This is a little mini post. I am turning over a new leaf with this website. I, being the owner, Stephanie. By the end of this post, I am going to need your help.
For those of you who have ever wondered what it would be like to have your own site dedicated to the music scene of San Diego, I have one word for you: Exhausting! That’s the first word that comes to mind, but trust me, that’s not the only one. I can also say that this site is fun, inspirational, and even downright surprising at times. Through hard work and dedication one can get so much done, and see so many things, and I’ve definitely done that over the year.
But there’s a problem. There’s a big stain on my site lately and I’ve been totally lacking in elbow grease. Let’s say that my inspiration is the elbow grease — so you get my drift. I got too roped up in all the opportunities that this site brought about and I worried too much about pleasing everyone else. I realized that at the end of the day this is MY project, and thus I have to start thinking of it in that way.
I thought long and hard about all of the things that bring me inspiration, and I thought about all of the articles I have posted on the site over the course of the past year. Yes, it will be a year on November 21st, since I created my dot com. I know it’s a little too soon for New Years-like nostalgia, but just stick with me for a moment. I thought back and I realized that I had the most fun, the most inspiration, while working on two projects. The first was a piece I did on my friend’s project, Immovable Objects. I sat in the studio with Matt Gagin and his friends, and I learned so much. I witnessed their dedication and talent, and I got to dive right into their musical world. It was enlightening to be let in on such a process.
The second thing was the shortly famous Streetside Sessions. My most views ever on this site came the day after I posted that video. I remember I could hardly contain myself, as I kept having to push back its debut date on the site. I just wanted to share it already! Not only that, but being on the streets of Bankers Hill, listening to a San Diego musician play their songs for their entire neighborhood to hear, was magical. I watched people come out of their balconies to sip a cup of coffee and just listen and admire. I watched passerbys stop to ask insightful questions, and one person even offered a tip! To say that the project was a success would be a severe understatement.
Those were my two favorite moments of theIndie SD, ever. Now I invite you all to help me turn over a new leaf.
Help me help musicians, local musicians, people who want to share their music on a street corner, or conduct an impromptu concert in a park. People who want to genuinely share their love for creation and art. Tell me which bands you think should be a part of something like this. I seriously want to know.
And more so than that, tell me what you want to see on a local music site. What do you not want to see? What kinds of things have you always wanted to do with the San Diego music scene? I know it sounds like I’m just stealing your ideas, but what I want is everyone to have the chance to be a part of this. Music is a community event. It’s something to be shared and experienced, whether you play an instrument or not, whether you sing like an angel or croak like a frog. Consider all of you guys and gals, all of you out there reading this, cordially invited to be a part of it. Come into studios. Sit down with others and learn about their music. Head bang at local music shows. And yes, listen to some great, amazing musicians, playing on the streets of San Diego.
Because at the end of the day, I get absolutely nothing out of this site, no money, no fame, nothing — except fun. I’m profiting off of inspiration. And I want to share the profits with all of you. Here are more than a few ways to reach me, there’s also a comment form, and please don’t be shy! This isn’t just my music scene. It’s all of ours. And we all get to be a part of this creative process, don’t we?
Since guitarist/composer/multi-instrumentalist/man about town Matt Gagin moved from the United States to Australia, fans of may have been wondering what’s in store for the instrumental rock band. No need to fear! Immovable Objects will be here again. The band announced US tour dates, officially making them an international touring act. Way cool.
“It was a long time coming,” says Matt Gagin, the man behind Immovable Objects, when asked about his recent move to Perth, Australia. “I was just ready to leave and some of the things that were and are happening in the U.S. were weighing on me and I think I needed a break. My wife wanted to be near her family who live in Sydney and Perth, it wasn’t a really hard decision but it took a little time for the Australian government to decide to let me reside in their country.” While waiting for the green light for migration Gagin and Immovable Objects created their most recent recording, I’ll Know to Believe in Sparrows, where the band explores the nuance of the album as a complete piece and the ideas of instrumental music as an emotive and visual experience. For his first return to the U.S. this October, Gagin plans to perform the latest Immovable Objects’ record in its entirety with a video accompaniment. “I feel like the music expresses itself with or without a projected narrative but I think without lyrics or a true front man to engage the audience, and believe me I ‘m no front man, their can be a lack of connection for some people. Others, however, enjoy it more because there is no voice.”
Immovable Objects return to the U.S. October 22nd through 27th for a brief southwest tour. They play San Diego October 26th with Sleep Lady and Gypsy Blood at Bar Eleven. For more tour information, check out their official website.
