As promised, here is Part II of my interview with Gabe from Gap Dream. In this portion we talk a bit about his song-writing process, his thoughts about tour as well as being in the studio, and touch on a few other heady, pseudo-philsophical discussions. Enjoy! I’d like to take a second to say a warm-hearted thank you to Gabe for taking the time to do the interview. It was a really fun time! He’s so quick to a laugh, and just a really genuine, down-to-earth dude. Be sure to check out his latest record with Gap Dream, “Shine Your Light”. And if you haven’t already you should also check out his first album as well. To all you cool cats and groovy lionesses out there who weren’t able to check out his set over at SXSW this week, if you happen to be in the Santa Ana area over in sweet, sunny Califonayeaa this time next weekend (22nd-23rd), I’d highly recommend you check out his set at Burgerama, in addition to all the other sick bands that are playing! Last thing, I’d like to also say a genuine thank-you to Scott for setting the interview up! And you know what? Thank YOU for loving music. Yeah, I’m talking to you, you beautiful human, you! Now, without further adieu, here’s part II…
NS: When you do your work or write your songs, are you the type of person who kind of does a little bit every day, or do you only work when inspiration strikes?
GF: It’s different every day, and every song is different. Sometimes I’ll be laying in bed at 4 AM and go, “Oh my God!” And I’ll run out of bed and turn everything on and I’ll have something going. And sometimes those things turn into things that I can’t finish—I’ll hit a wall and then I’ll scrap it. It just depends. Each song is different. I can’t control it. When I’m going to work on it, or how much I’m going to put in when I do, but I try not to waste stuff because I do have a lot of unfinished ideas, which is a huge bummer-or like things that I won’t do anything with because they didn’t live to a certain expectation. But really, it just depends. I can go three months without doing anything and then all of a sudden one day I’ll have 5 songs. If I try to structure it and say, “OK, I’m going to do this, and this, etc.” I’m too scatterbrain to do that anyway. So I can’t even give myself a schedule like that. For me, it’s like, I wish I could be making stuff all the time. Like Ricky from The Memory, he is a machine. He just comes up with stuff. He’ll write like 40 songs in a week, and I can’t do that, that’s just not how I operate. I always wish I could be like that just because it’d be cool to see how much shit I could come up with, but at the same time, it’s exhausting. A lot of the sounds I use lead to ear fatigue quickly. Like when I did “Sister Ray”. That’s 18 minutes long. Now if you think about that—how many times could you hear an 18-minute long song over and over again? I’d have to do a patch of it, like one part of it, and then I’d have to immediately turn it off, go outside, smoke a cigarette, walk up to get coffee, come back, get stoned and then I could do another one. You know what I mean? Just because it was so much! And that song took forever to work on because it was so lengthy and so repetitive. I can barely listen to it now. I think I’ll need a year before I can hear that one with fresh ears.
GF: And that’s a bummer because in order for me to complete it, I really need to not hear it so many times. And some songs are different. Some songs will sit for two weeks. Shine your Love sat for two weeks without vocals. I almost scrapped that song because I couldn’t come up with anything. But that’s the thing. If I have a song, I try to set a reasonable deadline with that song, depending on how complete it is. Like, if it has vocals, and I’m iffy on the vocals, or I want to re-record them, then I’ll just be like, “Stop working on it, wait till tomorrow or listen to it next week and see what you think.” That’s because I work by myself. When I was working with Bobby, it was great because I’d send him stuff, and he’d make cuts. He never really added, but he made cuts, and the cuts that he made were good because the cuts sometimes would be like, completely distracting ideas that could have been things that would be a song on their own. I don’t know…having another set of ears was really helpful. Working alone is difficult
NS: Yeah, I can imagine! On the plus side, I imagine working alone does give you the opportunity to craft your own vision
GF: Yeah it’s good for that because you get what you want out of it—exactly what you want. But sometimes what you want isn’t letting you be done. So that’s always difficult. It’s good to have someone that will make cuts. Like if you’re working with somebody and they tell you that they’ll do that. It’s hard to tell yourself “no”. Working with him kind of taught me how to cut stuff so I’ve become better in that regard. It’s all a learning experience
NS: Do you prefer to be in the studio crafting songs, or on stage playing those songs and getting the response from the crowd?
GF: Umm, I’d rather be recording! (Laughs) I like playing when I’m playing, but I don’t like thinking about how I have to play. I don’t like dealing with myself after I play…you know? Cuz it’s just such an emotional level. Like it’s an insane emotional level. You know, playing live. Comparatively, recording is controlled emotions–like this part is going to sound sad so I can channel that. Live, you’re trying to articulate feelings and emotions through sound, but there’s also way too much anxiety—like your anxiety is way high. That’s why some bands will play faster live—it’s nerve wracking having people watch you. But I love both. I like what both can offer. Playing live is really fun, but it’s one of those things where, like, you’re not recording so, you know, you’re not able to stop the song and redo the vocal track (laughs). So a lot of the time when people will be like “check out this video of you playing!” I’m like “oh, great” (laughs). It’s fun to play live though, it’s fun to do something ridiculous while you’re playing and then Cory, who plays guitar, will laugh, or recognize a joke from earlier, and incorporate it into the set somehow. Also, I kind of like the challenge of playing live. Cuz sometimes you’re setting your shit up and you’re just like, “Oh God…oh God!” and then it’s just like, “No!” right when the song starts in and all of a sudden you feel like Marty McFly coming back to life during “Earth Angel” (Laughs). But everything else that comes with it, like all the party stuff and social stuff…like, “I’m in the baaaanndd” that kind of crap. That stuff gets on my nerves after awhile.
