Brooklyn, NY (by way of Auckland, NZ) indie-folk act Streets Of Laredo helped kick off 2013’s edition of CMJ Music Marathon in fine form on October 15th. The quintet, currently supporting their just-released debut EP, hopes to make great strides so far away from home. But until then, as their social media says, they’re just ‘Enjoying The Trip.” And why not?
I caught up with brothers Dave and Dan Gibson prior to their showcase at [email protected] to get an introduction to the group, talk about their brand spanking new EP, and how the transition from Auckland to Brooklyn has treated them thus far.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! How’s everything going?! It’s the first day of CMJ and you guys are starting it off.
Dave- Doing really good, man, thanks!
Dan- Yeah we’re excited about CMJ and it’s been a smooth, smooth run so far. We got an early start to go get our badges, and we were expecting huge lines, but we walked straight in, got our badges, got our goodie bag filled with all sorts of sponsored product, and free download cards and stuff like that, and we’re feeling pretty sorted. We’re gonna talk to you and then do a sound check, and then I guess CMJ is gonna begin!
G- Yes it is, and I can’t wait for it!
So, Auckland, NZ to Brooklyn, NY. It’s a bit of a different world, so how has your transition been in the US?
Dave- It’s been great. Brooklyn’s been… We’ve found a really good hub of friends and we’ve been really welcomed. I must say, the first couple of weeks was kinda hard. We sold everything we had, left New Zealand, and started a new life here, so it was pretty tough. But we’re really lucky. We made friends and met musicians and started doing shows with them, and looking back, it’s amazing where we come from. It’s kinda feels like a second home now.
G- Good! That’s what I like to hear.
So, for our readers who might not be familiar with the group, apparently you have a variety of members of 3-7-5 or whatever…
G- Introduce everybody in the group for us… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
Dave- Yeah every couple of weeks we seem to get new members. We started off as a trio… Me, my little brother Dan here, and my wife Sarah, and very early on, Si Moore joined on the band, and he plays guitar and he also produces all our music. So, all the amazing production, in my humble opinion, and the interesting twisty sonics on our new EP, Volume 1, you can thank Simon for that.
When we moved over to the states and picked up another guitarist, another kiwi called Tom Darlow, and then we were like ‘We kinda need a bass player.’ We’d been trying to make music with the least amount of players as possible because we thought if the songs can work really stripped down, the more you add to them, the better it would get, but it’s gotta work in its stripped down sense. So, I guess that’s why we started as a trip but we picked up a bass player and a fantastic singer called Shawm McMann, who’s a bushwick local where we live.
And then, when we did the recordings from Volume 1, we had a bunch of horn lines and melodies that we recorded, and we missed when we were playing live. So, we kinda picked up a trumpet player about a month ago, a very talented guy called Andrew McGovern.
G- Ok so definitely some member there, though it doesn’t seem like your switching them, just adding…
Dave- Yeah. We essentially just want it to be a big traveling cult on a bus with, you know, our own school…
A commune, just traveling the country on a bus would be the goal.
G- Just kidding, NSA.
So, you are currently touring in support of your debut EP, which was just released last week (10/7.) Were you playing any of those songs out before the release?
Dan- Yeah yeah. We were kinda road testing them for the last 6-8 months. We recorded them back home in February, and we’ve just been road testing them ‘til now. It’s really good to have the songs out there now so when the people come to our shows, they can get what we’re talking about finally.
G- And have you noticed any fan favorites off the record at this point?
Dan- Well, it’s still bubbling. Everyone’s got their own favorites. What would you say, Dave?
Dave- Yeah, I think Dan is right. There’s quite a variety there. Dan is usually the lead singer, but my wife sings on a couple of songs, too, which brings a whole different tone to the vibe, but I think it really fits.
We’ve got a couple of weird songs, especially the opening track on Volume 1 called “Giving it To Everyone.” It’s quite an unusual track, and people are liking that vibe for a lot of different reasons than our first single, “Girlfriends.” I feel like the songs fit together, but they’re very different.
Dan- Very different.
