Ides of Gemini are one of the most potent bands in doom today, a group who understands the fundamental spirit of the genre and inject a lot of outside influences in order to get the kind of sound that can’t help but to fascinate. After a series of lineup changes that have left the band with a new sound it was a pleasure to watch them at Psycho Las Vegas. Before they went on though we had a fun opportunity to sit down and talk through all of these developments and changes which I hope you found as interesting as I did!
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WTF: So Ides Of Gemini is going through some changes…
Our drummer got injured on a tour with the Mountain Goats last year and she still can’t play drums. She bowed out. Even before that tour she had moved three hours away so there were issues. We got a new drummer, Scott from Saviors. Sarah doesn’t play bass anymore, so we got Adam Murray involved. So we have a new lineup, new songs and a new record label now. Uor new record is going to come out on Rise Above. We are working with a new producer, Sanford Parker. Everything is different basically, even the songs have a different tuning.
WTF: So today, are you not going to play old material?
We are – but we have talked about it. Probably starting with the next show we do we are going stop playing songs off the first record, it will just be from the second record and new stuff. Today we are playing three new songs.
What are the defining characteristics of this change in the sound?
I don’t know… I think we are heavier now because our new drummer is a very heavy hitter. So it’s a little more propulsive I guess you could say. The fact that Sarah isn’t playing bass frees her up vocally. She can do a lot more and the show is better since she can move around. If you’re the frontperson playing an instrument you’re kind of a statue. Some people can make that work but for us it’s better that she can move around. The new songs, I think, really capture the spirit of the new and improved Ides Of Gemini.
WTF: That’s very interesting, having a frontwoman makes it more of a rock and roll type thing right?
The funny thing about Ides of Gemini is that Sarah is the only person in the band who isn’t a rock and roll fan. There’s a bit of a push and pull there because some of the material I write has a rock and roll feel to it. That was an area she wasn’t used to at first or comfortable doing. Some of the songs I wrote had a bit more of a rock feel, but I think it’s some of our best stuff because on the stuff that rocks we have a non-rock singer. Of course, we have other songs that are not rock songs which are cool too!
WTF: What does this fest represent for the band?
This is only the fifth or sixth show with this lineup. It’s kind of, on a national level, our coming out party. We’ve done West Coast stuff before but for people all over the country and the world this is our debut.
WTF: Given all the changes why not change the name of the band?
It’s still me writing the songs and Sarah writing the lyrics. The rhythm section changed but the heart and soul are there.
WTF: What about Sarah’s lyrics works with your writings?
We have a unique relationship inasmuch as I name the songs and she writes the lyrics. The name will mean something to me, it will come from a book or something and I will tell her how I came up with it and then she will take that story and write lyrics to it or it can mean whatever she wants. Sometimes she writes about what I told her and sometimes she writes about the band.
WTFObviously going on Rise Above is a step up for you guys, do you feel things ratcheting up with Ides of Gemini?
I hope so. I feel like the Rise Above thing has already started making waves even though it was only announced Tuesday. They have a built-in audience, as much as there is some overlap there are plenty of parts that do not overlap. There are a lot of people who follow Rise Above who have never heard of us but will check us out because of our label.
WTF: Do you have plans for national tours and stuff to come out of that?
It’s in the works. We won’t record the record until October but it won’t be out until the spring so unless we get an offer we can’t refuse I don’t see us doing extensive touring until the record is out. At that point, we are looking to do as much as we can do.
WTF: Do you feel like you have lost some of your potential audience by having taken an extensive break?
I’m not sure. What we did lose for sure was that Mountain Goats tour where Kelly got injured. It was at the DC show too which was right before we hit the big shows. There’s no question about that. We had people at those shows coming up to us who had no clue who we were and had no reference point for us and we love that stuff! We want to play to as many different kinds of people as we can because we think we have something to offer those people.
WTF: It’s like a band like Subrosa, it’s not just for doom fans!
WTF: What’s the end goal of Ides of Gemini?
We want to make the best music as we can make and travel and play as many good shows as we can, I don’t think any of us have illusions about conquering the world. That just seems unrealistic. I’m happy to do stuff like this. Whatever we can do I’m happy to do.
WTF: What do you love so much about music?
I think you just have to turn on the news to realize that even though your life might not be that chaotic or violent as someone in Syria or Iraq it’s solace away from all that, the chaos of the world. It’s not private but it’s a better reality than shooting each other for religious nonsense.