by Alexander Laurence
GLISS is playing Echoplex on June 28th.
Gliss is probably my favorite band in LA right now. They just released their second album, Devotion Implosion. They were just back in LA after a three month tour. I caught up with David, Victoria, and Martin at one of their special shows in LA. They were also doing a benefit show. How nice of them! Martin Klingman was kind enough to answer my questions recently, and here it is:
AL: How has living in LA influenced the band?
Martin: It's really funny. LA has a bad rep in some parts of the US. I know this from touring and getting peoples response when they asked..."so where are you from?" But I feel that LA is a melting pot and this diversity really brings out some great things. I think for anyone, LA helps you decide very quickly if you are up for it or not. Whatever your desire may be. There is so much talent out there... hmm ?? Is this what I want to do? LA encourages creativity in me. I love the variety here with food, landscape, people. LA is pretty open minded too. I also have desires for a new environment. I would also like the band to move to Europe for a year, while making an album. That sounds exciting. We've written/recorded in Denmark and we all tapped into some very creative juice over there.
AL: What did you all do before you were in a band?
Martin: We were learning our ABC's and trying to understand how to play an instrument. We've all grown up playing music in a band setting going into our childhood. So before that...... dirt bikes, skateboards, sports, & getting grounded.
AL: How was it to play shows with different bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and Von Iva?
Martin: It's always great to make new friends and see how someone else is "doing it". It's refreshing to get out of our little bubble and step into someone else's world. I find it interesting, relaxing and inspiring. You once again realize. the rule is.... there are no rules! Every band we have toured with has been completely different in their ways. We learn from each other, whether we know it or not.
AL: How has the reaction been to the new songs?
Martin: Incredible. I must say. That has been one of the more rewarding experiences for me. We decided to focus on playing songs from Devotion Implosion live and the fans are really giving it back to us. I see fans singing along and expressing their appreciation for the album when we chat after gigs. It means very much to me. We gave this record a lot of ourselves. I walked away feeling like i gave it all i had. After that...... what else can you do? Go get some sleep and read a book.
AL: What bands do you like now?
Martin: At the moment, I have been listening to: Camera Obscura, El Perro Del Mar, Libertines , Liars, Royksopp, The Kills, CAN, even Frank Sinatra (but he's a guy, not a band).
AL: How does a song begin for the band? Is it music first or lyrics and melody first?
Martin: Ahh. hmmm ?.... pretty much all three ways. Generally, about 70% of our recorded material comes from the music first. I will also have some lyrics & melodies I have been bouncing around and then those will begin a song. We do not have any set way of working. I'd like to trip out when we have some spare time and get some new gear to toy with. I like playing on an unfamiliar guitar, keyboards, drums, bass, cymbals.. I feel it is healthy to get out of the comfort zone and get new inspiration, new pedals, etc... I can see why bands in the past generally have progressed due to a desire for the new. I completely get it!
AL: What do you think of bands that use computers?
Martin: I think its fine, whatever they want to do is what they want to do. No rules, no better.. no less. I can't really critique bands. The famous quote "Opinions are worthless, they are like assholes, everybody's got one" I like that. Who am I to say what is........ or what isn't. All kinds of art can come from anything. If a record is considered a success today, it might be not so loved in 5 years and vise versa. It's all really silly. Just do your thing.
AL: How did you go about recording the new album?
