Planes Mistaken for Stars: Stripping the Gloss Away with Gared, lead singer/guitarist

7 Jun

Originally published in Left of the Dial, text by David Ensminger, photos by Brandon Hale

Gared, you mention that the bands you feel close to are bands that understand both humanity and humility. Could you please explain that a bit?

Wow, good question, I like the ones that make me think! While I can’t really put my finger on what the contributing factors are exactly (which is another conversation in itself), I will say that it has become painfully obvious that rather than it just being the mainstream trying to co-opt and commodify the “underground,” the “underground” is now trying to commodify itself. In doing so, a large section of “our people” have begun to flawlessly emulate the sleazier practices of the big boys… This, in turn, has caused a domino effect, which is hammering down on even the purest of hearts: the lines have blurred beyond comprehension, there are too many cooks in the kitchen, art has been turned into competition. It’s very rare that it pays to work hard and/or be challenging; “WE” have become what “WE” hate. The underground has been farming over-ground to find a way to perfectly blend the BACKSTREET BOYS with BAD RELIGION, and guess what? It worked.

For instance, do Cursive fall under that humanity, or Hot Water, and what bands wouldn’t?

Maybe I’m just getting older and bitter, but I really find comfort in bands like CURSIVE, who are challenging on a certain level. You can sing along, but once you understand the words you are singing, it’s too late to turn back. I find HWM comforting by sheer fact that they have existed for as long as they have without wavering ideals or compromise. It is obvious that both bands know what they believe in and they keep the sonic fight blazing. Of course, being able to call these people friends gives me a bias, but I was a fan before I met either band, and needless to say I became a bigger one after we broke bread! Is there a sort of fascist musical sensibility at play, even just in the form of star power and media manipulation, that makes you consciously react by reaffirming a more humanistic impulse? If I haven’t fully confused you yet, let me add this: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SUCCESS. All of us are fully aware of the brass ring, and any of us would be lying to say we didn’t want our grubby little hands all over it. The gray area lies in how you go about getting it. Keep your ethics and ego in check, and remember after all you are just a monkey with a guitar! These “style-before-substance, attitude-above-artistry” types deserve to drown under the weight of their gold. Remember that music has a higher calling than the used bins and Soundscan. IT IS A DOCUMENT! It is sharing, it is teaching, it is about letting each other know we are not alone, it is spirituality without confines, it is your story, it is our story. TELL IT TRUE!

 

One of the members quotes the St. Vitus song title, “Born too Late,” but I assume others in the band feel the same way. What makes you feel at least somewhat out-of-synch with current times?

It might be our refusal to wear mascara or get faux hawks that alienates us so.

In interviews, you’ve mentioned a whole crew of Chi-town hardcore bands like AOF, Effigies, and Naked Raygun as influences, but generation-wise, you are much close to the likes of the Bollweevils, Screeching Weasel, and later bands like Lawrence Arms and Braid, not to forget great “indie” rockers like the Didjits and even Poster Children. What do you think of the other, post-1980’s Illinois legacy, and how did growing up in Peoria really shape these tastes?

I think growing up in Peoria before the Internet explosion, and it being as isolated as it is, gave us a true appreciation for the bands that would brave our rusty shores. It also allowed us to formulate our own scene outside of the rigid hipster guidelines that I’m assuming are enforced in larger scenes such as LA, NYC, and even Chicago. We had to be creative or die of boredom. Early bands like NAKED RAYGUN, ARTICLES OF FAITH, and even later the JESUS LIZARD and PEGBOY, all sounded to us like they understood the hopelessness and humor our little Midwest teenage hearts held. They weren’t cool guys, they weren’t rock stars, they were singing our songs and fuck if we weren’t going to try our hardest to sing some back!!

You’ve mentioned that many new bands are almost unconsciously a-historical, like the whole “We are the Future” vibe. Do they really believe this, do you think, or does everyone under 25 suffer from some really bad public education, willful ignorance, or simple amnesia?

These days, bands are fabricated, bought and sold before even one note is written; an image is created without an idea behind it. Many of these kids in the long run have no more to say other than they “ROCK” –buy our shit, suck our dicks– but that much is obvious. That you can blame on the marketing of rock culture, which has been essentially the castration of the form. A lot of these kids were raised on MTV alone; can we blame them for being misguided? On the other hand, we all make up boundaries of what is cool or what is faux pas early on, based on our own insecurities. Unfortunately, many people tend to buy into their own bullshit for so long that they really can no longer see the forest through the trees; they, in fact, have stopped looking for the forest altogether. Or some of us figure out that there really is plenty to learn and teach but give up due to the general steak-headness of the world around us and become bitter reclusive assholes…HEE HEE. All in all, I guess this is where the humility/humanity thing comes in more appropriately: how do we tip the scales in favor of substance? How do we show people that there is more passion and conviction in one CURSIVE or READ YELLOW song than the entire MTV play-list combined? How can we make caring about real content and real songwriting and storytelling cool again? How can we take PUNK ROCK, ROCK and ROLL, SOUL, etc. back from those who have willfully turned all those beautiful genres into Pepsi commercials? I’m fairly certain I did not answer your question, but in fact gave myself a headache.

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