Being young is never a bad thing. Some of the best songs and albums are written by the early twenty-somethings, if not late teens. Sometimes the best recordings with bands stem from young, naive creativity. For Gabriel the Marine, they're taking proper steps to a hopeful prosperous career. With buzz from sites like this one and SPIN, along with success on their winning spot for Bamboozle last year, the band are ready to take the year to write an album's worth of material for a 2011 LP release. Songwriter Micheal Desmond took time to talk about the band's initial success and the road into next year.
How did Gabriel the Marine come about?How do you feel about the initial buzz, SPIN write-up, etc.?
Dylan [Ebrahimian] and I were neighbors. It's actually funny, because we used to fight a lot when we were younger. I used to be the bigger kid, kind of like a bully. One day we just got together. I had written a bunch of songs. He had a bunch of ideas. We just started getting [them] together. He had another band, and we just took members from that and started Gabriel the Marine. We started playing in a church in Bayville. Things kind of just went from there. We had two other members. A drummer, John Leibold, another guitarist, Craig Kleila, but he decided to go to college and we wanted to take [the band] a little more seriously. We were like, "Let's just move on, find some other members." We finally found [them]. We have a solid drummer right now. We have a solid guitarist. That's basically how everything happened. As far as the SPIN Magazine [write-up] goes and as far as this [past] year has been, Purevolume has been great to us. We're really happy with where we are right now, and we realize we're still a young band and we have a ways to go, but we're just excited for the future, and to work hard and to tour more.
It also says on your Myspace that there is more to come this year. A full length? Being signed?
We're kind of working on that right now. We're just working with strong management. We're writing for the full length right now. We've been demoing a lot. We're pretty stoked about it. It's going to be all new songs. We're really excited about it. We should start recording hopefully in August and have it out in January 2011. We just want to take our time with it and make the best possible product. As far as labels go, we're just looking around right now. We've had some interest, but nothing that we're really interested in yet. We'd love to get some indie [label] on our team. We want to build up ourselves. We're not the kind of band that wants to sign to a major label unless we get to that point, because that world is so unstable right now.
It's interesting you say that, do you want to take your time with the band since the music industry is so shaky?
Does it worry you to even be a band right now?
Absolutely man. It's scary, but I feel like being an independent band these days is the smarter thing to do. You control everything yourself. We have a team going right now, but if you can control everything that goes into a band, it's a cool thing. I know there's a lot of bands out there that are doing the whole independent thing right now, and that's cool. When it gets to the point of being a major label, you have so many people telling you what to do, that you can't really be yourself. We're all so stoked to be in a band, doing this, making art. It's so awesome to just be yourself and make art, and that's the best thing about it. I never want anyone to control that.
It seemed like the Your Friends and Loved Ones EP did well on a digital market. Would you say that having a label, even with the full length, is unnecessary?
It would be really nice to have a label to put out the full length, but I think, either way, we're going to put [it] out regardless, even if we don't have a label. We're pretty driven to do what we need to do, and I don't think that's going to stop us from putting out a full length. It's a tough situation, but I think we can survive without it. We'll definitely release it online if we can't get a label behind us. We'll definitely still be doing stuff if we can't get a label. Hopefully we can get something.
Where did the name Gabriel the Marine come from?
When we were all in school, we kind of hated to write stories about ourselves because we felt like it was kind of egotistical. Most of the time when you write papers, you end up just writing a bunch of stuff to finish it - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because you end up getting a good grade. It's just kind of too safe. I feel like forcing an emotion can kind of come through the wrong way. I feel like doing things organically, writing-wise, is for the best as a whole. When people hear Gabriel the Marine, they often thing of the connotation of the word Marine. Like, "Oh wait, this band sounds like they sing songs about Marine life in the U.S." I think a lot of people don't understand. We have basically created our own world. Without sounding too pretentious or absurd, you can kind of compare it to the Odyssey of Homer, because of his mythological characteristics. Gabriel is basically a fictional character who is raised by the sea. His parents abandoned him as a child and threw him into the ocean to fend for himself. The story is basically the journey through his life. I think using a fictional character, as far as writing goes, makes things a lot more interesting. It's almost like the story can go in any direction. We draw from our personal experiences, but overall, we focus on the character Gabriel. We actually plan on making stop animation short films for each song on the full length to tell the story of Gabriel, because we feel like if we tell the story through words, it would be a little bit too overwhelming and would be overlooked. I have always been a very visual person. Images can say more than words in this case, and people tend to have a ten second attention span with Facebook and Twitter and are constantly doing something.
I want to talk about the sound of the project. It's very lush and orchestral. Was that the idea from the beginning?
Yeah. Dylan attended The Manhattan School of Music pre-college. He's been playing strings for a long time. Violin since he was four, he told me. He's really into Igor Stravinsky. He's really talented and knows what to do as far as the strings go. I think it just started off very simple. A lot of ideas, like, "What about throwing this song structure out there? What about this?" It kind of just formed into songs. We kind of just took it, and now we are here.
What about from your song writing end?
We all work together as a band, but the primary song writing is basically between Dylan and I. I'll come to him with a structure and lyrics and a melody. We'll just write together and form ideas. We'll bring it to the band and just jam over it - brainstorm on it. I've been singing for a while. A while ago, I was taking voice lessons from [a guy] and he really got me into jazz standards, into Billie Holiday - guys like Chet Baker, Charlie Parker. I got into that whole jazz aspect of singing and stuff. That really has a bit to do with our sound.
How do you think you're going to expand on the sound more on the LP?
We were happy with how the EP came out. Mike Watts did a great job. He's an awesome dude. I don't want to necessarily say that we're going to get more experimental, but I think it'll be a little bit of a change - definitely more mature. It's definitely going to be different. Overall, we aim to write quality songs. I hope that comes across. I think we just kind of wanted to be ourselves.
Do you feel like the LP is going to be a statement beyond what you have done thus far and new to whatever is going on right now?
I definitely think so. I think music is moving in a new direction, and we have changed a little bit as far as things go. There are a lot more bands using strings now. There's going to be a lot more piano in this record; a lot more harmonies. It's just going to be a little bit more serious; a little bit more darker than all our stuff now.
It'll be a bit more moody?
Yeah. Moody. We've definitely grown a lot. You grow every day.