My newest interview is with the Colorado maximalist duo Gauntlet Hair. After two 7″s and lots of national praise, I talked with Andy R. about their sound, Denver, their success, and their future. Hit the jump for the full interview.
The Noise Is: Unlike a few others, I think the name Gauntlet Hair is perfect! How did you guys land on it? And how did the group get its start? Was a two-piece the idea from the start?
Andy R.: The name came about when we lived in Chicago. Long story. I can tell you that it has absolutely nothing to do with video games or some infatuation with the Medieval. I’ve tried to explain it before but I don’t think anyone payed attention. So lets just say that its personal.
Gauntlet Hair started in Chicago but Craig and I have been playing together since our freshman year of high-school. Our first practice space was his moms basement. You could say our sound kind of grew with us…punk rock(15-16 y.o.)… grindcore(16-17)…some kind of folk(18-19)…experimental noise(19-20)…Gauntlet Hair(20-present).
Being a two-piece was not the initial idea. We’ve played with a lot of different people. It just took us a while to realize that we don’t work well with others.
TNI: To this point, you’ve only released five songs onto the web, with four of them getting official releases on 7”s from Forest Family Records and Mexican Summer. How did those releases work out?
AR: Well, if you mean how did those releases come about, Forest Family contacted us and asked if we would like to put out a 7″ with them. We accepted. Same goes for Mexican Summer. That’s about it. We really appreciate Forest Family for taking a risk with an unknown band like us, though. They are really awesome people.
TNI: All of those songs have been received extremely well almost everywhere across the blog world, especially “I Was Thinking…” What’s been the biggest surprise to you guys over the course of the past year?
AR: Well, I think just that. How it took off was completely unexpected. We’ve been writing music for a long time now but no one was listening. That validation was the biggest surprise. Another would be how “I Was Thinking…” became some sort of strange sport anthem. We’ve been asked by so many snowboarding/surfing/skateboarding companies to use the song for videos or competition. It’s hilarious because that song is about some serious depression that we’ve dealt with and how we coped. I love thinking about some dude tearing up the waves to that.
TNI: You’ve been given comparisons to bands such as Japandroids, The Big Pink, and Animal Collective, along with Cadbury Creme similarities! What would you say was the biggest influences behind the music, and what’s your own drive?
AR: I assume that when people make comparisons like that they just haven’t listened to enough music. We don’t really sound like any of those bands…at all. If you consider the use or reverb to be Animal Collectives sound, then fuck, I guess most bands sound like them these days. How depressing. Animal Collective, the band that invented reverb. Ha!
It’s really hard to say what the influences have been. I mean, from the first music that we ever heard to now…it could be anything. It probably doesn’t have much to do with the music that we’ve listened to but more with the everyday. Whatever is going on in our lives the day we write something.
I guess the drive is that we can’t stop. Couldn’t if we wanted to. It’s really all that we do.
TNI: And to talk more about your sound more specifically, it seems that you have definitely found a comfortable niche and definitive sound with the ultra-reverbed vocals, crazy guitars effects, and the combination of real drums and beat machines. Was this the sound you have always been trying to get, and how did you fall into it?
AR: We have found a bit of a niche but aren’t sticking with it by any means. We’re really trying to not limit ourselves to a specific sound. That niche just sort of happened. It’s a culmination of all of our phases. Its’ constantly shifting though. Not sure what’s next…but I have a feeling that it will be more minimal.
TNI: In the past year, incredible bands like Tennis, Woodsman, and Tjutjuna, as well as yourselves, ave erupted from Denver, Colorado. What’s the scene like, and what’s the support level from locals?
AR: The support level is amazing…constant encouragement…but that’s also the downfall. There is a complete lack of criticism, which is crucial. It doesn’t have to be negative, even a critique would be nice, something that drives you to push even further, but no. No one really assumes that role here. So it has become very hard to gauge where we’re at and how far we have come.
Same thing sort of goes with the scene. It’s promising, and yes, we have a lot of talent out here, but I don’t think that enough people are pushing themselves to their limits, including us.
