Control and Hard Times of RJ Burger on MTV. Is there anyone to whom you would you say, "No, you can't use our music," regardless of the royalties?
It's easy to pontificate when there isn't a big check sitting in front of us, but we surely would take a firm stance against lending our music to any company or product that preys upon the common, unquestioning public and threatens its health, safety or sense of security.
This column appeared in print as "First, Fullerton. Then, the World."