The Badger caught up with Minneapolis rockers Howler just moments before their debut Brighton gig.
Howler are: Jordan Gatesmith (Guitar, Vocals) Brent Mayes (Drums) , Ian Nygaard (Drums), Max Petrek (Keys), France Camp (Bass).
You have dominated the press in the last few months. Everyone seems to be hearing about you, you received 8 out 10 in the guardian, 8 out of 10 in Q and NME and the NME say one thing about you, they say your album is effortlessly brilliant. There’s a huge amount of work gone into that?
J: Yeah, but, it’s kind of true all the same time, the best things that personally that I write I feel come effortlessly. It’s that moment where you’re just like not doing anything and all of the sudden something just happens, in that sort of sense yeah I agree.
You’re signed by a London label and congratulations. The U.K has been an important breeding ground for bands from the America to take off. Will success in the U.K help you in being able crack the U.S?
J: I hope so. Definitely the U.K has been the large point for us. But interesting enough the last week after the release we have been seeing a lot of support from some U.S publications and things, so it has been picking up! So we will see.
As seen as you’re on a U.K label Are there any U.K bands that you have admired in the past that have made you want to move here?
J: Yeah of course, but the funny thing about the U.K is you guys are so divided about your music; it’s an American band, or a British band. I don’t really know the difference; it’s just kind of bands. Yeah but there’s a lot of sure English music that I’ve listened to over the years.
Anyone in particular?
J: Well The Rolling Stones were huge, that’s everyone’s. I don’t know.
How would you describe your sound in relation to some of the early punk stuff that you relate to?
J: I think we are not necessarily a pure punk rock band at all. I think I would take kind of seriously the Replacements as an idol. In the fact there are edges of punk and nasty guitars and whatever but at the heart of the song it’s usually a pop song. In the sort of sense we have Attitude of punk rock and maybe some of the sounds but we are not a pure punk rock band at all.
Do you think having the punk rock attitude is important live?
J: I think so it makes things more interesting.
Does punk rock ethos carryon into your lifestyle, what we associate with being a punk rocker, I see you enjoy a drink? What’s touring like?
J: Tour is fun Especially in the U.K, I just I go overboard because I just turned 20 today actually but I still can’t drink in the United states so when I get over here so it’s like well, let’s just have at it (laughs). So it’s not like a rock n roll thing.
Are you the song writer of the band?
J: For the most part.
What’s the song writing process like?
M: Someone like me or Jordan brings a song to the table and we all work at it a bit
J: I’ll write the song or Max will write a song or whatever then we will bring it to the band and they will bring a sound with it.
I think your sound ties closely to earlier decades of music. Especially 70s and 80s. What I wonder is, is this a sign that there is nothing in the last two decades that has really struck you as idols in the same way that the 70s and 80s have?
J: Oh yeah many idols especially the 90s and current actually. Pavement was a huge influence, be happening is another.
These bands are all reforming and have gone through their time in the 90s and released their debut albums previously. Is there anyone that’s released a debut album in the last, say, 10 years that you like?
J: Arctic monkeys are great, I love that album. And of course I think my favourite of the last 10 years is the Libertines, up the bracket. IS that what it’s called over here? Libertines was a huge thing. It was so rock n roll but at the same time it had a punk edge that I really like.
What do you think to Pete Doherty as a character? Have you ever met him?
J: No I haven’t met him. I think he’s kind of like that cliché rock n roll kind of guy and it’s kind of funny, kind of cool at the same time kind of sad, I dunno.
Would you like to meet him?
J: Of course I would like to meet him.
Growing up in America In school did you find yourselves outcast for the vintage influences that you hold so close? Was there a contest between mainstream and alternative culture?
J: Not really, I wouldn’t use the word outcast. Minneapolis is a pretty, dare I say, Hipster kind of town but not in a bad way, it’s very dedicated to its own musical history of punk rock so and even to an extent funk with prince and time so it’s a very accepting musical town of all sorts of genres. I actually think I fit in pretty well there.
