After several lineups and eight albums, members of local folk-punk group Arroyo Deathmatch is hard at work on its ninth album.
Arroyo Deathmatch’s formula for writing albums includes spending months at a time writing a few of the songs and then completing the rest of the album within a month, a habit the group wanted to avoid this time around.
Band members Alex “Alexter” DenBaars, Beth Hansen, Bridget Bullock, Leon Aronld and Matt Plante said the most important thing about this, and every album, is that it will push them to become better musicians.
“We don’t write songs that we can play. Every time we write a song, it is literally beyond our ability to play and for weeks we struggle to play that song,” DenBaars said.
Hansen said Arroyo Deathmatch writes songs that challenge them and challenge what traditional folk and punk music is.
“Every song we have written in the past two years, we say ‘What the fuck, that was the weirdest song we’ve ever written,’” Hansen said.
Influences for the band reach across several genres of music from hardcore punk to hip-hop. Groups like Hail Seizures, Ceremony, Black Sabbath, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Fugazi and Blackbird Raum top the member’s collective list.
“They (Blackbird Raum) treat folk punk a lot of the same ways we do, they treat it as post-punk in a way that it’s both a throwback to traditional styles of making music,” DenBaars said. “At the same time, putting it in a progressive way, an experimental way going beyond both traditional music and punk music by fusing the two.”
Arroyo Deathmatch also lists the desert, horror movies and Spanish music as other influences for their songs.
DenBaars said the one element that brings this band together is that all members are not professional musicians.
“Almost everybody who has ever been in the band did not know how to play their instrument when they joined the band or never had been in a band or never had written original music,” he said.
The group is also planning to record and release a covers EP.
Songs on the EP will include classics from Fleetwood Mac, Minor Threat, Biz Markie and Ceremony, he said.
Live shows are not limited to Albuquerque or New Mexico. The group has been on tours in the last four years, taking them to Texas, California and much of the western United States.
Hansen said their last tour included performances at house shows, getting bedbugs in Fresno, Calif., performing at a gay bar in El Paso, Texas and performing at the Bröotal Sun Fest IV in Tuscon, Ariz.
Arnold said his favorite show was in Edinburg, Texas, as part of his first tour with Deathmatch.
“We showed up at an anarchist collective there (in Edinburg) and we didn’t know anyone because we’ve never been that far south but everyone was super welcoming,” he said.
Arnold said Arroyo Deathmatch also helps out other up-and-coming bands. In April, they teamed up with the Vassar Bastards and the Leaky Faces to form Goathead Record Collective, a community of musicians who help out other bands with recording music.
“We wanted to get local bands together to raise money to buy recording equipment and it grew into something a lot bigger than that,” Hansen said.
Arroyo Deathmatch also encourages other people to play what they want and to ignore those who will try to tell them that it can’t be done.
“Don’t ever let anybody tell you what kind of music you can play on the instrument that you want to play,” DenBaars said. “We wrote a Swedish hardcore and doom metal influenced acoustic song on one of the strangest collections of instruments assembled by man. There isn’t anything that can hold you back from making the kind of art that you want to make.”
DenBaars conceived Arroyo Deathmatch as a solo project in 2009, but later added flutist Hansen, Bullock on washboard, Arnold on suitcase drums and Plante on the bejota.
To listen to Arroyo Deathmatch, go to arroyodeathmatch.bandcamp.com