One of the trickiest songwriting tasks is making a complex song sound simple and tasty.
Arizona, a five-piece indie pop rock band from Brooklyn, N.Y., creates this kind of music - in a more intensive setting than you might think. The group, which opens for the Slip at the Recher Theatre tonight, likes to write and record in marathon style.
"It's almost like a game of tag-team wrestling," said guitarist Nick Campbell. "One person puts down an idea when he's tired ... taps out and goes and takes a nap and someone else goes and finishes it. We can work around the clock, and we never have to stop."
In a long weekend, the band can fully record two tracks, Campbell said. The overdubs, arrangements and movements in most of their songs make this kind of songwriting process even more complicated.
Each member of the band can sing and play multiple instruments, which helps in the studio, Campbell said. And, all five of them have input on the writing, recording and mixing.
"Some of us might end up contributing more full song ideas than another," Campbell said. "But at the end of the day, we all have full creative respect for each other. Everyone has a final say, and everyone takes a look at it."
A steady, even stream of consciousness also has been important for the band ever since around Christmas 2004, when Campbell, bassist Alex Hornbake and guitarist Benjamin Morris Wigler met in Long Island to write some music. They quickly penned and recorded four songs, which became the group's first EP, The Sun and the Room.
The four tracks were put on the EP in the order they were written and recorded. Most of the songs on Welcome Back Dear Children, Arizona's debut full-length, also appear in chronological order. The band's tunes often reflect the members' mind-set.
Campbell, Hornbake and Wigler, who knew each other through mutual friends, saw a promising future in the EP. Hornbake and Campbell, who had been living in Atlanta, quit their jobs and moved to New York City in June 2005. The band took full form in February 2006 when keyboardist-guitarist Andrew Dunn and drummer James DeDakis joined.
Though Arizona has yet to sign to a label, it released Welcome Back Dear Children last year through iTunes and its Web site. The album has received positive feedback from press and radio stations around the country. They also scored the indie film Asheville: The Movie.
Arizona just started a 25-odd date tour, which will be its longest yet. It's a big milestone for the band, Campbell said.
"We're all looking at this as the beginning of our life as a traditional rock band," Campbell said. "It's sort of like graduating high school and going out into the world. ... We're all really excited."
Arizona opens for the Slip at the Recher Theatre tonight. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and $3 more for those younger than 21. The venue is at 512 York Road in Towson. For more information, call 410-337-7178 or go to rechertheatre.com. For more information about the band, go to arizonatheband.com.
To hear clips from Arizona, go to baltimoresun.com/listeningpost.