Photo by Heather Hall
Gun Outfit is a two-piece band born in Olympia, Washington but its core members Dylan Sharp and Carrie Keith have been bumming around LA for the past couple of years. Their upcoming release Dream All Over reflects this change of scenery as every song is seeped in a surrealistic and filmy vibe. The band has always taken a wide-angled approach to music, gaining notice for their country-inflected last record Hard Coming Down. But Dream All Over is more focused on feeling cinematic. This expansive collection tunes plays like a post-party, pre-hangover wander under a freeway.
The band recorded Dream All Over with friend and mentor Henry Barnes (Amps for Christ/Man is Bastard) and it's Barnes distinctive sitar-guitar lines throughout the record that add a warm yet weird psychedelic flavor to Keith and Sharp's enmeshed guitars. The sitar-guitar is used to great effect on "Worldly Way", a slice of bleached-out West Coast psych-folk that's the highlight of Dream All Over. Sounding both defiant and defeated at the same time, Sharp demands answers from an indifferent world over a groove so sexy it's doubly devastating, especially when he hits the listener with a bitter denouement: "Oh world, what wisdom do you teach? Console yourself with sadness, befriend your misery."
Noisey: How is life as an "LA band" treating you?
Dylan Sharp: It's good. It's different. It's a harsher life over here but it's more interesting in a way.
Carrie Keith: It's a good life. It's hard to say what it's specifically like. There are certain things in Olympia that, as far as being a band, were more accessible or easy and some things that weren't. In LA, some things have changed and other things have become more difficult.
What's specifically changed?
Sharp: Goofing off is off easier in Los Angeles. You can go outside and stare off into space and drive around. It's pretty accessible anywhere you go.
Do you see a connection between punk and country as being similar in that they're both kind of political? Your band is often associated as having gone from a punk scene to more of a country vibe.
Sharp: In my mind, there's music that tries to break boundaries and there's music that's within a certain framework. I feel punk and country are both in frameworks. There's too many boundaries on them. Especially with hardcore, there's rules. Even if the music is really out there, there's still some rules. I like to have a mix where there's all the traditional structure but then you put a few things in there that aren't in that framework because then you can have it both ways.
What are your thoughts on the LA music scene?
Sharp: The LA scene is kind of interesting. It's not like out in the open what is cool and what is not cool. I find out about stuff I'm into all the time that doesn't seem to be that popular in a way. There's so much going on. As far as us in the music scene, we are pretty picky about the shows. We've been in the band like 10 years so we're not into grinding at all. But we like to play and we want to play and we'll play anywhere pretty much.
A lot of LA bands make really good time-y kind of party music, but Gun Outfit's new record is dealing with darker themes.
Sharp: Some music is like "yay party we're having a good time nah nah nah!" And to me it's like, "Uhhh." Yeah at a certain point you have to try a lot harder to party and the payoff gets less and less so there's a fatigue of going out that you reach and that can be applied to the LA music scene because it's very party-good-timey. It's hard for me to lose myself and have a good time. So there are definitely those themes that would be easy to apply to the music.
I heardyou guys are planning on making a Western film. Is that still happening?
Keith: Yes, we are! That's in the beginning stages of what is a long process but it's started and we're actually going to New York next week to be in a film with the cinematographer who's doing another film out there. Also, we're mixing an EP which is kind of in combination with the film so it's happening slowly. There are so many steps to making a record and such a long wait time for it be released but making a film is like five times that. But yes, it's happening and it's amazing that there even is interest in it.
Sharp: And it's not gonna be a Western. We're not gonna wear all wool and leather. We're gonna ride a horse but we're not going to have the budget to make it a Western. It's going be Western themed.
Carrie: It's going to have supernatural scenes, feminist scenes and definitely low-budget Chinatown-style commentary on the water. Water is an issue in LA. Especially coming from the Northwest, I think of that often. So much energy goes so many places, we're just trying to organize some things to support this record that's coming out because it took a while to get out. But thanks for asking. It is happening!
Why did it take so long for the record to come out?
Carrie: It took about nine months to figure out what label we were coming out on. We just went through the weird rigamarole of the whole shopping process. I don't know anybody who has good things to say about it, but it's just a weird kind of belittling process. Maybe less so for newer bands but when you already have records out and have already played so many times, we feel like people have already decided if they're interested or not. We demoed 6 songs a year before we actually went in and recorded them, which was not really up to us, it was just the timing. But all of that has been fine because we have a good label now and we're happy with what they've done. We'd be happy to do an album a year when you're looking for these relationship. It took two years for the record to come out. It should've taken one year but c'est la vie.
When it takes so long for a record to come out, do you feel like you've moved on from what you were originally writing about?
Sharp: We have a huge backlog so it's good, we can pick out the songs that would work. In a way its frustrating because it's like, "I have all these songs and I wanna get them out there," but when you have more time you can be like, "Well, that song isn't that good." We included only the good ones. And now we have another EP coming out in a couple months and we can do another record so it's not so bad.
Keith: It's not the writing, it was just committing to a label and figuring out what the best situation would be so we didn't have to start over next time we want to put a record out. I think probably everyone who puts out a record gets tired of their songs by the time it comes out, but when we start collaborating with other people, it just brings out new possibilities. You get excited about because there's a new element to it.
So what's coming up for Gun Outfit?
Keith: We're probably gonna be just touring Europe for a while because that's where our booker is based. You may see us around LA.
Sharp: We're just booking our own shows right now so we're just trying to do what feels good to us.
Keith: We'll definitely go to the East Coast when our EP comes out because that's coming out on a Brooklyn label (Wharf Cat). We're trying to put together a tour for this record for the East Coast and a short one up the West Coast but it's not confirmed yet. That's our goal right now.
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