One of Sargent House's newest signings, the two main men of Gypsyblood have been playing music for years and are rooted in the Chicago music scene. This time around, they sound more honed into making it as organic and in your face as possible. After their set Saturday night, I pulled the guys aside to talk about their upcoming debut and how they possibly need to have the record separate from the live show.
So, just for a little background, I hear you guys were playing music together and then you weren't playing music and now you are again. How natural did that feel to get back together?
Kyle Victor: Honestly, we just got in a fucking room and I got on the drums. When Karma [With a K] first started, the band prior to this, I was playing drums. I always tried to get [Adam] to play music with me, but he always thought I was an asshole at that time. Finally, I was like, "We're all into the same fucking shit, let's get in the room and see how this goes." So we got in the room, seven years later, you learn to deal with everyone else. There's other people in the band. There's so much going on. It ended at its highest point. That was a good thing.
Adam James: Not only that, it was to the highest point in terms that we were all on stage, and everyone is gathering their gear after the last song and no one knows where Kyle is. We're getting in the van, and we still don't know where Kyle is. Come to find out three months later, he just walked home from the show...
Victor: I was just a mess at that point...
James: It's not even that. To this day, we're at each others throats. There were a few shows - thank god we were borrowing other people's bass drums, because I was just going to kick it in and say, "Hey, good luck playing the rest of the shows."
Victor: [Laughs] I think that's what makes us produce such good music that we like and agree on. Not only that, we definitely have a good time besides this band. We go out and go to a lot of places and hang out in Chicago.
James: It's like your brothers and sisters at the end of the day. You want to beat the shit out of them and wake them the fuck up. You also have this wonderful family and this wonderful product that nobody else has. Everyone has fucked up situations and everyone wants to kill each other. That's kind of the fucked up beauty of the situation.
So the music is driven by this love/hate relationship?
Victor and James: Yeah.
You guys did the EP. Were those songs first and then the LP was decided, or was the LP being worked on and the EP was just a glimpse for fans in the future? Were those three songs already done and then it fed into a full length?
James: We had written over 50 songs. We took 30 of those and really tracked them and figured out what was going on and what was good and what was bad. Then of those 30, we took them to our buddy Nick Nativo...
Victor: Dave Davison.
James: No, we took them to Nick first to mix. He mixes mostly metal bands, which is great for us. We were coming to him with this surf rock but D.I.Y. aesthetic, and he's cranking all the compressors to get this death metal sound. He brought that to the table which I thought was a great marriage in a way. He took it to this different level. We took the twelve songs out of the 30 for the album and then took the three songs we felt were best...
Victor: We got our friends together and were like "Hey, which ones do you think will make a record?" and we went along with it. This girl from Chicago, and a good friend ours, Stephanie Jokich pretty much did the track listing. Dave and I have known each other for a long time. Sweetest fucking kid ever. I played him a song in the car and he said he was on it. I get a phone call from Cathy a week later. Then we developed this relationship with Sargent House. They're splendid and sweet as fuck.
James: As far as labels go, this is our first time dealing with a label. The record was going to come out one way or another. There's a lot of great labels in Chicago, and regardless, we were taking our own time and we were going to put it out. These guys came around and were more than helpful.
Victor: It was very organic, and that's what we wanted it to be. I didn't want to be like, "Hey, can you get this to a million different people that will only piss on it a day later?"
James: That's not the organic process. It's not about "Hey, every day not promoting is a day wasted!" That's how I used to feel. But not only taking a step back, we were realizing that everything happens the way it should. The way the record came together. You can hear people crossing the street while we're playing on the record. That's Chicago. There was another great band, Heavy Times, playing in the room next to us, and you can hear them through the vents...
Victor: They're on the record.
James: You can hear them on the record! I stopped my guitar to hear them on the record. It was this great marriage of a beautiful, disgusting thing.
You say Nick produced a lot more metal stuff. One thing I noticed in listening to the new album, is that it has this total summer vibe. With the nuances of "chillwave" as of late, the revival of surf rock, this doesn't fit into it.
Victor: Sugar Ray.
James: Sugar Ray! [Laughs] Every summer a new Sugar Ray song used to come out and then we'd be like "Oh, it's summer again. A new Sugar Ray song!" [Laughs]
There seems to be a gnarly "post" side going on with the record, but still washes out pretty clean. Was that something natural? Was that in the mixing process?
James: I think it was another organic thing.
Victor: We don't pre-plan shit man. We track every song and every mistake. Thank god Nick was there to give a second listening. This album wasn't produced by just us, Nick did a lot of stuff. He did a lot of great shit for Victory [Records]. That kid knows his shit.
James: I'd go in after a 20 hour day of work, and then go in the studio with Nick for four hours and then go back to work two hours later. In that four hours, and I'd see all this stuff up on his screen, and we would go back and forth. It was just a great process. It's a family. It's so organic. Everyone wants the best.
Victor: At the end of the day, the album is going to come out the way it sounds. When we come out live, we want to give it that feeling of "Fuck you, we're going to play our own interpretation of this." Thank god for Ryan White who is one bass and Chris Alverez who is on guitar. Without them, we would not make this live show.
Even Cathy was telling me the live show is a bit more sped up. It did sound little more gnarly live.
James: For us too, I come from a punk rock, D.I.Y. background. No one is going to do this shit but you. When you come from that background, everything that brings you to the stage - life, family - it's all there until it comes to that point when that's what punk rock is based off of.
Victor: It's almost better than sex when it comes down to it.
Do you feel like you guys are pushing it more live, something you looked back and wasn't achieved on the record?
James: We talked about this before. The whole thing is that you are either the Rolling Stones or a Beatles band in terms of getting in the studio and everything is set. Everything is set down to the measure of the drums. Or you're the Rolling Stones and you get in there and you're kicking over the mics and recording shit and it is what it is. To us, both bands are great, but there's a difference.
Victor: You wouldn't want to wake up to the same fucking thing every day. That's how it is for us.
James: You can make a great record. When you come to a show, you want to hear a record, but you also want to hear something else and see something else. You can sit at home and listen to a record all day long...Another thing is, like old Suicide records. Everything is real locked in. I can only imagine seeing that is like ten times bigger. It probably is about the same thing, but way more in your face. That's what I hope happens when people see us.