Martin: We have an old Trident board in our practice space (rumor has it that it was Elliott Smith's). We also have some decent microphones, a couple of high end mic pre's and borrowed some gear from our sweet friends. Once we had some songs together, we would record them. We recorded the album in I think 3 or 4 blocks of time. "Love Songs" was recorded in my friend Lex's kitchen. The drums were just slamming in there. I was like. YES !!! This sounds great. That song pretty much was effortless. There were a few songs that took more work than others, but that's the nature of the game. Each song has to be approached differently. Victoria and David both did some unique layering on drums for "Sleep" & "Morning Light". We used 2 different drum sets on each song and they even recorded snares, brushes, kick drums seperately. It was fun and funny. At one point David has like 19 or so drums recorded and I had to go in there and pick out the meat and bones of the track. But, that is the only way sometimes to finding something special. People seem to enjoy "Morning Light", so I guess it worked out just fine. 80% of the vocals were recorded in my studio apartment. I am sure the neighbors were loving that !! The rest of the vocals were done at our space in Downtown LA, where we tracked most of the instruments. Since, I am able to do some recording at home, I really had fun doing the guitars on "Morning Light" & "Anybody Inside" I stuck an amp in my closet and tweaked it til the sound made me go WOW !! Then I let her rip. I'd say half of the bass guitar was done at our Downtown space and the other half in my apartment. Bass is one of the most unique and precise instruments to record. Victoria is a wiz on bass. She'll do a take or maybe 2 and be like. OK. Cool, I am done. David & I are pretty funny to be around when we are doing guitars. It's like two mad scientists tweaking knobs and trying guitars. we have about 6 guitars we use for recording. I'd like 7.
We have every pedal plugged in, cables everywhere. I love it! David killed it on "Love Songs" & "Sleep". Great space, sounds and the performance. When we did "Sleep" it was one of the last songs we tracked. All 3 of us were in my apartment doing the hand claps together. It was a stand out memory for me. We were finishing the album and the song was really starting to shine. I was happily surprised by the vibe and dynamics. I could go on and on.... I am at home in the studio. Even if it is a looooong day. which it usually is.
AL: How do you feel about people downloading your music illegally?
Martin: Gosh, I am mixed. It's the times i guess. Its how people are hearing new music. But deep down in my heart it feels weird. Hmm ? What can I say. In the 90's, an indie band would put out a record and sell 20-30K records. now its like... sales ??? I am not sure what the future has in store for us. I hope there is a better way coming. There is something special about purchasing anything. You care about it, because you had to work to make that money. I don't want to see people discarding records, because of they are not invested in them. Like I said, It's wierd. This should be very interesting to see how it plays out. I'd love to see CD's & MP3's stopped and just make Vinyl. It makes me smile when I think of kids sitting on the floor with there headphones on listening to a scratchy record, watching it spin around and staring at the big pictures on the inside sleeve. that's rock n roll to me.
AL:What do you think about making videos and youtube?
Martin: I like it. Since MTV is not really playing videos too much, it's like the new MTV in a way. I love looking up videos and live footage of bands I dig. Thumbs up!
AL: What will you be doing for the rest of the year?
Martin: We are about to go to the UK to play some shows. They are releasing "Morning LIght" as a single and then record comes out in the UK/Europe on Oct 11th 2009. So, it looks like more will be revealed. There is talk of doing a full UK tour in October and parts of Europe like Germany, France, Amsterdam, Belgium, Scandanavia... that would be great. I think we are doing some more US shows as well in September.
AL: Do members of GLISS pursue non-musical art?
Martin: We all have fun with visual art. I know David & Victoria both are creative with designs, painting, drawing. I enjoy painting, cut and paste type art.
AL: What other hobbies do you have?
Martin: I enjoy reading lately. Which has always been a desire of mine. I think I am getting a little better at sitting with a book. I love biographies, I always have. Everybody has a story to tell. Tell me your story!
AL: I have my novel right here. Can you recommend a book?
Martin: I just finished "Cat Power, A Good Woman". That was a pretty good read. I am in the middle of "The Reader" - I like it very much.
AL: What should people expect in the shows in summer and fall 2009?
Martin: To hear our new album "Devotion Implosion" come to life. I love to see my favorite bands play live. It takes me to a special place that has never really been topped. The energy and volume !! mm hmmm !! Wonderful !
AL: Any plans to go to new places this year?
Martin: We've already been to a few new places. The deep south was gorgeous. Miami beach was amazing. But back to your question.. Yes, I guess going to Norway would be a new place we are discussing to possibly hit while on tour. I have never been there. We've been to Denmark & Sweden, but never Norway.
photos: Angel Ceballos