Who knew teachers could be this cool?
Arcuragi's revolving band is just that-revolving.
"I've been told that I'm difficult to work with," he deadpans. "There's a lot of hurt feelings. It's like a scorched earth policy. I've left quite a swath of angry people."
Despite the thorny reputation, Arcuragi wrangled an impressive cast to pay tribute to Neutral Milk Hotel and the Flaming Lips last year, at benefit shows for Doctors Without Borders and victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"It's an excuse to do something you do in your bedroom ... pick up a guitar and pretend you're the band," he says. "A benefit show seemed like a good halfway point to do that because it's such a vain thing. It's like, you can't get mad at me for playing dress-up."
A Bucks County native now living in South Philly, Arcuragi also appeared on Urban Outfitters' double-disc compilation benefiting tsunami victims. He was the stranger amid such marquee names as Interpol, Wilco and Franz Ferdinand, but his harrowing contribution "The Song the Sinner Sings" earned him attention across the country.
He recently heard from a woman in Los Angeles who's been using the song to interpret the New Testament. That's as good a segue as any for addressing Arcuragi's mentions of angels and the Holy Ghost in certain songs.
"You can't necessarily name God," he says, choosing his words carefully. "To try to talk about something that's perfect and infinite with our flawed and impermanent language ... that's where we miss the mark. Singing and playing music takes a step back from that."
Is that why he's playing a church to mark the album's release?
"We tried to record in that church like two years ago," he parries, "so we have a semiworking relationship with them. As long as we're not too loud and we don't cuss ... "
Does he cuss in any songs?
"I say 'fuck' in 'The Screen.'"
Will he edit it?
"I don't know," he laughs. "That one I usually don't play live."
Fri., March 10, 8pm. $7. With Like Moving Insects. Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St. 215.732.1918. www.stlukeandtheepiphany.org
Sun., March 12, 7:30pm. $8. With Loved Ones, None More Black + Pink Razors. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619. www.r5productions.com