Interview Highlight: The Gooms

The Gooms at The Yard (October 26th)

On the weekend of October 25th/26th, L.A.-based garage/surf rock band The Gooms came up to the Bay Area, playing back-to-back shows at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco and at The Yard in Berkeley. I had a chance to catch up with them on a sunny Sunday morning after they were riding high from two incredible shows.

By Sean McHugh

THE GOOMS: “Garage Rock with a Side of Hugs”

Nicole Rosenbach: Lead Guitar, Backup Vocals, from Los Angeles
Chase Klitzner: Guitar, Lead Vocals, from Los Angeles
Shane: Drums, from Los Angeles
Ryan: Bass, from Marin County

The Gooms! Thank you guys for coming to play The Yard last night.

Shane: Dude, thank you for having us. And thank your neighbors too. We were pretty loud.

Neighbors are definitely the real MVPs here. Well, welcome to KALX Berkeley 90.7 FM. We’re stoked to have you guys on to celebrate the release of your new EP, With an M. Tell me a little bit about the show you guys played at Bottom of the Hill in SF on 10/25.

Nicole: We are so lucky to have played there. It was a really sweet venue, and everyone who worked there was super nice to us. Great turnout with people dancing, and even a wall of fame with all these great bands like Green Day and Papa Roach who’d played there 20 years before us.

Ryan: It was also awesome driving 500 miles up and getting the same level of support from fans that we get in L.A.

Speaking of favorite bands, who are your guys’ biggest musical influences?

Nicole: Everytime we do an interview, they make me start *laughs* … I think right now I love the band Alabama Shakes, who I’ve always loved. Also, My Morning Jacket. I have many others, but just throwing those two out.

Chase: The Doors are a big one for me. Oingo Boingo is also huge for me. I love Danny Elfman a lot. There’s also this really cool current English band called Shame that are sick.

Shane: Led Zeppelin got me through middle school and high school. Basically, every year, I have a month of listening to Zeppelin, a month with Nirvana, a month with Weezer, just on repeat in my car. Nothing too new.

Great rotation.

Ryan: I listen to a lot of new wave, a lot of Talking Heads. I’m from the Bay Area, so I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead. Oh, and I love Green Day’s early stuff.

Nicole: Tell them your screen name.

Ryan: Green Day Ryguy. But don’t look that up on Youtube. *laughs*

How long have you guys individually been playing music?

Chase: I’ve been playing guitar for like 14 years, but I’ve only been singing for about 3. I always have sang, but it was never an active thing for me until we started doing live shows. Music was also always a bedroom thing for me, and then we just decided to do this band thing.

Everyone was really impressed last night. I think people showed up just assuming it was going to be a normal party, and you guys blew them away. So, how did The Gooms form?

Chase: Shane and I have known each other since we were 14 and we started playing music together just doing jokey Flight of the Conchords covers in his garage. We went to different colleges, but also knew we were gonna come back and start a band together. So, we had a band called DadBod for about a year, but that disbanded and gave us an opportunity to start The Gooms. We played as a duo for like 6 months, and then Nicole joined, which is also a funny story. My sister and Nicole met when they were at school together at Boulder, and she actually got to see some of those early DadBod shows.

Nicole: I was a fan.

Chase: She was a fan before she became the “Guitar Goddess of The Gooms”. So, Nicole joined the band, and we played probably for another half a year. Ryan joined the band in April 2018, also via my sister.

Ryan: Chase’s sister is basically the HR Department of The Gooms. *laughs*

Shane: You think she knows any keyboard or trumpet players?

Chase: We had a show in Echo Park one night, and Ryan came and told us he played bass. We jammed after the show, and he was prepped, man. He knew all of our songs already. Definitely very eager to join.

That’s how you make a good first impression.

Nicole: We were eager to have him, too.

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I was graduating, and I was a fan of their music already. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

No doubt. When were the songs for the EP written, and who writes most of them?

Chase: Well, the writing process is mostly collaborative. For these 6 songs, they mostly started with myself. We have one song that Shane and I put out as a demo in 2017 called “Late Nite Fone Calls” that we have since re-arranged and made better when our band became full. But typically, I’ll usually start with some form of idea, a chord progression, riff, or melody that’s not fully fleshed out, and then we get into the room together and hash it out as a band. And once we get that melody down, I usually go back and write the words. That seems to be the basic process, but every song is different.

Tell me a little bit about the choice of covers you played last night.

