Johnny Winter’s permanent hair helmet is what brought Andy R. and Craig Nice’s musical project, Gauntlet Hair, to life. The band name, which seems to instill an image of greasy motorcycles, is in striking opposition to the dreamlike music the band creates. The name is something of an inside joke for the guys, who create psychedelic, noise-pop music that glitters across speakers. It’s an ’80s flashback, mixed in with futuristic, electronic beats.
Falling in between Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear and The Durutti Column, the Denver-based (by way of Chicago) duo is preparing for the release of their self-titled debut album. Andy R. of Gauntlet Hair spoke with us about musical friendship, the desire to be nomadic and, yes, having really fucking crazy hair.
ILANA KAPLAN: How did you come up with the name?
ANDY R.: To make a long story short, I went to a record store and I picked out a Johnny Winter record. I brought it up to the counter. I liked it because he had this fucking whacked-out hair on the back of the cover. The guy was like, “Johnny Winter, he’s a freak. He’s got that gauntlet hair.” I’d never heard those two words put together before. It threw me for a loop. I brought it home and told Craig and, I don’t know. We kind of just stuck with us because it’s like a term of endearment with us. Anything that has to do with hair, when we were younger, we had the most intense fucking hair. It was really ridiculous. We used to get made fun of in school for it. It was huge. It’s this bonding term with us, “We’ve got fucking gauntlet hair.” It’s insane.KAPLAN: When did you come up with this?
ANDY R.: It was three years ago now. We had Gauntlet Hair going in Chicago for a little bit. It didn’t really take off until we were out here. We didn’t really do anything with it. We were just playing around with an idea.
KAPLAN: How did you and Craig meet?
ANDY R.: High school. Freshman year.
KAPLAN: And it’s been musical love ever since?
ANDY R.: We started playing pretty much right away. We had a grindcore band.
KAPLAN: What was your original plan, you and Craig? Did you ever think you’d get into music professionally?
ANDY R.: In the back of our minds, that was kind of always the plan. We were so intense about it. We’d get home from school. I’d go to his place. We’d practice in the basement. That’s all we ever talked about. We always had these big aspirations to want to do great things in music. It never seemed possible until we started this project.
KAPLAN: What’s your creative process like when you’re formulating music?
ANDY R.: I’m always definitely toying around with ideas. We always talk about it, really. It just happens. We’re just jamming one day. I have something laid down and vice versa on the computer. Either one of us hears something and gets inspired. It just happens very quickly. I don’t write lyrics first. It just happens.
KAPLAN: What did you think your career would be, when you were at the Art Institute of Chicago?
ANDY R.: We were going to be artists. We were in programs at the Art Institute. We both got accepted, and we were going to start. We got a rehearsal space in the city. Oh god… I can’t even remember the story.
KAPLAN: What has been your biggest challenge so far in the start of your career?
ANDY R.: I think the biggest challenge is just playing a show. We had never played a show until two years ago. We had it on my birthday two years ago. My 22nd birthday. We played at Rhino. My friends Brittany Gould and Travis Egedy from Pictureplane put stuff into it. It was a big, big deal for us. We would always sit around and hone our crafts, our skills and never do anything. Never play live and never show anyone our music. They kind of forced us into it. It went well. I can’t even fucking remember it, I was so nervous.
KAPLAN: Are you guys planning on touring when your album drops?
ANDY R.: Yeah. Our tour starts October 10, I believe.
KAPLAN: What was your favorite track on the album, and why?
ANDY R.: I have a couple, for different reasons. There’s a track on it called, “My Christ,” and I kind of thought that because it came out differently than the other tracks. That one was more so different than any other track. It happened. It was almost a complete mistake. I love when that happens, because it brings a force of ideas, especially when you’re writing over and over the same kind of jam and you’re stuck in this hole. I think that one came out totally different in a sound that I was personally interested in for awhile. I think Craig’s actually is “Shout In Tongues.” I can’t speak for him, though.
KAPLAN: Where do you see yourselves in ten years?
ANDY R.: I’m not exactly sure. I kind of have modest aspirations in life. I don’t really want anything more than being able to sell out a smaller show, like, a decent-sized show. I have no fucking clue: no clue. I don’t know where I want to be in ten years.
KAPLAN: Who do you want to tour with more than anything? Alive or dead?
ANDY R.: That’s difficult. I don’t even listen to any current music. Orange Juice. I’d love to tour with fucking Orange Juice. I don’t give a shit. Hell yeah.
KAPLAN: Are you guys planning on staying in Denver? Or are you guys moving?
ANDY R.: We want to keep moving, but this is definitely home for us. Probably within the next year we’ll take off for another city. Keep going. Once you stay in a city for long enough, you kind of zap its energy. You can’t really vibe anymore. I constantly need to have new experiences. I want to still keep moving.
GAUNTLET HAIR‘S DEBUT ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED ON OCTOBER 18. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR MYSPACE.