Hypnotic is a word often used to describe The Gloomies. Indeed, much of their new album, ROMANCE, feels like a trance of bittersweet recollection. As if you’re replaying scenes in your head, trying to make sense of the fleeting memories.
“Sand in my socks from all the nights we drove down south, wine that I spilled on your dress is dried up now.” – “Sundays”
The New York based band with southern California roots makes music which complicates traditional genres and narratives. Imagery like palm trees, which to many symbolize simple bliss, take on melancholic and even sinister tones. Front-man Andy Craig says that the topics came from struggles he and Chris Tromboley went through during their return to San Diego.
Andy: I guess me and Chris just went through a bunch of stuff when we were writing it. … It’s funny, because I think like you were saying, the more melancholy stuff came out of San Diego.
Prominently featuring concepts of loss and failed relationships, ROMANCE may seem topically darker than their older work. However, Andy says that the themes have always been there, albeit a bit more low-key.
Andy: I think even though [older] songs like LSD might sound happier, I think a lot of those have the same tone, just more upbeat.
On the feedback for ROMANCE, Andy feels people finally see past what The Gloomies were initially pinned as (“… like, surf music”).
Andy: Well I remember when the band first started, I put on the Facebook page, “surf punk.” It was before anyone even knew about us, and it was a joke, but they you know, grasped onto that. I took it down after that, but it stuck. Then, we did the video and we did stuff that kind of made people think that, but to me, surf music is like, Dick Dale or something. I wouldn’t say (laughs), The Gloomies, but I don’t know. I think it’s funny.
Brody: It’s like on that day you sealed your fate. The second you pressed enter on Facebook.
Andy: Yeah, “cool new surf band from San Diego!”
Andy: I think we’re more electronic than people think. I mean, people always think we’re, even my own friends think we’re a certain thing. Because live we’re a full band, but I never wanted it to be a rock band.
Brody: I think it feels a lot less like that on [ROMANCE].
Andy: Yeah! It’s like even on LSD or Bleached Out, the songs were actual drum loops. Like, they were recorded like that, like we recorded it live then put it through an MPV. So, I was trying to make it, less live than it actually was. Like, you asked about the synths, and it’s like they’re probably more prevalent on [ROMANCE], but they’ve always been there, it’s just been like, mixed.
Brody: That is interesting, because I remember thinking the synths were a new thing when I heard the first new single you guys dropped.
Andy: Yeah, no, the ideas always been there, it’s just, more focused now. It’s been kind of what we’re trying to do. But, in my mind it’s still not … there, but it’s closer. Getting closer than it was.
Combining the laid back vibe of a beach-town with the sleek soundscapes of New York, The Gloomies is music inseparable from its environment. Andy articulated what specifically about San Diego contributed to their integral sound of Sun-bleached sadness.
Andy: Yeah, Southern California feels like, and I mean maybe because that’s just where I grew up, not inspiring I guess? It feels like you wanna go to the beach everyday (laughs) you know what I mean? It’s not like a – there’s not like a bunch of stuff just pushing you to be better.
This quickly devolved into Andy and I just complaining about San Diego’s social scene.
Andy: There’s too much yoga and burrito eating down that way.
Brody: Yeah, I’m definitely gonna quote you on that one. I’ve said some shit similar and people usually think I’m dumb for it.
Andy: Yeah, you should dude. Because everyone’s doing yoga on like a stand up paddle board.
Brody: Yeah, I just got back and I was just skating by the bay and it was nice, but then I’m like, so this is it now, huh?
Andy: That’s really all you wanna do, like be outside. I mean, that’s why it’s even hard to like play in shows in San Diego, for any band. It’s like everyone would really rather be outside doing something than like going to a concert. Which is cool, but.
Brody: I remember thinking like, cause I would try to throw parties back when I lived [in San Diego] and be like “Damn, maybe I’m just bad at this”. Now I realize like, “oh no, it’s the city”.
Andy: I remember even like good buddies, I would be like “come down to the show” and they’d be like “nah” (laughs). 30 minutes is too far.
Brody: So I guess the flipside is, when you’re in New York, is what are you missing out there? What’s negative?
Andy: Burritos (laughs). No, I don’t know. Quiet? Maybe. But, you can get it if you leave the city. I know like, obviously I like the beach. So, being away from that side of it is bad, maybe, but It’s not bad enough kind of thing. I think creatively, there’s just more around. Whether it be like physical art or like music, anything, it’s like anything’s around you all the time.
Brody: It’s never too much?
Andy: I mean, maybe it is. But, I don’t ever… you could just stay inside (laughs). Cause that’s one of the things when I moved back to San Diego, i just felt like there was nothing. I just wanted more stuff to be happening, and there just was, never.
Even when not getting depressed at the suffocating relaxation of Southern California, The Gloomies speak a lot about location, and seem to pay special attention to the vibe of different places.
Andy: I think it was just like being in a few bands that have been touring a lot, so you’re just like, all over, and all the time. So, it just makes sense, I guess? … I mean, I think when I’m anywhere new, for a little bit, I feel a creative energy. So, that creates this location-esque theme, I guess.
Lyrically, The Gloomies’ music is incredibly personal. Yet, it manages to strike a balance between intimacy and ambiguity, allowing emotion expressed to feel ubiquitously human.
One of my favorites off the new album
Brody: What do you want to achieve with your music?
Andy: I think for people to have fun, dance around, um, I guess just also an outlet for myself, which is selfish, but it’s just a good way to… it’s therapeutic, I guess.
Brody: I mean, that’s what I was curious about, whether it was a straight outlet, or that you wanted people to feel X or Y thing.
Andy: I mean, with what people feel about it, it’s like I want them to feel whatever they want. If they want to dance around, that’s awesome. If they wanna feel sad, or like connect on some other level, that’s cool too. To me, it’s more about the process about, yeah, I think it is therapeutic. You know, it’s a piece, that comes out, it’s like … meditative.
Brody: You’ve spoken a lot about the Gloomies as music that’s really reflective of your personal life. Do you feel different as a person than when you started the band a couple years back?
Andy: I mean … yeah. (laughs) I’m sure I do, it’s hard, there’s been so many changes, like, it started out with me and Chris coming from another band, and I wrote a bunch of stuff in New York, then we moved, and once we got to San Diego we were a four piece band basically. … Like, I know I’m completely different, but I think I was just going through crazy stuff when I first moved [back to San Diego], and I think Chris was in the same situation, and yeah, so I’m definitely different. I don’t know, it’s just hard to pinpoint exactly what it is.