Friday, April 12, 2013

INTERVIEW: the droplets

1) Having a name such as the droplets reminds me a lot of rain. But many bands in the genre of shoegaze tend to be brighter and sunnier. A lot of them even have "sun" in their name. Was there a conscious decision to make the name not sound as much like every other name?

G:        We each just sort of free-associated a long list of candidates and then googled them to eliminate the ones that were already taken.  I don't think there was any particular attempt to avoid anything, other than having a silly or unwieldy name.  I've always liked that sort of single-word name - if it wasn't already taken, we'd just be "droplets"!  I do like the water image - Debussy would approve, and one might consider him to be the first shoegazer.

T:         Yeah, naming is less deliberate, more random or freeform than one might think.  You throw out a bunch of ideas loosely associated with images or moods that you believe evoke the music and see what sticks.  Each person involved will have different associations with words or phrases and what you feel is cool may strike someone else as lame.  You keep at until all parties agree, "that works" ... or you have a gig scheduled and you have to choose something!

I liked "the droplets" because 1) I enjoyed the way the words rolled off the tongue and 2) I had very personal set of positive images for the phrase, related to several photos taken by my wife--black and white close ups of rain droplets landing and exploding into standing pools ... hard to explain, but there was something about those images that was, for me, a visual complement to the sonics of shoegaze.

2) What are your thoughts on the rise of the shoegaze genre, since it has gone global now?

G:        It's all good - I say, let a thousand bands blossom!  It's such a compelling sound, and so open to experimentation, that I never thought it should have been left on the junk-heap of 1994.  I say, let younger bands take a crack at it and add what they can to it.  That's what is needed for it to stay vital and organic.  I listened to many dreadful, derivative 'gazers on yootoob before I accidentally discovered one of my favorites, Soundpool (and, by extension, Stargazer Lilies).

T:         I’m with Gordon on this.  My initial explorations a few years back of the modern variations on shoegaze were somewhat disappointing: too much idol worship and mimicry (of, mainly, MBV on the one hand and Slowdive, on the other).  Once we also started making music inspired by the genre I went back and began digging a little deeper, and discovered that there had been not only an explosion of new bands working in this vein, but a lot it was interesting stuff--there were some genuinely creative artists, less hidebound, inspired, but not trapped by what came before.  Exciting!

3) What is there to do in Madison, Wisconsin besides eat cheese?

G:        Eat brats!  There's a pretty healthy college-town music scene here, although it stays pretty local.  There's not, however, much in this genre happening around here that I'm aware of.  If any Madison bands want to correct me, please do!  Maybe we can share a show!

T:         You can always toil away in your basement studio making loud, fuzzy music like they did back in the late 80's and early 90's (note: having great local micro-brews on hand completes the experience).

4) You have some songs up for free on Band Camp. I subscribe to a belief that music should be free, at least in a digital sense, and then available for sale in a physical format (vinyl, cassette) Do you believe this as well?

T:         I’m not sure exactly what is right or best in this regard but I am perfectly happy to share the music for free with anyone who is interested.  I have a another musical life as an acoustic artist and, way back in 2000, began providing not only MP3s online but also free CDs to folks who requested them.  That proved to be a rewarding, very personal experience: corresponding with people, mailing CDs out to them, staying in touch afterward ...  folks were genuinely grateful and readily shared their thoughts about the music, and a surprising number made donations or reciprocated by sharing music with me ... lasting friendships were born, good vibes all around.

G:        We put ours up for free because we're not doing this to make money.  We'll be satisfied just to hear from anyone who appreciates what we're doing.  I don't know in a larger sense if music should or shouldn't be free, but that certainly seems to be the current ethos of music consumers.  It seems like all sorts of bands are trying all sorts of ways to entice listeners to listen, trade, recommend, and ultimately buy their music, but no one has *the* solution yet.  By the way, speaking of Soundpool, yes, I happily paid real money for physical product, and intend to do the same for Stargazer Lilies, and a DVD of "Beautiful Noise" too, whenever it comes out.

5) Your songs on Band Camp also say they are "from an upcoming release". What is the status of that album? Any updates on it?

G:        We have a group of songs that are basically finished.  It's just that we keep making new ones that are cool too, so we need to just separate a batch out as a "release" and just do it already.  Tom?

T:         Yeah, finishing is good.  It's an easy temptation to think your newest ideas are better and then get caught in a cycle of perpetual delay ... bad.  Let's commit here and now to wrap this up and put out an album with the current batch of finished tunes, because if not now, when? (I knew this interview would be good for us.)

6) Final thoughts?

G:        We always hope that all our influences gel together, with a dash of mystery/inspiration, and we end up with something uniquely ours.

T:         What he said (always so eloquent).  Thanks much for checking us out and for your interest, and for all you do to expose obscure musicians like us.  And nice blog!

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