Dave- So, I feel like you’ve got a lot of different foods there, and you can kinda take your pick.
G- An ala carte menu?
Dave- (laughs) Yeah. But, it’s in the same genre. I don’t know what you’d called it in America. (To Dan) What’s that place in NZ where’d you go and eat all types of crap?
G- Like a Ponderosa?
Dave- (To Dan) That really cheap one we went to with Vanessa and Andrew that time.
Dan- Oh Valentine’s.
Dave- Yeah. It’s a place that no one in America would get, but it’s a terrible restaurant. What I’m saying is we’re not like Valentines.
G- (laughing) Good!
Now, let’s delve a little deeper into the EP. Can you tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time, evern though you already mentioned him – a little extra shout out, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release the way you guys wanted it?
Dave- Firstly, we recorded one of the songs, “Girlfriend,” at a place called Bunker Studios, and it’s a fantastic little studio… We were just blown away by the effort they put into that studio, so we did “Girlfriend” there.
Then, we all had return tickets home to NZ because, before we moved here, we moved here on fate… We just had to get to America. So, when we decided to move here, we didn’t have visas, so we decided to just book the tickets, but we had to book returns out of the country. We all ended up getting visas, it was fine, but as a result we all had tickets home in February of this year. So we though ‘We’re going to be home, let’s make the most of that time.’
So, we were home for a month and a half, and during that time with did pre-production for these EPs. We actually did 2 EPs at that time. So this is Volume 1, and Volume 2 is going to be out November 2nd, so we got together and pulled in a bunch of favors, and we recorded in a nice little studio in NZ called The Lab.
G- Ok right on!
So let’s go deeper… What I’d like to know is do you have a favorite song you have ever written, or if you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of Streets of Laredo before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
Dave- Great question.
Dan- Great question.
Dave- Dan, what’s your favorite song that you like to perform?
Dan- My favorite one would probably be “Laredo” or “Long Tail Line.” “Long Tail Line,” to me, has just a great theme running thorough it, and the lyrics. I was traveling around Vancouver and I was away from my girlfriend, and I was really poor and trying to make ends meet as a musician, so there’s a lot of those things running through it…
Dave- And that was a cornerstone songs that started the band when me and Dan started jamming.
Dan- And as a song, I’d say “Long Tail Line” is a good start. Sonically, it’s really interesting and structurally it’s interesting, too. So, I feel like it’s a really good landscape, a good portrait of what we’re about.
Dave- A trifecta.
G- Would you agree?
Dave- Yeah I’d agree. Songs are special for different reasons, and that song is really special because it kinda started me and Dan jamming together. It’s one of the songs that Dan and me played in previous bands before this band, and they had run their natural course, and that was one of the songs we started jamming even before we thought we were going to be in a band together. It was “Let’s just make some music and see what happens.” So, “Long Tail Line” will hold a special place in our heart for those reasons.
G- Alright, and I have just one final question for you guys today. You traveled a long way from NZ to be in NY and in the states. You’re working and your debut EP just came out, and we all dream.
Lots of kids want to play music and go on the road, so for all the kids that want to go play shows and go on the tour, what advice can you give some to those who want to do what you’re doing now?
Dave- My advice would be just to stick with it against all odds. I feel like if you just hang in and get through not paying your rent and being broke… We’re actually still in this situation and we haven’t “made” it yet, whatever that means. But I feel like if you just stick with it, just keep with it, and enjoy the trip while you’re going… Some people put off enjoyment until they get to some hypothetical place in the future, but we always try to remind ourselves ‘Man, we’re in NYC! Man, we’re at LPR right now! Man, we’re playing CMJ… Look at my pass!’ That’s fucking cool!
Just try to enjoy what’s happening right now, regardless of what’s happening in the future. Just stick with it, kids!
G- Good! Dan, do you agree?
Dan- I agree. Very well put.
G- Right on. Well, I just want to say again thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. I’m very glad you made the trip and I’m excited for the show! Best of luck at CMJ… Play hard, travel safe, and I look forward to round 2.
Dave- And thank you so much for the great questions!
G- My pleasure.