Smile Politely

Gospel Gossip: Shoegaze with a soul

My first exposure to Gospel Gossip was sometime in my senior year of high school, in the form of a late-night IM from a friend in Minneapolis, raving about an incredible shoegaze band his group had opened for. Seeing as how the kid was a serious shoegaze-head (4,000+ Slowdive scrobbles on his don’t lie) I decided to pay heed. So, when Gospel Gossip randomly popped up on Pitchfork a year and a half later, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Their early releases, the Milkshake EP (currently available for free here) and the wonderful, if slightly inconsistent album Sing Into My Mouth had long since become staples on my iPod. The band’s heady mixture of twee-pop vocals, muscular hooks and Sunny Day in Glasgow-style ambient blips wormed its way deep into my subconscious. With their newer releases, the Nashville and Drift EPs, they’ve streamlined their sound, upped the production values and become a serious contender for the shortlist of my favorite bands.

(photo via Minnewiki)

In a total geek moment, I actually got to interview the band — albeit electronically — a few days ago.

Smile Politely: Your most recent release is the Drift EP. Did the recording process for it differ from doing your other EPs and the album (for instance, how was recording the new stuff different from doing the Milkshake EP in a basement)?

Gospel Gossip: Yes, very much. It was actually the most stripped-down, quickest process we’ve done yet. Drift was tracked and mixed in a few days, completely at Old Blackberry Way (which we never did up until that point), with a pretty minimal mic setup. The result were songs we’re still totally proud of with a sound that best reflects us live.

SP: What are some of your favorite acts to play with or cities/venues to play in?

GG: Pretty much any local act/venue in Minneapolis & St. Paul. It’s a pretty healthy music scene up here, and nothing’s fragmented or confining about it. It’s really cool that a city so small can genuinely support hundreds of bands and dozens of great venues.

SP: Most of the press on the band groups you under either the shoegaze or dream pop umbrellas. Do you feel those labels are appropriate, or is there a different way you’d define your sound?

GG: Yeah, those labels seem fitting, but we wouldn’t want to limit ourselves by them. We’re not too familiar with either to really inform our songs by them.

SP: What are some of your major influences?

GG: Lots of stuff: touring, record stores, noisy + pop + wall-o-sound music

SP: What does the future hold in store for the band? Any immediate plans after the tour’s over?
(tangent: where do you see the band in a year? three?)

GG: No plans really. A few ideas here and there, but nothing set in stone. I think we’d like to take a bit of a break to focus more on writing and put together a full-length in the same vein as Drift. We all have no clue what’ll happen a few years from now, hopefully we’ll still be together.

SP: I hear tell that your shows can get pretty loud. Should I bring earplugs?

GG: Yes.

SP: How do you keep busy in the van? Any go-to albums?

GG: We usually don’t listen to music in the van. Pretty much end up talking the whole time, occasionally singing Hootie & the Blowfish or other songs stuck in our heads.

SP: What are your best/worst/craziest experiences during a show?

GG: worst = our first show
craziest = playing a makeshift show with the deathset in our hometown
best = not sure yet

SP: Favorite restaurant to eat on while on tour?

GG: Red Lobster.

SP: Any final words for the showgoers?

GG: We’re excited to play in Urbana-Champaign! We’ve come to learn that there are lots of other cities in Illinois to play in other than Chicago, and they’re always a great time.

So there you have it, folks. Keep on the lookout for that glorious wall of noise that signifies a great shoegaze show, and maybe a few Hootie & the Blowfish covers if we get lucky.

Gospel Gossip perform tomorrow night (Thursday, May 27) at Cowboy Monkey with New Ruins, Husband&wife and Peninsula. The show starts at 9:30 and carries a $5 cover.

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