White Arrows' Mickey Church on Being Sightless

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Mickey Church (neé Schiff) is the lead singer of White Arrows, who are currently touring around the world in support of their new album, Fireworks of the Sea, released April 3 on Votiv. You can check out the title track and videos here, along with the rest of the tour dates, which are in Europe for the next month or so and back in the States for June and July.

It’s funny – I don’t think I’ve ever really been so introspective about my childhood and gaining my eyesight back gradually over time until I started getting interviewed. I could say that it made me “weird” or “off”, which I have been told that I am, but in all honesty, all of my friends are “weird and “off” and they weren’t blind. Some things I remember being very strange are my memories, however. Everything I remember from my childhood is triggered by smell. If I am biking through a neighborhood, and there is a certain kind of plant that was also near my pre-school, then i’ll suddenly be reminded of being at preschool, but other than that I memory is pretty terrible for past events.

At around 7 years old or so my eyes were progressing well enough to see shades, colors, and fuzzy images up close. I would draw things I found in “Boy’s Life” magazines of mostly nature, and animals. Looking back on the art I used to make when I was around that age, and then looking at the pictures I drew when my eyes progressed to the point where I could see with glasses up until now, there is no comparison. The art from before I could really see a straight, vivid line is far superior, and impressionistic. I still can’t draw, and find myself obsessing with straight lines – something I didn’t see until I was about 11. I actually vomited the first time I put on my glasses because of how intense everything seemed.

I can also remember the time from before I was 11 being completely uninhibited. It wasn’t “tough” because I had not known any other way. It just was what it was, and I never thought anything of it. I, in fact, assumed that’s just how everyone was. If I couldn’t see them, then they couldn’t see me, which let me be free and imaginative. After I got my glasses I became hyperaware of everyone else, and very self-conscious. I think that may be why we play in fairly dim light, with smoke, and a lot of projections. I am still uncomfortable with the idea of people looking at me. I like to be cloaked in sensory overload. In this way I kind of miss being that uninhibited, but after being able to see I don’t know that I could ever go back to being sightless.