Recently, Deeper celebrated the release of their self-titled debut album at Empty Bottle. It was the culmination of years of hard work to get their music recorded and the start of their spring tour in support of the album. Brandon Smith sat down and spoke with Deeper’s guitarist and vocalist Nic Gohl & bassist Drew McBride about the long awaited debut (which is officially out now), the journey to get it released, and what it’s like to be a band in Chicago.
Brandon Smith: I know you guys haven’t really put anything out, so the new album is a pretty big deal. What are your expectations for the band since this is the first album you’re putting out and you’ve been around since 2014? i=It’s a big moment for you guys since you’re trying to get your name out there outside of Chicago.
Nic Gohl: I think for us we’ve been wanting to put something out for a while, we just never had the material down on recordings but, we haven’t had the chance to record it the way that we liked to, we had to piece it all together that’s why it took so long. I think our expectations are we want to play more outside of Chicago and we’re hoping people like it. If they do that’s great, if they don’t we’ll keep making music regardless.
Drew McBride: My expectations are that people will like it.
I know Drew joined the band a little later, how did all that happen?
NG: Drew joined in 2016 which is when this version of this band started. Before we were going for something completely different, and we had a lineup change. Me, Mike Clawson, and our friend Caroline Campbell is who used to play bass we all grew up together (Campbell) moved out West and we had been wanting to work with Drew forever because he was in different bands and his project Landmarks had recently broken up so the timing was right and we asked him to play bass for us and that’s when this band really became what it is.
2016 is when the song “Transmogrified” had come out.
NG: Yeah, we recorded that and a few others songs on this upcoming record then.
DM: Essentially, 2 years ago we recorded other versions of these songs but newer versions are on the record. Some of the songs that didn’t make the record were on a tour tape that we toured on for about a year and a half.
There are songs from 2016, and there were songs written and recorded near the end of last year, was there an awkward gap or was the record going in the same direction as the earlier content?
NG: I had a big issue with that while recording, I was afraid that it would seem too different because we definitely learned how to play with each other throughout those different gaps in between sessions, and I think after hearing it in full for the first time those elements that are different are what make me like the record a lot, and I think they complement each other well. It’s still the core, Mike and I have been playing like this ever since we started playing music together, our chemistry has grown throughout those years. We started playing with Shiraz (Bhatti) in 2014, and we molded together, and then we brought on Drew and that slowly formed into this what we do now. It’s awesome that we have all that evolution of the band on tape, it’s really fun for me to listen to.
DM: To your point is there a difference in style between the first things we recorded since we did it in multiple sessions. I think there is a pretty big difference in the sound so I think it makes the record more interesting, and with the way we’re trending now this record will have a lot of different sounds, and I think with the next one will be thematically similar I would say. We’ve started to solidify a sound that will be present as our second record comes out. I would say we’re about 2/3 done with our next record.
NG: I like to think that we are but we’ll never know until it’s done. We do have a significant amount of new music ready to go and after recording this last album the way we attacked it we kind of know what we want to do and what we don’t want to do. I don’t think it’ll take four years for our next record to come out.
DM: We definitely have some momentum and it took a long time for us to figure out how we wanted ourselves to sound and get that into a record. We came out of the recording process feeling a lot better, we knew our identity better so it allowed us to write songs at a much faster pace than before.
I think with every band over time they become more cohesive, more mature, and processes are way quicker.
NG: For us it’s four different people in the band and we have outside things besides the band. You don’t really get the option to sit in a room for six hours to just flush these ideas out. We have practice twice a week. we play through all of our songs, and we try new things out. I feel like you’re wasting each others time if you’re fucking around and jamming constantly. If you have no direction everyone’s going to get bored and stop showing up.
You’re hitting a lot dates in a smaller range than I see a lot of bands do, what are your expectations for tour?
NG: Drew and I do most of the booking so the way we go about it is figuring out what the most efficient way to get to the most music friendly cities on the east coast and mid America. Nashville’s great and Atlanta’s awesome, so we always try to make it that way. It’s fun coming all the way up the coast and eventually hitting New York, it’s really the only way we think about getting around without overdoing.
DM: In terms of routing the tour in my opinion, it hasn’t been as effective going through Ohio and Pennsylvania to get to the east coast, it’s better to go up through Toronto and Montreal and then come down, or it’s better to go through Nashville and Atlanta and then go up the coast it doesn’t seem as effective for us when we go through the Midwest to get to the east coast.
NG: The first couple of dates are pretty stacked so we’re looking forward to that. We have some plans coming up this summer that will be announced soon.
I saw Do Division Fest is right as the tour ends.
NG: Yeah we’re really hype for that I think it’ll be the first time we play outside.
What are you doing when you aren’t playing in Deeper?
NG: I have a dog and a girlfriend, (she told me I had to say that) but we do focus a lot of time trying to run shows, participate in the music going on in the city.
DM: A lot of things are going on in Chicago, we try to see our friends play shows, we’re pretty active.
Are there any artist outside of Chicago that you’ve been listening to?
NG: I really like this band called Bodega, Drew and I were listening to them earlier. They’re sorta like a mixture of B Boys and Devo. Like the cheeky fun vocals of Devo mixed with the driving rhythms like B Boys. Another one of my favorites outside of Chicago is Cross Country, they’re from Cincinatti, and we’ve been playing shows with them for about 2-3 years. I love those guys, they’re really great.
DM: Omni, they recently dropped a new 7″ and it’s great.
You guys said you go to a lot of shows of your friends in the city are there any lesser known Chicago bands that you talk about more than others?
NG: Yeah, I think so. I really like Café Racer and they’ve made a name for themselves. I really like a few others like The Knees and Blush Scars. I haven’t been able to see them play but I’ve seen snaps of them and listened to their bandcamp stuff.
You guys have supported a lot of Chicago bands. Do you feel any added pressure with this record coming out to succeed as well as some of the other local bands since you’ve been around for so long with such a small catalogue of music?
DM: I feel like because we’ve been so focused on this version of Deeper that’s been around for 2 years. I think if we had been around with this form of the band for four years I would feel a lot of pressure. There is some pressure but it’s such a supportive community that once we have this album out we’ll have bigger and better opportunities.
NG: We were taking things slowly with the last band lineup and even with this band lineup. The only connection with the last band lineup was Me, Mike, and Shiraz and we didn’t want to change the band name because we had been in previous bands that all did the same thing where you get new members and you change the name. So we said fuck it and kept it because we did all this legwork we might as well just keep the band name. I’m not expecting us to be on the cover of Rolling Stone for this record but if we can go on vacation and maybe quit our jobs one day that’s pretty much all I’m looking for. Maybe we can get Fender to sponsor me.
You can see Deeper perform in Chicago again on June 3 at Do Division Festival. You can also order their album via their website now or pick up the exclusive pressing at Shuga! Now, let’s get Fender to sponsor Nic!