Smile Politely

Bowling with the bumpers on: An interview with Winder

Winder is a fuzzy, shoegazey, post-hardcore band. It is dark, moody, and atmospheric. The band is the brainchild of bassist Chris Golwitzer — the sole constant in a band whose lineup has been evolving since day one. This iteration is comprised of Golwitzer (who is also the owner of the new venue, nightshop in Bloomington, and member of Werepire Day, Reduced to Instinct, and DRKR); Isaac Arms (founder of Urbana’s Heirship Records, member of Spandrels); Jared Roberts (member of Bookmobile!), and Garrick Nelson (owner of the coming-soon Bull & Dog Co. studio, and member of ZXO, Our Landmark, Shazu, and Colonel James Presents).

They are effusive in their mutual appreciation and admiration of one another, but the band is nevertheless poised to molt, leaving Golwitzer to re-invision and re-invent the project once again. I met with the band with the intention of discussing their upcoming sophomore release, GONE, FOR GOOD, but ironically ended up speaking more about the immortal nature of a project in constant, intentional flux.

I met the band outside of the ubiquitous Urbana practice space.

SP: Tell me about Winder’s second EP, GONE, FOR GOOD.

Isaac Arms: We finished recording in the fall of 2017, and we finished mixing it this Spring. So we hastened the final mixes to take advantage of the fact that Jared moved back to Champaign, and we had this opportunity to book-end — for me at least — the Winder experience for the Champaign-Urbana unit. I will be leaving the project after this release.

SP: Can you speak to that further? What precipitated your departure?

Arms: I’m very proud of this record that we did. I have had a lot of fun in Winder. It was an honor for Chris to ask me to play in this band. It was one of the purest moments of musical serendipity, in which I showed up to a practice at which I was supposed to learn guitar parts, but just ended up making up shit, instead. That spirit has been my experience with the band–very open and welcoming, and the musical atmosphere has been wonderful to create in, and this EP is very strong. But I could have not said any of that, and simply said, “I’m too busy.” I have a dog, and another band that I’m pretty focused on, and a label, and I’m taking the opportunity for once in my life to say, “I did something really cool with this, and I’m just going to leave it there.”

SP: Will Winder continue on?

Chris Golwitzer: Well, I don’t know if you heard, but Garrick is in many things, in addition to owning a bar and a recording studio. And Jared, I don’t think I’m wrong saying that you’re in a transitional period of your life?

Jared Roberts: Yeah, I’m going to be going back to school in the fall or winter, and Bookmobile! is doing stuff, and I’ve still got solo projects, and other things that I’m working on. So, I think, yeah, it’s pretty apt to say that it’s Chris’s project, and it always was, and I feel lucky that I got asked to do it. After learning the original material, it was really natural.

Golwitzer: More than any band I’ve ever been a part of, this band actually — like — jammed, which is a natural thing for bands to do, but I’ve always been more of a song-writer oriented participant in projects.

Arms: I kind of hate the word “jam,” and the practice of jamming, and the action of “jamming” — no disrespect. I’ll choose to say “vibe” instead of jam. There was a comfort, and an ease, where any of us could do what we felt like doing, and it always just for some reason kept sounding good. It was like we were bowling with the bumpers on.

Golwitzer: My main project over the last ten years has been Werepire Day. At all times, Werepire Day has had three different drummers, two bass players, a couple of guitar players, and multiple horn players, because I just love to play music. So even though I don’t really go anywhere, all of my projects are very transient. I already know who is Winder down the line, and I’m excited about it. And that doesn’t discount anyone that I’ve played with before. Each version of this project, I’m excited will be its own version, and it doesn’t have to rest on what came before.

SP: Chris, you’re located in Bloomington, while the rest of the members are rooted in Champaign-Urbana. How did this iteration of the band come to be?