I took awhile to write this, because there’s an odd pressure that comes from writing an article about one of your friends. But I have to share all of the recent developments from local instrumental geniuses Immovable Objects, and their soon to be completed full length album. It’s not out yet. I totally got to hear it while it’s being completed. Definitely insert giddy music geek exclamations here.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting the chance to spend numerous amounts of time in the studio with Immovable Objects, watching guitarist Matt Gagin work his magic and direct his band mates and friends in what is shaping up to be an incredibly impressive array of both musicianship and creativity. And no, that statement isn’t biased; I’m being serious. There was no detail left unturned, no note left untampered with in the best way possible during the studio process behind these songs, and when all is said and done and the album is completed, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
And Now……….Behind the Studio….kind of an inside joke, sorry about that.
The guys of Immovable Objects operate like a well-oiled machine one moment, and then slip into a bit of a lever that’s gone just a bit haywire. At any moment, the verbal absurdities are playfully flying, and I’m just making sure I don’t get hit by any of the crossfire (I come out unscathed — no one seems to notice me when they’re too busy thinking of the next interesting burn they can come up with!) It was a fun diversion to watch the guys morph from depending on one another to taking playful jabs; from relying on each other’s musical cues to making fun of each other’s photography styles (which is only bound to happen, with two photographers in the band.) Their friendship is full of dynamic.
It is a dynamic that’s really mirrored in all of their music. When it comes to instrumental rock, there are the typical comparisons: Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai. Then there’s the atypical idea of an instrumental rock group that has probably subconsciously painted their personal charismas into their music. Immovable Objects will definitely satisfy the die-hard instrumental fan, but they also deliver a bit of a roller-coaster that some of those fans are not used to receiving. Rather than settle on one riff or one note, the band wants to build upon it, sometimes quickly, before dropping you down the several-feet-tall thrill towards the twists and turns that come next. They want to play around with sound and create not just music, not just emotions, but environment. At one point, sound engineer Mario joked that some of their tunes were great “desert playing” songs, causing the guys to run wild with the idea. Guitarist Paul Balmer joked that each copy of the album comes with “a hit of acid and a hit of ecstasy.” Well, don’t get too excited and quote them on that. Or maybe go ahead, since I did just quote them on that.
I stayed behind the scenes as much as possible and worried about the effect of my photography flash blinding them while they were recording the latest guitar part. And since they were recording some of their instruments on tape, I think the pressure was on. But the guys worked like champs, and might possibly be paparazzi ready since I wasn’t the only one snapping the shots. In between songs, there was no “in between” time. When drummer Ted Donovon and bassist Tim Peacock weren’t hashing out their parts, they were taking turns in a battle royale of photography wits: elaborately snapping photos, talking a little smack, and then admiring the other guy’s work in the end. They were probably still going at it when I had to say goodbye. I was tired and I hadn’t done anything but watch the magic happen!
Imagine my surprise when I was invited to come back again. After wrecking one complete roll of black and white film because I haven’t quite mastered the technique of bouncing a flash with a business card — or any other photography technique, for that matter — I felt that redemption would be mine! What I didn’t expect was the transitioning of all of this music to blow me away. While I was concentrating on making sure I had enough film and reminding myself to record some of the hilarious things that the guys said between takes, I had forgotten for just a brief moment what I was really doing, which was attending a studio session.
I mistakenly said that it was nice to see the guys in their element, but honestly, the studio isn’t their real element. Matt had created Immovable Objects after his previous experiences with bands left him hungering for a chance to create, without creative impediment, without personality differences, leaving him simply the chance to write music. So maybe for him, the studio was his element. He is the mastermind behind the instrumental child that is Immovable Objects, so it didn’t surprise me that he was always the most comfortable and on-point guy in the studio.
Not to say that Paul, Ted, and Tim weren’t on their game. But it was evident how much they relied on their band mate to help them through the process. Matt would stand between the window that separated the recording booth and the studio, raising his arms in huge gestures to ensure that Paul knew exactly when to switch a part. It wasn’t that he wasn’t prepared. It was simply that at the end of the day, no matter who wrote the tunes, Immovable Objects worked as a team. When Paul played, he could feel the transitions that came in the music because he was surrounded by his friends. So yes, being in the studio wasn’t really their element, but they still excel at it.
I got the chance to speak with Matt again about the name of the album, I’ll Know to Believe in Sparrows, which ironically Tim replied, “Oh really? That’s the first time I heard that!” The story behind the name involves a bit of coincidence and a dash of belief, as Matt tells me about how his grandmother believes in reincarnation after one has passed away; specifically, she believed that his grandfather was reincarnated as a sparrow. Though Matt is a bit of a skeptic, when faced with the question on what he would do if he found out that this was a fact, he replied, “Well, I’ll know to believe in sparrows.” And thus the perfect turn of phrase was born. And it may be just my personal observation, but it fits the album in more ways than one. There were multiple instances during my studio visits that I was told about an idea, or a song was described in a certain way that almost made it a bit difficult to believe that the recorded version would eventually come out that way. But once I sat down and got the chance to hear these pieces come together and hear these visions unfurl, I too learned to believe in sparrows — or at least, I learned to believe in the talent that can come from a very interesting studio setting.
