Deeper are a band that is gaining a real footing with the release of their self-titled, debut album, which came out late last month via Fire Talk Records. The Chicago outfit endured various lineup changes and sonic evolutions before nailing down their current formation consisting of Nic Gohl (lead singer and guitarist), Michael Clawson (guitarist), Shiraz Bhatti (drummer) and Drew McBride (bassist). There isn’t a definitive description to give the band because they are a black sheep but in the best way. Deeper possess a certain confidence and transparent individuality that you hear throughout the album that constantly draws you back.
The electrifying, bold record has a concise, comprehensive direction and one that shouldn’t be pigeon-holed. There lies a surging, exciting energy that intertwines with each compelling song and takes you for a ride. The stream-of-consciousness and straightforward songwriting fits in well and resonates with the buzzing, spirited arrangements. Frontman Nic Gohl leads the way with distinctive vocals as they confront nerves, anxiety and getting through the average day. Before their Philly show last week at Everybody Hits, the band sat down and touched on the journey to create their excellent premiere and navigating what’s coming next.
SB: I read that the band went through some various iterations beginning from 2014, was developing your current sound harder than expected to make or was it an easier process once the line up was rounded out?
Nic: Well, Yeah the band started around that time, but we were going for a different kind of sound and that band then dismembered. Me, Mike and Shiraz stuck together and felt that like keeping the name cause changing the Facebook and all that, it just seemed unnecessary and we like the name Deeper. We got rid of all the songs that we had been doing for a while and brough Drew in, then just started from scratch.
SB: While your sound is pretty distinct, where there any bands that you guys found yourselves modeling yourselves after in one way or another?
Nic: Um..There’s always a little bit of that bit, but me and Mike have always wanted to make a great guitar record.
Shiraz: I wanted to make a good drum record.
Nic: and he wanted to make a good drum record haha
SB: You guys had put out the first single two years ago, so what it was the evolving process like to get the record to this final form?
Drew: So that was in 2016 and when we had put out that single, that was the first year of this version of the band. This line up was solidified in..oh my gosh..December 2015.
Michael: We didn’t start practicing until like January
Drew: Yeah, we started practicing in January and then we wrote “Transmogrified.” Just because the sound was so different from the previous band, we wanted to get a single out to people so that they knew what we sounded like and that was distinctive from the previous version. We used that as sort of a foundation for the rest of the tracks that we wrote and that are on the record.
SB: Did you produce the album yourselves or did you get help this time around?
Drew: Oh, we had a lot of help.
Nic: We had some help.
Drew: Our buddy Dave Vettraino, who records a ton of Chicago bands like Melkbelly, NE-HI and a bunch of others. He’s also in the band The Hecks, who just played with Spirit of The Beehive and Palm recently. That was a pretty crazy bill and they also played with Omni recently, but yeah he recorded everything and we did it at a practice space over the course of a year and a half to record. We’d write two songs and record them and then come back to the practice space like in a month and half or two months later to record two more until the record was totally done.
SB: Were there some tracks that were more difficult to record than others?
Drew: Oh, definitely
Nic: For sure.
Drew: For one of the songs on the record, we had a different ending until we went into the studio.
Nic: We literally recorded that ending and then cut it out, then put in a different ending.
Drew: The song “Pavement”, ends with like an ambient drone and it used to be a jam on the record but we realized that it didn’t really fit with the vision of the band that we were going for. We didn’t want a crowdy outro, so we wrote that in the studio and when we play it live we try to emulate what we did on the record.
Nic: Shiraz said it really well the other day, It’s kind of like “Message Erased” which is on the other side of the record is the B-side to “Pavement” almost. So that drone is meant to go into the next song, and that was the whole idea was like to have this beautiful thing happen and then flip it to go into the next one.
Drew: Yeah, because “Pavement” ends with the ambient drone and “Messaged Erased” begins with a dreamy, pop beginning before dropping to into the pretty aggressive, straightforward rhythm. It’s kinda supposed to snap everyone of the dream.
SB: Yeah, I can see that. Is there a track that you would you say represents the band, if you had to pick a single one?
Drew: I would say “Pink Showers” or “Feels”
Nic: I would say “Messaged Erased” takes the dreamy elements and the more angular, punk parts.
