Interview: New Zealand Based Rock Band Golden Curtain Discusses Their New Album "Underwater Gospels"

Golden Curtain

Golden Curtain is a New Zealand based rock band who on June 9th released their latest album "Underwater Gospels", which features the single "Amen". We connected with the trio to learn more about their creative process for "Underwater Gospels", how the album compares to their earlier releases, and much more.

After reading our exclusive interview with Golden Curtain, be sure to follow them on social media, head over to Bandcamp to stream/download "Underwater Gospels" and share it with some friends.

How did you guys connect to form the band and who are some of your influences?

The band formed when I moved from Wellington back to my hometown and Andrew Gladstone decided to move out of Auckland to the easy spread of Hawkes bay. He'd been playing in Garageland and I'd been playing in Grand Prix. We hooked up with Brad Gamble on bass because he's a great musician, a songwriter in his own right, a multi-instrumentalist, but also someone you can hang with. And most recently, we persuaded Nick Blow to join us on keys to play the parts live that are on the album. Nick is also a songwriter in his own right, but also records bands including Jacob.

Does the name "Golden Curtain" have a special significance? Let me guess... is the band named after a restaurant in New Zealand?

The name 'Golden Curtain' is a term coined by Ian Morris for a section of a song that is like the extra icing on top. 'I like how you opened the golden curtain in the middle eight.' I'd been trying to write a 'Super-Chorus' where you'd go from a chorus to a superchorus where the first chorus would now sound like a verse. We didn't have a name when our first gig came up and we went with it because it sounded like something from 'Bad News' and our singer would be called something like Vim Fuego. We never got round to choosing something better.

Tell us about the creative process for your new album "Underwater Gospels" and the songs included on it. How did you decide on the final ten songs that made the cut?

The creative process was such that the words were written first, which is one of two ways of writing: words first or music first. Words can be harder and take longer (ask Alex, he writes novels as well), so it was a relatively quick process for me. Identify a meter in the words that could fit over 4/4 etc. Sometimes I would have to add words for a chorus. Alex gave me free reign but I tried to avoid it if possible. Once I had a melody or some type of head, we were on our way. I was using a different tuning on the guitar on seven out of the ten songs. All the chords look weird but sound great. For anyone interested, it's tuned A,D,B,E,G#,B. Then we played the songs as a band and worked out what we were all doing. After that's done it's time to record! We did that here ourselves with a pretty simple recording set up. The recording and mixing is a big part of the creative process and took the longest. I use Poo Tools.

The process was really cool--I would write the lyrics and send them over to Andrew who would somehow find the pop center in my stacks of weird images and he would work up a kind of sketch of the song that he would then bring to the band to flesh out. It was a sort of global artistic assembly line.

How would you say "Underwater Gospels" compares to your prior releases Hell Is Other People, Dream City and English Tuning? 

The way 'Underwater Gospels' compares to the previous albums is that the words are a whole step up. Check out Alex Green's 'Emergency Anthems'. Its deep, dark and hilarious. My favourite. There are recurring themes in all the songs. Sharks, blue wolves, summer, the surf, girls. One of my favourite lines: 'You're better off alone, better drowning the shallows, better pressed against despair, feeling the decades run out of power.' (From 'I Changed My Mind For You).

What do you enjoy most about performing live? 

What I enjoy about playing live is changing the energy in the room. Hopefully for the better. I like it when before you play, it's kind of stilted, but by the time you've finished the energy level is way higher, people are louder, laughing, having a good time. The alcohol probably helps as well.

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