We had the honor of chatting with the band Deeper’s singer and guitarist, Nic Gohl and guitarist Drew McBride. Based in Chicago, Deeper also consists of drummer Shiraz Bhatti and bassist Kevin Fairbairn. The band formed in 2014 with original guitarist Mike Clawson along with Nic, Shiraz, and Drew on bass. They released their debut self-titled record in 2018 followed by their newly released and much-anticipated sophomore record, Auto-Pain this March.

I’ll spare you my attempt at describing their music (of which I am a very big fan) and borrow the description of Auto-Pain from their label, Fire Talk. (If Fire Talk sounds familiar, it’s because founder Trevor Peterson was on the pod a few weeks ago.) 

Auto-Pain is a record that finds the band embracing open space, using synths to create shadows where bricks of guitars once would’ve blocked out the sun. The group members were all graduates of Chicago’s rich DIY scene who came together around their love of Wire, Devo, Gang of Four, and Television. While the new record is still within the Great Lakes post-punk tradition of their debut, the album isn’t as insular as its predecessor; it’s less interested in pile-driving and more willing to dwell in liminal spaces. Guitars enter the picture precisely, locked bass grooves propel things forward. Drummer Shiraz Bhatti, who is half-Pakistani and half-Native American, embraced the drumming patterns he’d heard growing up at pow-wows, channeling the anxieties of his heritage into his playing and keeping the group grounded when they switch into an all-out percussive attack. The result is an album both more nuanced and catchy.

Auto-Pain represents the constant wave of depression felt by many in everyday life. Stemmed from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Auto-Pain is a concept meant to be an inverse to soma, a pill in the book which makes everything numb. The idea of auto-pain is to epitomize the desire to return to a connection with thoughts and clarity, which comes at the expense of feeling everything simultaneously.

Listen above or on iTunes or Spotify.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • canceling tour and SXSW
  • what Chicago and Austin are like right now
  • their experience touring Florida
  • how long we each think it’ll be until bands can tour and we can gather again
  • what a digital album cycle might look like
  • potential alternatives to tour revenue
  • thoughts on live-streaming
  • how they made out in the Bandcamp fundraiser and the difference between that and selling copies on tour
  • quitting their jobs (most of them) to focus on music full-time right before covid
  • how they’re spending this downtime
  • writing analog to cassette to avoid distractions
  • subconsciously processing experiences through writing
  • different ways covid quarantine could impact art indirectly
  • their recording process for Auto-Pain vs. their debut self-titled record
  • challenges in sequencing the record
  • making the most of environmental circumstances when recording
  • the experience of losing a band member and a friend
  • the lessons in letting go of what you can’t control
  • their approach to collaboration and how it’s evolved over time
  • our thoughts on Springsteen
  • our thoughts on Wilco

Resources mentioned:

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