Gnash Rambler (Interview)

Today we chat to the lads from Gnash Rambler.

Let’s start with this: What’s the history of your band?

Nick :The band has a varied history and pedigree. After our parting of the ways with their old band Betty Kracker, Regina and Nick went on to form what was then known as Nevada. The name eventually changed after about a year to Gnash Rambler, by which time Puff Braddy from Facepuller joined us as our drummer following the departure of JT Massacre (the Fiends, JP5, Big John Bates). About last year Diamond Dave joined us on guitar and backup/lead vocals and we finally got around to recording almost all the songs we had up to that point.

What’s your musical history? (Trained or Amateur)?

Nick : Other than long forgotten piano lessons I took as a child I have no formal musical training at all. Everything I know I learned by ear or from the informal instruction of friends and band-mates over the years. With the first couple of bands I didn’t play an instrument as I was the lead singer. The closest thing I had to an instructor initially was DeeDee Ramone. I played along to all his bass lines on all those classic Ramones tracks till I had a better grasp on the foundations of playing, then learned how to do barre chords and other little licks on the guitar.

So what can you tell us about your latest album? (Inspiration. Sound. Style.)

Nick : As my musical taste I think is varied I think a lot of that variety has influenced the band’s sound, particularly on the record. Political folks songs, power pop, 70’s rock guitar riffs, a touch of country, anthemic singalongs buoyed up on Brad’s firm chassis of heavy yet flexible drums and Regina’s funky and often staccato bass lines, plus the incredible dexterity and finesse of Dave’s guitar playing which evokes a versatile/any style ease and taste.

How did you go about making it?

Dave : We went into our friend’s studio to record the drums, and from there we took the tracks and loaded em into (guitarist’s) Dave’s home studio using Logic. From there, all bass, guitars and vocals were recorded in Dave’s home studio.

Anything you’ve learnt as you’ve gone along? Or have you simply tried a bit of everything to see how it works?

Dave : Dave and Brad have recorded/mixed lots of bands, and are always learning new techniques. It varies depending on the style of music. For Gnash Rambler, we went for an edgy, punchy, yet clean sound to bring out the energy of the songs. 

What sort of technology and instruments do you work with?

Brad : Good old guitars, bass and real drums. Plus singers whose microphones are ‘on’.  Recording wise, real microphones recording real instruments played by actual people.  Strange concept these days, I know. The most techie we get is Apple Logic.  Plus file sharing –  sending the sessions back and forth. It works.

Anything you’re keen to use on your next album?

Dave : Well, for the song “Blues for Boogie” we pretty much went “kitchen sink” with it! We tried lap steel, harmonica, didgeridoo, had guest female vocals (courtesy of Heatscore’s Allison…) and… we kept it all in!! But… I’m sure Nick has some more cool ideas up his sleeve! 😉

Kettle drums?!? I dunno… let’s ask (drummer) Brad!

Any future plans for your solo work, or do you have other projects on the horizon?

Nick : As far as solo work is concerned the only real non-band solo stuff I do is as my alter ego, Huskee Dude. It was originally conceived as a varied lineup of folks occasionally assisting me with mostly acoustic treatments of Husker Du songs, but came to include anything and everything, from thumbnail sketch versions of Gnash songs or my friends’ songs to the Rolling Stones to Minor Threat or the Jam. If I were do anything other than or after Gnash I think it would be a metal band. That is a genre for which I have always had great respect and admiration.  

Any plans for upcoming live shows?

Nick : Hopefully we will have at least one or two shows coming up in the spring/summer so more folks can hear what we have been up to.

Let’s have a few general questions now. What do you see as a musicians role in society?

Nick : I am not sure what really defined role any musician or artist could or should have in society. It is such a personal thing. Sometimes even if you don’t think you are playing a part you still are by the act of expression. But obviously at times there is that fine balance to be struck between perhaps acting as a mirror to what goes on around us and to critique or make

observations, be it through music or painting or literature, and merely letting the art flow through us naturally and let others debate its merits.

How’s the scene different in your country to what we’re familiar with?

Nick : Canada is a very big yet sparsely populated country, and those distances create a wide palette for musical artists to draw from. I have only done one tour of Canada back in 2012 and although it was a great honour to travel and play shows for folks as far away as Halifax, I felt too sometimes that there has to be a way to convey that vast and tenuous journey often made through stretches of empty highway has on Canadians.

-Anything unique to your country?

Nick : In Vancouver we have an incredible talent pool featuring many great genres, but every time I hear someone, no matter how well intentioned, say something about this city’s so called ‘scene’ it’s all I can do not to interject. There is no ‘scene’. There are a multitude of cliques, some well connected and many others not, all often staring down their noses at one another and I think that is unfortunate. I suspect this is true elsewhere as well.

Where do you stand on music videos?

Nick : I only ever did one official video, and that was when I was one of umpteen guitar players in Little Guitar Army. The video was a lot of fun and a very educational experience. Would Gnash do a video? Perhaps, but I would be keen to avoid the clichés that have stigmatised it. Unless of course we got to shoot a video like Bad News, but without the hefty caterers’ bill!

Brad : I don’t stand anywhere. Being the drummer, I’m seated behind the kit.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Nick : My admittedly limited experience with the music industry don’t leave me particularly well-equipped to answer the question of whether it could stand improvement. It certainly has to adapt, and the enormous freedom and autonomy that artists now possess in terms of technology to record and network and get heard  I suppose is still in need of those who are better placed to advise and dissent on matters regarding trying to ‘make it’ or at least get enough exposure.

Any advice for new bands?

Brad : Rock out. That is all.

Let’s have some generic questions. Star Wars or Star Trek?

Nick: Easy. SPACE:1999!

Sci-Fi or Fantasy?

Brad : Sci-Fi. Arthur C. Clarke!

Horror?

Brad :  I watched ‘Rock Of Ages’.  Scared the hell out of me.

Books or Comics?

Brad : As long as it keeps you enlightened/entertained, BOTH. But I admit I haven’t read a comic since the early 80’s.  Oh wait, that’s wrong.  Anthony Bourdain’s  ‘GET JIRO!’

Trump or Putin?

Nick : As far as politics is concerned I am 150% with Frank Zappa on that it is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex. And also whoever it was that said that if voting ever changed anything they’d make it illegal.

Anything you’d like to tell our readers?

Brad :  Check out Gnash Rambler’s 12 track full length out March 31. It rocks.

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