GLORIA RECORD – interview by tom maxwell
People constantly say that there is no good music anymore. Music enthusiasts are constantly looking for the next new wave of great rock bands. With the establishment of bands like Radiohead, Doves, Modest Mouse, The Promise Ring, Jets to Brazil and many other we have a start. Let me tell you something, The Gloria Record belongs on the forefront of this list of spectacular new acts. Like many bands, TGR has had their own problems establishing themselves as the musical geniuses they are, but I think they will soon shine and shed some light on the indie rock world. It seems honesty and thought is just not part of the program anymore. Well, I want to change all of this and give readers something they can sink their creative minds into. This is a band which can become all your own so make them yours before they’re everyone else’s. Here’s what Chris Simpson, TGR’s lead singer, had to say about the band and its future.
First off, “Start Here,” how has the album done and how was the tour for the album?
Chris: Its been doing pretty well. I don’t really know how to quantify; the reviews have been for the most part pretty good, but I think we haven’t gotten reviewed in a lot of the bigger publications like we hoped. It’s just a hard thing to control. You have all these people working to make things happen with your record and in the end it’s not something that anyone really has control over. The tours have also been good. The January trip was great.
I really liked you guys when I saw you in L.A.
Chris: Cool thanks man. More recently, since the actual record came out we’ve had problems with changing booking agents and trying to get things going and a lot of things not really happening as we hoped they would. So it kind of feels like we just toured the whole country in large detail and a lot of people don’t even know that we toured for our record.
Yeah! I remember going online and it seems like the tour dates were on there half a week or not even a week before the show was. It’s real hard to get kids to go when you don’t give them a lot of notice.
Chris: It’s even worse that the promoters get not much more notice on that. So basically we’ve just been tackling this year on the road. Not that it hasn’t been worth it because we love playing for whoever can get out, but it just hasn’t been great. None of the tours have really been set up properly.
It seems like you’ve kind of been in music limbo for nearly half a decade now. How does it feel to be making what I would consider epic music and being heard by a larger audience than you have since starting The Gloria Record?
Chris: I think things are definitely better than they were when we started The Gloria Record, but it doesn’t really seem that different. We started out playing for 20 people a night and now we’re playing for 300. It’s kind of like we started out because of interest from the last band playing for some pretty good crowds and then it may have tapered off for a little bit. People were more interested in past projects they liked and it wasn’t exactly the same thing. Now it feels like we are starting to build again like starting from scratch. New people are finding out about this band and enjoying it and coming out to see us. There’s more people coming out each time, but we’re definitely in certain markets playing for larger audiences than we used to. In general I don’t think its gotten that much bigger.
Mineral’s “The Power Of Falling” is honestly one of my favorite albums of all time. I’d say I like it more than any Sunny Day Real Estate or Jawbreaker album and pretty much any band that’s like that. I would even go as far to say that it is the only album in my collection that I have to listen to at least once a week. What would you say is difference between the Chris Simpson of then and now?
Chris: For starters, about 7 or 8 years, which makes a difference. I think that there’s a lot to learn between the ages of 19 and 27 and there is a lot of figuring out who you are in those years. I think what came across on the Mineral records was just a really young, naive, but really intense emotional and spiritual yearning and I think that’s definitely still there to a certain degree. As far as what of myself I’ve looked into or what I’ve heard is a lot broader. I’m interested and inspired by a lot more things now than in Mineral. The world was very small, but I kind of think that’s what a lot of people responded to about Mineral.
I definitely did, that’s for sure. Would you say in order for somebody to really appreciate The Gloria Record they have to understand what Mineral was all about first?
Chris: I hope not, personally. I don’t think so, but it is something that’s difficult for me to be objective about. I know a lot of people who, not a lot, but I’ve met people who have found out about The Gloria Record not knowing that anyone from Mineral was in The Gloria Record and later went on to find out and were very surprised because they really didn’t like Mineral at all and they really do like The Gloria Record.
The Gloria Record definitely has a different feel than Mineral did, for sure. Do you think that The Gloria Record has a very bright future? Do you guys see yourselves in the scene in the years to come or do you see yourselves moving on to other projects?
Chris: We all, more so than anything I’ve ever been a part of in the past, have something together musically, creatively and for me personally that chemistry wise gives us all a lot of faith in longevity. I think if you ask that of us right now we’d say, yeah, we’ll still be a band making records together five years from now. Because we’re so collaborative creatively, it’s not like anyone has things they want to do in The Gloria Record where they need to go elsewhere to do it. I think we’ll continue to make records that are completely different from the ones before because we’re always progressing as people and what we’re inspired by always changes. Because it’s kind of set up that way and because it’s a creative thing there’s no cooperative solo artist in our band. I don’t think there’s anyone who says God I could be doing so much more of what I want if I had my own band.
You guys aren’t trying to do the Smashing Pumpkins thing.
Chris: Right, not at all, this is everyone’s band and everyone puts in an equal amount and takes out an equal amount. Everyone controls what’s happening to an equal degree the direction they are interested in.
Do you think the addition of Ben Houtman was the last key element to making TGR become what you are now?
