Sara Bellum and the Brainwaves are a self-described "band full of hipsters and chaotic hippies, making some energetic indie rock" -- which is not necessarily a small feat considering they only began to hit their creative stride when COVID struck. Their first single, "Reach Out (Quarantine Version)", is a much-needed rallying cry for our sense of shared humanity. The band, comprised of Noah Bartlet, Amy King, Coleman Arnold, Andrew DeHoff and Amanda Ard, have released two new songs, which we are very happy to debut. Enjoy!
Give us the Sara Bellum and the Brainwaves elevator pitch.
Coleman: A band full of hipsters and chaotic hippies, making some energetic indie rock music.
Amanda: Uplifting soundwaves to make happy brainwaves.
Andrew: Hey, put your thinking cap on for a moment...
What if... we had a brain and some waves...
hmmm.... not bad...
and then started a band...
okay okay so get this so we got:
Delta waves ...
Alpha waves ...
Beta waves ...
... Sara Bellum...
Sara Bellum and the Brainwaves
Noah: Punk-influenced indie rock to bring the good feels to your brain.
Amy: A group of indie hippie punks sending some colorful tunes to your noggin.
How did the band come together?
Noah: The name of the band came first. I came up with this band name in my first couple years of college and it was just a fun concept with no real direction. I had no one to create it with and no time to do it, as I was already in a band, spending a lot of time on school, and working a job at a coffee shop. Then, a few years later, I was telling Amy King (our now vocalist) this name idea and concept that I had. I had a couple songs that didn’t fit any of the other bands I was in, but they perfectly fit the vibe of this old concept I had dug up and she loved the idea and started to put her spin on all of it. After we started working on writing a few more songs, we decided to actually get a band together and turn it into something. Amy knew a couple friends from high school that played drums and bass (Coleman Arnold and Amanda Ard) and I had a friend and coworker from Colony KC and The Rino who played guitar (Andrew DeHoff) and we started jamming and it all just started coming together.
Describe the struggles involved with starting a new band in the time of COVID-19.
Andrew: The band started out with a heavy momentum. Just prior to the pandemic really coming in full effect, we had just finished getting some studio time in and began working on an EP. As if getting music out isn't already a labor of love in and of itself, to tac a global pandemic on top really shook things up. The band took a bit of a hiatus due to the looming destruction of our economy and all the other things that keep everyone's world moving. The band then got creative in its effort to continue contributing creatively during the pandemic. With the release of “Reach Out (Quarantine Version)" the band stayed moving and shaking. COVID-19 and the dissonance in the connection between music and togetherness was extremely disheartening but the band maintained a connection and drive to keep moving.
How does songwriting work with Sara Bellum and the Brainwaves? Who brings what to the table?
Coleman: We try to keep everything open for collaboration between all of us as a band. The more of us that get to imprint our image on the song the better. Generally someone has an idea, we jam on it for a little bit and just kinda figure it out. Everyone is pretty naturally free with their instrument, so it just comes out of us when we’re together. Lyrics are usually the first or the last piece of the puzzle, and Amy and Noah have generally been the lead writers.
Amanda: Usually it starts with one thing. Amy’s been vibing on some lyrics. Noah and Andrew dorked around on their guitars and got stuck on a riff that sounded neat. Coleman’s been wanting to put that drum pattern to work for awhile. And then the spaces in between fill themselves. We jam on it two, three, maybe ten times to get a good feel of the direction that we want to go.
The themes of your song “Reach Out (Quarantine Version)” are timeless and so apropos these days. What can you tell us about the song’s origins?
