Gap Dream emerged from the Burger Records pack with an excellent record this year called Shine Your Light. It's main man Gabe Fulvimar’s second record in two years, and Fulvimar, who lives at label-and-record-store Burger Records in Fullerton, Calif., has solidified a brilliant sound for his band across two records, full of vintage synthesizers, glam-style guitar glissandos and repurposed bargain-bin-record sounds. I sat down to speak with Fulvimar about the Shine Your Light, living in a record store and nightmare scenarios.
Hey man, how’s it going?
Fulvimar: Right now I’m sitting in my room, listening to the Halloween II soundtrack. Just another day at Burger!
This is actually my last interview of the year.
Fulvimar: Oh no shit! I hop it’s a good one.
Everyone always talks about how you live in Burger Records. What’s the story there, is it just cheaper, easier or do you really like living there?
Fulvimar: I’ve been here for a year, so it was kind of an easy way to move to California and not encounter too many hardships that would come along with a move, being from Ohio. I was working as a busboy before I was doing this, so I don’t have a trust fund or anything. (Label co-founders) Sean [Bohrman] and Lee [Rickard] … just invited me to live here until I found a place to live. I moved in, and it’s been great. It’s pretty easy to deal with. We don’t have showers, which kind of sucks. I’m trying to find one today.
Is part of it too the sort of culture there and being surrounded by similarly minded people?
Fulvimar: Oh it’s great, it’s like being on tour. My friends are also in bands, you know what I mean, and I get to hang out with them on a regular basis.
This record seems a lot higher fidelity than the first and more organ-based than guitar-based. How did you approach recording this album vs. the first?
Fulvimar: Pretty much the same method, using my computer. The difference would be that I had a better microphone this time. Burger bought me a nice condenser mic. ...
[At first] things were sounding a lot like the first album, and it was kind of bumming me out. I don’t want to make the same record twice. David Bowie never made the same record twice. So I was really getting excited by—I’ve had a history with synthesizers and electronic music, so I was kind of letting that stuff come back into my creativity, and I was enjoying the sounds I was coming up with. Bobby Harlow this time was mixing all the tracks, and we were producing it together. I don’t really have a decent guitar recording set up, so I had been doing it all direct. That kind of fatigues the ear after a while. The old trick of ‘just throw reverb on everything,’ … it was kind of like, what happens if you take that sound away.
“Shine Your Love” in particular seems like a leap forward artistically. Was that a song where you were like, fuck yeah, this is awesome!
Fulvimar: Actually when it was done, I was really, really excited about it. That song was just like trying to build an aircraft carrier in a back yard. Like, this is a great idea, but can I actually do this? It took me two weeks to make that song, and I almost scrapped it. If I’m gonna write a song like that and it’s gonna come out half-baked, I’m not even gonna realize it. I gave myself a two-week time limit [to record it]. I just did it, and for a minute I was like, ‘how did I write this song? It sounds like a real song.’ I think it’s like the most realistic-sounding song I’ve ever written. I was really happy with how it came out.
“Fantastic Sam” sounds to me like a ’70s roller skate jam. Was that the vibe you were going for there?
Fulvimar: Totally, yeah! Like a game show. It reminds me of ‘The Match Game’ theme song, it has that wah-wah pedal. It has that kind of rodeo vibe. That song was weird too. That song, that was kind of early in the session. There was a point where, I think, it set the tone for everything. Before that I had done ‘Chill Spot,’ and that just kind of came out of nowhere. The synthesizers were high in the mix, and it kind of had that West Coast, Nate Dogg feel, like ‘Regulator’ almost. To me that was exciting to accomplish. It was cool to kind of acknowledge that in my creative output and be like, yeah, this stuff is in me.
‘Fantastic Sam’ was what I imagine a Gap Dream song to sound like. Before it was like, I’m just writing these songs and call it Gap Dream. Second records are hard, you know what I mean? It’s hard to keep people listening to you. ‘Fantastic Sam,’ I was trying to do that. Once I started putting the vocal layers there, it just became something else. That kind of put the wind in my sail for the sessions.
The sound overall is hard to describe. Calling Gap Dream a garage band isn’t really very descriptive of the actual sound, but there’s a definite sound there. Did you have a sound in mind when you started making music?
Fulvimar: That was the point! I never really was trying to make garage band music. To me, garage is like, The Sonics. I’ve done a bunch of different projects, but when I started doing Gap Dream, I was getting stoked on a lot of stuff that was coming out on Burger at the time. One day I was like, I hadn’t written a song on my own in a few years. One night I got home from work, and I came up with “Slave.” That was the first song that I did. It just came out of nowhere and went from there. For me it’s always just kind of like, I’ll kind of stumble down a path, and I don’t know what that says about me creatively.
Creativity is a weird thing. If you think about what’s going on with Shia LaBeouf, like that poor guy. What the hell’s going on with him? There’s a fine line between creativity and inspiration. If there’s something going on and it’s exciting me and I’m enjoying it, I’m gonna want to try to see if I can do something like it, I’m gonna get inspired.
Oh, where he lifted the plot of that comic book for his movie?
Fulvimar: Think about when you’re sitting there reading comic books at night and trying to go to sleep. You’re taking in so much information … of course that’s going to bleed into what you want to do. That would be a nightmare! The reason it really rattled me is, any time I come up with a melody or bassline or anything, I’d say maybe 90 percent of the time I’ll come up with something and listen to it and right off the bat, it’s not reminding me of anything, but it’s gonna be 2014 now, and there are so many things that have been thought of. I’m sure there’s no such thing as an absolutely true melody. Sometimes you’re writing something and it’s like, what does that sound like? I think anyone in the creative field would see that and think we’ve got to pay attention to what we’re doing.
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