Nathaniel Fregoso, lead vocalist, is a born climber—this is what his mother says. Third birthed in a litter of three (triplets!), Nathaniel was the only of his siblings capable of scaling his mother while she was standing erect, helping himself to full meals at her teat whilst his brothers looked on jealously from her ankles. She eventually took to wearing hoop skirts made of chicken wire to deter the tot’s ravenous appetite, but discontinued the practice when Nathaniel nearly amputated his right arm clawing through the accessory. “This one is nothing if not goal-oriented,” the woman told herself, clutching the wounded climber to her breast.
The early exercise and frequent nourishment accelerated the boy’s development at an almost alarming rate. By his fourth year of elementary schooling, not only had Nathaniel climbed to the top of his class, but to the top of the school’s flagpole as well. The fire department was alerted when his repeated yelps of “do I have your attention now?” rattled the windows of the school’s surrounding homes. It took them nearly four hours to pull him down. Perhaps it is this early adventure that led the singer to realize that his voice could lead him to heights higher than he could ever climb with his arms and legs alone. Undoubtedly, the next day’s newspaper reports of a ghost with a beautiful tenor haunting Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills homeowners with requests for their attention bolstered Nathaniel’s epiphany; the neighborhood was located fifteen miles away from his school.
Zebastian Carlisle, lead guitarist, heard the yelps as well, and recognized the voice immediately upon hearing it—feeling it—emerging from the young man climbing atop his table at a karaoke bar almost twenty years later. Zebastian normally keeps to himself, but recognizes when assertiveness is necessary. “I can play guitar,” Zebastian told Nathaniel after the performance. Nathaniel, admiring the boy’s extraordinarily elegant hands, realized that the addition of a guitar could push his voice to even further reaches of the atmosphere.
“We will start a band,” Nathaniel said. He thought of the chicken wire, the fire department, and every other institution that tried to keep him on the ground. “We will call ourselves the Blood Arm.”
Now, a rapturous voice and an electric guitar in the nimblest pair of hands are nice, and those things combined with a zealous education in—and reverence for—the history of Good Rock Music (read: the Stones, Love, Van Morrison, etc.) is nicer, but the twosome knew something was missing. They wanted someone to play piano. This is where Dyan Valdès fits into the picture. As Shakespeare once wrote, “a classically-trained piano player is fine, but a beautiful woman who is also a classically-trained piano player—that is divine!” And with her left-hand playing bass and right hand harmonizing with and providing rhythm and melody for Zebastian’s guitar licks, she established a base for Nathaniel to climb even higher.
Shortly after Dyan’s addition, the band amassed enough songs to perform live. (That Dyan, a rock-scholar whose blood-red lipstick was rumored to be of human origin, could kick both the boys’ asses while still keeping-time on the low notes made their practices extremely productive.) The Blood Arm’s first show took place at a house party, and ended with a familiar situation: the fire department dragging Nathaniel from the roof of the building.
Ben Lee Handler, a local indigent with at least four illegitimate children to his name, was at the show, treated it as the second coming, and cleaned his life up in response. He became the Blood Arm’s Master of Ceremonies. And while he admired Nathaniel’s antics and the band’s music enough to preach the sermon of the Blood Arm before every performance following their house-party debut, he recognized the necessity of a grounding factor, something to anchor the singer enough to let the rest of the band soar with him, together achieving greater heights than any one member could climb alone. He wanted his friend Zachary Amos to play the drums. The band shared Ben Lee’s view, and Zachary, a former male prostitute similarly schooled in Good Rock Music, took to the kit in 2004. He has arms like a spider and is pretty enough to rival Dyan. It worked.
Their cohesion as a unit and frequent live shows enabled the band to amass a sizeable fan base about Los Angeles, and the Blood Arm quickly climbed the ladder of recognition in the city. Based on word-of-mouth about their frenetic gigs and a frontman unbound by the confines of any stage, the band landed a coveted residency at Spaceland that Summer. Bomb Romantics, a thirteen-song demo, was recorded shortly thereafter, and live-renditions of its tracks led to international touring with acts such as Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park, the Killers, Hot Hot Heat, Spoon, Electric Six, and We Are Scientists. Entertainment Weekly named the Blood Arm the “Best Live Act” of the 2005 SXSW Music Conference. 2005’s Do I Have Your Attention? single on Loog Records was a UK radio hit, and the Say Yes single released later that year on UK’s City Rockers charted in the country’s top fifty.
Now with City Rockers Records providing a firm launching pad, the band aim to continue their upward trajectory with the Summer 2006 single release of the crowd-favorite Suspicious Character paving the way for a new album later in the year. It’s been a long road from the teat to the UK, but not even a microphone cord can tether the Blood Arm. They’re born climbers.