Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ga'an (Chicago)

Apparently, according to the other members of the band, this interview was conducted, unknown to us at the time, with Jason Sublette, who is now the former bass player of Ga'an. The other members of the band plan to continue making music as Ga'an without Jason Sublette, and just wanted to clarify in case there was any confusion. The link below has been switched to their new Myspace, and we're going to be talking to the rest of the band soon concerning their new music and plans for the future as a group. Sorry for the confusion.--SR

I'm going to be writing more about Chicago from now on. This is an interview with a band from Chicago (Ga'an shared two MP3s with us and we've added them below):

Since we're new to covering the city, we'd like to get a little bit of background information on the band: your names, how long you've been together, and previous and other current projects you guys are and/or have been involved with aside from Ga'an.

Jeremiah Fisher, Seth Sher, Jason Sublette, Lindasy Powell. Jeremy and Seth helped out in Panicsville, and Oakeater. Seth did that load thing. We've all been in bands, here and there.

Could you briefly discuss how Ga'an came to be a band, and what it was about the project that made you want to pursue it in the first place?

The core of the band came together about 4 years ago as vigilante. Vigilante was louder, and more chaotic, a real mess. It was heavy on the noise side of some sort of "noise rock/prog" thing, a real beast. One third of the band, Jason/Bass/Keys, moved to St. Louis, the remaining two thirds of Vigilante helped form Oakeater. Roughly 2 years ago all of the thirds converged on the windy city, reforming Vigilante as Ga'an. Our inspiration was to try our hand at making the sort of music we were digging from old prog records, and 70's horror soundtracks. As best as we could filter it, and reform it in our own way, that is.

The music I've heard on your self titled cassette sounds like it has very little to do with Western music at all, much less pop or rock n roll, other than small traces of things here and there. Can you tell us about some of the music that inspires your group collectively, and what it was about the sound you eventually ended up developing that made you want to play this kind of music in the first place? Essentially, what attracts you to the sounds you make?

Rock and pop have little to add to our deep pool of influences. Collectively things that have influenced us have always been sounds and music that are somewhat on the fringe. Prog and Krautrock, for sure, but what are the difficult albums, what are the dark, strange bands from these genres? That's one thing for sure. There is a sort of drone, minimal side of things as well that comes out, naturally, perhaps. The attraction is certainly giving sound and shape to these dark things lurking behind the veil.

On the flip side of the coin, can you talk about some of the more traditional rock/prog/electronic music that might have inspired you when crafting Ga'an's music? I've read your mentions of groups like US Maple and Chicago no wave stuff in previous interviews.

Kultivator. Goblin. Grand Funk? Classic rock and Prog, Metal, all sorts of stuff. Yeah, Chicago music has also shaped some of our sound, for better or for worse.

In what ways better AND worse, would you say?

Well on the plus side of things, a lot of great music has come out of chicago, and we sort of grew up listening to it in one form or another. One the minus side, well we don't want to be labeled as a sounding like we are from Chicago, or anything close to ugh, postrock, or "chicago sound."

I really enjoy the way your self titled cassette sounds-- sort of hazy and dense, but much clearer and less gimmicky than what many people think of as "lo fi" these days. Can you tell us about how you went about recording it and some of the equipment/techniques you employed to get the sound you got?

We recorded digitally, then mixed down to VHS tape, no shit. After that it was mastered digitally, and then put back on to cassette tape. So the recordings bounced back and forth between the analog and digital realms a few times. As far as equipment used, nothing incredibly out of the ordinary. We weren't honestly trying to go for any certain sound, maybe just some forgotten tape...

Do you find it difficult to replicate this sound live, or are you even interested in sounding like your records in a live setting?

Our concern at the time was making the recording sound like our songs live! There are so many factors when playing live you have to take into account... It takes a hell of a long time to set up 5 synthesizers, that's for sure.

Ok, so are you happy with your records' ability to capture some of the energy and/or experience of your live shows?

Yes, and no, as it can just get to a point of being some sort of weird loop. Trying to have the recordings have the energy of playing live, but alternatively trying to play the songs live the way they were recorded. It's not necessarily (impossible), it's just not always going to happen. There needs to be some sort of balance between the two. Whether we pulled that off is debatable.

Some of the press I've read on Ga'an has been very heavy with metaphors involving shamans, ritualistic sounds and vague notions of spiritualism in general, I suppose because your name, according to one article, comes from the name of an Apache ritual dance. Does any of this stuff interested you as a group and does it have any impact on or importance in relation to how you go about developing your music?

We admire peoples and cultures who are, and were, more in touch with nature, and spirituality in general, but it's not like we're sitting around a room pouring over some ancient texts to get ideas. It's bullshit. It's more about certain sounds, choir sounds, chanting, or repetitions...

Is this in part because you feel too detached from such cultures to truly parallel these kind of mystic or spiritual experiences, or are you simply not interested in them, at least when it comes to Ga'an's music?

To say that we are some how attached to these cultures would be arrogant, or perhaps misguided. We simply wanted to convey some elements of it in our music. We certainly are interested in various forms of human spirituality, but it may be more of an afterthought than the music implies.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite new bands and venues in Chicago right now?

The Mopery is a great venue, the Viaduct Theatre, also there is a great new spacerock/CCR mutation of a band called "ET Habit" that we are excited about.

How do you think the contemporary underground music scene in Chicago compares to what its been like in the recent past?

It's all the same people, just in new bands! No, really, new ideas get circulated through, it's exciting to see it first hand.

Could you please list all of Ga'an's releases so far, and tell us about any new releases you have coming up any time soon, and any shows you might be playing in the Chicago area in the near future?

So far there are 2 cassette tapes, one is the proper studio recording, the other is our "jam" tape, just edited down improv. Nothing new as of now, the band is in flux.

"Blackened Phasium" (download)

"Vultures of the Horn II" (download)

Photo by Miles Raymer, Chicago Reader



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