When Mickey Schiff rings from Los Angeles, I ask about his voice. If he’s not using a megaphone or something like that, it sounds like it must hurt to sing. “There’s no real tricks,” he says. “It’s just how my voice sounds.” He admits that the songs on White Arrow’s self-titled debut EP were recorded with faulty equipment. “There’s a little bit of natural distortion because one of the tubes in the studio compressor was broken.” Otherwise, it’s just plain Mickey Schiff moxie. “A little bit of reverb. Maybe some delay.” The EP churns with rich and sensual textures, which makes sense when you consider that Schiff was born sightless and wrote songs in his head long before he could play an instrument.
White Arrows is another one of those bands that first came to be on the internet. When Schiff was at college, he posted his songs on YouTube, and based on the response, he couldn’t wait to get back to his native Los Angeles and start a band, even if his stuff had no discernible direction. “From the beginning, everyone had a hard time pinpointing exactly what the sound was.” They have direction now and describe the band on their Facebook page as “the blackest white band.” It’s Tom Waits fronting the Tom Tom Club, and with their use of lights and projections, a White Arrows show is like something right out of 1968.
A curious fact: Schiff got his sight gradually, and by the age of 11 he could see. Did the real world match his imagination? “The only thing that really struck me when I first saw what everybody else saw was lines. I had no concept that a straight edge existed. I got really sick the first time I put on glasses because everything was really intense, and I was focusing solely on the geometry of things.”
Love Inks also performs.
WHITE ARROWS: Soda Bar, Saturday, December 17, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $7.