Q&A: Howler’s Jordan Gatesmith On New York Crowds, Power Napping, And Dreaming Of Uncle Jesse


From off the streets of the City Of Lakes (that’s Minneapolis) comes Howler, who serve as a reminder that ferocity, vulnerability, and yearning spring eternal in young bands’ breasts. Although Howler, with their new album America Give Up, throws in more catchy, crunchy riffs—not to mention a Jesus & Mary Chain fuzzbox hailstorm—than most. Frontman Jordan Gatesmith took a few questions over email.

Wikipedia says you formed the band out of boredom. On a scale of one to 10. How oppressive is the boredom in Minneapolis these days? Does it reach potentially lethal levels?

I really couldn’t tell you. I haven’t been in Minneapolis for many moons. I’m like a crusty wanderer, traveling the world with a half starved dog. But Howler started in the dead of winter. There’s not a lot to do in the winter. It’s dark, cold, and sad. It can lead to quite oppressive boredom.

Have you played New York City before? If so, when and which venue(s)? How do New York audiences compare and contrast with audiences elsewhere in the United States and across the globe? Have you ever feared for your lives playing live?

We’ve played New York several times. The last few times we played Pianos and the Bowery Ballroom. I honestly don’t know how to classify different types of crowds though. We’ve played to enthusiastic crowds in New York, as well as boring ones, just as we have played to both ends of the spectrum in any other city. New York gets a bad rap for having snobbish crowds, though. Maybe it’s true, but I guess I don’t pay enough attention.

In other news, I had a dream last night that I was in an episode of Full House and Uncle Jesse let me join his band. I played the bass.

You’re impressed with 1960s music and 1950s pop, at least. Does anything made after 1969 click with you? If so, what and how? Does a “Satanic Majesties” record with a 3-D cover sound better than one without one?

Naturally the 3-D one sounds better. I’ve never actually made a true back-to-back comparison, but the 3-D “vibes” can only add. Listening to “She’s A Rainbow” while flashing 3-D Mick and Keith (in their adorable psychy outfits) in front of your eyes could make for a jovial time. I’ll give it a go and report back. But of course everything after 1969 is dismissible. Except for Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy, but that goes without saying.

You got your Rough Trade deal when a writer sent your EP to the label without telling you. How did you finally find out? What was your first reaction to the news?

I found out in an email from the head of Rough Trade, Geoff Travis. My first reaction was that of confusion. I took a power nap. It felt nice. When I woke up, I decided it was time to rethink my feeble life. My second reaction was to write an actual response back.

Minneapolis bands stand in the shadows of the Replacements, Husker Du, and that guy with all the purple. Your thoughts on them? Do they inspire you at all?

I dig all of those cats, but I’m not so sure if they have cast a shadow. That’s a bit dark. I do think they have set a standard though. I definitely looked up to all of them and learned a lot from their histories.

What are the band’s plans for the immediate future?

Our immediate plan is to finish watching the complete Full House box set. Then we might record music. But we’ll most likely tour endlessly.

Howler play at Mercury Lounge tonight.

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