Within the first few seconds of hearing Gazpacho’s album Demon, I knew that I had found one of my favorite bands. Known for their haunting sound and ambitious album concepts, Gazpacho recently earned a coveted spot on Cruise to the Edge 2019, as well as an exciting festival appearance at Be Prog! My Friend (among heavy hitters like A Perfect Circle, Sons of Apollo, and Pain of Salvation). Their latest album, Soyuz, is set to be released through Kscope on May 18. 2018. Founding member Thomas Anderson (keyboards/programming/production) was kind enough to answer a few questions about the new album.
Is the writing in Gazpacho more collaborative, or is it more guided by certain members?
The writing usually starts with one of us coming up with a musical idea, which is then brought to the table for discussion and possible further work. We tend to evaluate the pieces on their mood, and we are very selective in what we decide to develop. All these years have taught us that it is always better to toss an idea that doesn’t work immediately, rather than try to wrestle it into shape. Sometimes it’s a collaborative effort, but rarely these days as time is an issue for most of us.
When I describe Gazpacho to my friends, I often use the words “haunting” and “ephemeral”. How does the band achieve that Gazpach-ian sound? How did it develop?
The sound developed from the Night album and onwards. I have never really figured out how to correctly describe it or what the secret to it is. My theory, apart from the obvious answers like the voice being a very important part of it, is that it grows from all the layers of sound in the music. We routinely add sfx to the songs and treat the recordings more like a sound sculpture (I know how pretentious that sounds), than just a song. We also aspire to write chord progressions that have something interesting going on them and always avoid the usual pop chord structures. Very classically built lines with many diminished chords seems to be a factor in most of the best moments in the songs. It also developed from the fact that we went against the norm when arranging the songs, piling too many instruments and textures on top of each other and mixing our way out of the mess. There is an x factor and sometimes we drop songs if we do not feel that they deserve being a «gazpacho» song. Those are usually deemed too catchy or just plain wrong.
On the press release for the latest album, Soyuz, you talk about how the album was inspired by stories from different moments in time, strung together by a recognition that these beautiful moments “cannot be saved for later”. Tell us about the development of this idea, and why you chose some of the moments you did for the record.
The album was born at my summer house by the Oslo fjord where Jon the guitar player and I were writing new music on a glorious summer day. There was a sailboat on the clear blue sea and the white of the sail against the blue was too beautiful to describe. We tried to capture the mood of that, which also had a certain Edward Hopper feel to it, which cut through the bliss and gave depth to the experience. It dawned on us that the particular feeling of that moment would be gone, never to be recreated. This started the idea of someone who refuses to go along with time and goes on some kind of “time strike”, remaining in one frozen moment forever. It also, I suppose, coincides with the realisation that my daughter as she is growing up is in constant change and that the three year old I had is gone forever. Almost like she died to be replaced by what is now a ten year old. Still loved but it is a different person. The same applies to all of us, we are constantly fading into something else and nothing is static. It angers me and I wish there was a way to fight it.
The title led me to read about the ill-fated Soyuz flight, which is a chilling story. Tell us about the decision to lead with the Soyuz title and name, as well as the first single.
In the original idea, we saw that this person who decides to «jump off the time train» turns out to be completely isolated in his little “time pocket” and who is more isolated than a cosmonaut in a doomed capsule? This made me interested in the story of Komarov who flew the original Soyuz and his sacrifice in flying the mission knowing full well he was never going to get out of it alive. That is a little bit of a metaphor for life isn’t it? With you in your little skull capsule orbiting the days in full knowledge of the inevitable fiery crash. Very dark but true, I think.
What can you tell us about the music on this album? Do you feel like it is much of a departure from previous releases, and if so, in what ways?
This album, to my ears, sounds fresher and at the same time more mature than all the previous albums. It makes more noise, is a lot more complicated, especially in the rhythms, and is going to be one that requires a lot of listening to get into. Once you do though, I believe the reward is a rich, fresh and hopefully genuinely moving experience. In ways, it feels like we have broken out of what could have been a rut and found a new direction to take the music. I still believe that this is music that could have been created by no other band and that is the goal, always.
What are the best, most direct ways for fans to help Gazpacho?
I would say that coming to gigs is number one because full venues make us want to come back to the same area again. I also think spreading the word on social media is good as well as posting on our Facebook site and helping to keep it alive with witty, smart or interesting posts is really good. Without feedback from our fans we are risk of living in a vacuum where we do not rally know what is working or not so the feeling of having a community of interested parties is nice way to reassure us that the sacrifices we make to keep the band running are worth it.
Also, a disgruntled reader bought Molok hoping to destroy the universe, and when he realized it still existed, he asked for a refund. Can this be arranged?
Ha ha. Please inform the reader that repeated attempts are necessary for the conditions to become armageddon-y. And you have to play a cd, as the noise correction software in the cd player along with his or her particular scratches and dust particles all need to match to create a mathematical description of every electron in the universe. Only then will the whole thing implode, and frankly for something with a probability this low to occur, this reader surely must be prepared to try at least a few times before throwing in the towel and deciding to destroy the universe manually. Goes to show though, if you want something done right, you must do it yourself.