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On the Rise: Geese

29 October 2021, 14:30

Post-punk Brooklyn teens Geese are bringing intelligence and excitement back to guitar music.

Conversations, be it with strangers or friends, often take you on a journey. Whether they’re deep philosophical musings over a bottle of wine or muffled shouting over a PA system, these moments are often sound tracked by some form of music. Sometimes you stumble upon life-changing moments along the way, and sometimes these happenstances are fleeting, yet a memory has still been made.

As I speak to Brooklyn-based teenagers Geese via Zoom on an otherwise mundane Wednesday afternoon, there are multiple journeys being made at once. The first, a trip down memory lane as the five-piece recount their paths into the music industry, and the second – quite literally – involves watching drummer Max Bassin make his way from a severely delayed train carriage to the rehearsal room which vocalist Cameron Winter and bassist Dom DiGesu are sat in. Have you ever heard of Zoomception? Have you ever wondered why the plural of Moose isn’t Meese? Many questions are answered during our conversation, but unfortunately the latter isn’t one of them. So, let’s start from the beginning…

The first iteration of Geese came from a band programme at lower school, where Winter and Bassin joined forces with guitarist Gus Green, who – as it quickly becomes apparent – can be named as the glue that binds everything together. Deciding to fly the nest during high school, Green met DiGesu and second guitarist Foster Hudson who had their own musical project going on at the time, as they were both enrolled in a similar band programme at the high school that Green moved to. Whilst they’re all in agreement over their love of Radiohead, Geese seemingly reveal to each other for the first time, the artists who truly kickstarted their love of music in general. As Winter recounts becoming wrapped up in the world of Led Zeppelin and The Wall, he’s met with an overly enthusiastic nod of approval from DiGesu who subsequently reels off other bands who had their heyday in the ‘70s such as Pink Floyd and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

“It’s funny because we'd all listen to different bands but I remember pretty distinctly, there was one time when Cameron asked if I had ever listened to The Dark Side of the Moon album,” Bassin says, re-enacting Winter’s bewilderment when he admitted that he hadn’t. To share music with anybody is to invite them into your own world and allow them to witness the little things that move you. There’s an element of consideration in wanting to share small moments of joy with people, and that’s exactly what it’s like when you’re creating music together as opposed to simply sharing things that already exist.

Having started the band as high school freshmen in 2016, the only motivation in making music together was to have fun. “It was a lot less streamlined – we would have an idea that we thought was cool and then just try to do everything on every song all the time. There were a lot of loud rock songs,” Green admits. “It wasn't important until later on, honestly. We put a lot of work into it before, but it wasn’t until high school that we actually started masochistically making music,” echoes Winter. “We decided that we were going to make something good, even if it’s not fun.”

Geese spent the first four months of their senior year writing songs for their just-dropped debut album Projector, with Winter bringing a new song idea to the table every Friday. Having gone from an intense period of creativity to then sitting on the songs as they waited to see who was interested in releasing it, there was of course an period of feeling uncertain about what they had made. “When we were writing the record, every song was sort of reaction to the last one – were trying to go in the opposite direction,” Winter tells me. “I think the vocal takes are the biggest thing that ties the songs together because before the vocal takes, everything kind of had a different vibe,” Bassin says in agreement.

The more they sat with the songs, the less they were sure if everything worked in cohesion. “We really thought it sucked for a long time afterwards – not necessarily sucked – but we though, ‘well this is probably the best we could do’.” As young kids making music for the fun of it and getting to a point where they gelled enough to create an album, there was a sense of serendipity that came out of their time spent in the basement studio. Capturing the ever-changing chaos of life in your late teens, just before dawn of adulthood and responsibilities kicks in, Projector truly is an album of urgency; it’s an album that was created out of necessity.

“I didn't expect much… We thought that this is probably gonna be the last thing we make, so let’s just try and make some cohesive statement musically and put in a bunch of stuff that we like. From there, it turned into something else and it’s been cool to watch that happen,” Green says, which made me wonder if they had intended to give up on music the album was finished. “No, we were just graduating high school and going to different colleges so we wouldn’t be able to do things regularly,” he shrugs. “But now, hopefully this is the start of something instead of it being the end which is cool to think about.”

The thing that Green is referencing is just the small topic of Geese signing with Partisan to release their debut album. After interest from Sub-Pop and Fat Possum, there was simply something that just felt, in that moment, and ever more so now, right about deciding to work with the of-the-moment indie label. This is of course no easy matter for a band who have had full control over their creative processes, making magic in the basement of one of their parent’s houses, but collaboration isn’t something that is as rife on the Brooklyn scene as it is in the UK. The band insist that their local scene is based on support and the ability to go to each other’s shows as opposed to working on songs together.

Partisan is of course home to the likes of IDLES, Cigarettes After Sex, and Fontaines D.C., and there’s no doubt that Geese’s very own versatile brand of music has fit right into place. Their debut single “Disco” which was released earlier this year channels the eclectic and sometimes unpredictable sounds of Pink Floyd mixed with the vocal swagger of David Byrne. It was a single that had its identity seemingly rooted in place. That is until subsequent releases showcased Geese as a band who are very much open to slight experimentation, refusing to pigeonhole themselves so early on, but also maintaining a core identity beneath it all. Whether it’s from Bassin’s distinctive drumming style or Winter’s warbled and drawn-out vocals, there is a timelessness to Geese’s songs which could easily be placed alongside their older inspirations, just as it could with their UK counterparts such as Yard Act, Squid, and Lazarus Kane.

What’s next is the big question that hangs over the band’s head. Having already succumbed to the idea that Projector might’ve been their only mission statement before signing to Partisan Records, there is no more urgency to the way that the five-piece get together and create music. Once graduation is out of the way, the sky’s the limit. That is of course, if the pandemic allows them to have their say. If they were given a final chance at a mission statement before that happens, Winter goes back to the notion that simplicity is key: “Listen to as much music as you can before the world ends. Just do it.”

Projector is out now via Partisan
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