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Freaks Off The Leash

8 August 2012 | 9:00 am | Matt O'Neill

“It sounds like my life was really intense when you cram it all into one or two paragraphs. But, like, being born blind and having an interesting major at college were actually eighteen years apart. I never saw them as connected in my head."

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Mickey Church is actually quite well-adjusted. Surprisingly so. The White Arrows backstory suggests something of a mad genius. Every article, review and criticism of the band since their late-noughties inception has arrived wrapped in a haze of stories about Church's upbringing – from his being legally blind until age 11 to his decision to study shamanistic rituals to the spontaneous discovery that his guitarist was his half-brother.

“Yeah, I know, it's pretty trippy,” Church says of the endless obsession with his backstory. “It's one of those things, though – it sounds like my life was really intense when you cram it all into one or two paragraphs. But, like, being born blind and having an interesting major at college were actually eighteen years apart. I never saw them as connected in my head; or even particularly unbelievable.

“The whole process has made me kind of introspective about my life – but, at the same time, it's also helped me realise that, while my story is unique, so is everybody else's,” the frontman muses. “You know, everyone I've encountered or run into, if you speak with them for an hour or so, you'll realise that their life is just as full of supposedly weird stories as mine is, you know?”

It is undeniably fascinating stuff. What's more; it correlates fantastically well with White Arrows' cerebral, celebratory music. It isn't difficult, for example, to draw a line between the indistinct shapes and colours of Church's youth and White Arrows' impressionistic, psychedelic songcraft. Similarly, the frontman's years studying shamanistic rituals seem to make sense alongside the dancefloor drive of debut album Dry Land Is Not A Myth.

“Man, I had no intention of even being in a band when I made our first recordings at university,” Church laughs. “I'd never played live before. I'd never even played with any other musicians before. It was kind of a personal test, in retrospect. I had absolutely no ambition and no foresight as to what was to come or what we would try to do. You know, even down to what kind of music we'd make - let alone whether we'd be touring Australia.”

That said, it's ultimately ridiculous. If anything, tying White Arrows' sound to Mickey Church's background cheapens their accomplishments. Church isn't some hippy wizard shaman conjuring post-rave celebration for a generation of new modernists – he's a musician and a songwriter. Dry Land Is Not A Myth is far more impressive than a magic trick; it's actually a well-crafted and imminently enjoyable album of music.

“Our priority is not to be experimental or out-there. Making what we like to make is our priority,” Church says matter-of-factly. “If nothing else, I think to set out to be experimental is an oxymoron. I wish I could be Howard Hughes about all of the stuff that gets written about our band – just hide on an island with no media contact whatsoever – but I'm far too connected and far too meticulous to pull myself away from it all.

“In the end, I think of it as just fuel, though,” the frontman muses. “You know, we'll try and forget about all of the people talking about our hair or whatever and use all the good things people have said about us to push through and make more music in the studio. It's always evolving – you know, my simply playing with other musicians these days is a completely new experience for me. We're just going to keep making music.”