In their latest urgent, sentimental, ambient, and technical full length “What Gives” (2015), Montreal indie emo math rockers from GULFER (est. 2011) have produced something that is very much their own. One year later, they are eligible to broaden their wings under the auspices of ther new label, Big Scary Monsters (LA DISPUTE, MODERN BASEBALL, GNARWOLVES, THE FALL OF TROY, Kevin Devine, MEWITHOUTYOU). GULFER sat down with IDIOTEQ to discuss their evolution, touring, playing with an addictive, smart level, polyrhythmic experiments, using standard instruments as facilitators of uncommon timbres and textures, and plans for the new album in 2017.
“What Gives” will receive its vinyl re-release in August on Big Scary Monsters. The record is being reissued on only 500 copies including a limited green splatter. GULFER will be hitting Europe throughout August and September. Joining them on the road will be Nevada’s ALASKA :) See the dates embedded in the interview.
Black & white live photo by Quinn Langille.
Hey David! What’s up? How are you? How’s GULFER been doing this fine Spring and Summer?
We are doing fantastic! Leaving this weekend for a small tour with our good friends I LOVE YOUR LIFESTYLE from Sweden, then a few dates with the REPTILIAN in July, and then Europe and UK in August!! We are also about to announce our signing to Big Scary Monsters which is an absolute dream come true, so lots of exciting stuff coming up!
Wow, sounds amazing! I love I LOVE YOUR LIFESTYLE and congratulations on the signing! How did you ink this deal? Shoot us some details.
Thank you! we are really excited, BSM has been my favourite label in the world for years so it is really a dream. it came together pretty accidentally – I think someone tweeted about us and tagged BSM in the tweet. they checked us out, noticed we listed PENNINES as an influence, listened to our record and offered to release it on vinyl! We are planning on having a new full length with them out next summer as well.
Cool. And how about those dates you mentioned. How is the booking going? Do you have plans for spending the whole time in Europe playin’ gigs?
It’s going pretty well! We booked most of it ourselves with the help of I LOVE YOUR LIFESTYLE, so it’s been fun but also challenging because we have only been to Europe once before. We are still looking for a show in Copenhagen though!
Do you find yourself more comfortable touring your local spots rather than doing international treks?
At this point we are most excited about touring internationally, especially UK/EU and hopefully japan next year. But touring in Canada is definitely most comfortable, and easiest because we don’t have to cross borders. There aren’t many places to play around Montreal but we have had some of our most memorable shows in Quebec city so I’m really excited to get back there next month.
Where would you say has been the most fun country or venue you’ve played?
Krakow was one of the biggest and craziest crowds we ever played to, and it was also an 80’s sportswear party so that was pretty unforgettable. Venice show was pretty similar and the show broke out into a 90’s dance party in a giant rave space. Crazy crowd + 80’s/90’s party = ideal GULFER show.
Nice :) What’s the most important thing you learned from touring, and how has this changed you as a person?
I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is not to take things too seriously. If a show is running late, or not well attended etc, it feels so much better to just enjoy the moment for what it is instead of stressing out. we don’t get to tour often so it’s important to be positive and have fun while it lasts.
I thought we can skip this part of our talk when we discuss your latest record, but listening to ‘What Gives’, I just can’t miss this opportunity :) Listening to your latest record proved to be quite a tricky, emotional, almost cinematic experience. Apart from other musicians and strictly sonic influences, what things outside of music most inspire you currently?
I had to defer to Vincent for this one because he writes most of the songs. He says he is inspired by sad stories, in both his life and in the lives of people he knows. Things like homelessness, drug addiction, mental health etc. He also likes skate videos and Sylvia Path!
Do your day jobs and other activities have any impact on your music?
I am a full time concert booker in Montreal, so I guess that helps make connections, but doesn’t really have an impact on the songs. joey who just joined the band is a neuroscientist so we are excited to have him on board writing songs!! Neuroscience-rock.
