New York quintet Geese have emerged as one of lockdown’s great success stories, having signed to indie powerhouse Partisan Records whilst the music world was frozen in time.
There has been a sense of unflappable intent about the manner in which the band have bolted from the industry restart. Debut single ‘Disco’ – an ambitious 7 minute long cut which holds the aura of a full album in itself – garnered press attention from the off, casting an immediate spotlight directly onto the teenagers.
Just about four months on from their ‘Disco’ entrance, Geese are on their maiden run of UK shows to promote their critically-acclaimed debut album, Projector. Nandos packaging (a delicacy not available in the US) adorns their dimly lit East London green room, and the band are due on stage in an hour, having played Brixton Windmill on the previous evening.
“The Windmill was a lot of fun,” Guitarist Gus recalls. ‘It has a real vibe to it. The most cool ‘pub’ atmosphere of anywhere we’ve ever played.’
Each member of the band is well versed in the heritage of the Brixton music mecca, and cite videos uploaded to YouTube by Lou Smith – who frequently films Windmill shows – as commonplace viewing. “It looks bigger on video, it’s a small stage,” co-Guitarist Foster says, before Gus continues, “I don’t know how Black Country, New Road fit 7 people on there.”
It seems like a surreal notion that Black Country, New Road – having only released their debut record earlier this year – already front a scene which is inspiring a new class of transatlantic artists. “Influence travels fast these days,” Gus smiles. ‘we were listening to those bands a couple of years ago [BCNR, black midi and peers in the Windmill scene], and it has informed the kind of music we make. They’re all on their second records – it’s only the very beginning.’
Despite being born & raised 3.5 thousand miles away in Brooklyn, Geese’ connection to the London post-punk circuit runs deeper than mere fandom. Dan Carey, head of the Speedy Wunderground label which has propelled the scene into the zeitgeist, mixed their debut album via email back-and-forths.
So where do Gus & Foster place themselves within the current scene and rich musical heritage of their native New York City? “You know..” Foster considers his answer. ‘The scene is probably smaller than you think. There are some good bands though, who we hang out with.’
Gus, meanwhile, turns their attention to the idea of the city’s musical heritage legacy. “In terms of the New York sound,” they put in air-quotes, ‘All the bands that people say are in this NYC gang are definitely different. Every once in a while we’ll think about the lineage thing. But we’re more focused on what’s happening right now, rather than what’s already happened.’
This stance is probably a conducive one in regards to moving the conversation forward, rather than paying perpetual homage to forefathers of a scene. It is also entirely understandable, when you consider that no members of Geese were born when The Strokes’ seminal NYC-stalwart album Is This It was released in 2001. And, although artists such as Skaters and Public Access TV have flown the flag for that inner-city sound, the attention of the whole world’s eyes is yet to be fully restored by the big apple’s rock circuit.
Foster takes a more pragmatic view of geo-influence. “Coming on this trip is showing me that geography does effect a sound a lot, just through where you are and who you’re hanging out with.. as well as the past acts from that location.” He pre-empts the follow-up question; ‘I couldn’t specifically say how New York has influenced us.. but it’s there.’
Whether through a sense of city allegiance, or mere coincidence, Geese considered their numerous label options and chose to sign with New York’s Partisan Records around a year ago, with just a couple of shows under their belt. “At the end of the day it was about liking the people and wanting to talk to them,” says Gus. ‘We know the Partisan people pretty well now and they’re all really sweet.’
Foster continues, ‘We also got really caught up in the roster. IDLES, Fontaines DC. Laura Marling too – her stuff feels old.. but in a really new way’. I ask the two guitarists where the band stood on the prospect of signing to a major label.
“I’m scared of majors,” Gus semi-jokes. ‘If you’re new and they can’t break you instantly then they’re making money elsewhere and they can afford to just write things off as a loss, so that’s the end.’
It is unlikely that a major label rep would entertain the idea of releasing the lofty ‘Disco’ as a debut single, considering it’s lengthy run time and deluge of separate components. “That was kind of the idea,” Gus affirms. ‘Initially we were wary of releasing it as a single, but then we thought ‘why not put that one out?”
“We can’t help ourselves when it comes to sound and scale: and that definitely rings true with that track,” Foster continues, before passing it back over to Gus, who laughs,
“Stay for the full seven minutes bro!”
As the band take to the stage beneath the low ceiling of The Sebright Arms, there is a sense of game-face about the young band. Their enthusiastic, youthful demeanours take on an assured kind of rockstar archaicism. Frontman Cameron Winter exercises his Robert Plant-esque stage persona, whilst Foster & Gus career around the lower echelons of their fretboards, with an energy of an act who know that the best is yet to come.
“That’s where it matters, I think,” Gus said as we wrapped up. ‘You can have the charm of a debut, but you come into your own on the second record: once there’s an expectation on what you sound like.. That’s the exciting part.’
Geese’ debut album Projector is out now via Partisan Records
photo credit: Daniel Topete