10 Questions with… Thousands

Thousands bella union for folk's sakeHello, please introduce yourself and your music to the uninitiated
Thousands is Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman. We live in Seattle, WA, USA. We play acoustic guitars and sing. We recorded an album called “The Sound of Everything” in a variety of natural settings; a barn, a silo, a graveyard, the forest. The idea was to present our songs live and acoustic, the way we play them, in the real world, without any studio trickery or fancy overdubs.

Tell us a bit about the Sound of Everything
We’ve been playing together for about four years, and have never recorded an album until this. We chose a set of the latest songs we’d been working on and drove all over the northwest looking for inspiring places to record. The inspiration for the songwriting came from all over the map, from like-minded musicians like john Jacob Niles, Paul Simon, and Elliott Smith to some more “out-there” harmonic stuff like Deerhoof, Yes, etc.

What has been your best ever gig?
We played a benefit for SEASOL in a basement of a giant old mansion in Seattle last fall. Something about it just felt right. The other performers were great (Megabog, Wet Paint, an old guy that sang Irish songs with a beer in his hand). After that show ended, we gathered a group of people who wanted to hear us again, and climbed onto the roof of a nearby apartment building. Everyone gathered around and we played on top of the city late into the night. Pretty magical.

What is the worst thing about being a musician?
We’re surrounded by an amazing community of musicians in Seattle, and there’s really nothing bad about it. There’s always good shows to go to, and friends to perform for.

What music besides your own do you listen to?
I can’t say we spin our own record too much. That’s up to everyone else. We’re into everything; black metal, quiet folk, psychedelic african funk, ceremonial voodoo music (soul jazz released a couple of awesome records of this stuff), old blues. Some of our favorite things lately are Evan Parker (extended meditative sax improvizations), John Wiese (mind-bending psychologically taxing noise), Scott Walker‘s newer albums (the drift and tilt), Chemical Clock (“fucked” jazz, as they like to call it). We’re music junkies. Just dropped a few bills today at a record store in Portland.

What inspires you?
We’re definitely inspired by all the music around us. We have some incredibly talented friends. Lyrically I get inspiration from my surroundings in the Pacific Northwest. I think the reason a lot of bands from around here write a lot of nature-focused lyrics is because there’s so much amazing stuff here. In half an hour we can drive to the mountains and be climbing through ancient forests and boulders. We’ve got giant trees, the ocean, islands. What more could you ask for?

If you won a billion pounds what would you do with it?
I don’t think it’s ever right for one person to be in control of so much money. I’d probably hire really smart people to divide it up among as many environmental and humanitarian organizations as they saw fit. And buy a big house for my friends to live in, and we’d have lots of VHS tapes to watch in a private movie theater.

Which of your songs is your favourite?
It’s hard to pick favorites. I’m not good at qualitative judging of my own creative output, since naturally I wouldn’t want to record or perform a song I didn’t like. I’m probably most interested in whatever I’m writing at the moment, feeling that little surge of pride that comes with finishing a new song.

What are your plans after the release of your debut album and the tour?
We’re hoping to do more touring throughout the year, both in Europe and North America. We’re also working on songs for what will be our second album. We’ve got some work ahead of us, so we’re definitely not just sitting back congratulating ourselves.

Finally, we’re always looking to expand our musical horizons. Do you have any recommendations of bands or artists we should be looking out for?
Bad Luck is an awesome drum and sax duo from Seattle (Neil Welch and Chris Icasiano). They’ve been splattering our brains all over the place for a while now. Andrew Conklin is an amazing guitarist and songwriter from Oakland, California. His latest album (available free from his bandcamp page) is one of my faves of last year.

Thousands – MTSES III by Bella Union

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