There’s no getting around it: Arlo Indigo’s new record Heartbeef is a bit of a downer.
“The whole mood of Heartbeef is kind of a desperate one,” songwriter Jeremiah Brunnhoelzl tells. And “Why?,” the album’s second song, “is a special track to me because it was written early in the batch and became kind of an artist statement for the rest of the album.” Heartbeef is Brunnhoelzl “sitting down and saying to yourself, ‘Hey, you need to write the best album you can and you have to write your whole life into it because you're not getting any younger and you might not get another chance to do this,’ and the song just replies to that sentiment with, ‘Why don't you just get better?’”
It’s not easy to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror, recognizing the reasons why, whilst making this album, he lost a relationship, a whole band and close friends. But the writing and recording process helped him cope and the final product provides catharsis. It truly is an honest snapshot of what Brunnhoelzl was going through, one he hopes can “stand alone outside of current genre aesthetics that seem to only last six months at a time.”
Getting serious with himself also included leveling up the record’s production. Working with Gold Casio’s Brock Grenfell at Revolver Studios, Gold Brick Studios and the Funky Church, “Heartbeef took a long time to make,” Brunnhoelzl says, “and at a DIY level, traditional album cycles, I've found, tend to eventually break up bands. You sell everything you can spare to try and cover costs, your band gets bored with waiting around, you lose friends, your tastes even change. I can't tell you how many times I thought to myself, 'This thing is cursed, just scrap it and move on.’ But, on the positive, you learn, you grow and you know what mistakes to not make the next time around. So, as far as I'm concerned, if I can release this album and it can help just one person through a rough patch, it will all be worthwhile.”
Heartbeef, “a nice way to pay homage to The Captain himself while describing a batch of songs in one word,” has also helped Brunnhoelzl be more outspoken about mental health and wellness in the local music scene, including plans for a benefit show next year as well as general advocacy, “urging people who need help to feel comfortable sharing their feelings in 2019.”
Drawing inspiration from Lou Reed’s Berlin and Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man, the record has flavors of The National and The Domestics, but these songs are coming to life on stages thanks to the poppy trio Butter playing as Arlo Indigo’s backing band. The guys will be touring the record around the Pacific Northwest this fall, and maybe 2019 will see Brunnhoelzl quicken his pace.
“I’m almost done with another album I'm very excited about so I will be getting that out as soon as possible,” he says, adding, “and it’s going to be a dance record. Because, I want to write a good dance record.”