Preview: The Gotobeds sound very much awake on national debut
September 4, 2014 12:00 AM
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Singer-guitarist Eli Kasan says that before The Gotobeds signed to the upstart New York label 12XU, he was asked what the goals were for the band.
12XU is a spin-off label founded by Gerard Cosley, who knows to ask that question having had years of experience as one of the principles of esteemed indie Matador.
“I think he was just trying to figure out realistically where our heads were at, if I was saying, ‘Hey I wanna do this so in two years, I’m on Matador and then we can tour the world and then maybe find a [expletive] subsidiary of Sony and then one of us will go to rehab and we’ll break up.’ ”
Where: Gooski’s, Polish Hill.
When: 9 p.m. Friday.
Admission: $5; http://thegotobeds.bandcamp.com/
As it turns out, Mr. Kasan’s goal for the Pittsburgh band played into an entirely less career-oriented stereotype.
“We said we just wanted to be heard. In my mind, we made it. We’ve made a record. People care about it. We’ve done well for ourselves. I’m happy as hell. We’d love to continue any kind of trend like that.”
The record is the cleverly titled “Poor People Are Revolting,” and it’s a noisy, raucous 41-minute post-punk assault that can be filed alongside Wire, Fall and Pavement. In fact, the band takes its name from Wire drummer Robert Gotobed.
“I’m a huge fan of The Fall,” the frontman says. “When I’m writing songs, I always keep in mind Swell Maps, Wire, The Fall and even the early Pavement stuff. In my mind we’re close to it, but it’s good that it doesn’t show, because occasionally I’ll play something that’s maybe too close to it and when it doesn’t get called out as such, I’m excited.”
The Gotobeds is a breakout band from Mr. Kasan, who was the second guitarist in the late great Kim Phuc, a more metallic style of post-punk band.
“I had songs that weren’t right for that band,” he says. “This is still punk but it’s not quite as heavy or downer as the Stooges or Joy Division stuff that Kim Phuc was trying to do. To me, it’s different sides of the same coin, being punk or indie. They’re both just as fun for me.”
He started The Gotobeds in 2009 with Cary Belbeck on drums and says, “We were bad, but I think other people just caught on to how much fun we were having.” They were joined by KP’s Tom Payne (switching from drums to guitar) and bassist Gavin Jensen. Although he’s the primary songwriter, a lot of the songs, filled with passion and some rage, take shape in the rehearsal space.
“Some of the songs do come out aggressive,” he says. “There’s not a lot of premeditation of what something’s going to sound like. You’ve got your record collection looking over your shoulder and you just go into rehearsal and end up playing something that feels natural. The Gotobeds are a little more open about, like, it can be funny, it can be stupid, it can be sad. It’s a little more rounded, a little more real to us. We’re not Black Flag up there getting out our hate. The songs are serious, but there’s an air of spontaneity or whimsy.”
The Gotobeds got on Mr. Cosloy’s radar when he heard them playing live on WFMU in New Jersey in August 2013 and wanted to sign them. Last week, “Poor People Are Revolting” was a featured record on NPR’s “First Listen” with a story calling it “one of the strongest American rock debuts in years.”
Since then, Mr. Kasan has been contacted by publicists and entertainment lawyers wanting to represent the band. He’ll think about all that.
“I’d love a booking agent that put me on tour all year,” says Mr. Kasan, who has a day job in graphic design. “I’d love to play music for a living, but that’s not the goal. If you look at it as something you want to do as a hobby, I’m going to do it whether Gerard puts another record out for us or not.”
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg
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