GAP DREAM: A LITTLE MIND-MELTING
Gabe Fulvimar of Gap Dream is proof that in the modern economy, ‘Rags to Riches’ doesn’t mean ‘riches’ anymore, but all the better for it. Having left behind his life in Ohio after a mere wink from the boys at Burger Records (and the promise of a comfy office couch), Fulvimar is now living out his long-haired dreams in Fullerton, waking up only to record and play. Gap Dream is the first band on Burger since Feeding People to meld psychedelia with garage and krautrock influences. Yet Gap Dream sounds utterly unique, not quite like any decade and not quite like any genre. We catch Fulvimar mere minutes before he has to decide whether to try and see Fleetwood Mac live. He’ll be DJing at our release party for issue 111 on Tuesday, July 16, at the Cha Cha in Silverlake! This interview by D.M. Collins.
Out of the classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac, who is your least favorite member of the band?
Oh man, ha ha, that’s a really hard question to answer because I don’t know half their fucking names! What’s the first album they did with the black-and-white cover with the two guys on it?
Before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were in the band? I don’t even know.
My style of Fleetwood Mac fandom is as a completely casual listener of them. I love ’em, more so as a nostalgia thing for me. That was one of my parents’ favorite bands, you know what I mean? I would allow myself at a certain point to get into Fleetwood Mac. I’d listen to ‘Dreams’ as a nostalgic thing and then it turned into, ‘Holy shit, I like this band!’
Did you grow up being a punk rocker? In my generation, you were not allowed to like Fleetwood Mac.
You weren’t allowed to admit you liked that until your mid-20s. Then you’d see your friends listening in the car cuz it was ‘ironic.’ It was a secret way for everyone to kind of go, ‘OK, this is good music, we probably shouldn’t dis it!’ I’m 32—a lot of my friends, we started on the outside, looking in. At a certain time it became appropriate—or allowed—to like classic rock. The vehicle for that was definitely irony. Then at a certain point, you’re like, ‘It’s stupid to be ironic about something really great; let’s just like it.’
Gap Dream’s sound references some of my musical favorites. But it’s hard to pin down exactly what styles and genres I’m recognizing! There are some other bands, like the Allah Las, who are very 60s, or Sam Flax, who is very 80s. But you guys are very 60s and yet totally not at the same time.
I feel like if you’re going to do melodic/pop/rock music, whatever you want to call it, I think in this day and age it’s kind of hard to get away from having the 60s influence—I think because the greatest pop-rock bands that we’ve seen so far have been from that period of time. That was the last time when there was a cluster of new, exciting rock music, instead of being one-off bands here and there like we’d see in the 80s and 90s. If you think about it, that was the last time period when rock music was really widely accepted. Hip-hop murdered rock ‘n’ roll! It completely ripped it apart, ha ha! It’s way more chic to be in hip-hop than to be a rocker. So if you’re going to be, ‘OK, I’m going to make rock music,’ deep down at the base of what you’re coming up with is going to be some sort of 60s-influenced thing. It’s going to be psychedelic or it’s going to be garage. Garage is basically a primitive form of punk, so if your band isn’t going to be overtly punk, you’re going to kind of end up hitting that stuff. To me, it’s a reference point. I’m going to want it to be jangly! People think of the 60s rock vibe as the last pure, untouched, un-desecrated form of rock music. It was completely popularized and blown out of proportion way before any of us were even born. We’re not thinking about how the Seeds were on whatever TV show they were on: they were doing cheesy stuff back then, too! But it’s like this kind of altruistic thing that everybody strives for. When I started making Gap Dream, I wanted there to be a 60s vibe, that jangly vibe, kind of have that smoke and mirrors to it. But that was pretty much due to what I was working with, like recording-wise. I couldn’t accurately really capture a good guitar take, so I’d just throw reverb all over everything to kind of hide how brittle everything was sounding! And I liked it! It wasn’t something I had personally done before, and that’s why it was exciting. And then I kind of added elements of whatever I wanted. I listen to a lot of music. I don’t really know a lot—you asked about Fleetwood Mac, and I completely drew a blank. I don’t know about it as far as who recorded what on which record. I know what I like about it. I know what songs impact me. I can sense feelings in those songs. And when I write something, I try to put those same feelings into that. I want to make music that people can relate to, that I want to hear, so I’m always putting all kinds of stuff in it, whether it’s Kraut-y stuff or crazy old psych stuff or even new stuff, like Daft Punk! That stuff inspires me. And pop music! I like the idea of doing something that could be from any decade.
