Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Inquisition: 043.gates

1. How did you came up with the name of the band? 

Dan K: The name "Gates" came about based on a graphic identity concept for the band. We wanted something simplistic, clean and open to interpretation. I designed a logo with "Gates" set in all lowercase Caslon, and wide letter spacing within a circle. The visual element was just an initial concept, but it has become the visual guideline that we still follow to this day. "Gates" is also the name of an As Cities Burn B-side that was influential to us early on when we started playing together.

2. Do you have a standard procedure of creating a song? Do you just jam around or is there a main riff and the track is build up on it? 

Kevin: There definitely is not a standard, as writing for us is a 100% collaborative effort. Someone typically has an idea for a part or two that we jam on, or someone has demoed an idea completely and we modify the idea from there. For Bloom & Breathe, we would work on ideas for three or four hours, then record them and put them into a Dropbox folder. Each of us would listen to it individually, and then we’d reconvene in a few days and either work on any changes that we can agree on or move on if we’re not feeling it.

3. What are your influences and what kind of music do you hear when you are at home? 

Kevin: For me personally, I’ve been listening to a lot of Alt-J, Tycho, Dawn of Midi, Pianos Become the Teeth, and Death Cab for Cutie recently. I also picked up the original Godzilla soundtrack on vinyl and was spinning that a bit.

4. Which is the one album you can't live without? 

Dan K: “The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place" by Explosions in the Sky. The album album is entirely instrumental, just guitars, bass, and drums. Despite the lack of a vocal narrative, the melodies, textures, and dynamics created on these instruments create a story that transcend words. The production on the record is amazing and the guitar tones are flawless. Their ability to evoke feeling to the listener through their songs is what makes this record one of my favorites.

5. What's the first record you've ever bought? 

Kevin: I can’t remember the first album I bought with my own money. My mom bought me Dookie by Green Day and Superunknown by Soundgarden for my birthday one year and those were the first two CD’s I ever had.

6. Name a band that you would like to share the stage or tour with? 

Kevin: I would absolutely love to do longer tours with Pianos Become the Teeth and Foxing. We recently got to play some shows with them, and it was a really great experience. There’s just something about seeing a band that just humbles every bone in your body that I feel just defines what I love about music. I just wanted to get home and write as fast as possible on both tours, and I took so much away from seeing those bands perform every night. It was really a gift to be able to play alongside those bands.

7. Did the internet and specially the blogs helped to spread your music around the world? Name a place (country) that you were surprised to know your music has reached to? 

Kevin: The internet has definitely made our music available to people all over the world. We’ve subsequently distributed records to Japan, Malaysia, and Europe all based on fans who run labels and distribution outlets who wanted to stock our records. I think that’s really awesome and we’ve always been surprised at the appreciation for our music internationally.

8. Do you support the idea of bandcamp where fans can decide the price or services like Spotify?

Kevin: I definitely support Bandcamp as we’ve seen a lot of income that I don’t think we would have seen otherwise from the service and it’s a great way for fans to donate directly to bands with very little taken from Bandcamp themselves. Spotify is great from a user perspective, who wouldn’t want every song ever available for instant stream at their fingertips? However I think it’s proven difficult for them to fairly compensate artists themselves due to the very nature of what they’re trying to accomplish. I know this has gotten a lot of media attention lately, and Spotify defends themselves by saying it’s income that otherwise wouldn’t have been there or would have been lost to piracy. I would say that’s not a good way to look at it. Just because it’s better than piracy doesn’t mean it’s actually working. Regardless, the digital piracy/streaming argument is almost moot at this point. There’s no going back in my opinion, and artists should focus on making quality products like vinyl that are impossible to download that people actually want to buy, or have incentive to buy. It’s a shame that the music itself has been devalued so much, but I’m not going to sit around and beg people to change because that’s not how the world works. Instead we’ll look for other avenues to try to generate some income and keep doing what we do. Hopefully they’ll figure out a better payment model for streaming services in the future.

9. Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? 

Kevin: I have absolutely no idea. I guess that all depends on whether or not people like our music enough to continue to purchase the albums that we make and come to the tours that we go on. Our success is immediately dependent on fans and whether or not they support what we do, spread the word about our music, and become or continue to be active members of the music community. I have a hard time seeing where the future of career musicianship lies. Regardless, I’ll still be making music in some form, trying to record/produce as much as possible, and just be as active as I can as far as creating art is concerned.

10. Is the artwork of an album important nowadays in the digital era? 

Dan K: I feel like album artwork is more crucial now than ever before simply because there are so many more platforms for a band's visual presence to exist on. A successful art campaign can function on any medium, whether it is in physical or digital format. When an album has a consistent cohesiveness across these platforms, the viewer/listener has more to connect with the music. These days, a lot of people find their music online through streaming services, blogs, and reviews, so having great visuals to grab their attention right away on screen is just as important as having great music.

11. What is your favorite album cover? 

Dan K: It's difficult to chose one, but one of my favorites is undoubtedly "Full Collapse" by Thursday.

Although it is incredibly minimalistic, the entire aesthetic set the tone for one of the most influential albums I have ever listened to. The album artwork is pretty vague, but I think it left enough room for the viewer to create their own narrative between the visual elements and the music. I owned the "special edition" CD which had a pale blue slipcover with the dove logo centered on the front underneath the band name and title. The dove logo eventually became a mainstay in the band's visual campaign and was used across all formats, creating a unique and cohesive identity that goes hand-in-hand with the music. The subtle typographic treatment, spacing, hierarchy, and composition provided lasting influence to my aesthetic as a graphic designer.

12. It seems that a lot of people are turning on vinyl again. Why do you think that is and which is your preferable media format? 

Dan K: Vinyl is definitely my preferred media format because it is the most immersive way to experience an album. The process of opening a record sleeve and interacting with the music/album art as an artifact is something that can't be replicated digitally. I also really seeing enjoy how different everyone's collection of vinyl/record player setup is from one person to the next. Its much more interesting than everyone having the same exact iPod. As an artist, having the music in a physical format with large scale artwork has been my biggest reason to start collecting vinyl. I think more people are beginning to gravitate towards owning music in physical formats again. Personally speaking, I used to download music a bunch but stopped entirely once I started to feel like I wasn't enjoying music as much. Everyone consumes music differently, and for some people having streaming access to any song ever recorded in lower quality audio isn't the answer.

13. What's the most vivid story or moment as a band? 

Kevin: I would say being on stage at the first show of our tour with The Gaslight Anthem, finishing our song “Walls” and hearing the applause afterwards. We had never played to a crowd like that before or since and it was such a surreal experience to actually be up there in front of that many people. That was definitely a moment I’ll never forget and I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

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