Here’s the thing about the shoegaze movement. A wall of sound, filled with distortion at loud volumes will do nothing to engage us without a brilliant melody buried somewhere in there. Hailing from northern California, Whirr provide us with everything: vocal melodies that make you tear with joy, while the guitars puncture your eardrums in a welcome wave of bliss. Shoegaze is not dead. It’s been resurrected by bands like Whirr, who understand that melodies on top of noise are in fact, the perfect needle. Guitarist Nick Bassett took a few moments with us to talk about the band that you’ll learn to lust. No videos for this one, kids. Just close your eyes and imagine being surrounded by this beautiful noise. (ED NOTE 2012: When this interview was conducted, the band went under the name Whirl. It has since changed their name to Whirr. We’ve left the old name in the context of the actual interview.)
TDOA: Tell us a little bit about the band and who plays what instrument, please.
NB: Whirl started in early 2010, we’ve all been friends for years and have all been in bands together before. At one point none of us were really doing anything musically and there was talk of starting a shoegaze band. We wrote some songs, recorded them and that’s what the Distressor EP is. As for who plays what it’s: Byanca Munoz-Vocals/synth, Eddie Salgado-Bass, Sergio Miranda-Drums, Joey Bautista-Guitar, Loren Rivera-Guitar/vocal, Nick Bassett-Guitar.
TDOA: We love the density of the production of your record. Can you talk about the recording process and who you worked with on the record?
NB: Well the body of the record was recorded live, opposed to multi-tracking. Recording live was super important for us because we really wanted to capture a more natural, atmospheric sound on the record. As for the recording process the drums were setup in the live room, all the guitars were set up in the control room, and all of the cabs were put into the isolation booth and miced from there. As for actually recording we literally just played the album through and recorded it. After all of the live instruments were recorded we tracked acoustic guitars, keyboards and vocals. Everything was recorded at The Atomic Garden in Palo Alto, Ca with Jack Shirley. We all really enjoyed working with Jack, he was super friendly throughout the whole recording process and knew exactly what we were going for, he also had some really helpful production ideas.
TDOA: Your MySpace page lists your music as shoegaze and punk. Can you talk about your musical influences?
NB: Sure, Influences range from: My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Black Tambourine, Ride, Lush, Portishead,
The Cranberries, Morrissey, The Smiths, The Pixies etc.
TDOA: How’s the music scene in northern California? Is there an audience for shoegaze there and other bands with a similar sound?
NB: I’m really not too sure what the music scene here is. We don’t go out to very many shows to really know. Though there are some pretty cool bands from around here that we are going to be playing with soon for example the band Weekend from San Francisco, Ca. And the band Soft Crest, from somewhere in Northern, Ca.
TDOA: We find more and more bands using Bandcamp.com. How did you find the site and how helpful has it been in getting your music out there?
NB: I heard Bandcamp through word of mouth/seeing other bands using it. It actually has been pretty helpful because unlike MySpace, you can upload high quality lossless files on there rather than just MP3s. Another cool thing about Bandcamp is you can sell albums through it and have the person buying it set the price they’d like to pay.
TDOA: What role does social media play in your efforts to publicize the band?
NB: Well social media has been super helpful so far, such as all of the various blogs and websites that have featured us on them, I think it’s really helped a wider audience hear our music.
TDOA: Can you talk a bit about guitars, amps, pedals and all that fun stuff?
NB: I’m afraid not. That’s for us to know and people to never find out. Ha ha.
TDOA: What’s next for Whirl?
NB: Just play a bunch of shows, Release a single/split with the band American Gods from Tennessee, sometime this summer or early fall. Continue writing for our full length, hopefully tour and develop a stronger following. And if we’re lucky, sign to a label.
Jul 15 2010 Milk Bar San Francisco, Ca
Aug 13 2010 Hevi House Emeryville, Ca
To learn more about Whirl, visit their MySpace page here.