Cleveland sits on the southern shore of Lake Erie. And though the Ohio city is no beach town, it’s here that Gabe Fulvimar makes his hazy surf pop as Gap Dream. Fulvimar has played in bands before, even occupying a spot in the Black Keys on the group’s first album, but it’s his recent solo material that’s been catching ears.
Burger released a Gap Dream cassette this January, and the label will put out the LP version of those tracks July 17. Suicide Squeeze has also gotten involved and will release the CD version this summer, as well as a 7″ of new material later this year. We gave Fulvimar a call on a recent Friday afternoon to find out more about the guy behind this happily floating, swimming pool music before he headed to see Spiritualized live, for the first time since 1999, in Detroit that night.
What do you think of the new Spiritualized album?
I like what I’ve heard so far. I’ve only heard a few tracks. I think with a lot of bands like that from that era, obviously bands I listened to a lot in high school, I have a special place in my heart for a lot of their records. So for me it’s never gonna compare to Ladies And Gentlemen. That’s a really good record.
Yeah, if those records catch you at a particular time, like in high school or middle school or something, it’s like chasing the dragon: You can never get that same feeling again, you know?
Yeah, totally. I mean like, I’m 31, so, when I was in high school it was a lot of Pavement and Sonic Youth–all the classics. That’s the thing, you know, Sonic Youth will come out with a new record, and everybody’s all stoked about it, and I’ll listen to it, and I’m like, “Aw man, it’s not as good as Sister.”
Now, Pavement, Sonic Youth, even Spirtualized: Do you feel like those sounds that you grew up with influence how you approach music now?
Oh yeah, Sonic Youth was how I learned to play guitar. I first started playing guitar when I was in fourth grade, and it was just nothing more than taking a few lessons and having a guitar and learning some notes from “Enter Sandman” or something. It wasn’t anything serious. But when I was in high school I started listening to Sonic Youth, like early Sonic Youth, and I noticed a common theme with a lot of those bands is that the songwriting was so simple, and I could tell like, “Oh these people don’t know what they’re doing.” [Laughs] They do now, but they didn’t when they started out. So to me that was like, “Hey, anybody can do it if they want to.”
Were you in bands before going solo with Gap Dream?
I was in bands and stuff but nothing that anyone would have heard of. Well, I’m lying when I say that. I was in the Black Keys for a minute on their first record. I’m credited on there. I’m really good friends with Pat [Carney]; we’re both from Akron. I don’t really like to tell a lot of people that…I know it’s silly I just said it in an interview. [Laughs] I don’t mind if you include it. People know it. To me it’s kind of important, and I’m not trying to dog them at all–I love Pat, I’ve known him forever, and he’s one of my best friends–but I don’t want that to be like, “Hey! Check this guy out!”
“He was in the Black Keys!”
“Oh you like them? Then you’ll like this! Even though it’s completely unrelated musically!”
Fair enough. Burger put out your cassette this January. How did you hook up with that label?
I built this weird email relationship with them just by ordering stuff all the time. I ended up just sending them “Cover It Up,” and I was getting all freaked out. I was like, “Aw, man I’m going to be mad at them now because they’re not gonna like the song, and I’m not gonna order anything, and I just ruined my favorite thing.” And two days later I get a message on Facebook from Sean [Bohrman of Burger], and it was all in caps saying, “THIS RULES. SEND US MORE.” The album kind of became this thing where they were getting it as it was being made. So I’d send them some songs, and finally after a while he was like, “Let’s do a tape.”
What kind of instruments were you using on these tracks?
Well, I bought a new computer a year ago, and I stole Ableton Live, and I was messing around with it. I was doing electronic stuff before with this project that I called Warm, and it was just like synth, kind of kraut-y, early Kraftwerk style, really melodic, me having fun, really. And then I had this mixer, and I was just sitting there one day and was like, “I want to start recording rock ‘n’ roll songs again.” I just kind of did everything in the computer. All those drum parts aren’t really a drum; they’re a drum machine. I just EQ’d the shit out of it, compressed it. I even went so far to mess with the timing and the hits on each bar to make it sound real. I sound like such a dork. And then my buddy Greg, he plays drums in the live version of Gap Dream, he’s like, “You obviously have no familiarity with the drum kit because the drum parts don’t make any sense. You need to be like an octopus to play them right.”
I did all the guitar and keyboard stuff myself, and all the bass is done with this Fender Rhodes plug-in. I just blew it out to make it sound thick. I tried as hard as I could to make it sound like it was recorded somewhere, and I think it worked because a lot of the time people are pretty surprised when I tell them I did it in my bedroom at four in the morning.