Bronson Arroyo opens up about band's new album 'Some Might Say' – The Cincinnati Enquirer

Bronson Arroyo is a self-proclaimed optimist.
While that’s a great trait to have on the pitcher’s mound, it can make writing songs challenging.
“I always had the ability to write kids songs because it was very literal,” Arroyo told The Enquirer. “You could talk about eating your fruits and vegetables and going to sleep on time to kids. But to write music that I really enjoyed listening to seemed a little bit too cryptic for me.”
Arroyo pitched in over 400 regular season MLB games between 2000 and 2017, and he became one of the more respected players in the majors. However, fans also knew him for his guitar-playing and singing skills.
The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer has hit the stage playing cover songs over the years, but he never had an album filled with his own music.
Until now.
Arroyo and his band, the ’04, will release “Some Might Say” on Feb. 17. The record dives into topics much deeper than fruits and veggies but also features upbeat rock songs similar to the hits he has performed throughout his music career.
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The Enquirer spoke to Arroyo ahead of the release of his new album. Check out our conversation with him below. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Also, watch us test his Queen City knowledge in our TikTok quiz session.
You have done a lot of cover songs in the past. What led you to release your own music with this album?
Arroyo: It’s just a slow progression of over the years playing a lot of cover songs, playing a lot of shows starting back in my (Boston) Red Sox days. As you play music, you get curious about writing your own stuff.
As I was winding down, knowing I was going to retire within a year or two because my arm was starting to come apart, it became very apparent to me that music was going to be such a big (part of) my life. I wanted to try to write a bit. So, I found myself in Cincinnati with Eliot Sloan from Blessid Union of Souls and finding a formula, between him and a guy named Chris Lambert, to finish songs. I’d have an idea for a riff and an idea of what I wanted to write a song about, and it would take us about four hours and we would have kind of a junky demo. I became addicted to finishing songs like that.
You work with accomplished musicians in the ’04. Guitarist Jamie Arentzen plays with Miley Cyrus, and drummer Eric Gardner has worked with Gnarls Barkley. What is that like?
Arroyo: It’s fun. I met these guys back in 2004, a long time ago when I was with the Red Sox, and we’ve been playing music for a long time together, just covers. I always say, “If I’m the worst player in the band, then I think we got a chance to sound pretty good.”
I’ve been a musician for 25 years now, but I didn’t pick it up until I was in the minor leagues. I was in my mid-20s when I picked it up. It’s been enjoyable to be around people that are better than myself because I am always trying to make myself better. And you just feel like you’re growing over time.
‘Higher Ground’ was a song on your album that stood out. It’s kind of about mental health and people getting in their head too much. What was the inspiration for that track?
Arroyo: That song came in 2016. I was hurt with the Washington Nationals. That was the first song that was written for the record. In that time, I was thinking about people around me who were always riddled with anxiety. The opposite of who I’ve been. I’ve been a free-and-easy guy and haven’t really had too much weighing me down in life.
I’d just seen that so often, even with people who were working at such a high level – playing sports or being really good at what they do in life. I just wanted to write something that was speaking to those people.
In ‘Guerrilla Warfare,’ you look at what it was like visiting your father’s neighborhood in Havana, Cuba. What was it like connecting with your roots in that song?
Arroyo: That’s my favorite song on the record. I wrote that when I was in Cuba and I was finding the houses where my parents and my grandparents had come from. Knowing the history of the country and how (Fidel) Castro and Che (Guevara) took this thing over when they were (so young). It makes no sense in the modern world. Just to actually see that in real life, to see the bullet holes on the side of a boat where these guys had come on, trying to take over the country, it was something special.
In that first line, I say, “I feel like we’ve been here before,” even though I personally had never been there, but it felt like my family had been there. That was the most gratifying song on the record for me personally.
‘Never Let You Go’ stood out because it is a softer tune. What inspired that?
Arroyo: Jamie Arentzen had given me a little riff; it was that country acoustic guitar you hear in the background. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. I kept calling it the “John Denver riff.” It felt like an old country song. When I went to write it, I was thinking, “Let me write about some of my heroes.” So, I wrote about John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Elvis in those verses, and I really didn’t have a chorus for it. With Chris Lambert, we came up with the idea of “love is all you need.”
The Beatles had done it first with (“All You Need Is Love”) and there’s a song called “Love Boat Captain” that I really enjoy by Pearl Jam. I’m giving an homage to some of my heroes, which is Eddie Vedder and The Beatles, in that. It’s a different style of song. It’s a little folky. It’s much softer, but I really enjoy soft music. Singing that one is really fun.
What’s the difference between singing songs you really rock out on, compared to those that are softer?
Arroyo: I have been trying to figure out ways over the last 20 years to sing a little differently. There’s times when you can feel like you’re a one-trick pony, singing really loud and hard all the time. You’re trying to find ways to be a little more breathy and deliver the words to people, make them understand the story. I think that’s the most important part about the music in a way, is if people can connect to the words.
I always like to be a guy who tries to sing very clear, and explain the story while I’m singing. So, I’m finding ways to be a little softer. And when we recorded (“Never Let You Go”), you can almost tell my voice is a little different on there. That was being prompted by the guys in the band, “Hey why don’t you try to take this one really mellow and soft and see if you can deliver a different style of performance.”
What do you hope people take away from the album?
Arroyo: I wrote about a lot of historical events on the record. I was trying to write from an outside perspective because I always had a hard time writing about myself because I’ve been such an optimist. And most of the music that I love sounded like it came from a dark place. So, I tried to write about outside influences, but the thread of Bronson Arroyo that’s in this record is being present tense because you will die soon. Enjoy the moments as they pass because they won’t last forever.
That’s really the enduring theme. You hear it on (my song) “Nights Alive,” where I’m basically hanging out with a girl that I’m falling in love with and saying, “The universe is here now for us; the stars are here; it’s a beautiful night; the weather’s perfect, and just soak it all in.” What I want people to take from the record is that life is short. Grab on to the magic moments as you can, and a lot of times, your loved one by your side is really where you’re going to make that magic happen.


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