Gatsbys American Dream bassist Kirk Huffman was kind enough to answer some questions for us we were itching like lice to ask him. Yeah, it was that bad.
Please state your name and what you do in the band.
My name is Kirk Huffman and I play bass.
Okay: it was a bit obvious that the new EP was the direct result of label scouting and contract offers following Ribbons & Sugar and your Rocketstar contract. But "where's the fucking chorus?," in particular, is subject to widespread rumor that this inquiry came direct from one certain label. And…by one certain label, I mean Drive-Thru. Is there any truth to this?
When we were done putting out Ribbons and Sugar we toured as much as we could. We would be working when we were home in order to pay for ourselves to be out on tour. At this point we weren't making a dime and I believe that because of our heavy touring and the fact that we were doing everything ourselves the word about us got around. Yes, Drive-Thru was one of the labels who approached us at the time as well as a handful of major labels too. 'Where's the fucking chourus?' isn't a direct result of Drive-Thru or any other singular record label in particular. Although, the reason none of those labels expressed interest in signing us after hearing Ribbons and Sugar was because they acknowledged that it was a risk for them financially and when they also got an understanding from us that we didn't want to do things any other way than the way we wanted to, they didn't pursue us further. The line from the EP is more of a comment on the thought process of the entire record industry in general.
What was the writing process like for the EP overall? It seemed liked you rushed right into the studio after signing with LLR while still managing to put out something that was still well-received by fans.
The original idea for the EP was that we were going to say 'fuck it' about the label situation and just put out the record ourselves and sell it at shows this summer. LLR just happened to come around right before we were going to begin working on it and ended up really helping us by getting the word out. At the time Ryan also left the band, so we were under a lot of stress trying to figure what we were going to do musically. Bobby had some songs put together and he just got us in the studio and we hacked out everything in there. We love being in the studio probably more than any other aspect of this band. Touring is great, but for a lot of us I think it's very boring. I know that we've always felt that we as musicians get frustrated when we're not creating more music, the idea for the EP was also very much essentially a way for us to keep ourselves creatively motivated and thinking.
What made you settle on Fearless?
After all the frustration, Fearless was the first label to approach us and say 'Hey we love what you do and we want you to do exactly what you feel like doing and we'll be right behind you to support it.' It meant a lot to us because we've always believed that that is the way it should be and yet it hadn't been made evident to us. It's been a nice breath of fresh air.
What would you be doing with your life if you weren't playing music?
I've always been a creative person and so have the other guys so I believe we'd all still be making art. I honestly don't know what I would've done otherwise though. Probably some mind-numbing nine to five.
What keeps you sane on the road besides the shows?
Books are great. I read a lot on the road. The guys in the bands we tour are great too. Some of my best friends are all guys I've met while touring with their band. We're really fortunate to have been able to tour with not only good bands, but good people as wel. Tour is really boring and they help ease it along…I guess that and lots of drugs.
What themes and styles do you have in mind for your upcoming third full-length? A lot of people were wondering if it would be even a slight throwback in terms of 'mathy' time signatures and more uptempo songs, especially since "The Dragon of Pendor" seems to imply both.
We have the privelege of being able to spend three months or so in the studio. In the past with Ribbons and Sugar and In the Land of Lost Monsters, we've always been rushed to put out a product. We'll be home to be able to sit day in and day out for a long chunk of time and really make sure that every last detail and aspect of the record is exactly the way we want and the way we envisioned it. i think it will incorporate a lot of the sound that Ribbons and Sugar had to it as well as a lot of the pop sensibility that came out in the EP. I really think we're going to go out on a limb with this record and take lots of risks to make sure it's not like anything anyone has ever heard before. It's going to be a very thoughful record from the lyrics to the artwork. Lots of crazy shit.
What have you been listening to lately?
I've been listening to a lot of the Beastie Boys' Ill Communication. I think a lot of people forget what a great bass player Adam Yauch is. I mean, aside from his emcee skills, listen to his bass breakdown on 'B Boys Makin With the Freak Freak' - he's playing that lick on a stand-up bass and it's phenomenal. Other than that, The Walkmen's new record is great and i've also been listening to a lot of The Stooges' 'Raw Power'.
Does Nic have any professional singing lessons under his belt? His voice was described by one music critic as quote "very soft and powerful; similar to some pop singers."
Nic worked with a vocal coach when we recorded Ribbons and Sugar, but I believe that a lot of people compare Nic to a lot of different pop singers because Nic is just very influenced by pop singers. He grew up listening to a lot of Michael Jackson and I think that definately stands out in his vocal patterns and in his tone too.
Are you going overseas anytime soon?
I don't know quite yet, I of course would love to. Our friends in Bear Vs. Shark are headed over there and I am sure they're having a killer time so I think we'd all be pretty stoked if we had the opportunity to head over there.
The revisitation of Animal Farm's whole "power corrupting" theme in R&S probably couldn't have come at a more appropriate time in the political climate. Would you say that was more or less your purpose in laying it as the whole basis for the album, if maybe even indirectly?
I don't think that there was a direct tie as far as Ribbons and Sugar goes to being a theme with the current political climate, but there are some themes on that record that could be felt and spoken for as far as how our politicians have handled our place in the power structure of the world. We've always been politically charged and minded, but not in a sense that we're going to get on stage and act like politicians and tell you who you should go out and vote for. Our music certainly isn't going to be used as a soapbox. Yes I think George Bush is a fascist, but that certainly doesn't mean that i'm going to go preach that to you.
What up and coming bands have caught your interest?
We had the chance to open up for a band from Tucson called The Mean Reds, they're absolutely amazing and I think a lot of people should be taking note. We also toured with The Snake The Cross The Crown who's album is wonderful as well as Bear Vs. Shark and we got a chance to play a festival in Toronto with them. It was the most amazing live show I've ever seen in my life. That is one band that just screams passion, they're great. I think the new These Arms Are Snakes record is phenomenal too.
One person wanted to ask what you thought of Yousef going to law school.
Hahaha. Oh man, I can't believe someone knows him. Weird. Yousef has been a good friend of mine for a long time and i can say that at least if he's going to be a lawyer he'll look out for good people. He's an honest guy and has always given a hand to the little guy. So all I can say other than that is good luck.
Finally, if someone killed one of your members, would you seek for them to get the death penalty or life imprisonment?
Well if someone were killed by one of the members in the band, Rudy would probably do it, but it would probably be for a damn good reason so…but seriously, I don't believe in the death penalty as an acceptable punishment.
We're still one of the only industrialized nations in the world that still gives a capital punishment sentence and I think it's a hypocritical idea. But then again, if it were Rudy, they should give him the chair.
A big thanks to Kirk and Gatsbys and Mike from Earshotmedia for setting up the interview.