You stand out too. Apart from your sound what distinguishes Howler form other bands in the area?
J: It’s kind of the whole replacements concept that I try to live Howler by which is you could write these pop songs but they might be bland just as those three chord progressions over and over even though that shit is head in every song ever I think we have some kind of strange of ability to mutilate them in some sort of way, twist them and make them a little more interesting, so, we are good at disguising (laughs).
J: Do you find it difficult sometimes to get along with each other since you spend so much time together?
J: There’s so much hatred in this band it is unbelievable..
I: It’s been like 2 days and I am already wondering why Max is sitting so close to me.
J: It’s kind of like the big joke on tour that you are supposed to hate each other. You secretly kind of do but don’t .. it’s a weird dynamic.
But you’ll still be celebrating Jordan’s birthday in loving spirit?
M: You are telling me, this is the first time I’ve heard about it… I don’t care..
Was touring like how you’d expect it to be?
J: We opened for the Vaccines a couple of months ago and they had a lot of build up. They are at the point where they can play Brixton Academy. So kind of walking into that and touring was really bizarre especially coming from playing to crowds of 50 in Minneapolis to a crowd of 5000. After that, I felt like every rock and roll cliché was actually true, but only when you are at that point I suppose. I love being on the road no matter whether it’s the smaller or the bigger venues.
J: What do you reckon you would be doing if you weren’t making music?
I: That’s a good question. If you decide that you love music that much, you shut off to having a backup plan and having other forms of creativity. If your goal is to become a successful musician you stick the plan and hope you don’t fuck up. If you have a backup, I feel like your heart isn’t in it all the way.
If you had one song you could listen to the rest of your life and only that song, which one would it be?
J: ‘What’s up’ by Four None Blondes.
I: That’s a really hard question man, a really hard question. I don’t think I would want to listen to something I actually liked for the rest of my life. If I could only listen to one thing, I would want to listen to something so bad it could make me kill myself.
What are your opinions on music piracy?
F: I download all my things through mediafire, but don’t say mediafire.. It’s difficult as we grew up in the download era in the time when the music industry was changing. There’s no going back really and the change in the music industry is sort of for the better because with the power of the internet you can get yourself out there. You can go viral even if you have nobody behind you. More people are listening to music and it I know it sucks not being able to make money as easy any more but I feel like the industry will morph itself. We are going to figure out how to make money again in this transition period the music industry is in.
What is the weirdest thing one of your fans has done?
J: Oh god. (laughs). The people that do weird things to us are generally the ones who will read interviews such as this, so it might be best if we keep our mouths shut.
If you could meet one musician dead or alive, who would it be?
J: Isaac Hayes, as of today. It’s been the sound track in our of our tour van recently.
Do you have any musical regrets?
I: Oh yeah, we have thousands of musical regrets, we have a Myspace out there, I hope no one ever finds it!
J: We actually have to find a lot of things and take them down from there, so thanks for reminding us!
F: It’s really hard, because I lost the passwords to my old Myspace and I feel like there is too much personal info on there!
Are you feeling homesick at all?
J: Just jetlagged really, it’s a bit too early on to be feeling homesick. We have been on 3 tours now and through each one, I haven’t felt homesick once. It’s all too much fucking fun.
Where would you like to wake up tomorrow morning?
F: Inside my girlfriend’s vagina.
J: Girlfriend’s bed (hesitates).. is this a radio thing? Inside Brent’s (drummer) head actually.. I want to know what’s happening inside that prison!
Who in the band has the worst habit?
J: Probably Brent. In how he does not shut the fuck up!
I: We all have bad habits actually and I hurt people’s feelings all the time.
M: I’m not sure what I do, I’m sure I do something..
I: You’re just really negative sometimes..
J: You’ve been really good on this tour, I think I have been more negative than you have! Brent is the MVP of the most terrible person on tours.
I: He’s a princess, he’ll complain about everything, but he is a great guy.