WOW! THAT’S A BIG BROKEN!Paraphrasing Billy Strayhorn; all music stories are beautiful. So is the one of Qualms, who are daydreaming while working. In March they presented to us via Internet the EP Broken Dreams and are also preparing one more net release expecting, as they tell us, a discographic hand of help, that would let them launch their own album and travel while playing music, for ever.
Tell us a bit about when and how Qualms came to be.
We had met in junior high school, but we first began playing music together in a jangly, math-y indie rock band when we were sixteen. Following the demise of our now gloriously nostalgic and emotionally propped up ‘high school stardom,’ we frantically started, played in, and kicked each other out of a long list of terrible monikers, racing toward some unknown and selfish goal that neither of us seemed too intent on reaching. QUALMS came into its own quite organically as a catharsis for two dudes who’d been in dire need of growing up, and we’re ecstatic to find it’s so easily maintaining itself within an enjoyable, creative environment. Everything goes with this project, and we’re finally sharing responsibilities.
Your first EP was released in March. Will you give us the tour on Big Broken EP, from its cover to its music?
Our inspiration for the cover art was drawn in part from the painting held by the girl in the photo, an acrylic done by the wonderful Alexa Noe who, coincidently, is the girl in the photo, and from the title of the EP itself. Justin’s niece spouted the name one day as the two of us took a break from tracking and decided to drag her to the dollar store for cookies, candies, and balloons. As we pulled into the parking lot his niece shouted, ‘Wow! That’s a big broken!’ We felt the artwork brought it all together.
People can download your EP by giving a fee of their choice. Is that working? Do you think this is how discography is going to look like in a couple of years maybe?
There’s no marketing strategy, and if someone wants to throw us a dollar or two then we sincerely appreciate it. We will feel comfortable commanding a price when something physical can spin on the tables of our fans, or, as the current wave seems to suggest, magnetically rotate within their Walkman. There’s always a craving for nostalgia in popular culture, and just as we choose to record on analog tape, people will seek antiquated mediums to experience their media. We’re fully supportive of this, and that’s why we’re confident that the physical and the human will stick around in an era of increasingly digital means of communication and art dissemination.
How do you compose and how do you ‘build’ your tracks? Will you share some of your production secrets with us?
Justin and I have been playing together in some way, shape, or form for the last eight years, so it all kind of comes out natural and slightly weirdly. For example: we won’t speak for a week, and when we meet up both of us will have written a part that works seamlessly with what each of us was so excited to show the other before having met up. After a brief excited freak out, we demo the tracks in Logic and produce them a little, before tracking to vintage analog equipment passed down from Justin’s father’s days in the 70s and 80s as a mastermind of studio production. Darin frequently reminds me of how ‘our brains chill without our bodies.’ I trust him. What are your lyrics made of? Where do you draw your inspiration from? We draw inspiration from the music we create, and after we’ve laid some decent soundscapes we’ll just sing, and usually what comes out ends up directly relating to our lives or to the lives of those we know. We strive for narrative lyrics, although our stories don’t always work out completely coherently.
Some say that indie has become a huge genre for the masses, containing many styles of pop music from electronica to punk. Would you say you agree and do you feel a part of that indie movement?
Yes, I’d say we definitely consider ourselves to be a part of the movement insofar as we subconsciously throw all types of styles into our music, and if it wasn’t for this new cornucopia of style currently striking the fancy of the masses, then we’d most likely be doing the same thing except no one would think it sounded any good.
Will there soon be any live performances?
Although we’ve mainly focused on getting our tracks recorded and heard on the web, we’re itching to play live and would love nothing more than to tour heavily; forever.
Interview: Vassilis Tsigkris | Photography: Toni Noe | qualms.org