A Discussion About Gaytheism: Jason Rivera Talks Band Names, A New Album, And More
Band Photo: Gaytheist (?)
Portland trio Gaytheist is gearing up to burst out of the closet and onto the streets with "Hold Me...But Not So Tight." The rollicking good time and follow-up to "Stealth Beats" will see release through Good To Die Records this coming May 21st.
Intrigued by the name and sound, I got in touch with front man Jason Rivera to chat him up about "Hold Me..." and all things Gaytheist. Check out a transcript of our chat below, in which Jason discussed the multiple interpretations of the band's name, recording at Interlace Audio with "Stealth Beats" producer Stephan Hawkes, and the Portland music scene.
xFiruath: How did Gaytheist come together?
Jason: I’ve known Tim, our bass player, since high school, so a good 20 years. We messed around in bands and played together. He played for the better part of the past decade in a punk band called Lopez. Nick, I saw him playing in a band when he was 16. He was in a band called Nihilist and I was always impressed with his drumming. We were actually all together in a five piece band three years ago, that only lasted about a year and fell apart, and at the very end of 2010 Nick and I started playing as a duo and then Tim joined in. We played our first show in January 2011 in Florida.
xFiruath: How did you end up on the Good to Die Records roster?
Jason: Nik was running a blog called Seattle Rock Guy and when he started Good To Die Records he was kind of known as the guy to set up shows. He wrote about the heavy bands and even like four or five years ago any bands getting signed to labels were folk/indie rock type bands. And he’s a huge fan of punk rock and heavy metal and all that. So he was promoting it and I stumbled across his blog where he was writing about a couple of obscure bands in Portland I liked that didn’t ever get much press, so I was impressed that he wrote them up. We had just pressed our first self-released CD and hadn’t really done anything with it, so I sent him a copy of it and to the Seattle KEXP radio. I got lucky because the radio started playing one of the songs from it and he also liked the CD, so we went up to Seattle. We hit it off and kept working together, and when we recorded “Stealth Beats,” our first album, it was the first time I’d been part of a project that had a really good quality recording. By the time we get everything done usually I felt like we had a demo instead of an album, and this was the first time I was impressed with the quality, so I sent it to him and he wanted to put it out.
xFiruath: I love the band name, and we had a bit of a debate at Metalunderground as to just what is meant by it. How did you guys choose that title and has it cause any problems for you?
Jason: When it was just Nick and I, we were going to call it Hemperor, but it’s hard to get the “H” across, so people would be like, isn’t there already a band called “Emperor?” We posted on Facebook about needing a band name, and like 200 names were written down. I was doing this stream of consciousness thing just blurting out names, and Gaytheist came to me. A lot of people were like “oh my god, you have to use that!” I also happen to be gay and an atheist, so it’s perfect. We just went with it. I’ve never done anything outside the Northwest or thought about repercussions on a large scale of having an offensive band name, but now that we’re on Good to Die Records I think it’s been more positive than negative. The only negative thing is that I think there’s been a few larger publications and radio stations that were uncomfortable with our name, and I feel like we may have lost some opportunities there. With the white noise and sheer amount of bands coming out, we’re finding having this name makes us stand out and intrigues people.
xFiruath: It’s kind of sad that it’s even considered an offensive name. You’re gay atheists, so what? If they don’t like it, fuck ‘em.
Jason: Yeah, you’d think, but early on a friend of ours was telling us about how some guys who were into hardcore were saying they thought it was lame we were using this name without being gay, and I guess it made me realize it’s not that I’m in the closet, but I wear suits all the time so I don’t really look the part. This friend of mine is telling me this story and I’m like, what do you mean? There IS a gay person in our band! Some people also seem to confuse it with like a gay theist, but that’s not it, it just rhymes with atheist. The very first logo I made, the “G” and “Y” were different colors to make it look more like “gay” and “atheist.” People can assume it means whatever, but for us it means “gay atheist.”
xFiruath: You have a new album coming out now, what’s happening with the sound and how did the recording go?
Jason: It’s a little more serious than “Stealth Beats.” At any given time we have songs that are serious and songs that are completely silly, but this is less silly. Musically I think we’re continuing to get more comfortable with each other. With the last one almost all the songs were under two minutes, with this one it’s a bit longer and has songs with more going on. As far as recording, it was almost identical to “Stealth Beats.” We had the same engineer because we were so happy with the last album. We don’t have enough money to spend a lot of time in the studio, but we do have enough money to go to a good studio. So we practice and get everything down super tight. I spend a lot of time on vocal inflections, so we go in super prepared and do a whirlwind two day recording session.
xFiruath: Are there new tour dates lined up, and what’s happening for your music scene local?
Jason: The local scene is really fun, we have a record release in May. Locally there’s a label called Eolian Empire and they are putting out a ton of stuff, later on they are putting out a 26 song Portland compilation that will have us. As far as touring, we just did a tour for “Stealth Beats” finally, so it will probably be months until touring for the new one. We are doing some local festivals throughout the summer in Portland and Seattle. Then we’re going to Canada to play a festival, and that should be cool. I think this summer we’re going to stick to Washington, Alberta, and Oregon.
xFiruath: Do you plan on releasing a music video for the new album?
Jason: I’m in talks with somebody super amazing, but I don’t want to say anything and jinx it. We have a bunch of music video ideas. We actually have scripts we’ve written out, but we haven’t made them yet.
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