Here’s our interview With Jordan Gatesmith of Howler. The band’s debut album ‘America Give Up’, is available on Rough Trade Records.
Charles Brownstein: What was the origin and inspiration behind the title America Give Up, and what is your take on how much media interest has been involved with the band and the record?
Jordan Gatesmith: All of 2010 I think the band’s motto or a lot of members of the band, me and Max, we would, we would just, say, tell people to give up a lot. It was kind of like, if someone was trying to hard it was just kind of like, ah, fuck that, let’s just give up. Or, you know even to each other we would be like, ah, Max you’re just trying too hard you should just give up. Or joke ah, maybe America’s just trying to hard, just give up.
Um, so it, it, it it’s like, the title is not supposed to be this huge, bold political statement. It’s supposed to just look like a huge, bold political statement. But in the end it’s highly sarcastic and supposed to be taken um, almost as a joke because we think it’s hilarious. It’s really crazy, I’ve lived, I guess I’ve been in so many bands in the past. I guess I’m young, I mean I am 19, so um, but I’ve been in so many bands that really like put so much work into music. And this album was definitely exciting for all of us, but we never like said set any demos up with labels, you know we never like pushed too hard to um you know, it was necessary like you know to find like a major label at the time, it just sort of happened. And everything, everything since then has been like, a giant surprise, so um, it’s, it’s definitely been bizarre and unexpected. But uh, but cool none the less, yeah.
CB: How did Howler get signed to the prestigious Rough Trade label, and how has the experience been so far?
JG: Yeah it’s um, it’s so random. He didn’t, he didn’t really um, see us even when he uh, when he approached signing us, yeah. We were you know, we were playing a show in Minneapolis, and there was a, Pitchfork writer, and he also worked for Enemy, at a show, um, and we had no idea, he didn’t even talk to us at all. He liked us, I don’t even know why he was there, but he liked us and he took our demo and he sent it to Chuck Travis cause he was writing on the tenth anniversary of the Strokes for Pitchfork or something.
And um, so Geoff Travis liked it, and sent a note to our agent to come to Minneapolis and see a show. And we were alerted about this and was like that’s really bizarre. And so that happened, and they started talking, right after the gig, they started talking uh contracts and whatever, did the EP deal, and I think two months later, Geoff saw us in New York and right then it was just kind of like, yep, let’s go. It’s like a lifelong, like dream come true.
CB: Paid to play music and travel, not bad for a young band!
JG: I mean, everyone wants, you know, so many people want, what I have right now. And not many people kind of get it. And I’m very aware of that so um, and it, honestly I was kind of skeptical to be at at this point in my life, but I got so early on. And uh, and yes it is amazing to uh kind of have that opportunity. I’m playing Japan in February, he’s going to fly us out, we have three shows. I mean, it’s cool. Honestly I’ve never been out of the US before. And all of a sudden I get the opportunity to go to these crazy freaking places, and uh, and play music, so it’s not bad.
JG: Well it’s kind of interesting because uh, we get you know, all sorts of weird things all the time, to some things that are accurate and some things that are not. But um, I kind of listen to, and I think the band kind of collectively tells us to listen to all sorts of music, it’s never really anything in particular. It’s just kind of this mesh of things that we’re looking through at the time. And uh, so I mean, there’s tons of things I was looking to at the time, but I mean one of the things that would kind of stand out on this new record, especially with the um, a lot of like, kind of like late 80s early 90s shoe days bands. We listen to a lot of um, My Bloody Valentine actually, um. So kind of things like that I think. And, and also bands from the 60s, kind of 60s garage bands, we were doing the whole Sonics bit, and kind of get into the whole Monks bit.
Growing up I was kind of into kind of punk rock stuff, and um, I think kind of learning that about had some kind of place in the punk world was really interesting for me to find out, and uh yeah I really sought out a lot of the Replacements and a lot of Husker Du, and Prince I love Prince. Lol!
CB: Tell me about the producer of the record?
JG: His name is Chris Hideman. He was kind of in this uh, 90s kind of like band that kind of blew up a little bit. They were called Suck Patch, kind of uh, then he stepped away from music for a while, since the late, late 90s. And then in the last five years he’s kind of, in Minneapolis he’s just been recording a lot of young talent in Minneapolis and uh, so I met him kind of through the scene or whatever and approached him and asked him if he would work with me.
He’s a really exciting guy to work with, I mean, of course I knew him so it wasn’t awkward or anything but everyday he just, he’s very enthusiastic and you kind of go in there and he’s just got all these fucked up things for you to do. So anything that, anything that uh, anything disgusting that he could do, just making noisy and kind of crazy, he was always finding new ways to give us some kind of crazy