Gaadge – “Yeah?” Album Premiere and Q&A (Ya Herd #17)

Our “Ya Herd?” series typically features Q&As with some of our favorite artists and labels. Our 17th Ya Herd? is especially exciting as this is our first time premiering an album. We think no better way to kick it off than with “Yeah?”, the new shoegaze-heavy album by Gaadge, which will be released on cassette and streaming platforms this Friday, March 19 by Crafted Sounds, the stacked indie label out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Started as a solo project by Mitch DeLong in Erie, PA during the summer of 2014, Gaadge’s first release was that year’s fuzzy, synth-driven “Whirl”. After moving to Pittsburgh in 2016, Mitch reunited with drummer Andy Yadeski and guitarist Ethan Oliva of Barlow, the prolific hometown lo-fi project, and bassist Nick Boston. Soon after, Gaadge released “Other Demos”, with Ethan, which was followed up by 2018’s Gaadge/Barlow split. and the 2020 single, “No Go”.

“Yeah?” is the culmination of years of compelling and unique songwriting which blends jangly guitars and hypnotic synthesizers, mixing sounds and influences from bands like The Spirit of the Beehive, My Bloody Valentine, and Blue Smiley. Its big and hypnotizing sound was mixed and mastered by Mitch, Ryan Hizer of Good Sport and Trey Curtis – its production quality made even more impressive as it was all engineered in Audacity, a free digital audio software.

Listen to the exclusive stream below and read more about what Mitch and Gaadge have to say about their influences, development, recording process, and new release – and what they are most looking forward to play when live music returns.

Gaadge started as a solo project in 2014 in Erie, Pennsylvania and then expanded into a full band two years later when you moved to Pittsburgh. How did those transitions influence Gaadge’s sound and your songwriting approach? What has stayed the same and what’s changed?

Up until this release, not a whole lot has changed. For the Barlow split tape and everything before it, it remained a solo project with my friends helping out with it. I’ll say that Ethan being in the band through it has been funny because Barlow’s always been a big influence on me. On Yeah? I was still doing most of the songwriting, but that’s where Nick came in and wrote “Murphy’s Law” and “Phase Rev” which ended up being some of my favorite stuff on the album. From here I think Gaadge is heading more towards a communal project between the four of us, mostly because I have a lot of trust and respect for the current lineup.

What is the music scene like in Erie? What about in Pittsburgh?

The real music scene in Erie was in the basement. The best shows there were always in some house (mostly Devon Brown’s historic basement.) Here in Pittsburgh there are (or were) more venues to support the music scene which was nice. There are some really cool DIY and smaller venues here that hold shows for smaller-scale touring bands. I’ve been able to see some of my favorite out-of-state bands coming through at some intimate Pittsburgh venues and that’s been a great experience.

How did you hook up with the Crafted Sounds label?

I’ve seen that Crafted Sounds has been creeping up as one of the most notable labels in Pittsburgh, and some of my friends’ bands have put out some great records through CS. Nick was actually the one who had a relationship with Connor, so when the record was done, Nick said “let’s see if Crafted Sounds wants this.” Luckily, Connor dug it and wanted to go with it, and since then he’s only proven himself as an absolute steamroller of a promoter. That dude grinds so hard for his label and the bands going through CS, and it’s incredible to watch. I can’t wait to see what Crafted Sounds is gonna be doing in a few years.

I had a hard time at first trying to categorize your sound because it had a shoegaze vibe but I felt that it didn’t fully capture it, but the “slackgaze” tag on your Bandcamp definitely adds that missing part. As a listener, your songs have this sort of hypnotizing quality. What’s it like on the other end when you’re all playing together?

Gaadge definitely started out as a shoegaze band. When I started the project I was just starting to fall into the rabbit hole of the whole “wall of sound vacuum cleaner” thing. But I also like a lot of cleaner forms of indie-rock that have always stuck with me. So I started to lean towards a blend of the two. Then I was blending this in and that in and it just kinda happened organically. I’ve never been like “I wanna write this genre of song.” It’s been more of “alright, this song starts like this, where are we gonna go from here?” Obviously songs like “Do What Now” came out as pretty strictly shoegaze, but I wanted to avoid that as much as possible.

What are some bands and albums that influenced you and your work on the Gaadge/Barlow split and “Yeah?”

I’m pretty shamelessly influenced by a band called Swirlies, and I would say that as a “guitar band” most of our guitar sound comes out of that band’s albums. That bendy abuse of the tremolo arm through a clean guitar is one of my favorite sounds and I can’t seem to get away from it. But the song structure of bands like Helvetia and Spirit of the Beehive had me dwelling on my own compositions while in the middle of writing the album. I think every “indie” band has roots in stuff like Pavement, and we’ve definitely got roots in My Bloody Valentine. I feel like there’s a lot of influences in the variety of stuff that I listen to that I’m not necessarily naming here as well.

Some moments in your songs make me think of Blue Smiley. You two would have been great on the same bill. Are there any shows you’ve played that are particularly memorable? What about shows you’ve been to?