Nicole: So the covers are really fun because they always get the crowd going. We started with “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend, and then to introduce the band, we did “New Light” by John Mayer. And then I did “Just A Girl” by No Doubt.

Okay yeah, that was awesome.

Nicole: Thank you. That came about last week when we had our EP Release show at The Satellite in LA. Before that show, we decided to make a mashup with “Just A Girl” and our song “Big Head”…

Shane: During live shows, we always sub in a cover during the bridge of “Big Head”. Like we’ve done Zeppelin and “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Beat It” before too.

I need a recording of that.

Nicole: We can work on getting that for you. But yeah, I really just had this gut feeling of wanting to try out singing on stage, and everyone in the band backed it.

Ryan: Yeah, No Doubt is awesome. We love ska music as well. The new tracks we’re writing are incorporating a lot of different influences, so I think it’s a good indication of the things we have to come. It was very fitting.

How would you guys describe your sound to someone walking down the street who asked about The Gooms?

Chase: Hmm… garage rock with a side of hugs.

Wow, that might just be the headline of the interview. *laughs* I’m sure you’re going to get this question a lot, but where did the name The Gooms come from?

Chase: We were having a lot of trouble settling in on a new name after DadBod, and Shane just texted me one day after weeks of indecision saying, “What about ‘The Gooms’?” And I was like, “Yeah, why not?”

Shane: I remember being like, “Did he really just say yes?” *laughs* “Wow. He agreed with me, we’re doing this.”

Chase: And then once our friend Josh made the album art and logo on all our merch, we were like, “Well, we can’t go back now. We just paid for all these stickers.” So that was that. *laughs*

How was the recording process for this record? How long did it take, and who did you record with?

Nicole: Recording was the best thing ever. I keep telling people that this summer, just being in a recording studio and working out all the little kinks of the album made me so happy. The recording process was great though. We recorded with our producer, Paul Smith, who just absolutely killed it. Such a great job. The first five songs were done at Southland Studios in North Hollywood, and then very last minute we decided to add one more song, “My Dad”. So we recorded that one at Barefoot Studios.

Shane: Yeah, that’s where Stevie Wonder recorded Songs in the Key of Life. Like we got to play the piano he used for the album.

Ryan: It was Stevie Wonderful.

Chase: *laughs* So yeah, we started recording everything in April and went all the way through September, just adding more parts of vocals and guitar. Just listening and going back and making sure everything was perfect.

Shane: “My Dad” was recorded in about 2 weeks. Really quick turnaround.

Chase: Yeah. Then we got the mixes and masters back, and now we’re here.

Ryan: Started from the bottom, and now we’re at the Bottom of the Hill.

We work pretty closely with them at KALX, so that’s awesome you got to play there. And then coming here to Berkeley for The Yard show, I think the students all really loved it. So I fully expect you guys to be back up here soon.

Shane: Oh, 100%. We’ll have it on our tour list for you every time we come back to the Bay. “Show in SF Friday night, The Yard on Saturday”.

*laughs* Love that. Everyone’s welcome. What are the next steps for The Gooms?

Nicole: Well, we’ve had a really busy couple months, but because of that, we’ve gotten a residency at The Satellite in February? Every Monday night in February!

Whoaaa, congrats!

Chase: Yeah, we’re stoked. We have a couple more shows in L.A., and San Diego, and we’ll probably try to get back up to the Bay again right after the new year. Just gonna keep writing some new tunes and banging it out.

Are you expecting a full-length LP, another EP, a couple singles? What do you think is coming next for you guys?

Ryan: Probably a Grammy.

All: *laughs*

Chase: I think a full-length record, hopefully. The next time we all get back into the studio together, I think that’s going to be the plan. But maybe a couple singles here and there. The goal is to keep doing this as independent as possible. It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time, and it’s an intense process, but we’re gonna keep playing shows, and hopefully people keep digging what we’re doing so we can keep recording.

Shane: Thanks for playing us on the radio, man. Pretty cool of you. “My Dad”, right?

No problem, dude. Yeah, I love that song. Do you guys wanna explain any backstories about some of the songs on the EP? Or maybe where the inspiration came from?

Nicole: Sure. There’s a song that we play called “Squeep Fleep”, which I joke is the best song we’ll ever write. I just love it so much. I remember we were all in the rehearsal room, and I was just learning all the guitar parts to the songs. And they played this song called, “Squeep Fleep”, but just those early guitar chords (*she hums them outloud*) and the drums. Through that, I kinda came in and wrote a bassy guitar riff to go over it.

