At Home with The Armed's Adam Vallely

A chat with the singer of the elusive band that's determined to push the limits of hardcore.

  
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Hello and welcome to REPLY ALT, the newsletter about music which is also sometimes a podcast. Listen to today’s episode and others on Spotify or Apple.

I’ve got to be out of my goddamned mind to agree to interview The Armed on April Fool’s Day. Trying to get a clear picture of the enigmatic Detroit collective has been like nailing Jell-O to the wall for those who’ve tried. A few years ago, I sent a writer to profile them (which as far as I can tell is the only substantial piece ever written about them), and while I think it’s a stellar piece of writing that reads like a murder mystery, I’m still not quite sure I can 100% vouch for its authenticity. The band was vague with their answers, they were unclear about who the actual members were, they all lived together in a big compound in an undisclosed location, they rented a $200,000 Porsche because “it would look cool.” It all felt like an elaborate prank. So even though I went into this April 1 chat with frontman Adam Vallely feeling like I stood a 50/50 chance of getting duped in some way, it was a risk I was willing to take to hear about their brilliant new album ULTRAPOP.

As far as I could tell, Adam is a real person. He wasn’t in the band during the release of their last record, 2018’s ONLY LOVE, though. Well, he was one of the 28 members of the band, but he wasn’t the frontman at the time. He was in the band but not in the band, you know? It’s complicated.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that Adam and I ended up having a legitimate and, as far as I can tell, authentic conversation about The Armed. Most of it was spent talking about health and fitness, since most of the members spent the last year working with a nutritionist, putting themselves through an intense diet and exercise regimen for this album, for reasons that are explained. (I’ve always said lifting weights is art!) We also talked about breaking new ground in hardcore, the meaning behind ULTRAPOP, the unexpected critical acclaim the band has received, manifesting success, and using confusion as a medium in art. I feel like I was born to do an interview that stands at the cross section of hardcore and gym gains.

And lest you think Adam was not serious about the strictness of his diet, please know that he went through a damn barrel of water over the course of the interview:

This was a fun interview, even though his audio quality is a little wonky (apologies!). ULTRAPOP is out soon and is very worth your time. I know it’s a cliche to put it like this, but it genuinely sounds like an a noisy hardcore record played on top of a pop record, the two sides competing for attention throughout. And, if we are ever in the position to see live music again, I highly recommend you go see The Armed. A truly disorienting and unforgettable experience. Here are some photos I took of them at St. Vitus in 2018:

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