Erin Wolf

Gospel Gossip Returns to MKE to Spread the Word of Shoegaze

By - Jun 4th, 2010 09:32 am
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photo by Joe Kirschling

Ever since My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless first lovingly screeched its way into eardrums of 90’s rock devourers, America’s kids have been affected by effects pedals; by that distorted ‘wall of sound’ that made vocals so beautifully obsolete (who needs lyrics when the music speaks for itself?).

Bands, who prefer their musical scenarios loud and crashing, have since hooked into that MBV wavelength, crafting their sounds as minimalistically as possible and likening them sonically to airplanes ascending, waves crash-breaking and any other sound that naturally startles and subdues the train of conscious thought. Minneapolis’ Gospel Gossip (Sarah Nienaber, Ollie Moltaji and Justin Plank) follow in the tradition of shoegaze (named slightly for the dream-like, glazed-eyed state the genre causes in its listeners). The Minnesota trio undeniably ghostrides the famed genre’s tendencies, but also adds a little youthful vigor in dynamo guitarist/vocalist Nienaber’s style. Nienaber’s vocals are anything but buried (as typical of most in the genre) and her playing style is no trip into dreamland. Therein, lies the difference, making Gospel Gossip a riveting live listen.

Nienaber talks to Fan-belt about her band’s trip to Milwaukee as they get ready to play with the like-sounded Brief Candles, Fahri and Kansas City’s Life and Times.

Tonight, you’re playing Kalamazoo with Glowfriends — is Kalamazoo a frequent stop with the Kalamashoegazer shoegazer/dreampop festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan, etc.?

The town seems to just have a sincere interest in music… a genuine appreciation and excitement that is hard to find, in bigger cities especially. We had a really good time when we were there once before for Kalmashoegazer 2009. Great bands, babes, and the brewery.. this will be our second time.

You play with Brief Candles and Fahri this Saturday, two Milwaukee bands who you’ve played with before — did you see either of these bands before you played any shows with them?

We saw them in our dreams first and our nightmares second, third when they came out to play with us at The Hex a few years ago. Now we’re married, spiritually.

What’s it like balancing sonically as a three-piece that creates such a wall of sound? Do you ever feel awkward in your music’s quieter moments?

I feel awkward all of the time because I have a deformed left foot, a result of a tragic train/unicorn collision back in a past life, 1934. I try to move quick so people won’t stare. As far as the quiet moments, they are essential as points of contrast…over-extended, brain-melting drone has its place, but crashing down a sonic tsunami on calm waters has a more visceral impact. It doesn’t take long for nerves to numb. And as far as giving it our all, we always do, because you never know who’s watching, which is why I have CCTV installed in my apartment back home.

Seems like there’s a strong shoegaze scene in Minnesota with bands like yours and the Red Pens — what more so fosters this scene? The weather? The support of fans of that type of music? Having a scene heavily-rooted in 90s rock (i.e., the Replacements, etc.)?

The Minneapolis scene is pretty diverse–shoegaze, psych, garage, punk–its all great and we’re pleased as punch to be a part of it. There are so many great bands playing there and putting out records, it’s amazing. Unlike the fans, the weather is ultimately irrelevant.

The juxtaposition between your onstage energy as a guitarist/vocalist and your bassist’ almost-stoicism is fascinating to watch. Would it work if both of you were jumping around, onstage?

Anything works if you do what comes naturally. I’ve seen Justin move.

What’s it like being relatively young musicians? Is it a never-ending surprise for new audiences of what you’re capable of in terms of sound?

We’ve all been playing in bands for over ten years, and together in various incarnations since 2006, so we’ve had time to musically figure ourselves out. If anything, sometimes people are surprised that we’re a three-piece, and sometimes dudes are “surprised” to see a chick playing guitar, to whom I reply: I also have two hands and ten fingers.

You’ve just released a full-length (Dreamland) and the recent Drifter EP — what’s next?

Keep writing, writhing, summering, breaking, and burning… hoping to put together a new record before the snow falls.

Gospel Gossip plays with Fahri, Brief Candles and the Life and Times at Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth) on Saturday, June 12th. 10 p.m. 21+

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