Arthur Unveils Watch The Years Crawl By: Rockers’ Sweet Side Exposed
Arthur is a band -- that is, when they’re not busy being another band. It’s all a bit confusing, but it adds up to a dream long delayed that’s finally coming true. It all started in 1997, when Michael Arthur Herrera, best known as the frontman for punk-pop legends MxPx, began writing a batch of songs that didn’t quite fit the MxPx mold. To keep things separate, Herrera created a side project under his middle name, Arthur, for these tunes, which make use of a wider dynamic range both musically and emotionally. Herrera found an outlet for these melodic, pop-tinged rockers without having to look very far afield. MxPx’s drummer Yuri Zane Ruley joined in on the project, and Herrera brought in bassist Neil Alexander Hundt, a high-school buddy of his and Ruley’s who would remain in the fold later by becoming MxPx’s stage tech. The rhythm section started going by their own middle names as part of the Arthur project. “We were presenting another side of our musical selves, and using our middle names was in keeping with that theme,” explains the drummer.
During MxPx downtime, and just a year after the release of MxPx’s major label debut, Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo, Arthur went into the studio to start recording material and finalize the project by adding guitarist Tom Edmund Wisniewski to the Arthur line-up. In 1999, they released their debut EP, Loneliness Is Bliss, on their own label, Rock City Recording Company. Arthur played around the Pacific Northwest, gaining fans from the MxPx audience as well as earning a following all their own. Three years later, they began work on a full-length Arthur album, but the hustle and bustle of MxPx delayed that process for eight long years.
Arthur songs are mainly about love and relationships. Sometimes presented in a very innocent way, they’re born out of a love of 50's doo-wop tunes. Don’t let that description inspire visions of four guys on a street corner snapping their fingers and singing a cappella versions of Platters songs, though. While Arthur’s first full-length album, Watch The Years Crawl By, does boast a few songs where the influence of 50’s pop and rock & roll can be heard (“Tuck You In,” “Out of the Blue”), this is first and foremost a contemporary indie-rock record, or as Herrera jokingly dubs it, “pre-post alternative.”
The long-mooted album that spent the better part of the last decade as a near-mythological fantasy whispered about longingly among Arthur admirers has been unleashed at last. Arthur, Alexander, Edmund, and Zane, as they like to be known in this context, have finally finished work on the rather appropriately titled full-length album Watch The Years Crawl By. As the band’s namesake wryly puts it, “This record was started before the industrial revolution of recording and finished in the golden age of digital recording.”
While the songs undoubtedly diverge from the mainstream of MxPx output, there are still enough sonic reference points to provide easy access for fans of Arthur’s punkier alter ego. Still, the album’s stylistic experimentation, love-centric lyric themes, and multiple melodic surprises offer something only hinted at in MxPx. In the end, all that matters is what happens the moment these songs make impact with your ears. The band collectively agrees that they “want Arthur fans to enjoy this rare moment in the band’s history. Arthur never did very much because we were busy with MxPx but what we did do was something special.”