Shoe gaze has reared it’s head again in recent times, and rightly so as it was never a part of any musical movement that had really dared to age anytime soon. But the pop and rock world is a funny business and the commercial world likes things a little bit more simple and easy to understand, which is probably the best compliment you can give Shoegaze as it was never easy or commercial in the first place.
Remember back when Brit pop was huge it suddenly launched the already elongated career of a band called “Pulp.” A band who had already been making music for 15 years. The rejuvenation of Shoegaze has opened a door or two to other bands who have already been creating music for a wee while (not quite as long as Pulp perhaps, but perhaps can share some of the fortune of the times we live in). Soundpool, based on the east coast of the US, offered up a shoegaze debut that was swiftly followed up in 2007 by the truly magical “Dichotomies and Dreamland” which soared to prove that the band could distort and dream like the best of them.
With their third album in the can and due for release in the coming months, Glasswerk managed to grab some time to find out what the experience is doing to them all. Soundpool are here asked if they think they are headed in the right direction, and prove to be all about the right moves and groves with their music. They discuss the influence of disco and motown; the opinion of one Ulrich Schnauss and whether or not they are putting their career on the line or not with what is essentially the artistic right move. And this is all right near the beginning!
So your third album. How does it feel?
John: great… i'm very excited about it!
James: It feels awesome, to me, this is our best album yet!
Kim: we've worked really hard as a group and we've been through a lot now over the years. I just feel an intense level of loyalty and family… and I am really excited about what we're doing creatively. There is more pressure with each release… we're very dedicated to our music… but it's not an easy thing to sustain… we hope that we can give something artistically valuable… that music fans enjoy where we've gone… and are as excited as we are… and that in return we are able to keep on doing what we're doing… but on a much larger scale.
Are you aiming for anything in particular, stylistically with this third album?
John: When I first started working on new material for this album I was thinking it was going to be more ethereal and trip hoppy… it didn't come out that way at all! We had experimented with fusing disco beats with a shoegaze sound in the past (Eurostar/Butterflies) so it wasn't odd to start out recording a track (but it's so) that way for the third album… what was weird was that in experimenting with other grooves for other songs like “Mirrors in Your Eyes” & “Sparkle in the Dark” after all else failed I went back to disco grooves and all of a sudden the track would come to life! We didn't set out to make a discogazer record… it just sort of turned out that way. Once it became apparent that this was going to be some sort of shoegaze meets disco album we all embraced the idea. Of course that’s all on the surface… beneath the obvious disco grooves and bass lines and the shoegazey synths, guitars & vox there are other influences at work particularly in the song writing. like the albums before many of the chord structures & lyrics were influenced by the writing of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Burt Bacharach… but something different on this album is that classic motown also played a role in influencing the writing…. “That Sunny Day” is a straight up motown style tune beneath all the fuzz & distortion.
Kim: “ditto” I don't think we've ever really “aimed” for anything necessarily. We have our influences… which whisper to us subconsciously i'm sure… but things sort of end up falling from the sky and happen organically.
Can you see a progression in your work? And are you headed in the right direction?
John: Yes I can see a progression and creatively I definitely feel as though we are headed in the right direction, but it depends on what you mean by the “right” direction. Soon after the album was pretty much done we sent a copy to Ulrich Schnauss to see what he thought. He called it “a brave step forward” and said that given all the hype with shogaze lately we could have easily cashed in and just put out another straight ahead gazey album. So i'm not totally sure if we are headed in the right direction as far as a career move. We weren't actually trying to be brave and put our career on the line but we have never been a calculated sort of band anyhow… so I guess people will decide if we are headed in the right direction for the future career of the band. that being said… I definitely think we are doing the right thing in that we aren't just regurgitating music from the early 90's or late 60's or late 70's for that matter… we are putting a bunch of different influences together and hopefully coming out with something new and different.
Kim: If you aren't progressing… what's the point? We're doing what feels right for us… what we love. We hope that there are enough people in the world that it'll reach that will also associate with it and love it as well… is there a right direction when it comes to art? I think the only way you can know that you're on the right path is if you're being honest with yourself. I'm certain of soundpool's sincerity… so I guess my answer is “yes” we're definitely going in the right direction.
Is Soundpool the same way as you might have conceived it would be when the band first came together? Or has the band and music become something that was very unpredictable?
