Gospel Gossip's Sarah Nienaber on side projects, growing pains, and "Atlantic Blue"

Categories: EP Release, Q&A
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It seems hard to believe, but as Gospel Gossip release their new, three-song 7-inch, "Atlantic Blue," Saturday, it will be the first bona-fide recording they've put out in nearly three full years. With the exception of an online-only single that was released last fall, the dreamy, reverb-soaked trio haven't released any new music since the promising Drift EP -- released all the way back in November, 2009.

But it's not for a lack of trying. Even as band members Sarah Nienaber and Ollie Moltaji stayed busy with other projects, in the form of Is/Is and Pony Trash, Gospel Gossip have been at work in the studio. They simply haven't been happy enough, until now, with the results. That sort of frustration is the kind of thing to break a band's spirits, but in "Atlantic Blue," there's reason for optimism: picking up where Drift left off, it feels like the band have never been away.

Ahead of Saturday's release show at the Turf Club, Gimme Noise called up singer and guitarist, Nienaber, while she was on break from a double-shift at work. She elaborated on where the band have been all this while, and where they plan to go from here.

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Gimme Noise: You guys have been relatively quiet for the past couple years. Have you been recording this whole time, or was there some kind of hiatus that happened?

Nienaber: We were never on hiatus at all. We just became necessarily slow for about a year after the Drift EP came out. Right after we recorded the Drift EP, actually the following month, we went right back in the studio and started recording. But we were actually really unhappy with everything that we were recording; it just didn't sound good to us. So we kept doing that -- basically we were in and out of the studio, off and on, for the past two years trying to get stuff that we felt proud of -- and now we finally have it.

Was it a matter of having some kind of block, or was it just the way that things went?

It wasn't a block so much as we weren't really getting along as a band. So songwriting became kind of strained, and being in the same room together became difficult. I think because of that, it just hindered the natural creative process.

And yet, "Atlantic Blue" does feel like an extension of where you left off with Drift.

It's not by any means a departure, and it's not intended to be. But I do think it is a better version of what we were trying to do in the past. [And] we haven't stopped recording in that time. We've been in the studio almost every month for the past three years, basically -- which is kind of disturbing to think about, but it's true.


Do you think your work in Is/Is, or Ollie's in Pony Trash, wound up becoming more of a priority? Or that it maybe allowed you to bring something new to the table with this band?

I think Ollie and I have both become better players, and that's directly related to playing with other people. The thing about Gospel Gossip, for all three of us, is that it was our first band. We were learning how to be in a band, learning how to play in a band, learning how to write songs only with each other. When you do that for too long, I feel like the skill level and creative ambition sort of plateaus. I think it's important to play with other people and be pushed out of your comfort zone in order to grow.

Is it difficult to keep people paying attention when you're not releasing new music -- even if you are still playing around town?

I mean, yeah, it depends on what your definition of relevant is. The worst thing you can do is have something like Picked to Click happen and just settle -- be like, "Here we are. This is it. This is as good as it can be for us." It's not the definition of success or relevance in any way. It is hard to maintain interest because people are inclined to want to hear whatever they're being told to hear, and that's not a bad thing... You can't be new every day.

So, ultimately, "Atlantic Blue" is a step towards putting out a new full-length. Are there any particular goals for where you want to go with things once the album comes out?

We'll see. The main focus as of late has been to write and record the best songs we possibly can. We're not really strategizing. I feel like we used to do that more -- try to make plans -- but now we're focusing on making actual music.

On that note, having been a band for about five years now, are there any particular lessons you think you've learned that will help you guys moving forward?

As far as making music goes, I think we're doing it the same way we always did; we're just better at it because we're more experienced. We know how to use the studio in a way we didn't used to know. As far as being in a band in general goes, I've learned a lot about how you can't let things outside of the thing--which is the music--become the thing you're doing. I don't think we've ever been super-guilty of that, but I do feel like I used to care more if people cared. But I don't really anymore.

GOSPEL GOSSIP play a release show for "Atlantic Blue" at the Turf Club on Saturday, November 3. With Magic Castles, Leisure Birds, and Teenage Moods. 9 pm. $6. 21+. 651.647.0486.


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