Shiraz: “Pink Showers” visits all three of our angles in one song, same with “Feels” in a way. “Feels” doesn’t get as dreamy as other things, but definitely visits everything we like to do.
Drew: Yeah, you have guitar interplay, pretty dynamic interactions between bass and drums and some room for everything to breath. You can hear the dreamy elements in the latter part and it’s a pop song, which I feel like we know how to do really well.
SB: For the most part, the album is pretty quick paced and stirring. Do you guys enjoy playing tracks that are rousing and energetic?
Nic: Yeah, it’s easier for us to play faster than slower.
Michael: I think I get bored really fast if the stuff we are writing is slower.
Drew: I mean it was what we were writing at the time, so it’s like we’d come into practice and be like “oh, we wanna record something like..”, we’d have different riffs or something and try to record around those. Now we already have a good portion of the next record done and there’s even more variety to our sound. There’s some slower tracks that are more vocally focused or something, but I think for the first record though it’s easier to just write some pop songs that we could release and be excited about playing.
SB: “Transmogrified” and “Pavement” both have a more moderate pace to them, but overall I feel like it’s a pretty cohesive album and it’s never jading at any point. The track order always has a gradual, rhythmic build and pace throughout the album.
Drew: I’m glad to hear that cause I think that even when we finished the record..it wasn’t until we were mixing it that we wondering “does this even work together or does it sound decent?”
Nic: Yeah, I don’t think until we got the master back I thought that the record sounded like one.
Drew: Then we listened to it and were like “Okay, this will work” cause we were pretty self conscious that this wasn’t even gonna work.
Shiraz: We definitely were shooting for peaks and valleys to keep the listener interested all the way through.
SB: Philly is at the tail-end of your Spring run, so how have the shows fared so far?
Drew: It’s been kinda wild honestly. Just like we were saying before, we didn’t know if it was going to work and once we like it, is anyone else gonna get this?
Shiraz: Yeah we didn’t know the range of love we would get. We got a lot of love in Atlanta, DC and New York and it’s really nice to see that.
Drew: Especially being in Chicago, when we are playing to a lot of the same people every time we play out and we know they already like our stuff. So being on tour, it’s nice to be in front of different people that either don’t know our stuff or heard a song on Spotify and come out to see the rest of our set live. One guy came up to us at a show and was like “I’m obsessed with you guys. I heard a couple singles and had to come out to see you live”
SB: What are some of the bands that you guys are excited about at the moment, from Chicago or otherwise?
Nic: I really like this band called The Knees from Chicago
Michael: The Hecks are really great. Pool Holograph, our buddies from back home.
Drew: We played with this band in Atlanta called Trash Can, who are really cool.
Nic: Our friends Cafe Racer
Drew: Gift Wrap in New York were really cool, they played our album release show.
Michael: Patio is another one.
Shiraz: BRNDA out of DC are great.
Nic: This band Blush Scars out of Chicago as well, I’ve never seen them play, but I saw some videos of them and they were sick. They sound like Ian Curtis’ band Joy Division. Also yeah, Corey Flood are great.
SB: What’s on the docket for the band for the rest of the year?
Nic: We just plan on playing the record and taking it as far as we can take it.
Drew: We want to be done writing the new record by the time we are done touring around this album. We are looking at doing another tour in the fall and don’t know exactly know where yet. Hopefully by the time we are done promoting this record, we can work on the next one. We don’t want it to take as long as it did on this one to put out.
Shiraz: We’ve hit a good stride and we’ve written five or seven songs so far.
SB: Yeah, I think you guys have built in the excitement for the next record whenever it comes out and interested to see what’s next.
Drew: We don’t just wanna put out a shit ton of songs, but instead have a defined idea of what we want a certain song to sound like and spending a while refining that.
Nic: We just go into a refining mode for a really long time on certain songs. Not as much recently and I think the new ones have become a lot easier, but definitely on this record it was all refining and was like six months of that whole process. To the point where “Transmogrified”….we had released that and then refined that version of the song for the record.
Michael: We frankenstein songs a lot.
Drew: We will have a feedback loop, where we start on one idea and then we’ll slowly augment it over like six months like Nic was saying, until some weirdo-pop, guitar comes out and then build the song around that.
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