This past summer, Chicago’s quartet Ganser put out their sophomore album, Just Look at That Sky, an outstanding and honest set of songs that most definitely will be explosive when played live. We talked with the group about the writing of their new album, the rollercoaster that has been 2020 and the urge to play shows again.
First of all, how are you guys and how are you dealing with the whole pandemic situation along with what’s going on US right now?
Nadia Garofalo – Collectively we are doing OK, all things considered. It’s hard because I feel like we are living in a time of such tense anxiety, and it becomes exhausting to each of us in different ways. For myself, the endless uncertainty that backdrops everything has been taking its toll, but I feel fortunate that we are all healthy and more or less safe for now.
Crazy times we’re all living at this moment and this past July you guys released a new record. What are your thoughts about putting out a record on times like these?
NG – It’s surreal to think about how things were when we were making Just Look At That Sky and how everything seems amplified now. The material feels so weirdly relevant, and we are excited to get it out. It’s very strange not to be able to plan a release show or tour, so that has given us a need to get creative and try to figure out how best to present it.
It’s been two years since you guys released your debut album, Odd Talk. When did you start to work on this new effort and what was your mindset at the time?
NG – We took some time off after coming back from the Odd Talk tour, but even before then we had been writing songs and sharing ideas for the next album. We started working pretty seriously after that to get it finished, it was definitely a labored birth, but I think the hard work paid off.
How was the experience of creating this album compared to working on your debut?
Alicia Gaines – Time I think was the biggest factor. The last one was recorded and mixed over five days, it was a real “ripping off the bandaid” for our first record. This time, we took a year to record and mix.
You guys managed to write another refreshing and dynamic album. How did go the writing process this time around?
AG – We actually recorded around 8 songs in the beginning of the year and then went away to come back with 6 or so more to record based on what was missing from the first session. I think this record feels more holistically built because of that, from the actual songs to the design to the music videos.
Lyrical wise, what did you want to explore further on this record?
NG – We are always trying to look inward as well as outward when writing lyrics. Just Look At That Sky gets into the constant struggle for personal growth, failures and doing that work with no tangible reward. The themes feel broadly relatable but also intimately personal sometimes, especially these days.
Quoting you guys, your first single revealed “Lucky”: “is a commentary on personal feelings of inadequacy and how these feelings can often result in unhealthy or extreme behaviors.” The song fits perfectly with that we’re all kind of going through right now. What was the inspiration behind this song?
NG – It was really just that in the quote, I think it’s a very human thing to feel not enough and have feelings of disappointment and anger that may come from that. So the inspiration came from that relatable feeling. Doesn’t it suck when things don’t work out how you’d hoped?
“Bags for Life” was the follow-up single and it’s also a peculiar song for our current times. What can you tell us about this song and its meaning?
AG – There was an internet thread that stuck with me, people talking about what the end of the world would look like online. That and an interview with Anthony Bourdain were the real seeds for this song. “Alarm fatigue” is something we’re all familiar with now, and the agitation that runs through this record really speaks to how we’re all feeling now. You have to hope that it comes from a place of wishing it were better and believing it can be.
Just Look at That Sky was co-produced by Mia Clarke (Electrelane) and Brian Fox. How did you decide to work with them and what did they bring to the table?
NG – We had worked with Brian Fox before on Odd Talk and it was a great experience so we decided to continue working with him. He’s an immensely talented engineer and really gets what we are going for.
AG- I knew Mia professionally, we really bonded over music. She’s been an amazing presence cheering us on, even before I asked her to join us on this record. Mia has an incredibly organized mind, with a sense of abandon to match. Watching her show Charlie how to make noises by bending his guitar over a VOX AC30 had me grinning like an idiot then and now.
This is your first release with Felte Records. How did you guys get involved with the label?
NG – Persistence, mostly.
Which subcultures have had an enduring effect on you?
Charlie Landsman – Punk is a big one obviously. “Outsider” art even though that’s a pretty silly term and by definition can’t be a subculture. Dada. Madchester. Hard bop era Jazz. I dunno we live in the internet age so kind of everything in some way or another. I watch a lot of YouTube animation stuff like PilotRedSun and pay a lot of attention to the communities that pop up around stuff like that. This is a hard question because everyone in the band pays attention and we all feel passionate about very different things.
Despite everything that’s happening right now, what are you looking forward after releasing your new album?
CL – Defunded police departments and going to/playing shows. I think I speak for all of us when I say I really miss live music. Seeing all my friends that are in other bands and hanging out at the Bottle after a show. It would also be lovely to go on tour again.