Gospel Gossip awakes into Dreamland
The shy Minnesota band opens up about its new EP
The members of Minnesota band Gospel Gossip are shier in person than their guitar-thrashing, knee-scraping, and drum-toppling live show would have some fans believe. Guitarist-vocalist Sarah Nienaber, bassist Justin Plank, and drummer Ollie Moltaji met at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and released the Milkshake EP in 2006, followed by the full-length Sing Into My Mouth in 2007. Their newly released EP, Dreamland, has garnered praise, but the band is already looking past the EP to recording a new full-length this fall. The band also has several shows on its docket this summer, including one tonight at Club Garibaldi. The A.V. Club caught up with these self-deprecating band members and let them finish each other's thoughts about New York, labels, and keeping it together onstage.
A.V. Club: How does it feel to have Dreamland done?
Sarah Nienaber: Really good. It was a long time coming. We recorded it back in September and we just waited so badly for months to put the thing out, and it just took a long time. It’s already gotten to the point where we're not playing the songs from it anymore, which kind of sucks.
AVC: Why did you release Dreamland on vinyl?
SN: We wanted the artwork to be good on this one, and vinyl’s cool because the artwork’s there [and] huge. And I think that people don’t put that much value on a CD anymore when you can just buy the songs digitally. Plus, reverb translates so much better on vinyl than CD—it’s unbelievable. And we love reverb.
Ollie Moltaji: The next batch of recordings are kind of drenched in that. Vocals are back a little bit more, so it will be interesting to see how that comes in on vinyl.
AVC: There was talk last year that you were going to move to New York. Is that still in the cards?
OM: I don’t know. I wanted to go to school there—same with Sarah—but then we had no money.
SN: Yeah, we came back from a five-week tour and we were broke. We didn’t have a place to live in Minneapolis, but it was easier to couch surf for a while and get a place to live here and get things sorted out. And by the time that happened, we were like, “We don’t want to leave. This is a nice place.”
OM: It’s cheaper. The commute is a lot better. Why dick around going to New York trying to be a big fish when you’re really a minnow there? It doesn’t feel right when you compromise your creativity with that kind of environment. Plus, we’ve been there a couple more times, and it’s not as good as I remember it.
AVC: You are on St. Paul-based label Guilt Ridden Pop. What is the benefit for you of being on a label?
SN: Keith [Moran], who runs it, is really well-connected in town, and that really helped us, especially when we were first starting out.
OM: It’s also mutual. It’s not as though he’s trying to make money off of us. The trade-off is that we produce the album, and he’ll take it and [manufacture] and promote the records, and it’s pretty much 50-50 from there. It’s developed into a pretty well-organized working relationship.
AVC: You all seem very intensely consumed by the music when you're playing. What goes through your head onstage?
Justin Plank: Usually I think about how terrible it sounds onstage. How my ears hurt—everything sounds like shit. Every now and again, something sounds good. [Laughs.]
SN: I think about how hot I am. You know, sweaty. [Laughs.] Not how good-looking I am. Just, “Oh, these lights. My face is so wet.”
OM: I just appreciate the music. But I can tell when they are having a hard time or can’t hear me, because then it feels weird, and then I try to fix it. I know I fuck up all the time.
SN: For as much as we each individually fuck up, I think we each read each other better than even a band that doesn’t fuck up.
OM: Yeah, when we play together, things just organically come up.
SN: And we just ride it.
JP: Yeah, we hang 10 onstage. Cowabunga.