Analogue Music | The Gloomies

The Gloomies

By Matt Conner

Andy Craig says he's closer than ever to creating the music in his head

This is a far cry from his days as a hired hand, a bassist who bided his time in other bands while writing songs of his own just for the sake of it. For years, Craig played with bands like Guards before a seven-month long tour finally drove him over the edge. He'd hit his limit. Despite the fun of being on the road with friends, Craig says he realized he need something more fulfilling.

Soon thereafter came The Gloomies. Craig has been joined by a rotating cast of characters in the Gloomies since the band debuted in 2015 with the single "LSD". Since then, Craig says he's tried to get the sonic formula just right and he even scrapped an entire album in the process for the sake of getting the vision correct.

The latest Gloomies album (out Friday) is more accomplished than anything in the band's catalog thus far. We recently sat down with Andy to discuss his new LP, ARE WE GETTING BETTER?, and how he found the will to push ahead in the first place.

Analogue: When you're with Guards or other bands, was there a drive during that entire time to eventually do your own thing or did that come later?

Andy Craig: Yeah, I'd always written songs, I guess. That was always just happening. There was a period where I was just happy playing in other people's bands and touring. I was good for a while, but there was a point that I realized that if I was going to be doing this, I needed to do it for myself. I'd been writing so many songs and I just wanted to do something that was creatively sparking my mind instead of just playing bass in some band.

"I realized that if I was going to be doing this, I needed to do it for myself."

Analogue: Do you remember the moment that gave you the will to push ahead?

Andy: It was Guards. Those are good buddies of mine, but we were on tour for seven months straight. I remember I was living in New York at the time but I was never home. I thought, 'If I'm going to be doing this, I want to be the one creating music.' I guess that sparked it. That was all really fun, but when you're on tour, it wasn't necessarily filling a creative void in my life. I was just playing music with my buddies.

Analogue: Was there any conversation there about potentially entering into the creative process there?

Andy: I don't think that was ever an option, really. I also don't think that's something I was ever looking for in that. I love songwriting and Richie, who plays in Guards, that's what he does as well. I completely understand, especially now. When you have a vision for what you want something to be, I think it does work better for you to just have creative control over it.

Analogue: It sounds like you really did learn some good lessons from that time.

Andy: Yeah, The Gloomies have been through a bunch of little time periods I guess. It started as a process where I was writing songs. I tried some collaboration and it didn't work out well. The whole reason you do your music is because you want it to sound a certain way. It's like a painting. If you paint something and have a bunch of different people do it, it's not your vision anymore.

Are We Getting Better Album Art
Are We Getting Better Album Art

Analogue: That's so interesting when you mention that tendency about making art in a different medium.

Andy: Yeah, I mean it's happened obviously in history, but it's normally a one-off thing if an artist was to do that. I feel like a lot of people make art because it's something personal to them yet that can be taken away if the others don't have the same experiences that you do.

Analogue: When you decide to finally make the leap, what were the emotions?

Andy: It felt exciting. When I originally left this first band, it was just a passion project me and my buddy were doing. We had no idea of going on tour or anything. We were just making music. You're not trying to impress anybody or anything at that point. You're just having fun. Then it was like, 'We could probably do this.' Then we did it. When I did The Gloomies, it just felt right to do it. I was just very ready at that point to do something on my own, I guess.

Analogue: You said you'd been writing the whole time, so was there a big backlog of material?

Andy: Oh, I don't even know. There's so much just floating around. [Laughs] It's pretty crazy. When "LSD" and "Groves" came out, there was a full record I scrapped. It was done but it didn't seem quite what I wanted it to be. It just didn't feel right and I didn't want to necessarily to just put out a full record. It felt better to put out an a and b-side single. Some of the songs will still stick around and get reworked and sometimes make a record.

Analogue: Are you still in some ways figuring out what the Gloomies should be?

Andy: What I envisioned when I started doing it is what's happening on this record. It's still not quite there, but it's way, way closer than the other stuff I've done in the past. I've always wanted it to involve electronic drums a bit and there's a lot of synth bass on it, but I also wanted it to have a surf-y feel to it. That came across on this more than some of the stuff in the past. We put out an EP that felt like it was live, but that was never the goal. The Gloomies were never intended to be this rock and roll band. I wanted it to be more bass and beat driven, which it kinda was, but it started to become more rock. Nothing wrong with that, but that's just not what I wanted to do.

Analogue: What keeps you from arriving at that exact point?

Andy: Well, I would say I did exactly what I wanted to do on this record. Obviously songcraft, you get better and better the more you do it, but I love all the electronic drums and the mood to it all. I personally like listening to sadder songs, songs that make someone feel something rather than bubble gum pop. That's what I like listening to, I guess, so this record finally felt more in that direction.

Analogue: I just asked about the direction because you did hedge earlier and say, 'This record was as close...'--

Andy: Well, I've already started recording another record so I guess I'm already onto the next thing which feels even closer. But I will say this was exactly what I'd love to put out.

VISIT: The Gloomies