John Joyo and Chris Lavigne met during a meeting about medical devices, but the two biotech entrepreneurs soon discovered their hearts pumped and pulses quickened when they discussed alternative rock, not surgical implants. It didn’t take long for lead singer/lyricist Joyo and lead guitarist/composer Lavigne to combine forces, then recruit bassist Steve Bernal and drummer Brian Mendes, for a musical venture they call Arrows to Fire. Since their 2016 debut, their “’90s-rooted alternative rock with a current twist,” as Joyo describes their sound, has stirred up quite a bit of notice.
Arrows to Fire’s YouTube videos have racked up nearly a million views — including almost 370,000 for “This is Here,” a single and track on their March 2018 album release, Here We Go, on their own Smartouf Records label. The melodicmid-tempo tune and moving video images serve as a call to action for planetary preservation (Joyo’s first business endeavor was a bicycle shop), and they donate 50 percent of each purchased stream or download to environmental organizations.
Joyo, an Austin native, and dual French/American citizen Lavigne, who arrived from France 12 years ago, also share a desire to use music as a forum to address subjects both personal and political, which they do on the album’s 12 co-written originals and the 11 tracks on their self-titled 2017 debut. Lavigne, an accomplished guitarist, sets the melodic mood, and Joyo, who’s related to the poet Dylan Thomas, crafts nuanced lyrics to match.
For Here We Go,they turned to Austin’s famed Arlyn Studios, where they recorded with chief engineer Jacob Sciba (Willie Nelson, Gary Clark Jr.) co-producing. Pulling from inspirations including Foo Fighters, Live and Queens of the Stone Age, their music made a fan of Arlyn Studios co-owner Lisa Fletcher, who observes, “It’s rock, but it’s still sort of romantic and sexy.” She’s certainly not alone. Indierockcafe.com listed Arrows to Fire as a 2018 band to watch after the quartet’s South By Southwest debut, calling Here We Go“an alt-rock lover’s collection of solid, heartfelt, blazing tracks … a killer new album.” And Soundsphere magazine labeled it “next level rock music.”
Amazon’s music curators were equally impressed, choosing the band’s cover of the Golden Earring hit “Radar Love” for inclusion on its Open Road Amazon Original playlist, a 30-track collection of classic road songs covered by artists in multiple genres. The notion of open roads, and adventurers ready to hit them at a moment’s notice, feeds loosely into the concept behind the band’s name. Joyo says it connotes the idea of arrows in a quiver, ready to find their target — just like songs. “We’re ready. We’re coming at you, locked and loaded,” he adds. Those arrows may be aiming straight at listeners’ ears — but Arrows to Fire won’t give up till they capture minds and hearts.