you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

01 March 2017

Interview: Kindling.

Photo by Tiffany Law

The Massachusetts-based project Kindling was formed by Gretchen Williams and Stephen Pierce in 2014. To round out their dynamic sound, which is equal parts noise pop and shoegaze with a DIY punk aesthetic, Andrew Skelly was added on drums, Jeffrey Stevens on guitar and Aaron Snow on bass. After releasing a couple of 7 inches and the lauded Galaxies EP in 2015, Kindling dropped their highly anticipated debut long player, Everything Else, in 2016 to rave reviews. Their newest offering, an EP entitled No Generation, became available last week, proving that both their creativity and unique vision continue to blossom. 

We have adored Kindling since hearing those original demos back in 2014 and that love grows stronger with each new release. We're thrilled to share with you the following interview with Gretchen and Stephen of Kindling.

How and when was the band formed?
Gretchen: In early 2014, Stephen and I wrote some songs over the course of a few weeks. At first, we were just focused on writing short songs quickly, but we began to want the sound to spread out, open up. We wrote the songs on the Spike & Wave 7” and then asked some friends to join the band.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?
Stephen: Our new 12” EP just came out called No Generation that we recorded at the same time as Everywhere Else – it’s the more Ramonesy or poppy songs from the session that didn’t feel like they fit so well on the LP. A CD is coming out on November 16 in Japan that puts together all of our stuff so far aside from the 7” and demo, it’s called Other Orbits. We’re recording our 2nd LP in early 2017 with our friend Justin Pizzoferrato. There may be another shorter EP coming out right before that LP comes out, and somewhere in between all that stuff we’ll be on the road a bunch.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
Stephen: I guess I’ve always thought of us as a punk band, whatever that means.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
Stephen: I really like Infinity Girl and Kestrels, they’re my favorites. Coaches, too, if they are going to fall under that umbrella. Deafcult & The Cherry Wave are also greats.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Gretchen: I prefer a 22” scale neck, which isn’t always easy to find. I’m currently playing a custom built mini Jazzmaster-esque creation, using a late 50s Musicmaster neck and a Duosonic body, routed for a JM-ish floating tremolo and a JM bridge pickup and a Jaguar neck pickup.
Stephen: We use a lot of different era Big Muffs and other such fuzz pedals, too. I like to split my signal to two amps, each with a different chain of pedals. Not that many pedals, though. Just, yeah, fuzz & delay & reverb. Nothing terribly technologically advanced or anything. Oh, and both Gretchen & I just got these super-gated microphones that we use at shows, to try to not pick up as much of the noise from the amps.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
Stephen: We did the demo & 7” by ourselves at home, and as far as the documentation process goes, I really had no idea what I was doing or why. Thankfully, by some miracle it ended up sounding okay, I think. Since then, most of what we’ve done has been engineered and mixed by our friend Justin at his studio, Sonelab. Justin is great and totally on the same page as us as far as what guitars, drums, bass, and vocals should sound like; the energy & vibe they should carry. For me, the whole process always mostly just comes down to: “Does it sound cool, or does it sound shitty?” As basic as it sounds, being able to objectively consider that question is probably what I’d say is best for anyone recording anything to be armed with.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway. How do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?
Stephen: I know it’s harder for bands to make a living doing what they do, but I grew up in hardcore bands where that was never really a thing that was on the table, so I guess it doesn’t really change too much for me. I guess if you’re starting a band hoping to make tons of money in 2016, you’re probably a pretty confused person. A more sure bet would be a degree in finance or something. It’s probably none of my business to give much thought to The Industry, though; it’s existed without any weighing-in from me for a long time and it either will continue to do so or not, or maybe open its doors to us in one way or another or not. I don’t know. I think we all just love playing and touring and making records, and would be doing this regardless of anything, apart from all that.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/Bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
Stephen: Having a label willing to deal with all the things that no one actually wants to deal with is pretty cool.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
Stephen: Vinyl primarily, but really, I do a lot of my listening when I’m riding my bike, so a lot of times if I like a record I’ll want to download it or stream it, also.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Stephen: I think a little of everything I’ve ever liked creeps into our band’s sound. Some things more than others. Obviously, not as much Discharge or Void influence will be heard in your average Kindling song, but I’m sure it’s there in one way or another.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?
Gretchen: I’m discovering a new love for graphic novels, which dovetails nicely with my appreciation for 80s dystopian movies.
Stephen: I really only take music seriously. I tried to be into “smart” movies and books, and I’ve watched and read a lot of that sort of thing and feel like I maybe “got something out of the experience” or whatever, but I’d always rather watch, like, the same shit I’ve watched a million times, or just something mindless on TV, or end up reading, like, oral histories about Black Sabbath.

If you had to choose one track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?
Stephen: I know it’s really dumb to answer with some song that’s not out yet, but there are a bunch on the 2nd LP that I think are our best. I guess of the stuff that’s out, my favorite to play live is either “Black Eye” or “Painkiller”.

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?
Stephen: I usually just record a phone memo of a good guitar part when it comes to me, and then I’ll kinda work it out at the practice space. I’ll send some basic recording on my phone to Andy, and then we’ll get together and record a demo. I’ll send it to everyone else, they’ll learn their parts, and then Gretchen & I will write lyrics and demo those later. Usually, I’ll listen to the demos about a million times and with any luck I’ll know pretty well when we go to record exactly what I want us to do differently & what should stay the same.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Stephen: I don’t know, just like, keep working & keep moving, I guess. Take it as it comes. I try to not get too weighed down by philosophy.
Gretchen: Cats.