Music, // November 15, 2014
GOBHI – MUSICIANS
Interview with GOBHI’s
William Buckenroth & Zach Gustafson
1. Who are you and what do you do?
We are GOBHI, and we are an indie-alternative rock band from upstate, NY. Band members are Matt Bombard (bass), William Buckenroth (guitar/vocals), Zach Gustafson (guitar/vocals), and Scott Smith (drums).
2. Why music?
Bill: There are these moments that happen occasionally, spontaneously, where everything in life needs to line up just right, and if I am lucky that day, I will pick up my guitar and start playing, and I will get this feeling of total and complete excitement, contentment, and emotional release at the same time. Sometimes it happens when I am writing/playing with Zach, or the band, but most of the time it is at times when I am completely not expecting it, and it comes and goes in a minute. If I am careful I can capture part of that feeling and keep that seed of a song idea for the band. Most of the time I am creating off of an emotion or feeling. Music is the art form that most easily brings me to these places.
Zach: I’ve been playing an instrument nearly my entire life. I need to have some kind of musical project to work on. Regularly playing, writing, and performing music keeps me grounded and happy. “The music…is cheaper than therapy” (Rogue Wave).
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved in music?
Bill: I went to catholic school. One of my favorite times was learning the songs we would sing in church for that week. I also wanted to learn to play guitar, and I am left-handed. The teacher who taught lessons at school tried to convert me to a righty, as I am sure to keep the devil away or something. My mother obtained a very low end righty acoustic. My Uncle flipped it for me. The teacher was asked to let it go, and she did. I was hooked.
Zach: I was in pre-school music classes, but I remember clearly in third grade being really excited to play violin in the orchestra once I started the fourth grade. I don’t think I thought about having my own band until my first concert in ninth grade, Def Leppard. That was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Not long after I decided to pull out my Dad’s old nylon-stringed classical guitar and started learning any song by ear that I could get my hands on. I played every day. Started writing songs in college. The goal was always to start a band.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and style(s)?
Bill: Most any song I write has something to do with some strong feeling that is ruminating in my mind. It doesn’t matter where it came from. There are things I am still working out in my mind from stuff that happened in my life 20 years ago. They make the best songs really.
Zach: Whatever is on my mind. For Twenty Turns a recurring theme for me, at least for the songs we completed most recently, was the idea of taking one step forward and two steps back. What does it mean when something doesn’t work out the way you wanted? Big guitars, harmonies, hooks.
5. How do you approach a new piece that you are working on?
Bill: New ideas are from those small emotional seeds that spring up when I least expect it. I write down a few key words, and try to make a quick demo of the riff or chord arrangement. The hardest part is letting others into it sometimes. I will send it to Zach and see if he bites.
Zach: Bill and I have spent more time collaborating long-distance than actually rehearsing in the same city. So most songs are assembled over great distances and long periods of time. For example, ‘Brave New Things’ features a riff and chords I wrote in the late ‘90’s with a verse and chorus that Bill wrote 6-7 years later. When we started this we had to mail cassettes full of ideas back and forth. Now we can stash ideas in a shared folder online.
6. What are your favorite musician(s), singer(s)?
Bill: REM was one the first bands to make a big impression on me when I was in middle school. Then everything exploded. Bad Religion, U2, Social Distortion, Minor Threat, Morrissey. I loved the punk/alternative/college rock thing back then. Those bands are at my youthful core. Now it’s endless, so much great music out there.
Zach: Grew up listening to the Beatles, and ‘60’s and ’70’s rock. And ABBA. Surprisingly, I emerged relatively unscathed from the ‘80’s with my musical identity mostly intact and tastes not horribly mangled (my fashion sense is a different story). Must-have’s on a road trip: Guided By Voices, Low, the Pixies, Sloan, Camper Van Beethoven, Teenage Fanclub, Eric’s Trip, Cracker, Weezer, Oasis, Dungen.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
Bill: One guy did calisthenics during an outdoor show once. Don’t know if it gets better than that.
Zach: Another guy jumped off a dumpster – same show. Another time a guy stopped me after a show and said, “I get it: Go…Be…High! Right on!” Ah….no.
8. What do you like about your work?
Bill: I like that, by creating music with others, we are able to ride a feeling together while performing. We tap some basic human emotions and put sound to it, just blast it out there for others to share. That’s my favorite part of what we do as a band.
Zach: The creative process. The excitement of taking a small idea and collaboratively transforming it into something greater than the sum of its parts.
9. What advice would you give other musicians?
Bill: It took ten years for us to put together our record. Not sure I am in a place to offer anyone advice.
Zach: Starting a band in the Catskills is hard. Don’t rent rehearsal space in Menands, NY.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Bill: Hopefully not trying to still complete record #2.
Zach: Finally quit my day job. Signed, van, tour.