By: Amy Foxworthy (foxy at indyintune dot com) Monday, May 26, 2014 11:00:00 PM
you have never heard Gringo Star's music, the best way I can think to
describe it would be....psychedelic indie 50's/60's garage surf punk
rockabillyish experimental doo wop. If that doesn't make sense now, it
will after you hear the Atlanta band's self-recorded, self-produced
album, Floating out to See.
The best and most beautifully accurate quote about the band's
third album: "liquid melodies cascade through air like a
waterfall in zero gravity, brothers Nicholas and Peter Furgiuele and
cohort Chris Kaufmann out-of-body—floating apparitions of a band
glancing down as their corporeal manifestations radiate celestial blues
and psychedelic garage bangers, gritty R&B shuffles and
spaghetti-Western weirdness. Floating Out to See could—and should—be the
soundtrack to Tarantino's first sci-fi film." And it's interesting,
because before I read that quote, I thought while listening to the
album, "I could totally hear several of these tracks in a Tarantino
This is one of those special, rare albums where every
single song is great. Most albums have at least a song or 2 that you'll
tend to skip, if you're listening to it in the car, or wherever.
Floating out to See is a no-skipper. If I had to pick some favorites
they would be "Taller," "Peephole," "Satisfy My Mind" and "Lovesick,"
which sort of sounds like a song you'd hear at a 1950's school dance,
meets a "Sleepwalk" by Santo & Johnny vibe. The track "Going Way
Out" makes me feel like I'm at some sort of psychedelic beach party in
the summer time, in California. In 1967. "Taller" has sort of a bluesy,
rockabilly type sound, and parts of "Look for More" sounds like it
could be in a Western...but a really weird Western. The album is rather
diverse, but goes so perfectly together.
If you start listening to it on repeat right NOW,
you'll know all of the words and be able to look cool and sing along
when Gringo Star visits Indy to play at Hi-Fi along with The Icks on June 3rd! This is a can't-miss show and if I were any more excited about it, it would cause health risks.
Gringo Star was kind enough to chat with us recently about their album, baseball, obscure records and other fun stuff.
Indy In-Tune: Hello
Gringo Star! Thanks for talking with us, even though you are huge
rock stars now, covered by the likes of Rolling Stone and
Pitchfork…that's kind of a big deal. I appreciate you slummin' it with
us. Your third and most recent album, Floating out to See—how was the
making of this album different from the previous two, and talk a little
bit about the advantages or disadvantages of doing it on your own as
opposed to with outside engineers and producers.
Nick Furgiuele: Thanks!
We loved doing it this way. On the first two gringo albums, we worked
with a producer/engineer at a bigger studio, but we really preferred
doing it in the confines of our own studio this time around. We got to
spend a lot more time fine-tuning everything and experimenting with
different sounds and parts and arrangements. Not to mention, we didn't
feel the pressure of "we only have one week in here to get all these
tracks down," and it was way more laid back. It was nice to not have any
other filter besides just Pete and myself. It was all us all the way.
Indy In-Tune: What
made you decide to do it this way this time around? Do you think you'll
continue that route or do you want to work with other engineers and
producers in the future? Any specific ones that you haven't worked with
but would like to?
prolly be doing this for now. We've already finished up a new 7-inch
that we did in our studio, and we're also laying down tracks for our new
Indy In-Tune: When
you write songs, are you generally on the same page and it just clicks
or is there a lot of compromise necessary? What's the division of
“work” like, as in…does someone write most of the lyrics, and someone
else writes all of the guitar, etc.?
NF: We both write separately and together. Usually whoever is singing wrote the song/lyrics, but we do collaborate on stuff, too.
Indy In-Tune: Do
you have a favorite track/tracks off of this album? I love all of them,
but I think if I had to narrow it down, my 3 favs are “Taller,”
“Satisfy my Mind” and “Peephole.”
NF: Awesome! Yeah, I'd say my top ones are "Going Way Out" and "100 Miles." I really liked how they turned out.
Indy In-Tune: What's
up with cover art? It sort of looks like a photo taken at a fancy
dinner for like, Winston Churchill or The Queen or something.
yeah, I don't know who they are. At the house where we all used to
live, our old roommate found this giant picture in someone's trash, and
it's been hanging on the kitchen wall for a while. I basically took a
picture of it, printed it out and my girl, Jules Vern (from the awesome
band Shantih Shantih), did a water color on top of the black and white.
IndyIn-Tune: The first track, “In the Heat,” has some sample of some man talking…who is that and what is he talking about?
NF: It's this guy in our neighborhood. He's talking about Atlanta.