Do you feel a kinship with bands like RTX or Ariel Pink or White Fence, whose rough recording techniques almost sound like ‘mistakes’?
I do and I don’t. Those bands have been around a lot longer than me, and those bands have also inspired me, you know, to kind of do my thing. For me to put myself where they are, that’s kind of hard for me to do. You know what I mean? They’re up there, ha ha ha! But I find a kinship in the way that I feel we were working with what we had. Of course, those bands have now had the opportunity to work in real studios and do higher production kinds of things. Ariel Pink’s last record is obviously a way different style of recording than Worn Copy, you know? Which to me is really cool cuz sometimes when you hear bands like that and the recordings are really rough, there’s a lot of charm to them—that kind of Guided by Voices feeling like, ‘Oh, you guys are doing this yourselves.’ It kind of inspires you to do something. But at the same time, you’re like, ‘This guy’s a really good songwriter, and I would like to see his actual vision,’ you know? Of course, a lot of people who were restricted by what they were doing came up with some really interesting things, like the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop or that kind of stuff.
The Beatles only had four tracks! Or at most, eight!
Ha ha, of course, we’re also post-Beatles, which is a horrible time to do anything! It’s like your dad was this king, and you inherit his kingdom, and you’re just a dumb, old drunk and you don’t know what to do.
The Beatles even found time to be a boy band! That’s what I like about the 60s, that the bands on the covers of the teeny-bopper magazines were also really good: the Beatles, the Stones, Paul Revere and the Raiders. If you could make your dream teenybopper magazine, what bands from right now would be on the cover?
The Garden, for sure. They’re on Burger. They’re great! Two kids, twin brothers, insane! They’re models; they got flown out to Paris and walked on a fashion show for Yves Saint Laurent. They’re really good-looking and they’re great! … I think my second pick would be Cherry Blazer. They’re fucking phenomenal—a bunch of little kids making really cool music. Nothing’s better than that! This is the first time in my life when I’ve been around younger people who I really respect. But that’s what Burger’s all about, is bringing everybody together.
Being from Ohio, how did you end up on the Burger bandwagon?