Chris: I think it was a very large element. I think the last key element was the drummer. A lot of people don’t really put that much focus on the drummer. We went through so many drummers and were without a drummer for so long. We tried out many perfectly competent drummers, but there’s just something we’re more interested in his (Brian’s) personality and playing style that rounds out the band. I can’t really put extra weight on any one member, I think certainly if you look at the way our sound has progressed musically, the addition of Ben and all the keyboards and organs has been the largest influence on our sound, but creatively and personally, the most recent addition, which is Brian Malone on drums is the last key element.
What would you say are the major musical differences between Mineral and The Gloria Record?
Chris: I don’t know how to quantify it objectively. It is a matter of people’s opinion. I can tell you that I don’t hear a single similarity between the two and most people would probably agree, but I don’t understand any sort of comparison between the two. I try to remind myself that the thing that most people latch onto in a band’s sound is the vocals.
Your vocals are definitely quite inspiring I must say.
Chris: Well thank you very much. That’s just what 85% of the public focuses 80% of their attention on with a band’s music. Because of that we’re kind of handicapped. I hear basically no similarities between what’s going on except for the voice. But you never hear people saying things about Jeremy’s bass lines like ‘yeah that’s a really Mineralesque bass line.’ That’s just not what people focus on.
I think anyone who gives “Start Here” an honest spin will realize that it’s significant in the modern indie world. What is it like to be breaking musical barriers again in a new band and what are you doing to prevent this band from early decomposition like Mineral? Or do you think Mineral did end early?
Chris: Well, I think as far as that’s concerned, Mineral did one thing and did it really well, but it wasn’t really a creative decision for us there wasn’t really a lot of creative energy at all. It’s just that we were young and stuff just sort of came out and we didn’t really think about it, we just did it. It’s hard for me to put to words what happened with Mineral during the creative process because it was not of the musical setting that any of us came from, the world of punk rock. But for us it was punk rock in the sense that we did what came out of us and we didn’t really edit it or change it in any way or even really think about it. We just did what felt natural and in retrospect it was unique at the time, but it wasn’t something we set out to do or set out to make at the time. I really didn’t think it was set up right personality wise and chemistry wise to be anything more than it really was. There wasn’t really the foundation that needed to be there for it to go into anything else. It kind of felt like we burnt really quickly brightly, and intensely and then there was just nothing left to do. So with this band because of that it was a goal of ours to open something up and build a foundation in terms of personality, creativity and chemistry.
I think that The Gloria Record is doing something now that nobody else is doing and I think they are doing it really well. Someday people are going to look back, similar to Mineral’s situation and say this band was extremely talented and they did something that inspired so many people and influenced so many different bands and they never got the credit they deserved at the time and they were really inspirational. TGR is influenced by anything from U2 and all different types of punk rock, but it’s come something more than what those bands are. It’s like thesis, antithesis, synthesis and you are the synthesis. What do you feel about that?
Chris: I don’t know if we are able to see it that way. To me it’s like all we’ve done is made a record that we all were a part of. Now we’re all excited about making another record that’s really different than the one we just made. We don’t really listen to “Start Here” and say ‘we really found our sound here.’
Well of course not. You guys are willing to be musicians, right?
Chris: Right, yeah. It’s just hard to control the artistic process and not ever being satisfied completely with what you’ve done. It’s not like we would ever want to change it, but we think it is such a small part of what we have inside of us.
I feel that good music should really show you a piece of somebody’s soul. They should be able to present it to you in a way you can understand and you should take something away from it. Basically, music should be from the heart. I think that the music that you’ve made has always been genuine and from the heart.
Chris: Oh totally! I’m not really sure how else to do it. I mean I guess there are other ways to do it, but they don’t seem very interesting. That’s just the one thing, the only one thing that we’ve always done. Everything else may change or progress over time, but that’s the most important thing, that we’re doing something that we believe in and something that we can get something out of, something that challenges ourselves and is honest.
You mentioned something about a new album; do you know when that will be happening?
Chris: We haven’t even started writing it. Because of all this problems with booking we’re kind of forced now to sit at home until we start touring again in the fall. We’re going to be at home so we might as well write another one. It’s not like we’re not going to get together and play three or four times a week and it’s not like we’re going to want to keep playing these songs. We don’t need to practice these songs anymore. In some sense, although we’re sad about the way things have panned out with this record and the tour we’re kind of excited to look forward to the next record.
What would you say to someone debating purchasing your new record and something else?
Chris: Well, hopefully they are at a record store where they can listen to the disc before they buy it. I don’t think everyone would love our music, but I think a lot more people than know about us would like our music. I’d say when you’re talking about bands like Spiritualized and Grandaddy, bands that aren’t huge, but sell a lot more records than we do and have a lot broader audience or group of people who know about their band and are able to make the decision ‘yeah I’ll check it out.’ We don’t really have that, but I think we all feel like if we did as many people would be buying our records as theirs. It’s just a difficult thing to deal with for any band. It’s a longer and harder road. I think a lot of people like our record. A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten is that you need to listen to it a few times before you really understand what is going on. I think it is a hard record to love the first time you put it on, but I think it is an equally hard record to dislike the second or third time around.
For more information about the Gloria Record visit their website at www.thegloriarecord.com or their label’s website at www.arenarockrecords.com.