San Francisco has a knack for churning out some of the sweetest indie sounds ever. Geographer hit the SF music scene in 2008 with debut album, Innocent Ghosts, and has been a local favorite ever since. Their second album, Animal Shapes, turns up the indie pop and you find yourself head-boppin and bum shakin before you even know it.
They're just one of those bands that hooks you on the first listen and satisfies by the last. Their unique pop-sensibilities come through layers of electronic synth sounds mixed with warm folk strums and Brian Ostreicher's rad drumming -- all tied together by Mike Deni’s haunting vocals and dramatic accents of cello from Nathan Blaz.
Rockerista got a little Q&A action from Mike Deni this month. Enjoy!
You’ve had a number of live shows over the past year from the Stars Tour to Noise Pop and SXSW. What’s been your favorite, most memorable show by far?
One of our favorite shows was when we played Austin on the Stars tour. We had just come from Denver, where we had to sleep the night in a roadside motel because the freeway was closed on account of a blizzard. This is after we had gotten two forced tows up the mountain pass (hauling a trailer with a minivan up snow-covered mountains--not gonna work). So we had 3 days of just driving with no shows, cooped up in the van, and when we got to Austin all that pent up energy exploded on stage and we just had an amazing time. The place was big and packed, and people were really feeding off of our energy. It was an incredibly exciting atmosphere, and they cheered like crazy for us when we were done. I remember looking at Brian and Nate backstage and just saying, "Wow. That was...worth the drive."
For me, both albums are an instant pick me up. Though I know that the writing process for Innocent Ghosts was therapy from your past -- how is it for you to see people dancing around to what was originally pain from your loss?
Well, yeah, God, I don't know. It never struck me as odd. I don't make songs to make people feel sad, I make them to try to transport them into a place, to bring a challenging emotion into focus, but always in a pleasurable way. I'm not the kind of guy that likes really viscerally disturbing art. And while I love pushing up against those fences, I never like going through them. So for me, pop that aspires to be art should still be pop. Not at the expense of the notion behind it, but neither should the notion overshadow the form. You can write a book about boredom, but if it's boring, I don't want to read it.
The cello just works so well. I love it as accent and as core in some of the solos. I know you’re not an orchestra band, but do you guys ever think about testing out other instruments?
We operate under two opposing schools of thought. One is: throw everything at the wall and we'll figure out how to play it later. The other is: play within our confines. And the cello is one of those confines. We strongly feel that limitation can be the lynch pin of creativity. But humans adapt. And those adaptations are often unique and innovative. So we like to box ourselves into different corners and see what comes as a result of that. Have we considered bassoon? Sure. Will we ever use it? Only time will tell.
I’m reviewing a lot of stage style lately, was there ever an act or artist who’s stage style and aesthetic stood out for you?
Wayne Coyne's white suit I just think is fantastic. And the fake blood and the confetti. I also really enjoyed Washed Out's stage presence. He just seems like he's having a great time. What I respond to most in stage presence is that the person cares about and is lost in what they are doing. I'm always impressed with people who can really work a crowd, but what I care about most is that the artist is right there with you, going through something as well.
Geographer fans will be happy to know that the trio is busy writing and recording for the next record. They are also filming a music video with David Dutton for the "Kites" single.
You can catch them live at Mezzanine on June 4th for the Live 105 BFD Pre-party with Vaccines, Innerparty System and Surfer Blood Saturday, and DJ Aaron Axelsen.
And if you haven't already, take a listen to some of Geographer’s tunes on Tricycle Records, and stay connected with them on Facebook or Twitter.
May 20, 2011
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A black wool shirt someone gave me instead of throwing away. I thought of throwing it away myself, but the style came back around, God bless it.
Steve Reich: Drumming