Recently Brooklyn, NY’s Cinema Cinema (Ev Gold and Paul Claro) kindly contributed to MIA. Please enjoy the following Q&A below.
Listen :: DryDive (Exile Baby)
1. Please share your earliest memory involving or creating music.
Ev Gold: Frank Zappa. How lucky am I, that my 1st musical memory is Frank Zappa? It really speaks volumes about the complexity of his music and how said complexity leads to almost instant appeal to the untrained, virgin ears of a 3 year old. The perfection found within a symphony. Also, years later, I can see how deeply it affected me, that shit drenched my core. My father is an artist and musician and always had impeccable taste. He taught me how to play guitar at 14 and he taught me about Zappa at 3. I have to say, when it comes to my early musical life, I really think specifically of those 2 men. I was running around the house and bouncing to the “Apostrophe/Over-Nite Sensation” record in my youngest memories and getting my mind blown… and I still stay away from that yellow snow.
Paul Claro: I remember playing along with songs my dad would write when I was young, before I could even really play drums. I remember feeling encouraged by the fact that even though I couldn’t really play, I could still create something stable enough to follow along with my father. It made me believe that I really could be a musician. Looking back on it, this was my first lesson in creation, that creation was not purely an individual experience… that even noise can be considered artistic.
2. May you share about your academic background concerning music? Did you study formally? Any special mentors?
Ev Gold: I kind of referenced this a second ago, my Pop – he taught me how to play. I asked for a guitar when I was 12, then I reconnected with my father the next year and he was a shit-hot guitar player. I always hoped I could be that good. It took a while, but I got there.
I never took a formal lesson or anything like that. My father taught me and I picked the rest up by ear, through the experience of being in and around bands since I was a kid. When I was in my 1st band in the 90’s – I was just a singer and didn’t have the confidence in my playing to take it outside my room, wherein I would sit with candles lit and notebooks out and write obsessively. I would like, challenge myself to write an album’s worth of material sometimes over a 1 or 2 night stretch. I would sit down and chart out song titles, themes and try to explore them, usually winding up with about 2 really great songs out of 10 or 11. Then I started to use those little sessions as blueprint and groundwork. I would fuse the best pieces of the songs together and make mini-epic’s. I was basically writing “American Idiot”-style mini-opera’s when i was 16 and 17 – as practice. Wow, i am glad I don’t do that anymore!! (Laughs) Some of those bits have even stood the test of time straight through to today, popping their heads out in new cinema riffs and sections. we have a new song called “1st Writings on Levitation”, that could very well wind up on the next cinema record – if not the one after that – and that one came about from that era.
Paul Claro: I had some lessons as a child but soon found myself learning by ear. When I first started playing around age 9 or 10 I found it hard to focus on the science and structure of music and wanted to create my own ideas. Once I realized creation was boundless, that’s when my musicianship was taken to the next level. Keith Moon is the only mentor any drummer really needs.
3. If you had to explain your music to a stranger, how would you do so?
Ev Gold: Fugazi and the Flaming Lips are hanging out in a dark basement that used to be the MC5’s practice room and Muhammed Ali is training in the corner while listening to Rage Against the Machine and then Black Flag walks in and challenges everyone to a fistfight, mayhem ensues and a new sonic landscape is uncovered. After a lot of cuts, bruises and stitches – the whole lot of them recover in a big white room where Quadrophenia and OK Computer are mashed up by Danger Mouse and pumped through My Bloody Valentine’s amp stack – thats where Cinema, Cinema is born.
4. What are your favorite instruments to work with and what aspects do you like most about using them?
Paul Claro: Other than drums, I’m partial to wind instruments. I play a few and love their earthy quality. Also things that are percussive and tribal. Anything real, raw and unprocessed.
Ev Gold: My effects pedals are the extension of my instrument (guitar) that I take my most pride in and have my most fun with. I do believe that my guitar skills are very tasty and by themselves, they can stand up – but in a 2 piece i feel the need to really use the pedals as a whole other instrument. I play guitar as much with my feet as I do with my hands and ears. To string together different combinations of pedals and create new textures and sounds that no one else, or at least none of my current contemporaries are achieving, that’s what I strive for.
I am proud of the fact and I can say easily with clear conscience, that no one on earth can properly transcribe the guitar notations needed to duplicate my playing on Exile Baby. Only I can do that because I use combinations that aren’t duplicating or replicating my favorite sounds – I am working with all my might to invent new sounds.
5. What are your inspirations?
Paul Claro: Bands that take chances: Black Flag, The Who, Radiohead, TV on the Radio, The Flaming Lips.
6. When you’re working are you fully involved in what you’re doing or is your mind already planning ahead?
Ev Gold: It’s funny – what Paul and I do is so much in the moment – it lives so much in that origin of jazz, just breathing and moving of its own accord – yet, he and I are so focused and know each other so well – that its almost like a mental game of chess – because as we are enveloped in moment and putting our faces directly into the waves ahead – we always have a grip on the other ones shoulder with an eye on the direction of the currents.