John: I think we try to be very much in the moment and I don't think we have or have had some sort of long term vision of how the band would evolve over several albums. We didn't set out to be a shoegaze band in the first place… that is just what our music sounded like in 2005… prior to that we were more electo/lounge sounding but we felt we wanted to be more up-tempo and when we made it a bit heavier and faster it sounded like shoegaze… so we embraced that. now… the next album may very well turn out to be a bossa nova style record or something… I really can't say… but I honestly didn't originally see us going in a more disco direction for the 3rd album.
Now that you’re third album is finished what’s next on the work plate? Tour? More writing? Rest!
John: Well we are in the process of signing to killer pimp who released a place to bury strangers 1st full length and we're planning on releasing the new album in Jan/Feb. After that the plan is to tour our asses off in 2010!
James: Tour..tour and more tour!!!!
Mr: rest? We're just getting started!
Kim: We just hope to tour the world. I think we're all mostly just really hoping for lots and lots of adventure and we love hanging out together & playing music. John is a maniac song writer. So there's no question that the songs will keep on coming!
What kind of music do you think has inspired Soundpool, before and after the band formed?
John: oh… so so much! where to begin? I would say the our influences are always changing and evolving but before we formed I think the influences were much more retro and now that we have been together and played with a bunch of new bands they influence us as well… so before i was drawing on everything from 60's bossa & french pop to album oriented psych to 80's underground and synth/pop to early 90's shoegaze etc, etc…. but now i am also influence by the danceability of screen vinyl image and the ethereal quality of ulrich schnauss and the warm vintage synth psych of black moth super rainbow… the ambiance of auburn lull and the sonic onslaught of a place to bury strangers and ringo deathstarr… the reverse loop goodness of all in the golden afternoon etc. etc. other bands that have been an ongoing influence on me are stereolab, broadcast, ladytron etc. etc.
James: I listen to such a wide variety of music, even though I have my favorites, like Depeche Mode, Morrissey, MBV, it would be hard to to say one type of music inspired us, because I also am a big Rat Pack, Sinatra, American Standards fan as well. After this album was done…I totally got into Nile Rodgers and Chic.
Kim: well… i love everything mentioned above!
Is there anything in particular outside of music that inspires you personally to create music/lyrics?
John: mid century modern and new modern architecture, beautiful fall days, beautiful spring and summer days, challenges and adversities and love and hope and everything under the sun.
Kim: i couldn't have said it more eloquently.
How far have you managed to tour? And is this a spectrum you plan on broadening in the future?
John: well so far we have been to London & Bristol u.k., Austin & Denton texas, Boston, Philadelphia, Nothapton ma, Fredricksburg va and of course New York city… we want to and plan on touring the world eventually.
Kim: everywhere under the sun we hope! and maybe above??? Let's see what happens in the future! we're still young and with all the doom and gloom of the world and scientific advances.. We may live to see space travel. You never know!
To date, can you name a song or two that you are the most proud of, that accurately says a lot about who Soundpool are?
John: well i think who soundpool are is always changing and i actually don't think there is one song over all others that would accurately depict our style or definitively says a lot about who we are.
James: “Span the Universe” and “Butterflies” and “Eurostar” and off the new cd, “Mirrors in your Eyes.”
Kim: i really can't pick one song. there are even so many that still sit on the shelf… not because they're not good.. but because the timing hasn't been right to release them. our songs are like our children (of which we don't have any real ones) but… i would imagine it's the same feeling… you love them.. you are protective of them.. you try to keep them in a safe bubble.. and you love them equally. you are afraid of any harm coming to them or criticism of them etc… i'm equally proud of all of them and equally protective and want to hide them all away at the same time.
What has been your greatest high moment in the band?
John: there are a few for me so far… opening for Ulrich Schnauss at bowery ballroom… opening for BMSR at ICA Boston… being written up in Pichfork… hmmm… I'm actually moving forward with the notion that the best is yet to come!
James: When we played ICA in Boston opening up for Black Moth Super Rainbow. That show was AWESOME!
Mr: Playing outside the ICA in Boston right by the water was pretty nice!
Kim: I loved our UK tour so much! it was the happiest days of my life next to our tour with Black Moth Super Rainbow. I LOVE being on tour and travelling and just being in it day in and day out. It's a wonderful way to live. Our best show was ICA/Coston with Black Moth Super Rainbow. Playing under the canopy of such an amazing architectural structure in front of a very excited audience on a beautiful night outside on the water with a band we love! It was perfect! We were totally on high!
What has been the toughest challenge, or decision you’ve had with Soundpool?
John: I think the toughest challenge has been to get out on the road in earnest and turning this into some sort of actual career.
James: Well we have had 8 bass players…so…….
Kim: Yes… Both things have been our biggest challenge!
Soundpool will be releasing their new album at the start of next year.