Absinthe Blind. We haven’t reviewed this band properly (something is in the backburner – stay tuned), but suffice to say, it’s one of my fave bands of all time. I actually listened to them for the first time a year ago and I got hooked entirely. They are connected to another of my all time fave bands, Headlights (also writing something about them…) and thanks to the magic of twitter, I got in touch with Adam Fein, ex-singer of Absinthe Blind and now one half of Gazelle (the other half is Mr. Jeff Dimpsey of National Skyline and Hum fame).
We reviewed Gazelle’s album a while ago and we just had to get in touch with Mr. Fein for a few questions regarding the past and the future…
Hi Adam, thank you very much for taking these questions. I can’t truly explain how I ended up listening to Absinthe Blind but I loved every minute of it and Gazelle is really sounding gorgeous. Just a few questions about AB and we’ll get to the meat of the interview.
1) It’s now been 9 years since Absinthe Blind separated. What’s your fondest memory of the time with the band? Any particular album you hold dear?
Lots of great memories.
(1) Seeing (almost) the entire United States with my brother, sister and (now)brother-in-law.
(2) Getting to work creatively with people you love, it’s very special.
(3) all of the people who would write to us or tell us at shows how much the music meant to them or how it inspired them to do this or that…those would always floor me…and the variety of interpretations were really interesting.
I’d choose two albums. First, Music For Security. This was the first album where Erin was full-time. It also coincided with some maturity on the part of our members and a new record label (Parasol/Mud)…it’s when things really came together for Absinthe Blind. We also added Yichel (a third guitarist and good friend). Rings would be the other, our swan song, and in my opinion our best musical work. It was time to say goodbye… there is a connection between the album title and the farewell…
2) The endings for ‘Bands 2’ moved me a lot. It feels like a swan song to the band. Was this the intention (I say this because of the refrain “She said playing in bands won’t make you well”?
You’ve picked up on some of the insinuation for sure. There was a lot of speculation at the time that I was talking about my wife. Although the marriage and career had an impact on my departure, my wife always encouraged me to pursue music…she was our biggest fan. Ultimately I made the decision, it was a hard one, but a decision I have no regrets about.
3) I really enjoyed Sunblown. How did you and Jeff Dimpsey met? When did Gazelle became a project for you two?
Glad you liked the record, we are very happy with it. I met Jeff around Champaign in the music scene when he was in HUM and I was in Absinthe Blind. We have similar taste in music and Jeff is a super easy going guy. We both play on a softball team with a bunch of musicians and post-game at the end of the season a few years back, Jeff approached me and said, “I’ve got a few songs but I can’t sing…are you interested?” A year later we had an entire record, collaborating with many different instruments and sounds. Hardest part was choosing a name…we just wanted something simple.
4) Any particular influences for Gazelle? I love the swelling atmospheres in ‘Jets’ and the spaceyness of ‘Antidote’
Spiritualized would be one off the top of my head…and the production values of 1980’s Echo and the Bunnymen.
5) Any news regarding new Gazelle material?
We’re both interested in making more music together, but have young children…in the next few years as they get older we’re planning on working on more music together, so, yes, there will be some, but probably not soon.
6) Why did you choose a more electronic approach to Gazelle?
Who the hell wants to play with an actual drummer? Have you ever toured with a drummer? …it’s a terrible idea. Joking aside, we wanted to keep the project simple and Jeff is really good at programming interesting beats. We did perform with Gazelle once for the Pygmalion Music Festival and had a live drummer, our good friend Mike Rader (Honcho Overload). Erin Fein and Tristan Wraight (Headlights, Absinthe Blind, Psychic Twin) also performed with us.
7) Do you think there’s a trend of shoegazing bands trying their ideas with synths and electronica instruments?
I don’t know if it’s a trend. If it is, I probably wouldn’t be aware, remember: I have young kids. I can tell you about all the latest trends on PBS kids, but not music trends. …Anyway, I’d guess folks who are interested in shoegazer music, which is effects heavy and often full of layers of melody would be open to achieving this in whatever way they can…using whatever instruments they can to create that beauty.
8) I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’ve recorded a cover of Tears for Fears. Gotta ask you: which is your all time fave Tears for Fears song?
That’s true. My sister had me sing with her on a new Psychic Twin cover of an old Tears For Fears song. It was a lot of fun, my sister has great taste in music and her band partner, our good friend Brett Sanderson, did an amazing job on the programming. My favorite Tears for Fears song, that’s tough, they are one of my favorite bands… hmm… ‘Pale Shelter’ and ‘Start of the Breakdown’ from The Hurting, ‘The Working Hour’ and ‘Mothers Talk’ from Big Chair and ‘Standing On The Corner Of The Third World’ from Seeds. Too many…
9) Finally: do you plan to dabble into any other musical projects or are you full time devoted to Gazelle?
I will be collaborating with my sister from time to time, that’s just something we do. Whether that will be with Psychic Twin or something else down the road I’m not sure, but there will be something. I’m thankful to have great siblings who want to write together. Still trying to get my brother back on the kit, he would for us I think. So that and Gazelle will keep me busy in the bit of time I have for writing and recording.
Bonus: Anything we’ve forgotten to ask or you might want to add, feel free to say so!
Big thank you Sam, this was a lot of fun. Thanks for writing and thanks for listening.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López.