With “The Landing,” No Alarms soars hopefully above the indie pop stratosphere before enthusiastically hitting the ground running with both musical feet.
The Detroit indie pop quintet released their new four-minute, uplifting synth-fueled single last week as a follow-up to their vibrant, self-titled debut EP, which dropped in March.
“‘The Landing’ is about taking a leap of faith and having it work out. I had just watched the ‘Black Mirror’ episode, ‘Hang the DJ,’ and was riding high off of optimistic inspiration, and felt compelled to make something purely joyful, purely hopeful,” said Andrew Boles, No Alarms frontman.
“I wrote the verses to climb and climb, leading to a chorus that just exuded optimism, and that made you want to move. Overall, I wanted to capture the feeling of landing on your feet after taking a leap of faith.”
One listen to “The Landing,” and it’s optimistic, inspirational lyrics and spacious indie pop grooves are infectious. It’s the perfect song to help you take flight after long day.
“I hope fans are imbued with the same positive energy that I put into the song,” Boles said. “I think it’s distilled hope and elation captured in song form, and when it comes down to it, makes you want to move.”
Launching No Alarms and Releasing the Debut EP
Boles made his first musical move after launching No Alarms as a solo passion project two years ago. The multi-instrumentalist moved to the Motor City from Texas eager to blend the lines between modern indie pop and new wave.
“I really struggled to find a sound for a couple of years, and I was just kind of frustrated being in west Texas. I was working in the oil industry, and everyone there is really into country and older rock, which is fine if that’s your scene,” Boles said. “I was looking at other cities to move to, and Detroit was near the top of the list.”
After arriving in Detroit, Boles discovered an eclectic music scene filled with hip-hop, trap, old school rock, classic rock, guitars-only alt rock, folk rock, electronic, dance and house. He noticed a void in the scene and decided to fill it with guitar-heavy and synth-laden indie pop.
Inspired by the indie pop-rock of Foals, Phoenix, Walk the Moon and Bloc Party, Boles started experimenting with distinctive guitar tones and shimmering synth sounds while writing material for his first No Alarms EP. He also took his band’s moniker from “No Surprises,” a critically-acclaimed single from Radiohead’s 1997 iconic “OK Computer” album.
“I’m mainly a guitarist, so I found that my initial work with the guitar would take me a certain way, which I wasn’t happy with, and the synth added a brightness, a fluidity that I really liked,” said Boles, who grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Metallica and The Mars Volta. “It kind of meshed with my voice, which comes off pretty sincere I think, so from there, I just started writing.”
By that point, Boles had written 10-15 songs in his garage-based studio and paired it down to five for the EP, which features the catchy, memorable debut single, “Right is What’s Left.” The song was featured in a February episode of the recently cancelled ABC comedy-drama, “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.”
“I wanted to pivot the whole song around a clear, driving guitar line that you couldn’t forget, and then a distorted guitar that’s not taking over the whole mix,” Boles said. “It’s not loud and crunchy. It’s intermittent, and the synths are what the vocals kind of ride on, and that’s where I felt like I kind of found a little bit more of a lyrical writing stride.”
Boles also hit his writing stride with the other four tracks on the EP, including “One More,” “The Ways,” “The Wrong Side” and “Amateur Telephony.” The songs feature themes of overcoming addiction, breaking vicious cycles, finding hope, understanding relationships and moving forward.
For Boles, the songwriting process starts with instrumentation, whether it’s a beat, guitar line or synth hook, and ends with the right lyrical content to fit each track’s mood and momentum.
He also views each song’s bridge as the ideal place to experiment musically, a sort of black mirror he can look through to see what’s on the other side and reflect on how to write creatively within traditional pop structures. He’s varied his musical approach with delayed guitars and reverbed vocals.
“If I could sum up the EP, I would try to say balance both tonally and lyrically. A couple of the songs are very upbeat and happy, and if you listen to the lyrics, some of them talk about serious issues,” he said. “I always like songs that have that sort of contrast, so I think it was important for me to try to shoot for that.”
Expanding the Project and Releasing New Material
After releasing the debut EP, Boles decided to expand the project’s sound for live shows and added four new members, including Jack Reedy (drums, percussion), Jordan McLanson (bass, bass synth, percussion), Stephen Werner (synth, keyboard, sampling) and Daryn DeCriscio (vocals, guitar).
Together, the newly expanded No Alarms discovered the depths of the musical bond between them – the songs Boles had written never sounded better and the high-energy melodies and dynamically transformative, indie pop of No Alarms became the realized version of their intentions and ambitions.
“If people come see us, then we’ll stick with them,” Boles said. “I don’t think there’s honestly a ton like what we’re playing here. I want to find bands like us, or that have the same goals as us, so we can start to come up together.”
Boles and his bandmates played several live shows in Detroit, Indianapolis and Chicago throughout the summer. While there are currently no upcoming tour dates scheduled, the band has completed a new EP, which is currently being mixed and mastered and will be released in mid-2019.
“‘The Landing’ is a bridge of sorts to our next unannounced EP, and it’s the first single from the EP,” Boles said. “We have another single, ‘Find Me,” coming Oct. 26. It’s a way more chill track, and I think it’s really going to catch people off guard.”