The seventh song on Magpie, the new (and second) full-length album from Azle-born alt-rock four-piece Arenda Light, is fittingly titled “Give it Time.” Frontman Nick Tittle wrote it following a month-long sojourn to Germany in 2013, but his band didn’t record it until last year. Moreover, Magpie’s arrival has been a long time coming, three years after the band’s self-titled debut, but now that it’s here, Tittle and co-founder/lead guitarist Rowdy Carter are anxious to get moving again.
Though Carter and Tittle started Arenda Light four years ago, they’ve been friends since kindergarten. Both picked up guitars in middle school, and when they were a little older, they started an unnamed band for the main purpose of meeting girls. After graduation, their act turned into a Tuesday night residency at the Thirsty Armadillo in the Stockyards. Their weekly gig opened other doors.
“We were playing all around the Stockyards for three years before we turned 21,” Tittle said. “Then I had my 21st birthday down there, and all the bartenders were like, ‘What the fuck?!’ ”
They turned into a proper band in 2014, adding Josh Banks on drums and Wes Davis on bass, christening themselves Arenda Light, the origin of which they prefer remains mysterious.
Arenda Light rocked the Fort Worth club circuit for a year before hitting the road for a month of East Coast shows in 2015, traveling in the RV of a guy named Steve, a family friend of Banks’.
“Everything bad that could happen happened,” Carter deadpanned. “So it was awesome.”
Tittle’s description of Steve’s Winnebago makes it sound charmingly decrepit: smelly and beat-up, with bare floorboards and constant mechanical problems.
“We broke down at least once per state,” Tittle said.
The four toured in support of their 2015 debut, an eight-song slab of heavy-hitting blues-fueled rock. Tittle said his main influence is Black Sabbath, and Carter caught the guitar bug after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan and Angus Young. Their music’s DNA is coded with over-driven blues boogie. In 2016, they released a digital-only single called “Snowing Season,” which beefed up their bluesy alt-rock with a more aggressive sound. That fall, however, Davis left the band, slowing its momentum, yet Tittle and Carter continued to woodshed their material, unpacking and revisiting older songs they’d written with the intent to record again.
In June of last year, they entered the Bubble, the Austin-based studio of engineer Chris “Frenchie” Smith, who is notable for his work with a host of big-name bands (The Darkness, The Dandy Warhols, the Toadies, to name a few). His production style, marked by an edgy, though still accessible, sheen, was a perfect match for Arenda Light’s take on ’90s alt-rock.
Tittle and Carter’s distorted riffs and the heavy, melodic low end courtesy new member Joe Cannariato (Calliope Musicals, Purple) crack across the thunder and sizzle of Banks’ attack, and the overall effect is an angsty, yet radio-friendly, sound that could’ve come straight from the rock gods of 1993 —Tittle’s soulful snarl easily finds a spot among grunge greats like the late Chris Cornell and Candlebox’s Kevin Martin. The band tracked the whole thing in a week, with Frenchie mixing and his studio partner Alex Lyon mastering it.
Tittle said that while Arenda’s new material doesn’t bear any overt political or religious meaning –– and, as the band’s lyricist, he tends to lean toward a stream-of-consciousness style –– he uses his words to learn more about himself.
“We write about anything that’s going on subconsciously,” he said. “I never know what I’m writing about until it’s done, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s about that fucking time.’ ”
Of course, nothing in life is easy, and in April, Banks left the band for a full-time job playing drums for country artist Ryan Wilcox. Tittle and Carter were bummed to see him go, but they remain friends and understand the deal when it comes to making your living from music, as both are full-time guitar teachers themselves. Banks has since been replaced by David Smith.
With their lineup solidified, Arenda Light wants to shop Magpie to management companies and record labels, with the intent on touring in support of their new album.
“We’ve been sitting on it for a while,” Tittle said. “It’s been kind of weird, and we’ve been kind of stagnant, but we’re trying to build hype for this thing.”
Arenda Light Album release
8pm Sat w/Ting Tang Tina and Huffer at MASS, 1002 S Main St, FW. $5. 682-707-7776.