Formed of Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals), Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals), Charlie Landsman (guitar) and Brian Cundiff (drums), Chicago-based Ganser have garnered comparisons to the likes of 90s noise-makers Fugazi, Shellac, and Sonic Youth. The band have recently shared their new album, Just Look at That Sky, via Felte Records and it’s a defiant fusion of jolting rhythms, confrontational vocals and manic riffs.
We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with bassist & vocalist Alicia Gaines to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that she believes have inspired Ganser’s song-writing techniques on their latest record. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch Ganser’s video for ‘Projector’ at the end of this post.
1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Date With a Night’
There is a songwriting mode we’ve utilized at times which I’ve jokingly called “Doom Hoedown” or “Doom Shuffle.” Before really getting into The Birthday Party and their ilk, my first concert back home with my high school friends was Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I remember being blown away by their raw delivery and Karen O’s command of her particular vocal style. It took us a while to tease out what songs lean into Nadia and my strengths as vocalists, but man the music’s like a glove for O’s voice here. Listening to this really makes me miss the chaos of playing live.
2. Ultravox – ‘Distant Smile’
For Ganser, it’s about contrast. The violence and serenity in this track really compliment each other. Red looks more red against green, and so on. In a way the form of this one is a backwards version of our track ‘Emergency Equipment and Exits’. I love how the back half of this song sounds like its running away from itself.
3. Talking Heads – ‘Life During Wartime’ (Live in Los Angeles 1983)
This live version has an inevitability that’s hard to escape. The faster tempo and incredible work by the band’s support vocalists adds to the urgency on this classic. Tina Weymouth is just a monster. I have a strained and complicated relationship to the history of particularly Black women backup singers for white bands, but my affinity for this song and album (Stop Making Sense) remains.
4. These Immortal Souls – ‘The King of Kalifornia’
When there isn’t really a template for voice or perspective, it’s a journey to find what feels natural or what you need to try on to see how it fits. I think this album (I’m Never Gonna Die Again) is the first time we’ve really waded into “cockiness” as an attitude, which isn’t something women are encouraged to do. It felt really good to really absorb the energy of Rowland and some of the 90’s British bands we love. Bravado feels like a lounge lizard to me. We free associated in that direction and that attitude crept into several songs on our new record.
5. Liars – ‘No.1 Against the Rush’
I’m so amazed every time I look at Liars’ range. I have a soft spot for ambivalent tone bands like Liars and Radiohead have. There’s always a sinister edge, a wistfulness to their music throughout their discography that’s extremely admirable. Our album Just Look at That Sky is really comfortable for ambivalence, but that takes time and living in the grey. We’re just here to eavesdrop.
Thanks to Alicia for sharing her favourite songs with us.
Watch the video for Ganser’s latest single ‘Projector’ below.
Order your copy of Ganser’s new album here.
Photo Credit: Kirsten Miccoli