Haha, nice. So what is it about this noodly twinkling indie math emo rockin’ that convinced you to bring its features to your work?
We all grew up loving that music so I guess our goal was to combine all those micro-genres and offer our own unique interpretation of it. We are flirting with some more traditional, straightforward indie-rock ideas on the new record we’ve been writing so it’s been cool to try and fuse that with the technical tapping stuff.
By the way labels and styles, don’t you think all these names, genres, tags etc. are causing harm in their inability to be fully comprehensive?
I think they are helpful to provide context and a frame of reference. Genre classifications helped me discover a lot of music when I was a young person so hopefully by self-identifying as “math-rock” will allow someone to discover the genre and start finding some of the bands that influenced us! But at the same time I like how ambiguous our music is and how it doesn’t quite conform uniquely to any specific genre.
Could you talk a little about your process of composing based on weird time signatures and creating such adventurous tracks?
Vincent: Sometimes the riffs are naturally coming together in other time signatures than the regular 4/4 . Sometimes it’s just a matter of keeping songs interesting to play or interesting for the listener. But I spent my whole highschool listening to prog music such as gentle giant and gong so my ears have always been familiar with 7/4 or 5/4.
As artists do you feel a certain responsibility to create something that challenges and educates as well as entertains? Do you aim to send a specific overall message to the listeners?
I think our primary goal is just to have fun. At the end of the day, some listeners might be challenged by the mathier aspects of our sound but that is definitely not a calculated objective. We are definitely do not have a message to send aside from our love of dogs and smoking weed!
Haha, fair enough. Ok, so how do you feel your work has developed since you began and how do you see GULFER evolving in the future?
Our work has definitely developed from release to release. The earliest stuff is really influenced by UK math-pop and American bands like MAPS AND ATLASES, and our more recent stuff is definitely informed by the recent emo revival. I’m most excited about the new record we’re writing because I think it is our most original and unique work to date, and also possibly our most accessible. It’s really simple and straightforward but also subtly mathy and disjointed. We’ve also added two new members since we started writing it so I think they’ve added a fresh perspective which is really exciting. We are excited to play a lot of new songs in Europe and see what the reaction is!
Ok, so lastly, what new artists and upcoming projects from Montreal shall we keep an eye out for this year?
Thanks so much! Thanks for your time. Feel free to drop your final words and take care! Cheers from Poland!
Thanks for taking the time out to interview us! We are touring Europe/UK this fall, from Aug 15 – Sept 8. It is our first time headlining over there and we are super nervous!! We also just signed to Big Scary Monsters and will be putting out a new record next year so look out for that! And feel free to check out our other projects: GOLDEN PYTHON, BAS RELIEF, STEVENSON & BISBAYE! Thanks again Karol!!
15.08 – Dublin, IR @ Hangar w/ Vasudeva
19.08 – Bristol, UK @ ArcTanGent
21.08 – Dunkirk, FR @ La Kalvaire (w/ Sport + I Love Your Lifestyle)
22.08 – Antwerp, BE @ Kavka (w/ Sport + I Love Your Lifestyle)
23.08 – Münster, DE @ Gleis 22 (w/ Listener)
24.08 – Copenhagen, DK @ TBA
25.08 – Stockholm, SE @ Kafé 44 (w/ I Love Your Lifestyle)
26.08 – Gothenburg, SE @ TBA (w/ I Love Your Lifestyle)
27.08 – Malmo, SE @ Grand Öl & Mat
28.08 – Hamburg, DE @ Astra Strube
29.08 – Berlin, DE @ Schokoladen
30.08 – Prague, CZ @ Cafe Ve Lese
31.08 – Mainz, DE @ Haus Mainusch
01.09 – Cologne, DE @ Privat
02.09 – Paris, FR @ Café Olympic (w/ I Love Your Lifestyle)
04.09 – Brighton, UK @ Sticky Mike’s (w/ Bayone)