In different bands and in different formats that Cinema, Cinema has existed in the past – i could never have said that we are like organized confusion – but that’s what Paul and i achieve – its in the realm where fate exists – undefinable. –we aren’t as much fully involved as we actually become the music and we let it tell us where to go – luckily it speaks the same language at the same time in to both of our ears and
7. On average, how long does it take for you to create a song?
Ev Gold: Its a quick process. I mean, everytime I pick up the guitar I generally start with an exercise, that’s basically a jazz thing where I just put the guitar on my lap or strap it on my back. Then I immediately channel the energy around me in the room and start to play whatever comes to my mind and allow it to pump down through my fingertips to the neck, wherever it is supposed to go. I don’t pick up the guitar and start to finger out someone else’s lick. I just figured out or start strumming the same old chord pattern from one of my pre-existing songs – I just squeeze out new ideas with a lot of regularity. Its like an ever-evolving state of songwriting. I find myself coming across upwards of 2 or 3 really good riffs or chord progressions a week of ideas I would like to hear on a record by a band that I like – therefore, that band in my head gets to become my band.
Unfortunately, I do not presently have a good home recording/demoing capability at Cinema HQ (which is my apartment/crash space – that’s 100% dedicated to all things Cinema. Put it this way, there are enough amps to power a solid backline for a Melvins tour but there isnt a bed – so i can’t just call it “my apartment” in good and regular conscience – its just Cinema HQ). I don’t have my old little crappy tape recorded even – that was lost in a flood – so I am constantly grabbing hold of these little ideas and the ones that resonate the most are the ones that my brain will decide to brand into the important category and hopefully Paul is either on his way over to pick me up for practice or a gig or we are about to meet up about the band and I can show him the idea while its fresh – because if it passes his test – a test i trust – an instinctual one – a “shit, that makes my booty move” or “damn, that makes me wanna break a window” kinda test – if it passes – then most likely Cinema is about to have a new song – as soon as the two of us can be behind our instruments together – the music always comes first and rather quickly. Generally then I usually come up with a name for the piece of music – just what it sounds and looks like in my mind – and that is where the lyrics have their first glimpse of life.
8. On the website Music Is Art, our mission is to show how music and art are simply connected. Which albums do you credit as having the biggest influences as far as your life and creativity are concerned?
Ev Gold: This is a fun question and I can easily go on for the rest of the time we have naming records. So I am going to try to keep this to my 5 or 6 most important records based on the profound effect they had on my playing and approach because different records are important for different reasons. Like Liquid Swords by GZA is one of my favorite records of all time – but I don’t know that it is one that has necessarily shaped my playing in a different way. Whereas when I first heard Damaged by Black Flag, I almost fell over because of the guitar sound and choices made by Greg Ginn on that record. You see – so there is a big difference in my mind with “favorite albums” and then ones that are “integral to my playing albums”… so I will choose a few of the ladder. Ok Computer by Radiohead, Black Love by Afghan Whigs, Damaged by Black Flag, White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground, and In On The Kill Taker by Fugazi.
Paul Claro: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen and the E street band was my introduction to music outside of what was being played on pop radio in the mid 90’s and it really began my fascination with music. Grace by Jeff Buckley, this record changed my outlook on music. After hearing Buckley’s beautiful voice I quickly grew out of my pop rock phase and never listened to the radio again. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, this record opened my mind to a whole world of underground, avant & open indie music and I’ve never looked back…just amazing music with no boundaries, ah Jeff Mangum is the man! Finally, OK Computer by Radiohead was the first time I realized that it was OK to use computers in music. Before hearing this record I was strictly against bands who used electronics in their music. But Radiohead’s brilliant mastery of the art showed my the endless possibilities computers can attribute to music.
09. If you could have a drink with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and what would you like to ask them?
Paul Claro: Daniel Johnston. What is the song “Walking the Cow” actually about?
Ev Gold: Shannon Hoon. I miss him a lot. I don’t know – I feel a special kinship with him. I feel like he’s an older brother that I don’t have or wish I could have had. He just seemed fearless about everything and that inspires me. I have such a respect for him and his work and especially because I think it is mostly misunderstood and not represented correctly. Everyone thinks that Blind Melon was a “jam band” or “light rock” because of No Rain – meanwhile – those dudes where one of the most talented powerhouse bands of the 90s. They sounded like no one else and the growth that was exhibited between blind melon and soup, they’re first two records are just exponential.
10. What do you hope people take from seeing you perform live?
Paul Claro: I want them to see that a band can be more than a trained performing machine. That it can be a living and breathing entity that can grow and expand in front of your eyes.
Ev Gold: I hope that get the feeling like they were a part of it – like at a sporting event – when your team wins – you win – you feel it on the deep personal level, its a part of you. I know what we do can be a bit challenging and almost “too” intense or scary in an old school way that we are proud of. I mean, a typical cinema show isnt a love-in from the 6o’s, its usually like a bare knuckle brawl where your hero is taking a beating but giving one back even harder. I want for our live experience to be one that shakes our crowd to its core. Whether you are standing along the sides of the walls observing, in the pit freaking, or standing as close as possible to hear it all or as far away as possible to protect your ears. We are loud. I want people to feel like for a moment, like they were able to attach to those two guys up there and be in it.