Golwitzer: I started the band very quickly, because I had booked this band Neiv from Italy, and Brief Candles, one of my favorite bands of all time, to play at a place called The Bistro in Bloomington. And I advertised it like, “Wow, here’s a shoegaze show,” and I wanted to play that show, but none of my bands fit, so I thought, “I’m going to start a band.” When it came time to record, Winder had studio time booked at Electrical Audio, with Mark Wyman. [Our original guitar player] was going to be moving away to Washington right after that, and I asked Isaac if he wanted to come in and essentially replace [our guitar player]. But he showed up and had his own stuff that was so cool, and so good, and so fresh to the songs, that — fuck it, we have two guitarists now.

SP: So that’s where Jared comes in.

Roberts: I had been bothering Isaac, like, “So when are we going to start a fuzz rock band?” Probably a month later, you were like, “Hey, were you serious about that? We need somebody in Winder.”

Arms: What I remember was that Winder had a show at The Accord opening up for The Life and Times, and you were tending bar…

Roberts: … I was bartending, yeah.

Arms: … and you were mad at me after our set, you were like, “Goddammit, Isaac. I was going to start a band like that,” and I was like, “Well, hang on.” So Jared learned all of the parts that I had failed to learn in the first place.

Garrick Nelson: Jared put in my ear that Isaac had joined a new project. I had never met Chris before, I’d played with Jared, and I’d seen Isaac’s projects and knew they were good, so I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”

Golwitzer: So I remember that by PYGMALION, Jared hadn’t officially played together yet or anything, and I was watching someone, and you were watching ‘em too, and you came up to me, and you said, “We are going to play music together, and it’s going to be sad,” and that’s inadvertently the lyrical M.O. of this band.

Arms: It shouldn’t be left off the record, that we had to dig inside the inner workings of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary for The Great Cover Up. There was no overt, “Let’s do this now,” but once we got in that space, I think that we were probably a bit changed. As a group, we locked into that sound. I think it lent a darkness that we could tap into at will.

SP: How much of your music was you guys saying, “Let’s try to make this sound happen,” and how much was, “Let’s just let what happens, happen?”

Golwitzer: I think that, sonically, it was one hundred percent, “What happens, happens.”

Roberts: I would agree with that. I had some songs that I wanted to write. We initially got tight as a band playing other people’s material, and I think Isaac’s right, [covering SDRE] re-awakened a passion for that kind of stuff, for me, at least.

Nelson: I think it fleshed itself out by just playing. Of course there was planning and orchestration involved, but you guys would come in with songs, and it was like, “OK, I get where you are coming from.” What I do is just add some amount of dynamics, and a different kind of feel that just goes along with playing percussion.

Roberts: I think that’s an important part of this band. I never feel like there are any superfluous parts to any songs in this band. What ended up coming out, very naturally, ended up serving the songs really well.

Arms: The front end of the EP is pretty tight. It’s hard hitting. Four minute tunes which feel like two minutes, I think. Track five is maybe a three minute song, with a four minute outro. Then the sixth track, “Floral Print Handkerchief”, is like a four minute intro, with a three minute song tagged on the end of it. I mean we kind of did these things on purpose, but when you’re in the song, it all kind of makes sense. The first EP, I wanted to tap into my J. Mascis worship, even though I’m not really talented like that person, so it was all fakery. This was much more natural to my skill set, which I think is being melodic and spacey. We really figured out what Winder meant at that moment, and I’m glad to have this snapshot of what we’ve been doing for the past year, and I’m really excited to be standing in the audience watching Winder some day ahead.

Roberts: This EP bangs hard.

Golwitzer: Playing in this band, now that there’s an air of impermanence in it, it’s so beautiful. It’s probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done, and I’m at peace with whatever happens.

Arms: Big ups to Mark Wyman. Mark recorded the first and second EP, and I would like to think that when Winder records its third EP, Mark will be the common thread.

Winder’s album release show is Friday, July 6th at Cowboy Monkey with Two Inch Astronaut and Spandrels. The show costs $7.

Photos by Veronica Mullen. Album Art by Never Angel North.

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