Primarily the brainchild of Charlottesville-based musician Will Marsh, Gold Connections has been making noise of late. Their first full length record, Popular Fiction, is out now with RVA-based EggHunt Records. EggHunt is increasingly housing some of our favorite bands and we're always happy to sit down with one of their artists. We grabbed some time last week with Will for a quick chat, and he's in town tomorrow night at Toast for LAVA Presents and a slew of other fine bands.
So you're based out of, where exactly? Charlottesville? But I swear I've seen William and Mary on your bio?
I went to William and Mary, and I started the project there in Williamsburg, VA. But i grew up in Charlottesville and I'm based out of my hometown now.
The album info talks about this record as an introduction, but I'm pretty sure I've seen you play here before?
Yeah. It's our debut full length, so it's the first fully realized Gold Connections work. It's the first formal introduction, if you will. But we put out an EP last year of home recordings from college, and toured before and after that release. We love playing in Norfolk!
I've given the new record a listen, some psychedelic, little bit of southern rock sound -- Maybe a little Paul Westerberg in there as well? Can you tell me a bit about your influences?
The American South is as psychedelic a place as any, and so is the music that has come and continues to come from this dynamic, bizarre and tortured culture. It would take a while to unpack all of that...But I can say I draw influences from artists/bands like R.E.M., John Lee Hooker, Big Star, Leadbelly.. Really.. Anyone enamored with the culture in general, like the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. And yeah, absolutely Paul Westerberg.
You say mention Leadbelly, that’s interesting to me — not something that I immediately think of digging into the music. How do you think he has shaped how you put a song together?
His melancholy and melodic sensibilities I think are at the root of all the rock music i adore.. And the way he tells a story and forms the music around it has shaped how i write songs.
Do you have a favorite song from him or John Lee Hooker?
Is there a story behind the title of the new record? Popular Fiction?
Yeah.. Popular Fiction is an anthology of personal myths. And I'm putting them out through (independent) mass media.. Hopefully they become popular as well!
You mention storytelling. Are these your personal stories? Or are you creating characters based out of personal experiences? Is a Gold Connections song representative of who you are personally? Or more allegorical?
They're all written about personal moments, my own experience. But as i move further away from those isolated moments in time they become more allegorical. The songs frame patterns of experience which extend beyond my own. I like to think that if I write a song about something that's going on for me than there's a good chance it's going on for other other people.. And there are usually myths floating around from the past that have foretold those experiences, or at least have provided context for them.
When you write a song, do you have the lyrics or the music first? And how does that transition into the more collaborative aspects of being in a band?
Sometimes it all comes out once. Once in a while. Like i sit down and just start making words and music up and it's pretty easy. That was the case for the song Popular Fiction. Other times I'll write a poem or something and then find the music weeks later...or I'll have a melody in mind and find the words later. It varies. I always have the structures and lyrics put together before bringing it to the band, usually in demo form. But working through a song with other people and deciding together what works in is an equally creative process. It's more social and so more difficult in some ways.
I can imagine. Have there been times where the rest of the band has been like, this song isn’t working? How much of the final output is your original idea, and how much is the result of it filtering through their approaches to music?
That's never really happened with the band, but on Popular Fiction there was a more stripped down solo song (kind of like "Desert Land") that we had to discard because it just wasn't happening and recording it well would have taken too much time at the studio. We just couldn't afford it. That decision was made by my producer...When I'm working on a song with the live band I have veto power and stuff, and a good idea of how I want to it to sound. But the folks I'm playing with are talented and creative people, and I try to channel and encourage their ideas and energy as well. It's all about finding a balance.
How did you come to EggHunt?
My manager and I were looking at all sorts of independent labels. At the time, the most attractive thing about EggHunt was that they're right down the road. Instead of phoning in to Mississippi or New York I could drive less than an hour and sit down with Adam Henceroth.. That proximity fosters trust and accountability, camaraderie. Long story short? I met up with Adam at a steak shop in Shortpump and we moved forward from there.
Over by the mall? I know that shop!
That place is awesome! What have they brought to the table for you?
Their hustle! Flexibility, determination. Oh, and vinyl!
Vinyl is awesome!
What are your plans around the release of this record? Touring? Pushing for airplay? What qualifies as a successful indie release in this day and age? What are your hopes for it?
There are basic things that i wanted from a label. Things that justify splitting profits. To me those are distribution, PR, manufacturing, radio promotion, and tour support. EggHunt is meeting all of those needs. In this day and age i think a successful indie release on this scale –– though a label that isn't Beggars Group or something, which are essentially major labels –– is one that gets music into as many receptive listeners as possible. That results from a combination of label publicity efforts and touring. We have limited means, so the only hope is that our music is so good that the few people who initially hear the record will turn other people on and the process continues.
Touring plans? Bands you’d like to have on the bill with you?
It's always great to play with Car Seat Headrest. Their audience is huge and receptive to our sound. Obviously they aren't and can't be our ticket to a larger fan base. We're headlining small clubs this summer (starting this June through the South) and plan to continue touring as much as possible through whatever way we can. A dream support tour would be with a band like Deerhunter.
Gold Connections will be in town tomorrow night at Toast for LAVA Presents -- along with Long Division, Okey Dokey, J. Flax & The Heart Attacks, and Broken Beaches. Click here for more info.