Shane: She did it in like 10 minutes. It was crazy.

Nicole: *laughs* Yeah, it was just a really special and wholesome moment. The song came together, and we all lit up like, “Hey! I really like this.”

Chase: I wasn’t really vibing to it before Nicole came in and worked her magic. But now, it’s became a fan-favorite, and I couldn’t be happier.

For me, and I think a lot of people here last night, we were all singing “My Dad” after you guys went off stage. Your songs have a tendency to stick in people’s heads, but also have such a natural groove. I always catch myself subconsciously humming along to them. It has that kind of effect, you know?

Chase: “My Dad" was definitely the fastest a song has ever come about for us. The whole thing is 4 chords, and I played it and sung the melody, and Shane started playing drums to it, and we had a song in an hour. And I really liked it at first which was weird, cause I usually don’t vibe with anything we do early on until it’s complete.

Shane: We had a show coming up like 2 days later, and it was still just the two of us at the time then. So I was like, why don’t we just play it?

Chase: We got a good response from it that night, and I think Nicole was actually in the audience the first time we played it.

Nicole: Yep, I was.

Chase: Nicole went home and wrote a solo to the song that night and came back the next morning, and we were just like, “Holy s**t… This is so good.” So now we just play it at the end of all of our shows, and the crowd really seems to like it.

Nicole: It’s a really fun one to play live, and we always try to interact with the audience when we do. Last night was especially fun when we played it because we got up on the front monitors and shredded.

Shane: Yeah, Chase is doing this thing now where he doesn’t even play guitar on it. He just runs around with the microphone and sings his head off.

Chase: Since the EP release show, I’ve decided to just sing that one and let these three great musicians really just hone in on it.

Ryan: I think not having two guitar parts on it really makes us play with extra emotion. We really have to fill it in. It’s impossible not to play “My Dad” without 100% effort.

Shane: Hey Chase, as your bandmate, do you think you’re gonna keep doing that more? Solo songs with no guitar and just singing?

Chase: I’d like to, yeah. I mean, obviously I’m gonna keep playing guitar a ton too, but I think it’s fun on certain songs. Especially “My Dad” as the closing tune.

Shane: Okay, 2011 Rivers Cuomo. *laughs*

Nicole: Right before we played it last night, Chase looked at me and asked if he should drop the guitar, and I was like, “Hell yeah.”

That medley of “Octopus’ Garden” right into “My Dad” was epic.

Shane: Usually we do “Say It Ain't So” before, so I was really confused. And then you guys started playing The Beatles, and I was like, “Oh, I guess we’re doing The Beatles thing.” And then Chase dropped his guitar, and I was like, “I guess we’re doing this thing too!” Nobody clued me into anything.

Chase: *laughs* We just went into it. No decisions were made beforehand, really. It’s more fun that way.

How much has your sound evolved over time as a band?

Chase: I think our sound has evolved a lot. When Shane and I were just a two-piece, we kinda relied mostly on our blues-y background to fill in the spaces of parts that normally would have been there with other band members and instruments. I remember when Nicole joined, she really gave us a chance to expand the sound cause she could do parts that I had in mind that I normally wouldn’t have been able to play alone. And when Ryan joined, it gave us almost free reign to play whatever we wanted.

Ryan: I think it definitely taught us as musicians to play off each other better.

Chase: Definitely. I think our dynamics have improved tenfold, and as a band, we’ve definitely become a lot tighter with this full sound.

Ryan: Starting with that minimalist approach as a two-piece was actually probably helpful because the music improved as layers joined. I’ve produced music for years as well, and nobody really knows what they’re doing at first, so you gotta make sure you understand two parts before you add a third. You gotta make sure you don’t lose those dynamics in translation.

That’s great. Alright well, that’s all that I’ve got this morning. Thank you so much for coming up here and playing, and coming onto KALX as well. Everyone be sure to check out THE GOOMS! Their new EP With an M dropped October 19th, and is streaming everywhere now. Expect to hear new music soon! And definitely be sure to catch them at a live show because they are incredible.

Nicole: That’s a lot of pressure *laughs*, but thank you Sean, we had a blast!

Ryan: Go Bears.

Thank you guys, much love. Thank you for tuning into KALX.

Sean McHugh (aka The Mick in the Morning) is a senior at UC Berkeley, born and raised in Los Angeles, with a deep passion for live music, who recommends The Gooms to everyone he sees.