Interview: Blis. discuss touring as a parent, and recording ‘No One Loves You’
Posted: by The Editor
Back in October, The Alternative’s Chris Musser hung out with vocalist Aaron Gossett and drummer Jimi Ingman of Atlanta alt-emo band Blis. at the New Hampshire date of their tour with Microwave and Big Jesus. We voted their latest album, No One Loves You, the Best Debut Record of 2017, and the three had an in-depth chat about what it’s like to tour as a father, the wild making of the record’s visual accompaniments, getting interviewed by Washed Up Emo and more. Check it out below:
Musser: So what’s it like touring this far up, you’ve never come this far north before right?
Gossett: The furthest north we’d been before was New York. It’s a lot of driving, I had noticed here specifically that the exits are like 8-9 miles apart, and where I live in Atlanta an exit is a mile. Every mile there’s an exit, sometimes two or three.
Musser: What keeps you occupied in the van? Are you podcast fans?
Gossett: We actually did a podcast yesterday morning with Tom Mullen of Washed Up Emo, it was really cool. He brought us to his house and we sat on his nice couches, and his nice Ikea-furnished apartment. We were just hangin’ in there, I didn’t even want to touch anything. We did a really interesting podcast about the record and he was like, getting in those [pressing] questions.
Musser: I am so glad he’s into your stuff!
Gossett: Oh yeah, as soon as he posted about it we noticed this huge boost.
Musser: Well yeah, you guys deserve it, No One Loves You immediately landed on my AOTY list after my first listen. What’s your son’s name again?
Musser: Yeah, I knew it was something with blink-182.
Musser: How’s it been being away from him on tour?
Gossett: Oh, it’s so weird, every day it gets weirder and weirder. If you want me to get really personal with you, it feels terrible all the time. I FaceTime with him and my girlfriend, and the first couple days he was super stoked to see me and was like kissing the phone and then like, today I called him and he was not really paying attention to the phone. It kinda upset me a little bit and I was like, “man, I really need to go home.” It’s weird for him seeing me everyday and then not seeing me for three weeks. He’s young, not even three yet.
Musser: He’s in the music video for “Take Me Home” right?
Gossett: Yeah, yeah he is.
Musser: I thought that was the cutest thing.
Gossett: Aw yeah, we started doing some crazy stuff with him. Like, Alex [Henery]’s idea was to flip him upside down and swing around and I was just like, “Okay let’s not kill him!”
Musser: He comes up with the weirdest concepts, I know Cloakroom was talking about their process with him is just, he comes down, they don’t plan anything, and they just drive around and see what happens.
Gossett: Dude, when he gave us a script for the music video it looked like it was drawn on a napkin or something, it was just these cartoon characters just doing things. There was this one shot where I was supposed to be hanging upside down in the video singing, but i couldn’t so we got our bass player Luke to do it.
Ingman: We only dropped him like once (laughs)
Gossett: But yeah, he’s pretty on the spot. We hit a thrift store and just started buying anything that looked weird or interesting that we could decorate rooms with.
Musser: Courtney Emery did the artwork for your albums, right?
Gossett: Yeah, she’s actually at our table! She’s great. So good. Comes highly recommended. If you can work with us, you’ve gotta be pretty patient. She spent three months going back and forth with us just honing in on what we wanted. The first album was totally her idea, we didn’t really push her, we just said we wanted a nostalgic, homey aesthetic. And she knocked it out of the park, so then next record I wanted something that was a lot more textured and was almost uncomfortable to look at. So I sent her this picture of my son on his first birthday with cake all over his face and I was like, “do whatever you want with this photo.” So she was lighting it on fire, crushing rocks on it, and she paired it with another photo we took when we were recording. And it’s really cool how it has these layers to it cause it’s like, this is what the record’s like on the outside and then you can kinda peer in to this recording process. And then you pull out the sleeve and it’s just this evil looking cabin that we recorded this record in. There are some pictures that are funny now, like one of Jimi just staring into me.
Ingman: There were a few songs that we had just changed completely, and Aaron had written drums on his computer, which is, like, not something that a human being can play and he was like, “So you gotta learn this!”