Noah: “Reach Out” was maybe the first song I wrote for Sara Bellum and the Brainwaves. I just wrote it one day, rather quickly, when I was kind of in a rough spot mentally and emotionally. I needed to create my own pick me up and at first, that’s really all it was for me; a song just to lift my own spirits. I have to say, it was heavily inspired by The Way Way Back in general but most prominently, their song, “Bad Star”. The Way Way Back is one of my favorite local KC bands and this song really spoke to me as most of their songs do. At first, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I played it solo on stage a few times and got a pretty good response to it, but I knew it would be improved upon with a full band. Once we got Sara Bellum and the Brainwaves rolling, I knew that's where the song needed to be and it really set in motion the whole vibe of our band, what we stand for, and what we wanted to do with our music: lift people up.
What’s the band working on currently?
Amy: We are currently working on getting some quarantine demos out since we can’t play live shows. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but we are finding creative ways to make our music. We share our new ideas virtually and have been recording songs remotely that we wrote pre COVID. We are determined to keep the ball rolling. Always keep your eyes peeled with us, new stuff is always on the way.
Book, Movie, Music Recommendations
Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a classic. As a young reader it exposed me to the perils of the American dream and wealth. “Money can’t buy me love”
Movie: Frank (2014). One of those movies that I’m completely enthralled with because of the concept alone, and the talent of the actors carries it to the next level.
Book: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Such a good book!
Movie: Forrest Gump (1994)
Music: Everything was Sound by Silent Planet. I love anything Silent Planet, but my favorite song of all time, “Inhabit the Wound”, is on that album.
Book: I can’t say that this is my favorite book of all time, but Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch had such an impact on me when I read it last year. It opened up my eyes more to meditation as a useful tool in creativity and helped me to get out of my head so much when I am creating art. David Lynch is one of my favorite directors simply because he creates more for himself than for anyone else. He just lets the art speak through him and this book helps detail how he does that which is really inspiring as an artist.
Movie: The NeverEnding Story (1984) will always be one of my favorite movies. I remember watching it as a kid and being absolutely traumatized by the death of Artax, but also remembering how much it excited my imagination. It was a whole world of adventure and excitement and even though there are super sad moments, it makes the joyous moments much more impactful. This movie and it’s book have inspired songs I've written and at the randomest times, I’ll catch myself singing the theme song and it brings me such joy and nostalgia of my childhood.
Music: Too by FIDLAR. Ok so anyone who knows me, knows that FIDLAR is one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve never quite heard punk music like they do punk music. Too is, without a doubt, their best album to date. It handles some tough topics but really shows the growth that the members have gone through not only as musicians but as humans. It’s a real skate punk treat and will make you want to bang your head one minute and lose yourself in it the next.
Book: The Three Tragedies by Frederico Garcia Lorca. Specifically Blood Wedding. I actually chose a play script rather than a book. I played the Mother in Blood Wedding at UMKC right as COVID hit. It was my favorite play that I’ve ever been in and it had a very big impact on me as a person. Unfortunately, we only got through previews and our opening night. This play is so powerful, surreal, stunning, and moving. It holds a very special place in my heart.
Movie: Coraline (2009) and (2010) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Both of these movies are so much fun. Coraline was one of my favorites as a kid. The idea of another world so exciting and colorful yet something strange and mysterious under the surface. Scott Pilgrim VS the World is also great because it is so goofy and light. It’s another one of those things that just makes me feel better.
Music: This Mess is a Place by Tacocat and How Do You Love? by The Regrettes. These two albums are a lot of fun musically. Listening to these albums always brings a smile to my face, and they fit my aesthetic of what I like to call “indie rainbow punk”.
Book: IQ84 by Haruki Murakami. I only just recently started, but it’s been an absolute page turner. Highly recommended if you’re like me and you enjoy all things dystopian (especially in this time period) or couldn’t get enough of George Orwell’s 1984.
Movie: Just in time for fall and spooky season, I give you Creep (2014) and it’s sequel Creep 2 (2017). Initially, it’s super cheesy, but sticking with it makes it so worth it in the end. It’s dark and amazingly detail oriented.
Music: Absolutely anything Jacob Collier. He’s an absolute musical genius. He knows it and isn’t afraid to show it. There’s a song for every vibe and emotion you could think of.