11. What has been your favorite experience thus far in your career?
Ev Gold: That’s a tough one. I want it to be typical, like – when we pulled into Kentucky for the 1st time, this past January of 2009 – to play SouthGate House – our name was up on the marquee outside. You know, miles away from home on tour in a tiny mazda in the freezing cold of January, that kinda shit goes a long way. We had another moment like that back in September, in our hometown as we headlined the Blender Theater at the Gramercy. Our name was at the top of the big marquee outside, a marquee I had walked by numerous times in the past but really, its the heart of experiences that we are in it for.
Like the night that we got stuck in a horror show of rain and traffic heading to Boston. A 3 and 1/2 hour drive became 6 and 1/2 hours – while Paul and I tried to stay as sane as we could in the car, I booked us 2 huge shows (opening for the Giraffes) on the phone. Whilst hardcore traveling, that nite we had to sleep in the car with all the gear…and we needed a great and lucrative night the following night of the tour, if we were to survive, literally – and we got one in Northampton, MA at The Elevens. It was a real magical night, that was memorable by far more than your typical marquee moment.
Paul Claro: We drove up to a motel in the middle of a cold November night in Maine. It was our first attempt at touring, and we decided to go north. We got in the room and there was no heat. It was so cold that steam was literally coming off our bodies. Yet, this was one my fondest memories of being in this band. Earlier that night, we played a gig in a strange town in front of a strange crowd and we had one of the most successful shows of our young career there. It was this sense of victory that pushed us to work harder for the next year playing more and more out of state gigs all along the east coast and really learning how to tour, by jumping in and getting our hands dirty and taking chances.
12. What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?
Ev Gold: Rent “Spinal Tap”. Read “Get In The Van”. Expect nothing. Risk everything.
13. What exciting projects do you have coming up?
Ev Gold: Been waiting for that question! We are very very excited to have released a live EP last week, called the 57 EP. We are releasing it ourselves on our own via the Lumiere Label. We are doing it all, controlling it all and we are very proud of the whole deal. Its culled from our 57th show of the year, that we did back in July at Southpaw in Brooklyn. By having released it on 11/24/09 – we made it by 1 day of releasing 2 records in 1 year! EXILE BABY was released on 11/25/08.
2 records in 1 year and over 100 shows, need we say more. Ok, we will. Its funny, what happened was the soundguy at Southpaw always asks during soundcheck if you would like your set recorded for a few bucks. On that particular night, we said, “thanks, but no thanks -we are broke” and turned him down, being in the middle of a short 3 show tour, we really didn’t see the point in spending. You want to make money on the road, its not a vacation, you don’t pick up souvenirs – its business. We did the show and afterwards, a buddy of mine – who was seeing Cinema, Cinema for the 1st time live came up to me and exclaimed how much he loved us and what we do. He had asked the sound guy if he was recording and he was, so he bought the disc from him. I was flattered and didn’t think much of hearing it – since we had just played and the thought of releasing a live record hadn’t even crossed our minds at all at that point. Then a few shows later – my buddy (Sammy is his name, he deserves to be named here as it was he who by fate, made this live ep a possibility) came out to another gig and gave me a copy of the Southpaw recording and it just jumped up outta the speakers and really sounded like a good representation of what we were doing at that point of the year. We had kicked around the idea with our publicist about putting out a new single to garner some press attention and we thought, lets put on a live b-side or 2 – so we went back to that recording from 7/16 and in combing over it numerous times – the idea grew out of a new single with an extra live cut to a live EP culled from the whole soundboard recording.
We include live takes on 3 of the songs off of Exile Baby (“DryDive”, “I Don’t Wanna Be Yr Boyfriend”, and “The Natural/RX”) and 2 new songs (“The Cycles & Territories of Winters Past” and “Phonecall”).
Paul Claro: With the surplus of new material we have and with our plan being to make a new record in the early half of 2010 – we thought this would make the most sense, to really put out a proper portrait of what the songs off Exile Baby have grown into and to include 2 new songs, being that we have so many new songs – we don’t know what we will include on the next record and what we won’t – so at least these 2 new ones will see the light of day on this EP.
14. May you have a particular inspired quote, statement or favorite words to live by?
Paul Claro: “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” Henry Rollins
15. Please share a mix tape within a theme of your choice.
Ev Gold: Songs that shaped me at 13 years old, (circa 1991).
1-“Like A Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan
2-“Its So Easy” – Guns N Roses
3-“Breed” – Nirvana
4-“Break On Through” – The Doors
5-“Anarchy in the UK” – The Sex Pistols
6-“Jumping Jack Flash” – The Rolling Stones
7-“Alive” – Pearl Jam
Paul Claro: Songs I Like to play on Guitar.
1-Jeff Buckley-“Last Goodbye”
2-Daniel Johnston-“Walking the Cow”
3-Dave Matthews Band-#41
4-Pearl Jam-“Elderly Woman”
5-The Smiths-“There is a Light that Never goes Out”
6-Neutral Milk Hotel-“Holland, 1945”
7-Bob Dylan-“Times They are a-Changin”