The following meeting took place on a mid-February night after shambling around looking for Christian’s place. Admist are topics of arrogant Jim Morrison, clichés ofclichés, and a briefmention of an upcoming vinyl release of Gnome Ranger’s currently unnamed ep (being released through Plastic Jurassic). I transcribed the following from a handheld recorder that Benji operated. Christian’s apartment was simple and appropriately strewn with clothes, recording equipment, a small painting from a recently passed away, reclusive uncle in Arizona, and musical instruments (bass, guitar, mini synth, and other necessities). I’m on sitting on a drummers throne, Benji is seated on the floor, and Christian is lounging in a black rolling chair when the recording button presses play. Benji and Christian have known each other previous to this meeting, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. His roommate is playing Salad Days in the other room.
Benji Aguirre: So, uh, you are…
BA: What’s the name of your band?
CH: Gnome Ranger. Yeah, actually the name came from a guy who’s not in the band anymore.
BA: How many members have you had come in and out of the band?
CH: We had one drummer prior to JR, and he came from a hardcore punk background. I had to tailor my sound around it so it would work right, because originally they were more dreampoppy than I play em now. So it ended up coming out a little more in this punky, aggressive nature. –leads to irreverent talk about Deerhunter-
BA: What’s your genre?
CH: For me… I don’t really know how to answer that. I wasn’t really thinking too much about genre when I was making it. I was thinking more about taking a different approach then I normally did. I usually play really kind of dense chords, ya know, like richer chord sounds. I wanted to strip it down and do something more basic and more garage. I think of it something like that, like a garage, 90s psychedelic reinterpretation of that reinterpretation.
BA: Which is so common nowadays
CH: Yeah, I’m sort of making fun of myself when I do it. I like it , but at the same time I realize there’s something highly cliché about it. I’m kind of taking cliches from many decades, and I feel like there are clichés from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s all present there. Which is intentional, and adds a little bit of humor for my own sense. But I enjoy it.
BA: I feel like there isn’t anything you could make that’s original nowadays without having any sort of influence at all.
CH: Yeah, you could make that argument of almost any idea. They are all derivative of many ideas. Its all about recombinations of things anyways. I’m just embracing that sort of; Instead of trying to think of something new, its like what kind of novel combination can I come up with; like what kind of blend will be interesting right now. I’m not trying to change the world wih my music or anything
BA: You’re just trying to have fun.
CH: Yeah, exactly, first and foremost, I think music is a temporal thing. It happens and then its gone. We need time for it anyways. Its about how it feels in the moment. How does this relate to your day to day. Not how does it stand to these other albums and like all these weird contexts. It’s all about immediacy for me.
BA: Yeah, that’s a really good way to look at it.
CH: I’m not really sure what genre that is. I’m definitely influenced by the shoegaze thing, the psychedelic thing, indie guitar-driven stuff.
BA: What sort of stuff were you listening to while creating the ep?
CH: Definitely Ariel Pink, Deerhunter…. Animal Collective has always been an influence on me, like in the background somewhere. Whether through the guitar tones or something like that. Like on Feels or Strawberry Jam, like that sort of really heavy delay and mushy sounding guitar, I love that. Uh, Real Estate and stuff like that. Also Brian Jonestown Massacre and Thee Oh Sees.
BA: Any particular vocal influences? I’m definitely getting a Bradford Cox vibe.
CH: Yeah I think its somewhere in that vein. Modest Mouse was always a huge thing for me. So sometimes I like that harsher, more aggressive tone. Especially on their early stuff.
Edward Veloz: Yeah, they really have a more raw sound on their early stuff.
CH: Yeah, it adds that sharpness to my voice, and I think it works with that. Same for him too.
BA: What does it feel like to be part of a scene in kind of a small town? And I head that the guy from Francisco the Man is releasing your ep?
BA: Nice, How many tracks?
CH: Uh, hopefully four or five. I guess its not a fixed amount of time you can fit on em. It depends on how they can kind of nudge the grooves are a little wider or smaller. You sacrifice a little bit of quality.
BA: So how’d that process work out? They saw you guys when you opened up for them right?
CH: Yeah, that was at the farmhouse.
BA: Yeah, I was there. How many gigs had you played before?
CH: Oh, that was maybe our three or four. We played a 420 party, there was a bong toss and it was sponsored online, it was super funny. Lots of fun, it was on Easter too. Gettin’ stoned for Jesus.
BA: So what does it mean to be part of a pretty small scene up here in Arcata? I mean your style of music isn’t as popular as folk or bluegrass, or jam and that kinda stuff.
CH: I think it is small, but there are people wanting it. Because Humboldt, and specifically Arcata, is filled with people from all over California. There are tons of people from LA or San Diego who maybe don’t necessarily have the jam band roots preference and would appreciate the garage orientated scene. I think there are people that want to hear those kind of bands, but they just aren’t present.
BA: Exactly. This little group is a little niche. We each have our preferences. Like you (indicating to me) definitely really like Leonard Cohen. I don’t know very many people around Arcata that specifically listen to older stuff like that.
CH & EV: Yeah
BA: And if they do, they’re a lot older too.
EV: I feel like an old man.
BA: Me too, all the time.
CH: Maybe that’s just a result of being in a small area in general, its harder to represent everyone’s taste.
EV: Yeah, and over here it seems like everyone is more isolated almost, but there is a sense of community that is stronger. People start branching off in different ways when they start making music or whatever.
EV: Oh yeah, who do ya think is overrated in music?
BA: Any genre, shoot.
CH: Uh… well shit I don’t know. (takes long pause) My first instinct is Kanye. It’s not really about his music though, I don’t wanna bring that in there. But musically…. (pauses)
BA: That everyone loves, and you’re just like….really?
CH: Okay, The Doors. I’m not into The Doors man.
BA: Have you ever been to Venice Beach?
BA: Okay, any other beach town has either The Doors or Bob Marley memorabilia everywhere. Tapastries, T-shirts that are fucking screen printed in their household.
CH: Yeah, it’s always Jim Morrison being a fucking narcissist.
EV: Yeah, no definitely
BA: Alright, um, which ones the next one..
EV: Let’s see,..
EV: Oh, who’s underrated?
CH: Um, I think, well, that’s unrelated.
EV: Well not even unrelated, there’s a lotta stuff out there that doesn’t get the attention they deserve.
CH: Yeah, totally. Well, just it’s not a band, it’s a producer that I like thats totally, genre-wise, elsewhere. To me, I don’t think it’d be a good choice.
BA: Dude, go for it. It doesn’t even have to be one person.
CH: Well in that case Id have to say that LUKID
BA: L U K I D?
CH: Yeah, I think because its much more minimal, uh, you have to listen to the details. But I think a lot of what he has going there is like really pretty genius and uh – tasteful. I don’t know, I like em.
BA: Ah, what does he –
EV: He’s a producer?
CH: He does kind of, not hip-hop, but kind of like beat music. Its very, er, ambient orientated. He’s got these weird methods, like typically good theory says your are supposed to record things at a high volume, so that way you have a large signal. He would record everything, like the tiniest little sounds, and then boost em. So the whole mix has this really, strange, microscopic feel to it. Yeah, it’s interesting.
By: Edward Veloz & Benji Aguirre