This is the first in a series of video profiles highlighting local bands, how they view the music scene and where they think it is going. The interview transcript appears after the jump. Enjoy!
“Good Night and Good Morning”:http://www.myspace.com/gnagm are a band that rejects all of the stereotypes that traditionally come with being in a band — they aren’t loud, they don’t dream of playing in large arenas and they don’t care about making money. How is it, then, that they can survive in the seemingly stagnant Champaign-Urbana music scene? We decided to sit down with them and discuss their experiences as an acoustic-ambient band, and also, as local musicians in C-U.
SP: How did your band start?
Ryan: Me and Pat were in this band, called the Vanderbild, and it just kinda wasn’t working out, so I just called him and said “Hey, you wanna get together and play some acoustic stuff sometime?”. Actually, we were gonna be an ambient, like, with electronic beats and spacy bass stuff…
SP: But that didn’t work out?
Pat: Yeah, all that stuff just kinda fell through.
Ryan: Yeah it was gonna be super ambient weird stuff, and we had a song written, but…
Pat: Yeah, we just started writing songs and it wasn’t at all like that, and I think that’s ok.
SP: How long has the band had a harp player?
Roisin: Only about four months. They just bumped into me – I met them at a show, and they just told me to join their band.
Pat: We told her she had to. (laughs)
Ryan: Yeah, “You play the harp, you’re in the band”.
SP: Did you record your music at home?
Ryan: The first EP we put out, we did in Pat’s basement. And this time we did it in Pat’s bedroom.
SP: Movin’ up!
Ryan: Yeah, at the Error House. We just took all the furniture out of his room, he put his mattress in the hallway, and he slept out there for a couple weeks. And, yeah, we just set up a little studio space in his bedroom with my laptop in his closet. I think it turned out pretty well.
SP: So, you’re going on tour this summer?
Pat: We’re touring with a songwriter from Kansas City. He goes by A.P. Swearengin. His name’s awesome. He’s a really talented guy, and he’s going for a similar acoustic ambient type of style that we’re going for – just one guy.
Ryan: We were tossing around the idea of going on tour in July, and I was just like “Let’s go with him, let’s go with him”. He was really into us, and we were really into him and he said he had a lot of contacts in the Midwest that he would try to hook us up with.
SP: What are your plans for the fall?
Pat: I think once we get back from the tour we’re gonna go under the radar for a little while, write some new songs, record a lot, you know.
Ryan: The end of the summer is kind of the end of an era for us because Roisin…
Roisin: Yeah, I’m moving to New York in August, so…
Ryan: So we’re gonna have to write some songs that sound good without harp. (laughs)
SP: So you plan to release your next CD in the fall?
Ryan: It’d be cool if we didn’t release it for a while, and just kind wrote some songs and posted them here and there. But we’ll probably put one out in December, maybe, assuming all goes according to plan.
Pat: Yeah, I think it’s almost nice not to make plans for that period of time, just so we can write some songs. They’ll be done when they’re done. It’ll be kinda cool like that.
SP: What would you like to see change in the CU music scene?
Pat: Well, obviously, I’d like to see more house shows because that’s kind of a personal favorite. I would enjoy going to those more. But you know, I think if kids just lightened up a little bit and set the egos aside and just kind felt like playing songs for people. And not worrying about money – we’re all living in this town together, we don’t need guarantees for shows and stuff like that.
SP: How has the music scene changed since the 90’s?
Pat: I think that, yeah, Champaign-Urbana has gotten established, through that time, as having a pretty well known music scene, and that’s great. I think that after that scene left we still have kids who want to portray Champaign-Urbana as this place to play music, and this is the place to be. But they aren’t really doing anything about making it an interesting place to play music, and I think that’s a bummer. It’s tough just getting kids to shows when priority number one is getting drunk on the weekend, and there’s a lot of other things you can do. You know, it’s a college town, and that seems to be showing through more and more, and that’s a bummer to see that.
SP: Do the live music venues in CU accommodate your band’s style?
Ryan: Of all that actual venues, the IMC is the one that works out.
Pat: I mean, generally speaking, we like to play unplugged, you know, without a PA. There are some environments where that just doesn’t work – at the Canopy Club, for example. You just can’t do that in a bar. So those are a little less fitting for what we’re trying to do. But, you know, we put shows on at our house…Some of our best shows have been with a dozen people, and I think that’s good. I honestly don’t think that stuff’s terribly important. It’s cool to have all those kids and have a big party and an awesome time, but I think you can have a wonderful show without that. I think a lot of bands around here get too hung up on head counts and guarantees and t-shirt sales and stuff like that – where I think that just playing songs for people is priority number one.
SP: What have you learned from being in this band?
Ryan: Probably to take shows less seriously. Like, when we first started we were trying to play all sorts of different venues and stuff, and now we sort of got entered into the DIY scene and we’ve just been having a ton of fun doing that, and we’ve just been playing for whoever wants to hear us, anywhere.
Pat: There seems to be some traffic coming through, and it’s fun, you know, just to meet people…wherever!
Good Night and Good Morning are performing at Error House (505 Haines Blvd. Champaign) on June 20th. You can check out their Myspace at www.myspace.com/gnagm>