For someone who says he’s no social butterfly, Andy of Denver Rocky Mountain avant-pop duo Gauntlet Hair is pretty outspoken. The BFF’s (him and Craig on drums) have an amazing (self-titled) album out on Dead Oceans, which we can’t seem to ‘unplay’. Read about Craig’s irresistibility, Home Improvement’s Tim Allen and drowning your lyrics in reverb.
Skype interview by Brenda Bosma. Photos shot in Denver by Mario Zoots.
Hi Andy, let’s do this?
So, what is gauntlet hair?
It was actually a clerk at a vintage shop who dropped that bomb. I was about to buy this Johnny Winters album for a buck and the guy behind the counter said he had gauntlet hair. It’s really weird hair, like a helmet.
Will it get more fashionable than a ponytail or braids, do you think?
What kind of hairdo do you prefer on girls?
That’s refreshing. So no long American Apparel hair hanging loosely around bare shoulders accompanied by a seductive stare?
Gauntlet Hair likes its girls to be boys. But wait, that would work as well, I suppose.
What’s great about Denver?
You tell me.
Well, it’s also known as ‘The Mile-High City’. I guess The Byrds named their famous song ‘Eight Miles High’ after it, but they were seven miles off, due to, well, you know… drugs. And Tim Allen is from Denver! But that doesn’t have to mean anything.
Haha, but that DOES mean something, Brenda! I grew up on that show.
Do you use his famous Signature Tools? Did you use them for the song ‘Mop It up’?
Haha, what? Are they on the market?
He has his own line of tools. And a midlife crisis.
Hun, his tools don’t work. Seriously, I thought that that was the humour of it… that he knows nothing about tools.
Yep, now he has lots of tools he can’t seem to sell.
I’m not buying them anyway. Actually Tim is a perfect example of what Denver does to people. They come out here to unwind and go into the chill mode. And look what it did to Tim’s career! All ruined. He got caught up in the chill.
Yeah, and fucked up a gazebo or thousand along the way.
Haha, I love this so far. I have no idea of what’s going on. Hit me again.
I’ve read you two don’t work well with other parties, but for live shows you have an extra guitarist. Do I sense some intimacy issues there?
Craig and I have become very intimate, yes. It’s been ten years now. We’ve developed that sort of telepathic ability. Trying to involve another person in the writing just seems to slow us down. I suppose we’re very protective of our work, you know? It has taken us so long to get to this point and we really just don’t want to share it with anyone else.
Does he automatically answer your (singing-) cries with a smashing (drum) whip? That kind of telepathic vibe?
Well, on the topic of intimacy: Craig’s rough in a real sexy I-want-to-make-music-with-you kind of way.
You have studied sound engineering, but didn’t mix your own album. That must feel like leaving your baby, or no, your own leg, on someone else’s doorstep. To be eaten by their dog. But maybe afterwards you respect the concept of walking a bit more?
Ha, I did the first mix of it. Then passed it on to Brian Marcus. I tend to mix for myself, not others, so what sounds good to me may sound like hell to the audience and our mothers. But I put my baby in good hands. I’ve learned my favourite tool is EQ.
Okay, haha. What about reverb?
Thought you might go to that. I do love me some reverb.
To resemble being near the Rocky Mountains, or is that echo?
Honestly, nothing that we write has to do with the mountains. It’s more personal. Intimate even.
Spill some juicy details please, or mop it up. What, for instance, is ‘You Can’t Feel It’ about?
The song actually is called ‘My Christ’ now. It’s about masochism in a way, but more so in the emotional sense. I’m trying to leave out any lyrics here.
Uh, wanna find out, Brenda?
Well, writing has become my main form of expression. I’m not what you would call a social butterfly, I’m sort of shy and reserved. This has everything to do with why I don’t share my lyrics and such. The use of reverb is similar to that voice they put on those silhouetted people on TV who don’t want their identities to be reveiled. It’s sort of the same kind of shit. I can say whatever the fuck I want, and no one will ever understand anything about it.
I see, you drown the lyrics in reverb, so no one gets to hear about the Christ.
But what if you’re quite the poet? Your mom will never know.
Haha, she knows.
You whisper in her ear?
‘Was that poetry just now?’
Or was it the wind?
But I’m not a big fan of poetry. I’m a big plain-speaking guy.
Literally sayin’ it like it is.
You know it.
That’s the new intimate maybe. No beating around the bush, but smacking the nail on the head. Do not use a Tim Allen hammer though.
Gauntlet Hair play on 23 February in OT301 in Amsterdam. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members.