By Jess Goulart
Photo courtesy of Tori Parham
The foursome out of Providence, RI known as Gymshorts is living proof that punk isn’t dead, it’s evolved.
The drums and bass will still pile drive you like it’s nothing, but you’ll land on soft surf guitar riffs. Devin Demers (guitar), Sarah Greenwell (guitar), Mike Ferschke (drums), and Trevor White (bass) each bring their own tastes to the table, so that metal and jazz influences combine to deliver a teeth-twisting angst that hits the spot for serious rockage.
Their debut album No Backsies! (released in February) may be lyrically sparse, but Devon’s voice doesn’t need much to convince you of mayhem. BTR caught up with Devon and Sarah to chat about hating parents and weird house parties with hula-hoopers.
What are your backgrounds as musicians and how did you all meet?
Sarah Greenwell: The three of them – – Devon, Trevor, and Mike – – have been playing in different bands together for a while. I’ve done some other stuff but nothing too crazy. Trevor and Mike are both high school jazz band musicians, and they all knew each other from growing up together. I met Devon at a party.
We formed July 20th of 2013, it was our first show.
What sort of music do you guys listen to, any big influences?
SG: I listen to a lot of Katastrophy Wife. I like a lot of random shit though.
Any major influences for your album No Backsies?
SG: I don’t wanna sound obnoxious but its not like I hear a song and think ‘oh I this makes me want to right a song like this.’ I don’t think that’s really how it works.
Devin Demers: Yeah, I mean we listen to different stuff. I’m really into old stuff, from Savage to Zeppelin to hard rock and roll. It’s just a creating mix of things. Our drummer is really into grim and metal, and Trevor is really jazz influenced and listens to Miles Davis and classical all the time. And Sarah has listened to everything from early ‘90s punk to things that are happening now. So it’s a weird collection of music that comes together. Just a little bit of what everyone has to offer. Trevor always will pulls out these awesome McCartney bass lines and we’ll just go with it.
Any particular vibe you are going for with No Backsies?
DD: Rock and roll, kind of angry but not serious. Like sarcastic angry. It’s really strange because how we write songs is so ridiculous.
DD: Sarah will just say some random thing like, I dunno, whatever one of the songs may be. And then off of that one thing she says we write an entire song.
So lyrics first?
DD: It’s a bit of both. Sometimes I’ll write a random riff and we’ll write some lyrics to go with. That song “Daylight Savings” that’s on the album—we just started singing that at a bar because it happened to be daylight savings that night and we were like oh my god… we have to make that into a song.
Album artwork for No Backsies!
Any especially creatively inspired moments on the album?
DD: Well, when you’re younger you kind of suck at writing songs, because you can’t really play. So when you get older it’s kind of like a throwback to when you were a teenager, writing about how you hate your parents and they’re so wrong, except you’re better so you can elaborate on that feeling. You’ve been working at it.
Any favorite songs off the album?
DD: I really like “Vibrator”! Everyone else seems to like “You Olneyville Once” ‘cuz I wrote it [laughs]. But no, every song I like, otherwise I wouldn’t have put it on the album.
What was the recording process like?
DD: Jared Mann at Blanketfort Records in Providence recorded it. I hate recording. I can’t stand it. We did record it live, so that helped a lot, but being able to go back and change what it sounds like… I hate that. Like being able to say to yourself ‘oh I missed that little part let me go back and change it’… that makes me angry.
You’d rather play through and have all the mistakes stay?
DD: Pretty much. I’d rather it be raw. Which, in the future, I think we’ll go that route and try to get it to sound more raw.
So did you leave it alone from the original recording or did you mix it?
DD: There wasn’t anything crazy. Once we recorded all the parts it was just a matter of mastering and getting all the levels right, just mixing over and over again until you’re kind of like, ‘I don’t even know what I’m listening to any more.’ It was a lot of me and Jared sitting down and making sure the things that we wanted to be more present in the song were there, and the rhythms were right and drive-y.
Could you share a favorite band moment?
SG: I have one! We went to this crazy after party in Georgia. They invited us back to their house and they said they had like five couches where we could crash so we were really excited. So we get in the car and we’re driving to the address they told us and it was THREE wrong addresses before we got there. So by the time we got there we were already kind of like, ‘what the hell.’ But so we show up and they were all in the living room hula-hoping. And the couches were in the living room. So we couldn’t sleep. And they wouldn’t give us any beer, so we couldn’t party. It was really weird. So we ended up drinking a five hour energy and driving to Nashville at four in the morning because we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re really not gonna get sleep here.’
So is there another album in the works?
SG: We kind of wanna do it the opposite way this time. We want to tour and practice and get all the songs super tight, then make an album. For No Backsies, we had only played each song a total of five times before putting them on the album. So I think we’re gonna try and start getting them all down this summer.
Anything else you wanna say to fans on an ending note?
DD: Come out to shows and hang! That’s why we’re here. Play shows, have fun, and get other people to have fun.
Or check them out live:
June 18 2014- Firehouse 13- Providence, RI
June 19 2014- The Middle East Upstairs- Cambridge, MA
June 20 2014- Don Pedro’s- Brooklyn, NY