20 Questions: Gauntlet Hair

We called this avant-rock duo ones to watch in 2011, and boy were we right: the pair's new disc is a fascinating mixture of classic songwriting and textural ambiance. Answering PopMatters' 20 Questions, the band reveals a personal affinity with Charlie Brown and how the two biggest constants in their lives are "cigarettes and turkey sandwiches" ...

Gauntlet Hair


Label: Dead Oceans
US Release Date: 2013-07-16
UK Release Date: 2013-07-15

When Gauntlet Hair wound up making the Top Ten of PopMatters' list of The Best New & Emerging Artists of 2011, we described this duo as "absolutely obsessed with sonic texture, the band looks to create guitar sounds that are unlike anything people have heard before, all laid over an immaculately-crafted set of storming, reverb-drenched electro beats, ultimately giving us an album that sounds like it belongs in the electronica section of your media library when in fact the group has made an album out of nothing but guitars, drums, and vocals -- no bass guitars or synths to be found."

Oh how the times have changed.

With the release of this year's Stills, the duo of Andy R. and Craig Nice have taken the inverted-color sound of their debut and instead gone with a style that's darker, more brooding, and with an album that, despite its numerous adventures into ambient texture, still manages to sound warm, inviting, and slowly reveals its surprises after several listens. It's a fascinating step for the acid-washed guitar attack of their debut, but also shows that the group is more than a one-trick pony.

While celebrating the album's victory lap upon release with a boatload of touring, Andy also responding to PopMatters' 20 Questions, here revealing a personal affinity with Charlie Brown, how an art teacher's put-down motivated him to where he is now, and how the two biggest constants in his life are "cigarettes and turkey sandwiches" ...

* * *

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Honestly can't remember the last that did.

2. The fictional character most like you?

I have a pretty strong spiritual connection with Charlie Brown. He seems to have the appropriate response to life.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Couldn't say.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?


5. Your ideal brain food?


7. You want to be remembered for ...?

Still not sure.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Daniel Ash, Steve Austin of Today Is the Day, Krishnamurti, Penny Rimbaud, Vini Reilly, and my mom.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

None. It wouldn't be fun unless it was my own masterpiece.

10. Your hidden talents ...?

Don't really have any ...

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

There are two instances that played a heavy and influential hand in my life. The first would have to be my high school art teacher telling me, "At this rate, you'll never amount to anything", regarding me never making my deadlines and turning in unmotivated art. I decided soon after that fine art wasn't going to be my field. Then a few years later I had a chat with my sound engineering professor because I was concerned about my future and was indecisive of what I wanted to do with my life. He told me to "drop out", which I immediately did. That's about the time that Craig and I started to focus on music.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

It's hard to say what the best has been seeing as though I generally sell everything soon after purchasing, borrowing, or stealing it -- so, I try not to get too attached to things.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or ...?

I wonder how many musicians you've interviewed answered Armani. I alter almost all of my clothes, so whatever I end up with after making the final stitch is what I feel best in.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

I'd pass. I don't think any famous musicians, artists, or other icons really need any more fancy dinners. Regardless, I am much too antisocial to be hosting a dinner party.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?


16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?


17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or ...?

This changes daily but I suppose what has held true for the past decade are cigarettes and turkey sandwiches.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Somewhere in-between. Somewhere cold. I can't afford AC.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Nothing. No offense to Obama or anything ... I just don't really care much for politics.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Putting together our live show.

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