Eventually Ted shows up, carrying around a really bubbly little girl who easily gives out smiles and even has a knack for the drums. He just wanted to “hang out” for awhile. That’s how interesting the studio was, and I had to agree with him.
It took me awhile to sit down and get this together, and I think the reason why is because I was afraid that my words wouldn’t be able to correctly describe the experience. Sure, I could explain what was going on, and I could dig through the play-by-play of one or two sessions, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t be able to describe the feeling after hearing a song come together, piece by piece. I wouldn’t be able to put into words the amazing epiphany of realizing a fellow musician’s vision has just come to life. This is why we record, ladies and gentleman. Not to create a quickly pressed demo or a hastily composed EP. We record so that we can bring our visions to life.
There’s a day three (and four and five….) within all of this madness, but it has yet to come. Will it include a sample of the new album? Will it share some of the deep dark secrets of the band? Does this sound enough like a murder mystery to you, yet? Well good. Because I truly hope you stay tuned for more on the developments of this studio process. Immovable Objects have continued to invite me into their humble recording abode, and have told me to make myself at home; and it’s not every day that something like that happens.
There are three things you should know about this show. 1) This was my first time using my 35mm camera, so sue me if the images are unsatisfactory. 2) Immovable Objects is more amazing than most. 3) I would have gotten in for free if it weren’t for those meddling kids!…or the meddling bartender.
Ah Bar Eleven. Well aren’t you too cool for school? And too cool for free covers, but I’ll let it pass because your cover is nothing in comparison to how much fun your dark, alluring venue is. Bar Eleven is awesome because you walk in and instantly feel home — and not in an Alcoholics Anonymous sort of way. More importantly, Immovable Objects was playing a show with two highly attractive instrumental geniuses, pretty much making this the instrumental rock show of San Diego. If you weren’t there, you probably missed all the good stuff that San Diego has to offer in this genre. And with all three of these bands heading into the studio soon, you’ll have to scrounge up some of the demigods of instrumental rock in these parts, if you want a good show in the next couple of months. Good luck with that, let me know how it goes.
If you were of the lucky chosen crowd, you were there to appreciate the near perfect acoustics of Bar
Eleven. It was loud, but in that amazingly awesome way. It was right on the edge of the perfect supersonic sound barrier. That alone was impressive. If you’re impressed with the sound check, you have to know the show itself will be amazing.
As one can expect from Immovable Objects, guitarist Matt Gagin and his crew of instrumental geniuses belted out dynamic after dynamic, taking you on a rollercoaster ride that few bands can offer in modern music, all under the backdrop of thought-provoking, silently beautiful movie that painted across the band, sometimes seeming to pull each band member into the frames of the film.
As mentioned earlier, I almost got into the show for free. I occasionally play with Immovable Objects on the harmonium, so maybe I can attempt to be snooty and say I’m with the band. Eck, that was horrible just reading that. All jokes aside, I almost got into Bar Eleven for free because their doorman was probably a certified crack head who wasn’t even at the door when me and my friend showed up. We walked right in, and if it wasn’t for that meddling bartender, we would have gotten away with it too! But he was mixing us drinks, so I forgive him. Plus, supporting your local bands is always a great deal. Did you know that every
year, local bands have to kill thousands of drummers because their band shelters are overrun with them, and that for every person who pays to attend a local show, you could save a drummer? The more you know.
It’s also apparently a proven fact that bartenders in dive bars know EVERY PERSON who walks in that door. “Hey, you weren’t here twenty minutes ago.” totally works in a venue that probably holds around…60. But once again, I’m not bitter because the drinks were good, the music was amazing, and the venue itself looks like the kind of place that is legendary and yet no one knows it. Did you have
any idea where you were standing? Do you have any idea who’s walked these beer-stained floors? Kids these days.
When the second in line band, Kata, began to take the stage, my music geek heart filled up with joy to see not one, but two cellists setting up right in the front of the stage. Two cellists, a keyboardist, bass, drummer, and a handful of guitars. I think all of the numerous members of Kata comprised half of the bar, but maybe more musicians meant they sounded even more amazing? I would have waited to see, but I’m pretty sure they were trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records’ “longest time it takes to get set up for a gig.” But with so many instrumentalists, I don’t really blame them for taking their time.
The best part? Looking like the ultimate hipster with my 35mm Nikon that I bought off some failing former photography major a week ago. I really don’t recommend looking like a hipster to anyone. But for a person who hasn’t touched film since she before she hit puberty, I think I did fairly well.