Oh, wow, back in 2010 they were on tour and they had the Burger caravan of stars. A bunch of bands toured across the country and by the time they got to Ohio I’d seen Cosmonauts, I saw the Pizazz, Cumstain, and Lee [Rickard] was there. My buddy Greg, he books at a bar called the Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio—one of my best friends ever, he’s always stoked on the best music, my guy to get new tunes from. He put this show together, and it was my night off work, I was just kinda hanging out, and he was like, come to this gig. So I came, and Lee was around and he was asking Greg if he had any grass. Ha ha, he was out! He hit Ohio and he ran out of grass. So we smoked this joint, and he gives me a King Tuff tape, and I was really into King Tuff when that record came out. … The last band on the bill that night was Conspiracy of Owls. And you know how Lee is, he’s really excitable. I was like, ‘What is this guy’s deal?’ He’s like, ‘You’ve gotta check out this band. You’re gonna love ’em, I can just tell by looking at you, you’re gonna LOVE ’em!’ I don’t even know what that meant, because at the time I had short hair. He just read my vibe or something—Lee’s like between dimensions! He’s a magical person. You know, he got me really stoked and they were amazing! They blew my mind. And that was the night that I started thinking, ‘I want to start making music.’ I was trying to go for Conspiracy of Owls! I heard that record and I was like, ‘Man, they write songs like they want to hear, I can tell.’ Doing material that they were entirely comfortable playing and recording. You know what I mean? They loved it and you can tell they loved it. I’m sure they had a blast making that record and it’s so good. I listened to that album steadily every day for about two years. And after about a year I started recording stuff. I had all these songs in my head for about a year, and then in the summer of 2011, I’d say, that’s when I started recording stuff. And that was it. I ordered a Burger package and I put the wrong address in—I was in a hurry, or something. I realized, ‘Oh shit, I put the wrong address.’ So I had to email them and be like, ‘Hey, I’m sorry.’ So I started talking to them that way. I was talking to Sean—and talking to Lee through Sean because Lee doesn’t use a computer. I was like, ‘I hope you remember me, my name’s Gabe and I met you a year ago. I’ve been listening to you guys a lot, and I love you guys.’ And I kind of just threw a song in the email and as humbly as I could asked them to listen to it, without trying to be pushy. By that time I’d sent that same email about a hundred thousand times to fifty thousand other labels, so I was like, ‘OK, maybe Burger will give me a shot.’ And they did! And then Burger asked me to do SXSW and put a band together, and that’s how that whole thing happened. I didn’t want to tour. I just wanted to sit in my apartment and make tapes.
Do you feel a kinship with the bubblegum bands of old, who had touring bands that weren’t really who recorded in the studio? They were from Ohio! Do you feel a kinship with the Ohio Express?
I love Ohio Express! That stuff’s in there! I’m heavily influenced by glam rock and bubblegum, and people don’t see that. It’s funny, because I wasn’t trying to do a psych record, you know? And it’s funny because I met Darren Rademaker, and he was like, ‘You really nailed that sound!’ And I was like, ‘I wasn’t trying to sound like that!’ When you’re recording something all alone and you’re mixing it, you get kind of bored with just the music, and you put effects on things and backwards guitar things, because it’s fun. You just try to jazz it up with a little mind-melting. Some weird stuff! Some stereo-panning! I’m always trying to do Brian Eno stuff, ha ha! I’m always trying to do stuff like Cluster and Neu!, you know? I’m really into Krautrock. (I hate to say ‘Krautrock’ because it sounds stupid.) I like Michael Rother, Harmonia.
Is the new record out? Why don’t I have it?
No, the new record doesn’t come out until around September. I just finished it about a month ago, and I recorded it here at Burger in the same way I recorded the first record. But this time I had a real microphone, I didn’t have to use the microphone on a Macbook Pro. That’s what I had to use on the first one because I didn’t have a microphone, ha ha! I used the better equipment and I recorded it and I sent all the tracks to Bobby Harlow [The Go] in Detroit and we co-produced it, and he recorded it, and he taught me a lot of stuff about songwriting and a lot of tricks. We had a really good time for about three months doing this over-the-internet record.
How did the SXSW band form? You had these amazing members, including two celebrities: Mike from Feeding People and Bobby Burger himself, which is kind of a coup! I didn’t even know he could do that!
I’m kind of in this situation where I kind of have to grab whoever’s lying around, you know? Ha ha? When I came out here where I had a show I kind of grabbed Bobby and said, ‘Do you want to play bass?’ And he said ‘Yessssss …’ And then Mike, he was kind of coming around, always hanging out. He was doing Bobby Nobbit but he wasn’t doing too much else, so I asked if he wouldn’t mind playing, and that’s kind of how we have it now. And every once in a while we have a fourth, another guitar player. For the last couple shows we’ve had Fletcher C. Johnson, who’s doing stuff with Burger, and before we had my friend Cory, who’s from Cleveland.
Was it difficult uprooting and moving everything out here? Did you move out just for Burger?