Gossett: But that’s why it’s so great! It made the recording process pretty interesting. I love how the record just has that feel of fall, when we recorded it. And just that, every time I look at it I’m instantly put back into that scenario.
Musser: So what does the songwriting process look like for Blis.? I know, obviously, a lot of the lyrical content was stuff with Atticus, but where does it go from there?
Gossett: essentially it starts acoustic, or I’m just on my computer and something weird happens and that becomes a song. I’ll try to throw together a very basic skeleton to show them so they aren’t coming in totally blind. It usually has some mumblings of a melody on it or what I want to do, and we just take it and tear it apart and kinda put it back together. It’s usually about six months on the computer and then another six months in the practice space.
Musser: So you did that livestream the other day, I didn’t recognize the song you opened with. Was it new?
Gossett: Okay, that song. We recorded that song for our new record and didn’t end up using it because we couldn’t figure out where to put it in the tracklisting, so our label kinda pushed us to just hold onto it and maybe use it as a b-side or a hidden track on a re-release one day. But it’s one of my favorite songs so when the session came up and we were trying to think of songs to do, I hadn’t played any of these songs acoustically in so long, so trying to go back and devolve them to what they started as, it was nearly impossible—and that song was already in its untouched state; so I was like, fuck it I’ll play it.
Ingman: that’s one of [about two], that we recorded.
Gossett: Yeah, the other one we didn’t even finish tracking vocals on it. The song was great, but it didn’t belong on the record. The record has this feeling, and that song was the odd one out.
Musser: The record definitely has a collective feel. I read all the interviews and reading about what you were saying about why it came to be…I don’t want to bore you to death with the same questions, but I’m definitely curious. Is there anything you did want to say about the lyrical content and themes?
Gossett: At first when we were doing interviews, I was trying to be pretty open about the lyrics and that kind of bit me in the ass a little bit. My girlfriend’s family got wind of the entire record. I tried to spare even Washed Up Emo with some of the details ’cause I think I’ve done enough damage, so honestly, I’d rather leave the rest up to interpretation. I think it’s pretty obvious what the general message is.
Musser: So you guys were picked up by Sargent House really quick, almost instantly after Soft Speak Records put out that first EP.
Gossett: Yeah, Soft Speak did the first EP officially under the name Blis.
Musser: Did you have stuff before that?
Gossett: Yeah, but you’ll never find it. [laughs]
Ingman: We have wiped it off the internet.
Gossett: There’s actually a really old acoustic version of “Dumb” that opened up an old EP years ago. That song has been in the family for, you know…that was one of the first songs I ever wrote.
Musser: How did Sargent House find you guys?
Gossett: I’m a huge fan of Sargent House, always have been. I was pretty obsessed in high school. When we started taking Blis. more seriously, Michael Crino [Soft Speak Records] reached out and got us some great press. And then on our Facebook one day, Kathy from Sargent House reached out and asked about our plans for our next release. I was just like, “is this even real?” So that was crazy. And then I found out I was having a kid a few weeks later. It was a very weird time in my life. Just strange feelings all around, it was kind of a blur.
Musser: Well it obviously worked out for the best
Gossett: Yeah Kathy’s great, she honestly does more than we do for this band.
Musser: What’s it like touring with Microwave?
Gossett: It’s awesome, Nathan and I have been hanging out since like 2013, and we’ve known the Big Jesus guys off and on for ever. We’re all best friends, we can fart in front of each other. [laughs]
Musser: Yeah, touring with your best friends is the best.
Gossett: We actually tried to organize a camping trip.
Ingman: You mean your tarp idea?
Gossett: Tarp idea! We’re gonna take all the vans, duct tape a tarp across all of them. Open the doors to all the vans, put a grill outside.
Musser: So like a giant blanket fort?
Both: Exactly, yeah.
Blis.’ No One Loves You is an unapologetic recount of Gossett coming to terms with the past two years. It’s a blanket of bad luck laid atop ten songs that merge mathy emo and grunge in a refreshing, creative way. Listen to it here.
Chris Musser | @ChrisMustard
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