NS: What do you mean?
GF: My dream would be, if there was a gig, like before the gig we would spend three hours hanging out somewhere really relaxing and getting completely stoned and watching a good movie or something to make you laugh, and then going and playing and then immediately leaving, and not having to drink, or not having to be there. Cuz the thing is, it’s like going to Prom every night, you know? (Laughs). You walk in there and no one’s drunk yet, so it’s all tense. And then people start getting their beer and then it’s a little bit all right, and then it gets a little crazy.
NS: I think I know what you mean, especially doing it every day. I could see how that could be really tiring.
GF: EVERY DAY! (Laughs) it’s like, “Oh my God!” (Laughs) I don’t know, it’s good. I have a fun time. I try to have as much fun as I can. I try not to dwell on the stuff that’s a drag, but tour is rough. People don’t realize how hard on your body it is, and how hard on your mind. They think you’re going on vacation or something, but it’s not—it’s work. You’re in the rain and snow, you know what I mean?
NS: It’s not the rock star tour fantasy that everyone tends to think of it as.
GF: You’re on two hours of sleep every day, you’re completely fried, and hung over and exhausted; and your body hurts. You smoke so many cigarettes you feel like your lungs are going to fall out (laughs). It’s like everything hurts, your back hurts, you’ve been sleeping on the floor, you’ve been sleeping curled up in a van…you fell asleep with some dude talking your ear off at 7 in the morning, he was doing blow all night, and you’re just trying to catch some fucking zzz’s. You know what I mean? It just sucks. It’s not what you wanna be doing. And then there’s people you know here in this town, so you want to leave a good impression so you have to try to like muster everything you have to be somewhat pleasant. It’s difficult cuz there’s a lot of expectations. You want it to be a good time, you want to be a good vibe, you want to be approachable if people are coming up and saying “hi” or “hey we liked your set”, you just want to be as out-of-touch with the emotional monster you want to be. (Laughs) Cuz all I want to do is just fucking destroy shit. Like I just wanna go Elvis the fucking backstage room as bad as I can, you know what I mean? But I’m not going to do that because the club was really nice to us, you know? Everything was great and there’s nothing to complain about, but you’re just so wound up.
NS: What are you listening to these days? Are there any artists that you’re currently inspired by?
GF: Hmm, I haven’t been picked up a lot of records lately. A lot of records come through here. I always have difficulty answering this question. So umm…I don’t know that’s all I’ve got for that one, I’m sorry.
NS: You’re fine! Well I know you liked Sonic Youth a lot growing up, do they still have an influence on you?
GF: Umm, not quite…I mean maybe inadvertently. That guitar tone is just etched in my mind forever.
NS: Their guitar tones are incredible!
GF: And you can tell when someone else is trying to do it, it’s like “ok Lee Renaldo, alright” (laughs). They’re a great band. I use to spend hours listening to them, thinking about them. I never wanted to meet any of them because—I’m sure they’re nice—but I didn’t want there to be the slightest bit of, “Oh they’re dicks so I’m just gonna go home and burn everything” (laughs). I yelled at Thurston Moore. He was playing this show last year, and there was a bar right outside next to the stage outside and I was just going “YEAHHHH THURSTON MOORE!!!!!” So that was my little thing for him. I don’t know, they’re cool. They’re a good band…they were a good band. And all the side projects, like Thurston Moore’s solo records are really good, Lee Ranaldo’s solo records are good.
NS: You’re really into King Tuff too, right?
GF: Yeah I love King Tuff. I just heard some new King Tuff the other day in the studio and it was really good; he’s great! We hang out now. I get to hang out with him now (laughs). He was one of the first friends I made through Burger. The first South By Southwest that we went down there, they introduced me to everybody, and we got along really well. We both like to drink coffee, and we’re both silly. He loves to laugh, I like to laugh too. I love hanging out with him, he just got a new house and he’s been getting settled in; and I’ve been waiting for him to tell me he’s got a guest bed waiting for me (laughs). I just saw him last Friday! We went to the Book Fair. Him and his girlfriend, Amy, were there and we were all hanging out. It’s always nice to see him.
NS: Would you say he’s the person you’re the closest with out there?
