GIRLS OF THE GRAVITRON: Memphis Metafeminists!

Interview by Jens Hellroute

This Memphis outfit was one of the more unique acts I saw at Gonerfest 6. Musically, Girls Of The Gravitron belong somewhere between shoegaze noise and garagepunk. Fans of Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, Television Personalities, and Velvet Underground might wanna check out these Memphis cats.

It seems kinda fitting that they are being covered by a Danish music journo such as myself, since they're releasing their debut album, "Magnetic Mountain", on the new Danish label, Miss LonelyHearts Records, which is started by Jonas from Mig & Min Ven (who also played Gonerfest 6). And they're playing 4 gigs in Denmark like real fuckin' soon. I had a chat with head honcho Cole about what GOTG is all about...just after he was viciously attacked with knives by an African street gang in Paris, after a show with Yusef Jerusalem. Hope you're doin' okay, man.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Tell me a bit about how GOTG started.

COLE: Me and Will had worked on various music projects for a couple years, Barbaras included. I had all these folk songs and waltzes that I didn't know what to do with. We started tearing them apart, electrocuting, then reassembling them. At first it was a recording project then Ben, Alex, and Bill joined and we were able to recreate the songs live.

WC: There are members from Magic Kids, Boston Chinks and The Barbaras?

C: Ok, I gotta think about this goes. Steven was in Boston Chinks, the Barbaras, and Jay's band, played bass with GOTG for a spell, but now plays with Wavves, who I played with once upon a time. Billy fronted the Barbaras and drummed in the Chinks and Jay's band and briefly in GOTG. Alex, Will, and Ben played in the Barbaras and are currently in Magic Kids but also in GOTG. In addition ,Alex played guitar in the Chinks, a group which Chris fronted who also briefly played guitar in Jay's band and early GOTG. Oh yeah, I also played nonsense in the Barbaras. There was also a group called Kazalok which featured me, Alex, Billy, and Bennet, who played in the Chinks and currently sings in Magic Kids. Might want to draw a family tree for all that.

WC: You have different lineups for GOTG when you tour? What are the lineup for the euro tour?

C: The band on recordings and USA touring are the same crew. For Europe the band is me, a girl named Lauren on guitar, and Chuck Vicious on drums. We wanted to do something a little more brutal/harsh for Europe.

WC: I saw you at Gonerfest 6 in the backyard of Murphy's, that was a fun show. Did Tire Fire play after you?

C: Yeah, Tire Fire is great. They're the most terrifying band I've ever seen. Glad you liked the show, good year for the festival.

WC: How would you describe GOTG? I bought a 9 track cd at the Shangri Las shop, "Principles Of Kimberly" is a great great pop song while others are more, dare I say, introverted.

C: That song is kinda a thesis for the group. There was this image I had of being trapped in a Gravitron, spinning 1,000 miles per hour, drenched in terrible noises and pulsating neon lights, everything around falling to pieces, then it stands still in the air and the broken pieces coalesce. I forgot which other songs were on the cdr, but I usually write from the prospective of girls in the gravitron and/or equally confusing and brutal outside world, where they're lost and alone and capable of anything. Me and Will grew up with older sisters who had a huge impact on our perspectives - we call it metafeminism.

WC: How is your upcoming debut album, "Magnetic Mountain", compared to that 9 tracker?

C: The cdr is 99% live recording, so that kinda just sounded like we'd sound in concert. I don't think its necessary for recordings to always sound like the live band. They can be separate things. Some of the tracks on the new LP would take a symphony of broken instruments to pull off live, and some of the songs are minimal and poppy like teenage radio or something. The biggest difference between the upcoming LP and past releases/recordings is we now have better instruments and recording equipment. Also the vocals are higher in the mix, almost on top of the past they've been buried.

WC: How did the contact with Jonas and the Danish Miss LonelyHearts Records label  came about?

C: We had offers for a long time to put out recordings with American labels, but we were either busy working on our live set or just put off recording, figuring at some point in the future we'd get to recording. Jonas contacted us and what he said made sense. We're excited about having this thing released in Denmark. I'm not really interested in releasing anything in America for the time being.

WC: Ever been to Europe before? And what can the audience expect?

C: We've never played in Europe. I'd say to not expect us to sound anything like the recordings. It's in a different neighborhood.

WC: Describe a typical day in Memphis.

C: Folks don't need to work as much as, let's say in New York, to pay rent and eat/drink. It's cheap and poor. It allows people to be incredibly productive with their personal work and art or they can get pissed all the time and waste away. We typically stay up late and wake early. Usually I get up early in the morning, stare at the ceiling for a while, make coffee, come up with some way to hustle cash to pay bills, meet with friends for Vietnamese food, trade a broken Japanese Silvertone remake for a synth someone found in their parent's attic, go get more coffee, avoid conversations with creeps that hang at coffee shops all day, maybe stop by Goner Records and act like your going to buy something, meet with friends at the park, after a few beers decide that you will all form a band called "The Oscars" or something, go get a random slew of instruments, show up unannounced at bar and perform first show, talk bar into giving you free booze and food for performing, avoid conversations with creeps that hang out at bars all day, get in a fight with one of them who won't go away, drink more, harass a buddy-holly-eyeglasses-wearing indie rocker or the guy from Lucero, fall asleep either in the bar or on someone's couch who you just met.

WC: How is Memphis after Jay Reatard's death? I read about a tribute fest for Jay at May 1st (as well as one for Alex Chilton).

C: We were supposed to play the Jay B-day thing but there was a massive storm, and the bar was falling apart. There was a pool of water on the stage and a cracked-out self appointed doorguy who was threatening to kill everyone in sight. Andy Earles, a local writer, wrote a good article for Spin or something on Memphis after Jay. Refer to that. I'm not really sure how to answer.

WC: Anything to add?

C: Never forget the Battle of Paris: Yusef Jerusalem and Girls of the Gravitron w/ delay pedals v. African street gang w/ knives.