Two years after the release of debut ‘America Give Up’ Howler are finally back with a new album ‘World of Joy’. Impact had the opportunity to talk to lead singer Jordan Gatesmith about the new album, new band members and the music that he’s most excited about emerging from Minneapolis.
Jordan it’s been a while! How are you doing?
JG: I’m fine, I’m just in Minneapolis and it’s very cold here.
You’re touring the UK in March are you looking forward to it?
JG: Yeah we’re very excited; it’s been a while since we’ve been over there. We obviously have a really good time over there and we’re definitely, definitely looking forward to it.
You’ve said previously that you would release an album every year, but it’s been two years. What happened to that plan?
JG: I wish that survived! Basically I think we lost an entire year of our lives to touring, it was fun but 2012 was one long tour and I don’t think we were ever home…for the most part we were in the UK, the US, South America or Japan or something and it was constant. It was tons of fun but it got to the point where I realized it wasn’t going to be a realistic target to write an album a year. It just wasn’t possible. But if I could release an album a year, I totally would. I’m hoping we can schedule our tours this year so we can get more time off in the studio.
How is the new band line-up working for you? Are you more comfortable?
JG: I guess it’s more of a comfort thing. The new line-up is amazing. Our new drummer Rory MacMurdo he moved to New Zealand when I was a kid and we remained in contact. He moved back to the states a couple years ago, and visited me in Minneapolis and we started to jam together. We had such a good time playing together so we started writing some songs. It was just a different creative relationship I had with him. Ian (guitar) and Max (bass) kind of got involved and the four of us write well together. We really gelled together as a group; it was more of a creative decision. Looking back I feel like the second record was written and recorded in a 3-4 week period.
Most of the band members have their own musical side-projects; do you have any that you’re working on now?
JG: Yeah, well right now in Minneapolis there’s a really amazing, underground scene with a lot of interesting bands popping up. One of my favourite bands right now from Minneapolis is this group called Frankie Teardrops. I got to know those guys really well and I think they write some of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time. So, I’ve been recording them and helping them produce an EP. I don’t have any other bands that I’m in right now but I’ve been trying to do a little production work.
We’ve heard you say that ‘World of Joy’ is going to have a groovy, psychedelic sound – is that still true?
JG: No. (laughs) I have to take a different approach to how I do interviews. I get really excited about whatever I’m listening to at that moment in time and what’s funny is that, one interesting thing I’ve learnt about myself in the last few years is that I listen to music very differently to how I write music. I remember just being obsessed with bands like Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 and really being into 60s psych and 60s garage but I just don’t know if I really write that way. I like that music and I listen to that music a lot but I don’t think I write that way.
Away from the 60s sound, are there any new bands that you’ve been influenced by?
JG: Oh yeah, I’m influenced all the time. You know I love Palma Violets; I love Parquet Courts and Kurt Vile. I like DIIV; there are just countless bands that I listen to. But I think some of my favourite stuff right now is produced in Minneapolis. Frankie Teardrop, and this other band called Gloss that I’m really into. One of my favourite bands from Minneapolis is called Teenage Moods. And the Palma Violets new stuff has been very influential to me.
In your new single ‘Don’t Wanna’ one of the lyrics is “you don’t have to be Kurt Cobain, if you don’t wanna.” Who did you want to be when you were younger?
JG: Well, when I was really young I wanted to be a baseball player. That was my main thing, I wanted to play baseball professionally – I was obsessed with that. I probably wanted to be like Sammy Sosa. I think he was my hero, that’s who I wanted to be when I was younger.
What would you say is the main difference between ‘World of Joy’ and ‘America Give Up’?
JG: I think the titles are a big difference between the two records. ‘World of Joy’ is a much more open title. It had like 4 different titles. It was called Wasteland Blues for a while and then Yeehaw for a while. I think it counteracts with ‘America Give Up’ very nicely. It’s the antithesis of ‘America Give Up’, it’s more inclusive and it’s a little broader. It’s just more of a band too – this record’s been much more of a group effort. It’s also us playing live in a studio with a live track; it’s just got a whole different vibe to it. Same songwriters, different vibe.
Jordan, thanks for talking to Impact. We’ll see you in Nottingham.
JG: Nottingham? That will be fun; shows in Nottingham are always scary.
Last time you threw cereal into the crowd.
JG: Oh really? Oh God. I feel like Nottingham, every time we play there, it gets out of control for some reason. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a good thing. We’ll see what happens next time in Nottingham.
World of Joy is released on the 24th March 2014, and new single ‘Don’t Wanna’ is available to download now.
Howler are touring the UK and will play Bodega on 27th March.