Subbacultcha through your eyes
With their new release, Olympia gone LA band Gun Outfit embarks on a whole new adventure. Two Way Player marks their first collaboration with NY’s Wharf Cat Records, and it’s not just another collection of country pop songs. The record is actually the supporting soundtrack to an as of yet still imaginary feature film the band is set to create themselves. Completely open to interpretation, Two Way Player is a flowing, fluid experience, with songs that, like most country songs, are funny but also kind of tragic. Such as the track King of Hearts we’re premiering – a soothing cover of a Lucinda Williams classic. Carrie Keith and Dylan Sharp were kind enough to talk to us about how this record makes us feel, and we decided: even though songs like these maybe make you cry, they also make you so happy, because somebody went there and spoke to that feeling, which is one of the highest achievements in making songs. Though “… it’s cool too to make people dance.”
The lovely Gun Outfit will be in Amsterdam February 20th for a Subbacultcha show.
Why is this EP called Two Way Player, what is a two way player?
CK: It’s a baseball term.
DS: It’s someone who’s good on both ends.
CK:Babe Ruth was a two way player. It’s part of the American hero folklore and I thought it sounded saucy… [laughs]
DS: And you might say it refers to the physical record because it plays on both sides.
CK: I was never good with titles but I’m always the one to choose them.
How did you get on Wharf Cat Records?
CK: They found us through our Tampa friends, Merchandise, Ukiah Drag and Cameron Worden. Cameron came out to NY when we were recording the EP and shot us in the studio. Those are the film strips on the record cover.
DS: We did a week long tour in Florida in 2011 when they were all living in Tampa. We went on a long tour with the band Dads [also on Wharf Cat Records] and we kept in contact over the years. They’re doing a cool thing – putting out so many varied records of people that wouldn’t get released elsewhere and putting a lot of effort into it.
CK: It’s lucky it worked out the way it did.
The previous record Dream All Over was released on Paradise of Bachelors, so is the EP a one-off on Wharf Cat?
CK: We have a two-LP contract with POB and they were comfortable with us doing this EP in the midst because it’s framed differently, as the soundtrack for an upcoming feature film. So the EP stands on its own. Our next record will be on Paradise of Bachelors.
Funny you would describe it as a soundtrack. I noticed that the cover art is made of film stills, and you’ve talked a lot about film in interviews – I was about to ask you if is this the soundtrack to something, like something imaginary, but it actually is the soundtrack to something!
CK: It is still a bit imaginary.
DS: We haven’t shot much of it yet. It will take a while but we are going to make a feature length film eventually. You have to approach it the right way.
CK: Our film is a collaboration with other filmmakers and musicians. It’s not exactly a traditional soundtrack as you would imagine, it is a soundtrack to an imaginary film that’s not yet been written and produced.
You’re going to shoot this in LA?
DS: Outside of LA probably, the landscapes and stuff.
CK: It will be where a lot of Hollywood Westerns were shot, we’ll be using many of those landscapes.
DS: It’s going to be pretty experimental.
CK: But the narrative won’t be. Those Westerns have some of the most brutal Hollywood narratives.
DS: We were planning to make a Western and then we started watching a bunch and we were like, oh, it’s so boring. We’ll use some of the tropes and themes but do something different with it.
CK: The gender roles are never that surprising either, but I like the idea of taking something that has a very rigid structure and borrowing elements and switching around the archetypes.
If this EP is an indication for the soundtrack, it’s also pretty unexpected for a Western, it’s very slow-paced. Is this the feeling you want to give to the film?
DS: I think the songs will be remixed, more instrumental. It’s a collaboration, we don’t know how it’s going to work out.
CK: But you’re right, the pace is going to have to pick up at some point too. We’re not trying to make a movie as slow as the EP.
DS: We weren’t trying to make the EP that slow either, it just ended up like this.
You mentioned somewhere else that you like going for long drives and that this record is good for listening in the car. Where does this come from?
DS: I think that a lot of that drifting, or going between states, comes from me trying to create a blending or confusion in opposition to rigid genres. I’m not a big fan of hard dividing lines in any types of art I make. And also arriving from one person’s point of view to another person’s point of view is something we do in music. I don’t want it to be confided into one rigid point through which you see the world.
CK: It’s also because people latch on to some of the images I’ve used in our music video. I love the images of cars against the landscape. Also, you spend so much time on the road playing music, so you tend to listen to a lot of music this way.
DS: It’s the power that music has…
CK: … to move through space.
You’re leaving for tour soon, are you bringing a full band?
DS: Daniel Swire on drums, Anton Seder on bass and our friend Henry Barnes, he does Amps for Christ.He is a wizard. He handmade all of his amps and instruments. He’s going to play electric mandala and a homemade sitar thing. We have never played with him before so it’s a new thing. We’ve been practising recently- it’s got a good sound, oscillators and stuff like that.
CK: This will be the full experience it’s a dream come true.
So for the Amsterdam show, Amps for Christ is also opening, right?
DS: Yeah, he has his own project and he has his own set.
CK: I think people are excited about him coming over there, because he’s been putting out records over 25 years and something happened with a volcanic explosion and missed flights the last time he went to Europe. It’s not clear to me but he didn’t make the shows, but since promoters have realized that he is coming now many of them have asked if he would play his own set. It’s very good.
DS: It’s very experimental too, I don’t know what he’s going to do but it’ll be cool.
Two Way Player is out on 18 March with Wharf Cat Records and can be pre-ordered here.