Lightouts founder Gavin found his Robert Smith/Emily Haines in singer Greg Nelson. Except for the lipstick and not being hot but, as Greg mentions, time will tell. In the last few weeks they made their debut by releasing two songs. In the upcoming months more songs will be released as a preview for their debut album ‘Want’. In this interview they talk about their love for A/B-side singles, their changes over the years which they encourage and ask to play their music loud!
MusicRemedy asks [Q]: “RobertSmith/Emily Haines, where are you?” Found them yet?
Gavin answers: Greg is not as hot as Emily and doesn’t wear as much lipstick as Robert Smith, but he’ll do.
Greg answers: To date I have been fairly successful in fending off Gavin’s requests to grow a Haines bob and increase my application of eyeliner/face powder. Time will tell.
[Q]: The bands first single ‘See Clear’ was just released and in the next months more will be released. Are these songs already finished or is it a work-in-progress?
Gavin: A work in progress. Some of the main singles are complete, but the b-sides, both originals and covers are still being worked on.
[Q]: Your single & upcoming ones have an A-side & B-side – a bit of nostalgia. Do you yearn back to the analogue era?
Gavin: These days, it’s much easier to make music and disseminate it than it was when I first started playing music. But I do miss the mystery that surrounded bands in those days. You couldn’t wiki or google them and instantly find out everything about them. In many cases, for obscure bands, you might only know what was provided in the liner notes of their CD. Knowing everything there is to know about a band instantly takes some of the magic away of being a music fan.
Greg: The album is becoming a bit of a lost art-form and the single package even more so. I have always loved hearing the B-sides and covers put out by my favorite bands and I think it’s liberating for a lot of those bands to produce something that doesn’t necessarily need to fit within the context of what should usually be a more cohesive album format.
[Q]: Will the B-sides be on the full-length album? How do you decide which ones will make it and which ones not?
Gavin: Yes, some will. Once we have enough material for the full length, we’ll decide which ones fit the overall sound and feel of the album.
[Q]: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Gavin: I’m a music obsessive- I listen to it all the time. In a general sense, I get inspiration from my favorite old bands (The Cure, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Stone Roses, Teenage Fan Club, The Misfits) and also from newer bands I’m listening to (Surfer Blood, Yuck, The Black Ryder, Beach House, Arcade Fire). I almost always listen with a critical ear and I’ll make mental notes on how I like the way a certain snare drum sounds or what effects are used on a guitar part. Those elements usually end up finding their way into new songs I’m working on.
Greg: By no means are lyrics unimportant, but for me melody precedes lyrics. If something in Gavin’s music triggers a vocal melody, I will focus on building upon that melody which will in turn trigger some sort of stream-of-consciousness lyrical response. It just feels too awkward for me to approach a song thinking “I want to sing about this” – in truth I get more meaning out of the lyrics that result from this somewhat subconscious space and despite the vague origins each song does end up having very distinct and specific themes and references for me.
[Q]: Did you have an idea or concept for your new album?
Greg: Similarly to the lyrical process I mentioned before, the themes and concepts for the album came about in a very organic way. A theme that continually came up in the lyrics is the concept of wanting, and how this can be both a positive and negative motivator in our lives. On the one hand want can be a natural and positive effect coming from the desire to progress and grow, but in other forms it can be a selfish and desperate emotion that leads to competitive impulses and the desire for things and power over others. I’m no Buddhist scholar, but the concept of grasping comes to mind, as does a certain other well-known gentleman’s concept of winning.
[Q]: What made you choose the producers for “Want”?
Greg: Gavin has produced most of the initial tracks and then we worked with Andreas Altmann, a producer whom I have worked with in the past, worked with us throughout the mixing and mastering process as well as helping out with some basic recording.
[Q]: Most bands tend to change their style due to personal ‘growth’ or other changes in their live. Gavin used to play in bands when he was in college. Over the years what has changed your music? What are the negative sides of this change?
Gavin: Over the years I’ve played in everything from punk bands to indie pop to experimental electronic projects. I don’t see any negative aspect to that sort of change; it’s good to change things up once in awhile in order to have a fresh perspective on the music you’re making. With Lightouts I knew exactly where I wanted to go with our sound- play loud and rock out.
Greg: As referenced in our bio, I think we both went into this process with a good idea of the sound we wanted to create and at least in my case it is extremely satisfying to feel that we have achieved that sound to a great extent. That being said I feel that our sound is growing with each new song. New ideas have never been a problem for us – pinning those ideas down into a finalized song is by far the greatest challenge.
[Q]: Any plans for a tour? What can your listeners and fans expect from your tour?
Greg: I really want this band initially to be rooted in the Gowanus/South Brooklyn area. We love this area so much and there are so many great venues here – Littlefield, Bell House, Rock Shop, Union Hall, Southpaw etc. – that we want to establish something real in our own hood and hopefully help build upon this great community of bands and venues.
[Q]: What is your main goal to reach as a band?
Greg: Personally I feel we’ve reached a major goal in creating some songs of which I’m extremely proud. To be able to continue to do so without inordinate strain would keep me pretty happy.
[Q]: How do you combine your marketing mentality with your own non-commercial music thoughts?
Gavin: It’s hard to separate the two as I do music marketing and publicity for a living. One of the few times that I’m not thinking about our music in terms of marketing is when we’re actually playing it and I’m able to lose myself in it.
A couple of ‘simple’ questions:
[Q]: What is your favorite movie?
Gavin: Children Of Men
Greg: Miller’s Crossing
[Q]: What is your favorite music?
Gavin: The Cure, Superchunk, The Wedding Present
Greg: Prince, Pixies, Pavement, Stone Roses, Replacements, Misfits
[Q]: What is your favorite YouTube clip?
[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?
Greg: Recording vocals the last two days – glad to be typing this
[Q]: Final words?
Gavin: Our music was made to be played loud. Please do so.