As I begin to consider the best of the year, and wrap up 2016, it has been a good opportunity to catch up with a few artists and discuss how 2016 has been for them.
So for the third interview in the past week or two, I turn my attention to an up-and-coming band from Chicago who I came across originally when I met the original two band members at Cold Waves III in 2014. Since then, they have released a number of singles and EPs, toured across the mid-west, and most recently played probably their biggest show opening up Cold Waves V – and have now expanded to a four-piece.
With their latest EP This Feels Like Living out next week, I caught up with the band to talk about the state of the band right now.
amodelofcontrol.com: Hi folks, you’ve just come back from a short mid-west tour. How’s things in the world of Ganser?
Ganser (Alicia): Things are busy. Being DIY has its advantages, but it’s a lot of work. Thankfully we had the help of some great people in the cities we visited.
amodelofcontrol.com: For those of my readers that don’t know about you, tell us about the band. How did Ganser come to be?
Ganser (Nadia): It started in the winter of 2014 with Alicia and I passing files, discussing ideas over drinks and humming unintelligible ideas into our phones. I think we were both just looking for something more outside of our creative jobs. An outlet for our demons so to speak. It all just evolved from there.
amodelofcontrol.com: You are part of quite a groundswell of a revival of post-punk influenced music right now. Are there particular bands that made you want to do this, or were important on your musical frame of reference?
Ganser (Alicia): In addition to the obvious canon of the genre, I think the reason why this is all happening now is because the edges of post-punk are very fuzzy and permeable. It also plays well with other forms of art very well, whether it be design, film or literature. I’m very excited by the no wave bands that seem to be popping up, I’m glad post-punk’s influence is growing beyond a very narrow sonic aesthetic influenced by Joy Division and the like. Also, the diversity of voices now is leading to some very exciting places. Nadia and I saw Algiers in Berlin around New Years, they were very unique and energizing.
Ganser (Charlie): I’m not sure its as much contemporary influences for me (as wonderful as a lot of them are), as it is the fact that some of my favorite bands that I’ve listened to since being a teenager are often labelled as post-punk. Bands from The Make-Up all the way to The Birthday Party; the reason I like to build under that umbrella is because essentially there are no rules. It just makes the most sense to me.
amodelofcontrol.com: You’ve released a few EPs and singles over the past few years (with a new EP This Feels Like Living to come) – does it make sense for you to drip-feed releases like this, or do you have plans to release a full-length album in time?
Ganser (Nadia): It would be great to do a full release at some point. That said I do think the way music is being consumed has changed with the rise of digital releases and self-recording making it more accessible for the artists as well as the consumer to keep a more constant dialog. At this point we do everything DIY, so there’s a lot that goes into it for us between the promoting and playing shows, organizing and scheduling releases. We aren’t signed to a label, so we release based on when we can and when it’s most beneficial to us.
amodelofcontrol.com: Indeed, tell us about said new EP.
Ganser (Alicia): These songs took shape over the course of the year, we played many of them on the West Coast during our Spring tour. There were certain elements, especially a touch of absurdism, that I think only really became clear once we stepped back and looked at what we had accumulated. I think it really helped us to see where we’re heading from here.
Ganser (Nadia): This Feels Like Living is really the first release that we have all collaborated on. It’s more true to what we are interested in exploring musically than our previous EP. There is still the same focus on internal struggle, but the execution is clearer, I think, from a style perspective. Like we figured out what language we are speaking.
amodelofcontrol.com: Recently you opened Cold Waves V by being the first band on (supporting Stabbing Westward at the Double Door on the Thursday night). How did that go – I rather thought I detected some serious nerves as you took the stage…
Ganser (Nadia): Haha yeah! It was probably the largest number of bodies we have ever played to. I remember coming on stage and just focusing on my gear set up, so when I finally did glance out into the crowd it was just a wall of dudes with a sea of people behind them. It was a mix of excitement and “WHAT EVEN IS THIS!?”. After the first song got going though, it was like settling back into a familiar feeling of playing on a stage with my favorite people and it was a blast.
Ganser (Brian): Personally, no nerves. The whole point of playing live shows is to play to packed rooms and I approach every show the same whether there are 10 people out there or 1000.
amodelofcontrol.com: The band has expanded with new members now. Has that changed the dynamic of the band, or how you compose and play music?
Ganser (Brian): Despite our common core of influences, we come from a diverse background which will helps keep our output dangerous and unexpected.
Ganser (Nadia): It changed everything. For one, having live drums is a completely different and exciting element. Brian is amazingly talented and brings his own sound to everything. Charlie is also amazingly talented and brought that bit of chaotic energy that plays well with us, I think it was a very necessary addition. Everyone brings their own elements to the table and the results have been really exciting to see.
Ganser (Alicia): It’s changed the writing process, definitely. With the freedom of having four people playing, more things were written and recorded as they’re played live, as opposed to trying to replicate something put together in a DAW.
amodelofcontrol.com: How do you feel about the music scene in Chicago at the moment? Does it excite you?
Ganser (Charlie): Theres a lot of cool music of pretty much every kind going on in Chicago now. A lot of the good stuff seems to be playing around a lot with their influences so you get some really cool, really inspiring stuff. Also the community seems to always be willing to help each other out and theres not much drama that goes on. Everyone just kinda wants to do their art.
Ganser (Nadia): Chicago has a great music scene, everyone we work with and play with is so supportive and willing to help each other out. It’s a really nurturing community in our experience and there are so many talented and inspiring people in the city.
Ganser (Alicia): We’re really lucky to be playing in a city that has the warmth of a smaller music scene, but still has a variety of venues and touring bands that pass through. Beyond our own shows, we each probably attend 2-3 shows a month. It’s hard to be complacent with your own work in that context.
Ganser (Brian): There are a lot of great bands comprised of a lot of great people who want to help each other out and make the scene strong. It isn’t confined to one neighborhood, it draws from the whole city.