GF: I’m kind of equally close with everybody, more so with Lee and Sean because I see them frequently; and Bobby as well. But I love running into people. That’s the coolest thing about being out here. It’s like…it’s just funny, you know? It’s crazy! You start hanging out with people— and I don’t wanna name any names—that you really look up to, and it’s so funny cuz it’s just like, “Whoa!” (Laughs) and they just wanna be buddies. It’s the coolest thing! I’ll be secretly sitting there, getting really stoked (laughs). It’s just cool to think about my life compared to how it was a few years ago to how it is now—it’s an entirely different trip in a really crazy way. I can’t complain.
NS: Living the dream!
GF: It’s cool! Burger and all this stuff going on out in California. It’s a trip. It’s weird, I remember when I first moved here a year ago, I was like over here going to sleep and I was thinking about where I was and what I was doing, and I couldn’t believe it.
NS: It’s amazing how fast things can change.
GF: Oh I know! It’s scary, cuz it’s like, “Well what the fuck is coming next?!” I don’t know, I feel like Tarzan (laughs). You know what I mean? You know like, “We found this mutant weirdo in the jungle somewhere, let’s try to rehabilitate him!” (laughs)
Everyone thinks I’m crazy; they have to think I’m crazy! I feel like a wild animal, like, you know when you have a cat that just can’t settle the fuck down? That’s how I am.
NS: (Laughs) I feel like you probably fit in pretty well out there. Everyone’s engaging that lifestyle for the love of it, so I feel like you’re right where you need to be.
GF: Oh it’s crazy. Like New Years Eve. I was hanging out Alex Knost—and I know there’s this level ‘Alex Knost the pro surfer’, like he may as well be Hulk Hogan (laughs)—but I don’t know that, you know? I know him as my boy, Alex! Like, me and him like to hang out and get loose together, you know. He’s a riot, I love him! And I’m sitting there hanging out and it’s New Years Eve, and like, you know, everyone’s taking pictures and putting them up on Instagram and all that kind of crap, and my buddy, nick, texts me and he’s all, “OMG YOU’RE HANGING OUT WITH ALEX KNOST!” And I’m just like, “oh yeah, Alex” (laughs). And it’s cool that I’m hanging out with my friend, Alex, and there’s a connection made for my friend, Nick, to contact me, and it’s New Years Eve and I’m happy to hear from everybody. It’s cool how it works like that. Like how you’re attracted to people and they attract other people, and you realize how small the world is, and how many people you know and how many mutual friends everyone has—it’s wild.
NS: In a sense it shows you how we’re all connected
GF: Totally! People don’t want to admit it, but we are
NS: Physics proves that everything is a series of relations on the quantum level, and I feel like that transfers over to reality and people. Like we’re all recycled stardust from the beginning of the universe. Like at one point, a million years ago, we were all literally connected.
GF: And there’s memories, and De Jah Vu, and all that. Or like you meet somebody and you feel like you’ve known them forever—you did!
NS: Yes, exactly! You totally did!
GF: And we’re not supposed to talk about that stuff, but…(laughs) you know.
NS: Sometimes I think it’s the greatest thing to talk about because it shows that we’re not as isolated as we try to make ourselves out to be.
GF: We’re not as important as we think we are. And that’s the thing, that’s anxiety. And people are conditioned in this time to have high anxiety, and I don’t know for what reason, but I think it keeps everyone distracted from what they should be focusing on.
NS: We spoke earlier about how the internet has helped to change music, so having that said, what do you see for the future of music as well as the future of Gap Dream?
GF: Oh man, those are both questions I can’t answer. I don’t know. Well, for the first question, I would hope that the next generation of people won’t have as much difficulty making a living at this, and I hope to see all of the greed and all of the things that hold music from what it could become…I would love to see all those things eradicated in the next 20 years. I would love to see it just restart and become something that people actually do because they HAVE to do it. I’d like to see things get kind of cleaned out. Like right now, there’s a lot of clutter, and there’s a lot of encouragement for the clutter to start. I would like that disappear. I’d like to see it become more streamlined. I’d like to see people actually buying physical forms of records instead of listening to this shit on Spotify. I’d like to see people buying stereo systems and listening to music on stereo systems instead of listening to it on their laptop. People spend thousands of dollars making their shit sound good, and people turn around and listen to it on their laptop speakers, you know what I mean? I’d love to see people try to take that serious because that’s part of the experience. That’s why it’s been cheapened. You know, music has been cheapened. It’s been boiled down to a file on a computer on a hard drive somewhere. That’s not music, that’s your homework! That’s your stupid text file for your video game that you’re trying to cheat, you know? I’d love to see people take it more seriously. There are people out there who are willing to take it seriously, they just don’t know where to look, they don’t know what to find to take seriously. I hope to see people realizing that they’re missing a lot, and relying on other people to tell them what’s good. I’d love to see them try to make that decision for themselves. I’d like to see more people looking, trying to find better music from the past or from the present. And then for the future of Gap Dream…I don’t know, that’s up to you guys (laughs)
NS: Well I, for one, hope to see you continue to work on your craft and keeping putting records out there!
GF: I think that’s probably what’s going to happen one way or the other.