MP3: || “Out, Don’t…” ||
TNI: Now I just found out about it recently, but tell me a little about the Denver DIY space Rhinocerapolis?
AR: Rhinoceropolis has been home to the true Denver music scene for a while now. It’s a space where anything goes really. Anyone can play or show their art and they won’t be judged, just supported. Which again can be a bit poisonous, but is needed. We would never have played our first show if we didn’t have an environment like that to perform in. We are all very fortunate to have something like that in Denver. The scene here would be tragic if we didn’t have a creative haven.
TNI: I’ve only come upon a few live videos on YouTube, and it seems you guys jam pretty hard! How do you personally feel about your live show, and could you see yourself doing big tours in the future?
AR: The live part is a bit tricky, or I should say was tricky. I think all of the live footage out there was when we were still a 2-piece for shows. At the time we were relying heavily on loops to make up for the lack of people in the band. It became incredibly difficult for me to play guitar, sing, and trigger loops to be perfectly on time. So we scrapped that way and got another guitar player, Doran Robischon (we love that kid). Our shows have since improved but are still a bit disappointing for me because I want them to have everything that the recordings do. Its just not possible without more members though…and like said before, we don’t work well with others. But It’s good enough for now, and we’ll definitely be doing some serious tours in the near future.
TNI: What gave you the idea to walk around with your dog for the video for “I Was Thinking…”? Did you plan for that all along, or did it just feel right at the moment?
AR: That video was not premeditated. My friend Caitlin McNichols flew out here to see me from Chicago and I wanted to take her to the mountains. She brought this big ol’ VHS camera with her to document the trip. That video was just random shots from that day. After she flew home she started editing the video down and put it to the song as a surprise. We stuck with it. It was a really wonderful memory.
TNI: It says on your MySpace that “The writing of our full album is currently underway. We will have it for you shortly.” How is the process going right now? Writing, recording, mixing, mastering? And when does it look like it’ll be out?
AR: Its kind of grueling right now. We really hate having to force music to happen because of some deadline or whatever, but we’re getting through it. We ditched our initial idea of using loops. This album will be a bit more focused on actual songwriting than busting out a cool loop and trying to branch off of that. As far as the mixing and all, though I went to school for that and enjoy the process, it’s brutal when it comes to your own project. I’m stressed?
Let’s say summer for the album?
STREAM: || “Heave” ||
TNI: Any news on the future that you guys are excited about? Like label talks, new releases, shows, etc?
AR: Yeah, we’ve had some exciting things come up lately. The label talks have happened. I think that all worked out nicely. As far as releases, we’re going to try and keep releasing 7”s throughout the year. I like the idea of two songs at a time. Then of course the full length. Shows… we’re pretty excited about SXSW. Should be fun. We’ll be touring a lot this year so I’m sure everyone will get a chance to check us out.
Randow question time!
TNI: Vinyl, CDs, or tapes?
TNI: Favorite Pokemon?
AR: Yeesh… Bulbasaur?
TNI: Last movie you saw in theaters?
AR: Black Swan.
TNI: Favorite pro wrestler?
AR: Gold Dust? Maybe the Undertaker too…
TNI: Last full album you listened to?
AR: Tones on Tail – Pop.
TNI: Favorite 90s Nickelodeon show?
AR: Pete and Pete.
TNI: Least favorite Christmas carol?
TNI: Current band you’re psyched about?
AR: I’ll have to speak for myself since Craig is not available right now but…I really don’t listen to much “current” music. The Sound, Tones on Tail, The Durutti Column, Ambient works of Brian Eno, Sad Lovers and Giants… I guess to name something that IS current, it would have to be Twisted Wires. Indian Jewelry’s side project. Love it.
Check out Gauntlet Hair on MySpace, and look out for possible repressings of their two 7″s from Mexican Summer and Forest Family because right now they are both sold out. And it seems to be confirmed by the band’s MySpace, but Gauntlet Hair have apparently signed to Dead Oceans, who will release their full-length.