Gemini Club reflect on implementing technology for successful benefits

Gemini ClubPhotos by Maggie Corwin // Written by Molly Kish //

Showbams interviewed Tom Gavlin and Gordon Bramli from Gemini Club before their show on January 17th at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. Recognized for their modified audio techniques and improvisational live performances, Gemini Club thrives in a state of chaos, which they claim is imperative to their success. The band’s been a topic of interest on several indie blogs and music websites and has been a consistent recommendation from my colleagues.

They took the stage in SF, playing to a sold-out Popscene audience suited for battle with an armada of franken-synths and an attitude to match. Before blowing the minds of a fully packed Rickshaw Stop that evening, I got a chance to talk with both Tom and Gordon about what makes their band “scary,” in a good way.

Gemini Club

Showbams: Tom, I know that you met Dan back in college at Columbia where you bonded over electronic music, shared demos back and forth and eventually met Gordon and got him on board for live shows. What type of projects were you guys working on pre-Gemini Club?

Gavlin: We were in a band together, called the Balkans. It was really straight forward: two guitars, a synthesizer, bass and drums. I was a very bad guitar player then, so they we were like “maybe we could just go as a four piece” and I was like “okay.” Then I got into electronic music on my own. I started making demos, and Dan and I had a politics class together. When I had showed him my demo. He was like, “this is good, I like this a lot!” Dan was really getting into electronic music and wanting to do that so he decided to one up me with his own demo, and a week later we we’re at his house up really late, putting some vocals to it and just haven’t stopped.

Gemini Club

Showbams: Gordon, at that time you were doing your own kind of DJ stuff. Were you ever trying to spin in an indie medium or was it something completely different?

Bramli: Yeah, well I had a night at this bar and I was hosting it as well as DJing. It was through friends that I heard Dan and booked him. He DJ’d, and I liked what I saw. Then one day he was like “come over” and he played me some Gemini Club, the early tracks. I enjoyed what I was hearing. He asked me if I wanted to be in the band and I said yes right away.

Showbams: From conception, was the live performance something you all agreed upon would be the main focus of the band, or was it something that just naturally evolved?

Gavlin: To a certain extent, it all starts in the studios with the songs first. Then we figure out how to re-create them live in a way that’s genuine and utilizes to the utmost extent the technology that we implement in our shows. We knew we had the capabilities of exploiting that technology and making it cool. When I say “cool,” it’s because I can sit and bore you for twenty minutes about the complexities of the things that are going on, none of which I do because it scares me. Dan’s rig scares me!

Gemini Club

Showbams: Your live shows are unique, not only in the equipment, but also material and consistently changing nature of your performance. A lot of which has to do with the type of audio tools you’re using, most notably the Gemini Rig. Can you explain what a “rig” is?

Gavlin: So there’s two rigs in the band, Dan has one and Gordon has the other. Baisically we run Ableton Live, and I have an APC 40 and innovation keyboard, and I do samples and beats. With that I am Midi clocked to Dan and he plays the synthesizer and guitar.

I have the master clock and can effect his piano playing, make effects on it and everything. We tilt our gear towards the audience, so they can see what were doing live and it’s very versitile. Each song we can change parts and re-sample, it’s a lot of fun.

Gemini Club

Showbams: Beyond that, you guys also play with another piece of equipment called the Gemini Capsule …

Bramli: So, that’s an eight-step sequencer synthesizer that we’re building with a company called Unitronix, from Chicago. It’s all bulit in Chicago and we’re super proud of it. We’re actually going to launch it this year, right around SXSW.

Showbams: I know this type of equipment allows you to do on the fly re-mixes, which personalizes the experience for audiences on a nightly basis. Conversely though, this makes for a very rigorous tour schedule and is something most bands would shy away from. Do you ever wish that maybe you would of stuck with a simpler set up?

Gavlin: Sure you know, maybe we should’ve stuck to horses instead of making cars. No, not at all.

Gemini Club

Showbams: Is it in anyway nerve-wracking to incorporate such an improv element?

Gavlin: Yes, the rigs scare me … there have been panic attacks during soundchecks (laughs). Today, I had to walk away and do something else. Yes, it’s very scary!

Bramli: The rewards of it being difficult and the element of failure is really important to us, because we thrive on taking such risks. Because when we do succeed, it means that much more to us. It’s real.

Gavlin: Like we were saying, we use this type of equipment for it’s benefits, not to make it easier. People talk about backing tracks and launching clips … however the hell you feel about it, everybody does that! I’m not saying like everyone at some folk festival would do it but it’s you know, how you do it! Do you make it interesting?

Gemini Club

Showbams: Has there ever been a moment that things didn’t pan out the way you had hoped them to?

Bramli: (Laughs) Many times … all the time!

Gavlin: I’ll never forget the time that we were playing in our earlier days when I pulled out a cable, trying to climb up a ladder on a stage and I completely unplugged Gordon’s APC. Which means the music stops. I mean we’ve probably had a good dozen moments where a computer crashes.

During a sold-out show at Lincoln Hall, Gordon’s APC, which normally scrolls through clips as the set progresses, started scrolling on it’s own. I saw this at practice and was like “this is weird,” but figured it’s a bug and takes about two minutes to fix itself. This happened like two days before, and I was OK with it, two minutes we could work with. So playing live, I look over and see the screen scrolling. I’m thinking, okay two minutes I can just chit chat and make jokes. It ended up however, feeling a lot longer.

Bramli: Meanwhile, I’m frantically rebooting, sweating, dying!

Gavlin: But we managed. Once we fixed it and got back on stage, no one even noticed. It was a good feeling! It’s like being sick. I’ve been sick for two days and you just deal with it. You either let it break you down or have it build you up. You learn or quit.

Gemini Club

Showbams: Since 2009, you’ve put out two albums and are currently starting the West Coast leg of your tour, debuting new material throughout. In your blog, you allude to a full-length album in the works. When can we expect more info regarding such?

Gavlin: Yes, we’re working on a full-length record now. We have five tracks written and are playing three of them tonight. We are going into the studio in February following that, and I would expect new music in early summer after South by Southwest.

Gemini Club

After we talked, the guys gushed about how they loved SF “more than they like most people.” They shared stories of their road trip to Sausalito with the founder of Tellason denim and their love/hate relationship with the Midwest.

They’ll be finishing their tour up back at home in early March, diving straight into completing their heavily anticipated full length. After catching their performance at Rickshaw Stop, my prediction is that the boys will be scheduling a return visit out here for festival season.


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