goodbyemotel Talks New Album 'iF,' 4-D Live Music Experience, Iconic Cover Artist Storm Thorgerson, And Other Ongoing Projects [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Aussie-born, New York-based rock band goodbyemotel is finally ready for their close-up. After years of lineup changes, experimentation and development, they've found the foundation upon which they plan to build their legacy, and out of that has come their new album, iF.
goodbyemotel has been in its current five-piece lineup -- fronted by Swedish-born vocalist/guitarist Gustaf Sjödin Enström, along with Aussies Tom Marks, Scott Pioro, David Schmidt and New Yorker Paul Amorese -- for about a year. The band originally formed in 2008 with Enström joining about two years later. The band then moved from Australia to New York City permanently in 2013, after which Amorose, their drummer, signed on. Their current sound is a product of being on the road in the U.S. since that time. According to Gustav, Pioro came up with the band's name.
"I shouldn't really be telling the story, he knows it way better than I do," Enström explained. "But something about checking into a place where you leave all your past experiences behind and come out of it fresh. You say goodbye to the past and say hello to all the new things. It was kind of a place where you could check in and forget your troubles."
Their new album, iF, has been a long time coming. Prior to iF, the band released their EP People and the single "Set It Off," which earned them licensing deals on TV shows and commericals. They began recording tracks for the new effort back in December 2011 with their producer, Kevin Killen (Peter Gabriel, U2, Kate Bush).
"After we came to America [last year] we realized that it had been a while since we had recorded those songs, and we'd come a long, long way from that initial start," Enström explained. "My voice and the band were just not ready at the time."
The band went back into the studio earlier this year and re-recorded a bunch of tracks that they had been playing live as well as other demos, such as "Hurricane," that they had been working on. The majority of the album was recorded in New York, save for the songs "Mother" and "The Fall," which were recorded with Killen in Melbourne, Australia. The album was later mixed by Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, M83) along with Andy Baldwin (Björk, St. Lucia).
iF explores the idea of taking chances and seeking out opportunity.
"I think it's a lot about taking risks and following up on something, completing something, and really going through with the ideas in your heart and mind," Enström explained. This is something the band members themselves experienced when making the decision to pick up and move to the United States.
The sounds you hear on the album developed through their live shows. The band members all share an interest in film and production, which influenced their cinematic style of music. This passion for visuals led the band to create a unique 4-D concert experience.
"We wanted to [perform] a full set with 3-D visuals and music and have it all synchronized together," Pioro explained. "We're just trying to bring back the excitement of going to see a band live."
During the "4-D Live Music Experience" shows, the band performs behind a screen onto which film and 3-D images are projected. Audience members are given retro red-and-blue 3-D glasses upon admission and are integrated into the music for a vibe similar to Pink Floyd's psychedelic concerts.
"We kind of integrate ourselves into the other dimensions. It's really exciting," the band explained. "Things are flying at the audience through the screen. It's a new experience, and as far as we know, we're the only ones really doing this."
Although this project seems elaborate, the band sets it up themselves in the same amount of time that it takes any other band to set up their equipment.
"We've done it in small venues and venues with bigger stages. We've done it at an art gallery, just in the window, like an installation. It looks great at night outdoors. It really translates across a whole different range of stuff."
The band has now performed their 4-D shows all over the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and Australia; however they've decided to save the concept for special occasions and will perform traditional and acoustic sets in the meantime, which are equally dynamic.
Interestingly, goodbyemotel's concert experience isn't the only Pink Floyd connection the band has. The artist behind iconic covers such as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, Storm Thorgerson, offered to design the cover art for iF because he was such a big fan of the band's previous EP.
When Marks, their bassist, found out that Thorgerson was a fan, he got in touch with him, and they met up in Syndey to discuss a concept for the cover. Sadly, Thorgerson passed away last year, but the cover for iF will be featured in a book of his works.
"We feel like we're part of Storm's legacy," Enström said. "It's one of the last pieces he did, which is an honor."
Outside of making music, the band is passionate about social issues -- in particular, the environment. They've started a new initiative called "Download For Tree." Through this campaign, the band pledges to plant one million trees and give away music for each fan that enters his or her name. It is still in the works and has only been given a soft launch, but look out for the project in the near future.
In the upcoming months, the band will focus on a North American tour in support of their new album and will promote new singles such as "Hurricane."
They are now in a place that Enström describes as "the beginning of something." He acknowledges that like any band, goodbyemotel will continue to develop, but for now, they have found an identity.