Interview with Jordan Gatesmith of HOWLER

After seeing Howler play an in-store at Other Music promoting their debut album, America Give Up (Rough Trade Records), I knew that I wanted to feature them on Hook and Line.  Later that week my roommate Andrea  and I headed to the Lower East Side’s Piano’s where we met their lead singer, Jordan, for an interview and talked about the beginnings of Howler, Jordan's early songwriting days, college and more. -Keba Robinson, photos by Andrea Tults

K: So How did you guys start your band?
JG: I don’t know, when people ask that question it’s like everyone wants a  Cinderella story. Like “oh it was just a perfect match.” But, it’s really boring, a very boring story.

K: Were you guys just friends?
JG: No, we weren’t even friends, that’s how boring it is. We didn’t really know each other until we were all 18. We just kind of played around in Minneapolis in different bands. And I was just like – “Oh I wrote this music” and I met these guys who were  really good musicians. And I was like, “yeah I’ll play in your band.”

K: Have you been in other bands before?
JG: Yeah, many other bands, hundreds of bands.

K: How old were you when you started your first band?
JG: I was fourteen.

K: What was it called?
JG: Pits. Yeah my first band was called Pits. My first real band. Well, it wasn’t real, we only had like three songs.

K: What kind of music was it?
JG: It was punk rock, it was really raw, and terrible (laughs). Actually no, it was actually kind of good. I’m sort of proud of those recordings. Sometimes I go back and listen to demos of when I was like fifteen or sixteen and I’m like “this is shit”…but stuff from when I was fourteen, I still think that it’s kinda cool.

K: It’s always weird to listen to old recordings.
JG: Yeah sometimes it’s really awkward.

K: Yeah and your voice is all weird.
JG: I know, you’re voice is all cracky.

K: When did you start playing guitar?
JG: Fourteen. I had lessons for a while. But I did a lot of self teaching. I did lessons for about 6 months.
I have a question for you guys, what school do you go to? Or do you go to school?

K: Cooper Union.
JG:  You go to Cooper? That’s awesome. Do you like it there?
Andrea: It’s awesome
JG: That’s awesome. Cooper is like a really cool school.
A: I’m surprised you know about Cooper Union.
K: Yeah most people don’t know about Cooper Union.
JG: I just know it’s a really good art school.

K: Did you go to college at all?
JG: For one year, I dropped out.

K: What did you study?
JG: I was an English/Lit major.

K: So you wanted to write?
JG: I was just really interested in literature theory. Kind of geeky -- but I like to read a lot so I was like “well maybe I can make a living from there”, ya know?

K: What are your favorite books?
JG: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver is one of my favorites.  It’s not really a book. It’s an 80’s collection of short stories. He’s just a really great American short story writer. I like it a lot.

K: Do you write short stories at all?
JG: Not at all. I try poetry once in a while. Not in a lyrical form, but poetry poetry. I’m not very good though. I’m alright.

K: But I mean, you write songs.
JG: Yeah but that’s different. I really want to get better at lyrics and poetry. But I’m 19, so I’m giving myself a little more time to grow.

K: What’s it like in Minnesota, is there a lot of music there?
JG: Yeah, it’s weird, it’s a really good music town but when it comes to rock music it’s kind of hard to get gigs, kind of hard to get known. My theory is, in Minnesota, every house has a basement, every apartment complex has a basement, so every one in five people has a drum set so there are a lot of bands. +++