Minneapolis four-piece Howler are back, two years after their debut “America Give Up”, to release their second album ‘World Of Joy’ in the UK on 24th March this year – and on 25th March in the USA. We caught up with Jordan Gatesmith and Ian Nygaard to discuss the album, touring and influences. Here’s part one of that interview, in which Jordan discusses the backstory of each song on the new album.
This was one of the first songs we wrote for the record. Al’s Corral is a bar we visited in St. Paul’s and it was a super-American dive bar. I remember just walking in there and seeing motorcycles, leather jackets – and Thin Lizzy was playing on the jukebox. There was this giant American flag with a gun next to it, and it said “freedom is never free”, which blew my mind – it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The song sort of has a classic American vibe to it – we were inspired by the Thin Lizzy playing; even if they are a UK band. But in America they’ve totally got that cock-rock vibe – The Boys Are Back In Town sounds very American to us. We didn’t quite rip it off, but we messed around with the song Jailbreak and turned it into our own song – we wanted our own dive bar song.
That’s about Ian going to the hospital on tour; which happens every time we go on tour. He always gets sick – he almost died on one of our tours I think. So that’s one’s just about Ian getting really ill all the time.
Don’t Wanna is like a parody; something that wasn’t too serious. It’s kind of about ourselves – our own influences and who we like. The video was my idea. I don’t like doing music videos because I’m afraid of cameras a little bit so I just picked the most boring video in the world – like “let’s just not do anything; just get in front of a camera and that’ll be our video”. So that’s what we did.
It’s just a funny punk song. That’s one of our favourites on the record for some reason – a lot of our friends like it because it has a really crazy guitar riff on it.
In The Red
In The Red should have been our single, probably, but we held it back – it’s like a big cheesy pop song; the first of the two big cheesy pop songs on the record. It’s one of our favourites to play – I don’t know if it’ll be the next single or not. It might be this one but it’ll probably be Indictment. I don’t know really; In The Red would’ve maybe been a better choice.
World Of Joy
This is our psychedelic-noise track – Ian and I had the idea for it. We all switched instruments – I play drums on it and Ian plays sitar on it; but you can’t tell its sitar because he puts it through so many noise pedals. So that’s just a noise-rock track.
Okay – this is the other pop song on the record. Everyone in the band likes that one a lot but I don’t really. They were like “Jordan why don’t you like that song?” and I just thought it was lame. That said, the lyrics are some of the better ones on the record.
Here’s The Itch That Creeps Through My Skull
That one’s kind of Smith-sy – it’s maybe my favourite one on the record. It sounds like a ballad but the lyrical content is far from a ballad; it’s a little too dark to be pop. We wrote that one together after a practice. Max was packing up his bag and I was trying to play Purple Rain on guitar but I was messing up horribly – I made a lot of mistakes but the mistakes turned out to be really cool. Ian picked up a bass guitar and wrote a really great bass riff and we wrote the whole song in about ten minutes. It turned out to be really beautiful. It’s got a lot of Smith-sy riffs but also has a lot of Prince’s influence.
Indictment’s fun, it’s our fake blues song. It’s got a pop feel to it, but also has this really amazing blues breakdown in it. That one was really funny – we couldn’t get the right take of it so what ended doing was just using a tom and a snare; we Jesus And Mary Chained it. There were so few microphones in the room and there was no separation, and at the beginning of the song we were screaming “Yee-Haw” at each other. The take was really good, but then it proved impossible to take our screaming out of the beginning; so that’s just there forever.
Aphorismic Wasteland Blues
This is maybe the odd one-out on the record, but I really like it. It’s one of the first songs we wrote for the record and it didn’t originally work for some reason and we couldn’t figure out why – so I just recorded electric guitar on a tape machine with loads of weird effects and it turned out really well.
Keep an eye out for the next part of Howler’s Words For Music interview. Jordan and Ian, along with Max and their new drummer Rory, will be touring the UK in March and April of this year – buy tickets here. Make sure you purchase a copy of the new album too – it’ll undoubtedly be one of this year’s best!