Yes, I would have loved for a bill like that (RIP.) The last shows that we played were pretty exciting. There was a show at a bar called Gooskis with label-mates Flower Crown and Barlow and that was a very fun show. We had started playing some of the the new material on Yeah? and we were in good company with the other bands (we all shipped down here from Erie) so it was definitely a good time to reflect on. I remember seeing Horse Jumper of Love at a venue here right before the pandemic hit and taking that band in for the first time in a live setting was pretty inspiring. That band had me thinking about a lot of dynamic changes, I remember I went home after that show and wrote “Creeping Weeks” that night.

The production on the singles from “Yeah?” is incredible. Each sound has its own space and also interacts with each other in such a nice way. When I learned the album was recorded on Audacity software, I had to make sure I read that correctly. I’ve used Audacity and loved it for recording, but I felt like it limited what I could do with the song after the tracks were recorded. On the flipside, I think not using a fancy DAW can be really good for music if it helps the musician focus on the foundational aspects of songwriting. What were the benefits and trade-offs of working in Audacity? How did it influence how you wrote and recorded?

I knew right off the bat I did not want to master the album myself or it would never get done. And I didnt want to blow a ton of money on a good DAW if I was only recording raw tracks, so I went “screw it, this works for me.” It worked out incredibly for me because I wasn’t getting impatient and fiddling around before everything was recorded. I just kept recording parts until they sounded good raw and it kept me focused on the songwriting aspect of it. I didn’t have any distractions and the work-flow was very fluid. There was a lot of experimenting and re-configuring while I was recording, and sometimes I wonder how much of that wouldn’t have happened if I was messing around with plug-ins and effects and whatnot. We did have to use logic on Ethan’s computer in order to record the drum stuff on four separate tracks, but even that wasn’t really touched by effects outside of a little compression. Audacity was just a very bare-bones solution that I found for free, and it ended up working out very well. The product that you hear is what happened after I gave it to Ryan Hizer (of Goodsport) which speaks for itself.

It seems like lots of people leaned in to writing and sharing music during COVID, also in ways like online shows that I had never really seen before. Have you been able to do any online streams or see any shows during the pandemic? How has your relationship with music changed throughout all of this?

There are a lot of really good songwriters who were suddenly hunkered down in place for a year, so I feel like it’s natural that there’s going to be some really good stuff coming out this year. Maybe we’ll see some of our favorite projects put out incredibly concentrated work that end up being masterpieces? I’ve got my eye on a few things that I’m excited to hear. We haven’t done a live stream yet, but I’ve seen a few and it’s nice to be able to see people still doing the thing. Crafted Sounds was actually doing a consistent livestream thing for a while with a ton of local bands, another testament to how well that machine’s running right now. I just saw Barlow on a Steel City Death Club live set on Youtube and it was absolutely incredible. We’ve actually got a stream coming up on March 25th through Disposable America with Crafted Sounds. Flower Crown, Buddie, Eyebawl, Spooled Up, DJ Icyhot, whuddup?

With COVID vaccinations increasing, hopefully live music will be back sometime soon. What are you looking most forward to? Any songs you’re especially excited to play?

I really really hope that it’s possible soon. I know a bunch of us Pittsburgh bands are itching to play. I’ve been (kinda) joking with The Real Sea and Flower Crown on Twitter about a huge blowout show as soon as possible. But we also have to play it right or it’s gonna be another two, three, four years of this. It’s extremely frustrating. On the upside, that’s only gonna boil up to an absolutely insane first show back. I wanna tighten up so we can just play the record front to back for a first show. I’ve been daydreaming of doing the ending riff to “Thrill” live constantly. There’s a lot of moments that I think about doing live, and I really really can’t wait until we can pull it off.

What’s next for Gaadge?

Ethan has said he has material that he wants to contribute. I know Nick’s got a pool of material that we haven’t dipped into yet. Andy’s a good songwriter and I’m gonna see what he’s feeling and see what he wants to do. I have a pretty clear sense of what I wanna do with my songs. I want to go into a studio after a little bit of incubation time and put out a proper studio album. I am unbelievably happy with Yeah? as a home-recorded album, but I can close the doors on what I wanted to do with that first concept as a band and move on. I’m not counting on any kind of drastic changes, I think we’re nestled into something as Gaadge, but I don’t really know what I can say about the next stuff other than that it will be, hopefully, a better and evolved version of what we’re doing now.

What are you listening to recently? Any bands you’d like to shout out?

I’ve recently discovered how incredible Big Thief is. Adrianne Lenker might be one of my favorite songwriters right now, absolutely gorgeous stuff. I’m also really late to the Courtney Barnett party. I feel like I missed out on a lot of newer stuff due to being hung up on older stuff, I’ve made it a point to try and change that. There’s a really cool Pittsburgh project called BB Guns that just did something on the new Ron Mist album coming out. I’m just trying to listen to it all and take note.

“Yeah?” is out on cassette and all major streaming platforms March 19, 2021. Buy the physical release on Bandcamp and support a great band and label.

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