Friday, 18 May 2012

Indietracks interview #11: Gold-Bears

Gold-Bears formed in 2010 when Jeremy Underwood recruited a few friends to play songs he'd stockpiled since the demise of his former band, Plastic Mastery (555 Recordings/Magic Marker Records). The band quickly released the ‘Tally’ 7" on Magic Marker Records, recalling the immediacy and urgency of Boyracer or The Wedding Present melding with the pop sensibilities of Slumberland contemporaries like Summer Cats and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They expanded their sound a bit on their next release, a four-song 7" ‘Something To Think About’ on Cloudberry Records.

After hibernating in their home studio for the winter, Gold-Bears emerged with ‘Are You Falling In Love?’ (Slumberland Records) – a dynamic 11-song collection of frenzied crash pop, strummy ballads, and syncopated pop dirges. Jeremy joined us for a chat ahead of Indietracks 2012.

Your songs are often described as reflecting the early 90s. Is that a conscious approach? How would you describe the band's sound?

I don’t think it's really a conscious approach. It's not like I wake up and say, "Man, I can't wait to write a song that may sound like it was written in the 90s," it just sort of happens. My formidable music devouring years were in the 90s. I had/have a cool brother who was into indie at an early age, so I got into indiepop and indie rock when I was around 14. I have vivid memories of getting new records in the mail and sitting at the foot of my brother's bed with him and just listening to a 7" over and over. We started with bands like the Lemonheads, Posies, and Teenage Fanclub then moved into less mainstream stuff like bands on Brilliant records, Slumberland, and Merge. We were mainly listening to 90s American bands. It wasn’t until a few years later that we started delving into the UK stuff. So, yeah, of course I'm going to write songs that sound like bands that have influenced me. Two bands that I can't live without are Boyracer and Superchunk. I think that's pretty plain to see in my songwriting.

How would I describe our sound? Someone once told me that we sound like we are about to fall apart at any second but manage to finish the song successfully. I think that sums it up. Pretty true, too.

You recorded the album at home and yet it sounds fantastic. Do you think you have more freedom using a home-based approach? Would you ever think about using studios in the future?

Thanks! Our guitarist, Erich, recorded the record. He's amazing. Using a home-based recording approach is amazing. There were times when Erich was too busy with work to dedicate as much time as I wanted to recording so he would just bring his equipment to my house for a month or so and I would overdub and redo tracks. That really allowed us to achieve the sound we were going for. I can’t stress enough how important Erich was in this recording. He spent hours and hours and hours mixing the record. I’m really proud of the way the record sounds.

I’m not sure if I would really consider using a studio to start and finish a record. I like home recording. I started 4-tracking when I was really young. I’ve always been into the creative part of recording and mixing a record without some dude telling you how to mic your guitar or that your drummer plays too many fills.

You've said that there's a love story narrative throughout the album. Was that your plan from the start or did it just naturally evolve that way?

The record naturally evolved that way. It didn’t really happen until we were sequencing the record. Santiago, our drummer on most of the record (now our guitarist), was the first to point out that the songs gave him the feeling of the natural progression of a relationship: love, honor, destroy, repair, love. So we sequenced the record that way. Is that silly?

Nope, sounds like the opposite of silly! You've a few special guests on the album, including members of Very Truly Yours and Summer Cats. How did that come about and will you continue recording with guests?

I don’t really consider them "special guests." I think anyone that contributes to a record should be "in the band." I mean, why not? Who is looking for sole recognition? It's just music.

We first met Kristine at the Athens Popfest. She borrowed my amp, we borrowed a cable, and we all chatted after the show. I’m a big fan of her (and lisle's) music. They are both superb songwriters. Kristine has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. I thought our voices would go together well and she was gracious enough to be in the band.

Scott's contribution came through Myspace. I love Summer Cats. They are one of my favorite contemporary bands. I put them in our top five friends or whatever on Myspace. Scott saw this and messaged me. Apparently he likes Gold-Bears! So we hit it off and I asked him to play keyboard on the album. He played live with us at NYC Popfest. It was magical. The best thing is that since I asked these folks to be in the band they've become good friends.

What was the thinking behind taking a photobooth on tour recently? Is it coming to Indietracks?

Erich made a photobooth for one of his bff's birthday parties. He wanted to bring it on tour. Nick and Santiago were against it but Erich and I were into it so we just brought it. It was a pain the first 2-3 nights. It took about an hour to set up and break down but we got better at it and it went smoother the rest of the tour.

Unfortunately, we cannot bring the photobooth on tour again. We broke it at the NYC Popfest when Nick and Erich were dancing on it during Go Sailor's set. Who can blame ‘em?!

How important was Slumberland in the band's development? Are you particular fans of any bands on the label?

Slumberland was extremely important in our development, particularly my songwriting. I’ve been a fan since I was a youngster. I once told someone that Mike Schulman either released or is thanked on my favorite records.

Record Store by Gold-Bears

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