Yeah! I always wanted to get out of Ohio. I tried before, and it didn’t work. California … that’s a stretch! Especially for someone like me. I never take too many risks. But in the past year, the way everything’s been going, it was really hard to go back. Like, after touring for three weeks, I didn’t go back to work. I couldn’t. I couldn’t come out here, where, for the first time in my life, everyone I know is treating me with respect and making me feel like an actual person. I couldn’t go back to getting my balls busted, bussing tables. Going from carrying your own money and being somebody to working for somebody else and making their money, and they’ll give you a little slice … I always knew I should be doing something else. So at that point, when I came back, I was like, ‘I’m just going to dive into this shit.’ When I left here from tour, Sean and Lee, everybody said, ‘You know, you don’t have to leave.’ And I almost ditched right there, and left my apartment and all my shit and stayed here. But then I thought, ‘You should do it right, and it’ll be even better.’ And Lee and Sean said, ‘You don’t have to pay rent, we have a place to stay for you.’
How are you making money? As much as I love Gap Dream and I wish you were making millions of dollars, I assume you’re in that ramp-up period where the band alone isn’t supporting you.
Oh, yes I am! I mean, it’s not like crazy. I don’t have to pay rent where I am. I live in the storage space at Burger, ha ha ha! I sleep on a couch. They’re cool with me being here. I’m making pretty much the same amount of money as I did bussing tables, but I don’t have to do that, ha ha. It’s definitely a dream come true. The beautiful thing about making this record is that I could wake up in the morning and start working and didn’t have to stop working until I went to bed, and I didn’t have to spend eight hours playing somewhere and losing my train of thought. So this record’s more focused. I had more time and attention that I could pay to it.
How are this album’s themes going to differ from the previous record?
Well, I wrote that record when I was pretty miserable, ha ha! I wasn’t happy when I made that record. I read a review of that once, where it sounds like this person is dying a slow, painless death, which is pretty true! I wasn’t particularly happy with my life or where I was. That record was an attempt to escape, and it did allow me to escape. That’s what that record was for, to allow me to get out of what I was doing. Those songs, like ‘Leather,’ and ‘Heart’—it’s a strong message about not allowing yourself to get into your head too much. If you’re living in a dark place and the sun never comes out and you hate your job and you know all these people but you can’t really tell if they like you because you’re not allowing yourself to be liked … I was a different person when I made that record. I was really insecure. I wasn’t feeling like myself!
I feel like some of L.A. RECORD’s readers might be very lonely, alienated people! What’s the secret to overcoming that?
I don’t know! This worked out pretty well for me: moving out here, getting a chance to get to do something I’ve always really wanted to do, to do what I was supposed to do. I was always making music and people were always telling me, ‘You’re really good at this. You should do it!’ And I’d be like, ‘I would do it, but every time it would lead to rejection or disappointment.’ I just kind of never stopped, I don’t know why! I guess I just continued to make music no matter what. And I got what I wanted. I know what I wanted and what I’ve got is such a small thing—I know I sound like a bullshit self-help person—but pretty much about feeling free! I feel like I have freedom. I’m pretty far from home, I’m pretty far from the people who really know me and don’t respect me. Everyone here, they don’t know me personally, but they think I’m doing something really cool and I’m really excited by that. Plus all the people in the scene, there’s a really nice scene here; a lot of really talented bands and people, and no one’s shitty! I finally feel like I belong to something.
GAP DREAM (DJ SET) WITH L.A. RECORD DJs ON TUE., JULY 16, AT THE L.A. RECORD ISSUE 111 RELEASE PARTY AT THE CHA CHA LOUNGE, 2375 GLENDALE BLVD., SILVER LAKE. 10 PM / 21+ / FREE! NEW L.A. RECORD PINT GLASSES WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FOR $2! VISIT GAP DREAM AT FACEBOOK.COM/EDDYGRAPES.