Picks to Click
The SXSW Class of 2002
The Gloria Record
Wednesday, March 13, Red Room (Midnight)
You can't blame the Gloria Record for wanting to distance themselves from their past in the seminal emo group Mineral. After all, Thom Yorke probably doesn't want to talk about "Creep" anymore, either.
Yet while the Radiohead anthem was quickly dismissed as a one-hit-wonder, Mineral's fans kept expecting more of the same-old quasi-punk melodramatics out of the Austin group that, along with Sunny Day Real Estate and Cap'n Jazz, helped put emo on the map. Mineral's reputation grew to the point where Epitaph released their final album Endserenading posthumously in 1998, knowing there would be no accompanying tour. It was that same reputation that eventually constricted frontman Chris Simpson and bassist Jeremy Gomez, who had more ambitious musical ideas in mind.
"When we were writing the second Mineral record, we'd be working on ideas that were really different," says Simpson. "Phrases would be thrown around like, 'I just don't think that's Mineral.' That's when I realized that I wouldn't be happy in the band in the long run."
It didn't take long after Mineral's 1997 demise for Simpson and Gomez to found the more sedate, atmospheric Gloria Record. What has taken an eternity in bandspeak is the completion of their first full-length album, Start Here, which comes out May 14 on Brooklyn's Arena Rock Recording Company. It's the culmination of a two-year writing and recording process that had the band trekking from Austin to Nebraska and back several times in their quest to fully capture the band's dense mood-scapes.
With the assistance of Lincoln, Neb.-based producer Mike Mogis, the Gloria Record has created a lush, expansive world of sound where Brian Houtman's omnipresent keyboards meld with Simpson's sonorous vocals in a stirring alignment as a variety of elements drop in and out of the mix. It's their OK Computer, an apt description considering Simpson's vaguely Yorke-like voice.
Mogis, who's had the midas touch in the past couple of years with fellow Nebraska bands Bright Eyes, the Faint, and Desaparecidos (Mogis is a member of Lullaby for the Working Class), produced the band's buried-treasure EP, A Lull in Traffic, in early 2000, but that experience was "a different ballgame," says Gomez. "We had those songs pretty much ready to go when we walked through the door."
Only now, after four-plus years together as a band, longer than the entire lifespan of Mineral, are the five members of the Gloria Record -- Simpson, Gomez, Houtman, guitarist Brian Hubbard, and drummer Brian Malone -- comfortable enough to throw themselves into the communal frying pan. Mogis was the project foreman as the band fleshed out, deconstructed, and recombined songs like "I Was Born in Omaha," a straightforward, voice-and-acoustic ballad that expands into a vivid seven-minute tableau, propelled by a solid backbeat, and drenched in the honey-soaked atmospherics that have become the band's calling card.
"I think that's what makes it a more diverse record," says Simpson. "All the songs are built around different instruments."