Stranded In Stereo: The Stranded Local Q&A: The Gulf

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Stranded Local Q&A: The Gulf

How far would you go to record your first album if you were doing it all on your own? Would you pony up a few thousand dollars for studio time, or would you secretly construct a studio at a school in Chinatown and record at night? Boston’s The Gulf opted for the latter.

The ingenuity paid off for the band, as their aptly titled debut album, Chinatown, was picked up by Starbucks’ in-store network, and two songs were placed in rotation in 2007. That was a big moment for The Gulf, who came together in 2003 after founders Adam Brock and Adam Garland found each other on Craigslist. After a few lineup changes, the duo added bassist/pedal steel player Dave Barbaree, trumpeter Brian McGrath, and drummer Steve Turcott to solidify The Gulf’s lineup.

Recording by nightfall in a language school wasn’t the only resourceful thing The Gulf did. The group created their own label, Ultracold Records, to distribute Chinatown.

Now with an album, record label, and multi-state tour on their resume, The Gulf is set to release the follow-up to Chinatown, titled Spymaster, Yes!

The group’s frontman, Adam Brock, was kind enough to bother himself with our Stranded in Stereo questions this week.

Hailing from Boston makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because:

It doesn’t make us any better. Actually it’s kind of a disadvantage because Boston’s living costs means everybody in the band must work full-time; time that could have been spent making music. We don’t feel any sense of competition with other bands or other cities.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well:

Calexico, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Neko Case, Lou Reed, Dr Dog

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is:

Was the Paradise Lounge, but I heard it’s closed. Lizard Lounge has a great vibe. TT’s can be great.

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)

There’s a strong classical influence. You’ll hear it in our instrumentation—no synths or drums machines. Most rock bands don’t have piano, trumpet or sometimes pedal steel. We like warm, organic and acoustic sounds. That’s the kind of music we were all raised on.

I grew up playing Rachmaninov and Bach on the piano (badly) and a lot of these harmonic concepts became engrained. Ideas like using 6/8 minor keys, building chord progressions from descending bass lines, pedaling a single bass note over different chords, rising inversions of the same chord…those are concepts I learned from playing classical music badly. They’re much easier to apply when writing on the piano, because it’s all there in front of you. It’s much harder to pull off on a guitar.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is:

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