Indy In-Tune: Surely
you didn't just start out playing this weird surf rock psychedelic
doo-wop trip-pop…how did you get to this sound; what's been your sort of
musical journey? (For example: “Well, I started off with Beatles
covers and then ended up being in a hardcore punk rock band before I
ultimately found my true calling as bluegrass hip hop band” kinda thing…
and I have been writing songs together since elementary school, and
have always been heavily influenced by early rock & roll like
Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, Link Wray, doo-wop and stuff. We
were definitely brought up listening to this stuff 'cause that's what
our parents were into, and that's what we got into. Our grandad was a DJ
back in the '40s-'60s and championed a lot of old soul, gospel and rock
& roll, and put on a lot of shows, and had record shops. So we grew
up hearing about Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke shows that he put on, and
Little Richard, Otis Redding and James Brown. Our journey began there.
Indy In-Tune: You
guys play a lot of shows….you have 14 shows in the 18 days surrounding
your show here in Indy. Where does touring and playing live shows rate
in your list of music-related obligations? Some bands are much more
about the studio and the writing/creating than they are playing live,
and vice versa.
We love both, but definitely love to travel and play music. There's
nothing quite like the adventure of being out on the road. It's more
in-the-moment... experiencing life and culture firsthand. You can't
trade it for anything.
Indy In-Tune: Where/when was your first ever live performance as Gringo Star and how did it turn out?
Pete and I played shows in our other bands growing up. One of our first
shows was at an 8th-grade dance. But the first proper Gringo Star shows
were actually in the U.K. in 2007. I think we played in Newcastle or
Nottingham. We got invited to open a U.K. tour for a St. Louis band we
were friends with. It was so much fun to tour internationally for the
first time. Very exciting.
Indy In-Tune: You've
played some of the big fancy festivals like SXSW and the like; how is
that for you compared to the more intimate venues, and what kind have
reception have you been receiving at some of these festivals?
all good. I really like the outdoor festivals, but we like it
all—clubs, big, small, outdoors, indoors, houses, schools,
neighborhoods, roofs, bowling alleys, streets, parties. We've played a
lot of different places.
Indy In-Tune: Where is somewhere you have not played but really want to? It could be a venue or a city, country, etc.
NF: Mexico and South America. We played Juarez once a while ago, but it'd be great to do a full tour down there.
Indy In-Tune: What
is the strangest lineup combination of a show you've played? Something
like opening up for a feminist Nazi punk band, or some weird group
you've either opened for or that has opened for you, sometime during
your musical journey. It could be 14 years ago or it could be last week…
NF: We once played a Dennis Kucinich rally at Georgia Tech when he was running for president.
Indy In-Tune: Gringo
Star doesn't sound like any one band I've ever heard before, but I can
hear these droplets of potential influence from psychedelic '60s garage
to doo-wop to British Invasion to Indie rock to rockabilly/blues meets
Pixies meets Buddy Holly meets Strawberry Alarm Clock meets The Kinks
meets Santo & Johnny meets The Yardbirds. Where does this come
NF: It comes from the heart of a couple of gringo brothers.
Indy In-Tune: What are some bands right now who you're digging? Either new bands, or bands that are new to you…
Shantih is an amazing new band from Atlanta. Fuzzed out desert psych.
They just put out their first 7-inch. It's really good.
Indy In-Tune: Your label is called “My Anxious Mouth.” Why? And, are there any other artists on the label yet?
what we named our publishing company back in the day, after one of our
old songs, and we just used that when we decided to release music
ourselves. The label, so far, has only released Gringo Star stuff.
Indy In-Tune: What
is something that might surprise someone to see in your music
collection? Either a guilty pleasure or just something really obscure,
NF: I have
these obscure records from the '50s, that are basically just a sample
of different radio stations from around the country. They're like 30
minutes and have songs, old commercials and stuff. Pretty cool. DJs had
so much more character back then!
Indy In-Tune: Do
you guys have any interesting, strange, cool hobbies outside of music?
Like archery or stamp collecting or big game hunting? Haha.
play a lot of baseball. We started a loose pickup league called ATL
Sandlot Renegades with some friends a few years back.... usually have 25
or so games a year… 9 innings of hardball. Wooden bats only.
Indy In-Tune: What's
on the horizon for Gringo Star? Where do you want to take things, or
what is the next level you want to achieve or milestone?
releasing a new 7-inch in late summer. And we're excited to do a full
U.S. tour around that. In the meantime, we're finishing up our new album
that we hope to have out early next year.
Indy In-Tune: For
those who have not yet had the good fortune to witness the Gringo Star
live experience, what can we expect to see from your show at the Hi-Fi
on June 3?