Interview: Geese: Departing Post-Punk, ‘3D Country’ and Nearly Calling it Quits

Interview: Geese. Taken from Issue Forty-Three of So Young. Published April 2023.

The road to maturity is treating Geese well. It’s often said that youthfulness keeps life exciting, and holding onto that youthfulness is the hardest part. The transition is fraught with difficulty, and clouds of confusion hang over you as you travel the winding road into that scary thing called ‘adulthood’. As they prepare for the release of their second album, ‘3D Country’, the New York quintet are embarking on that journey, but they’re doing so in a way that keeps a firm grasp on the carefree spirit that characterised their previous work. It’s startling to think that frontman Cameron Winter is still only 21 years old, as he speaks with the sagacity and knowledge of someone way beyond his years.

While debut album ‘Projector’ was a spritely yet often scrappy take on post-punk, it wore its influences proudly upon its sleeve and is best taken for what it is on face value – a band of teenagers figuring out their sound and having fun with it. With ‘3D Country’, the band have found themselves invigorated by a broader range of influences, and the three years since they recorded their previous effort have seemingly allowed Geese to evolve into a tighter and more adventurous group, squeezing elements of classic rock, Americana and gospel into a freewheeling odyssey of a record.

Geese inside Issue Forty-Three. Pick up a copy here.

Since ‘3D Country’ has a lot of country themes, can you pitch the album to me as though it were a Western film rather than a record?

I guess we already made a Western with the videos we’ve put out for ‘3D Country’ and ‘Cowboy Nudes’, or the closest thing to it that we could afford. I’ll let that speak for itself. I think I went a little too far with the cowboy thing, honestly, but luckily the most ‘yeehaw’ songs are the first two singles we put out.

What made you want to touch on those themes in the first place? 

The last record we did was very self-conscious and was very much about the thoughts I had in my own head at the time, and I wanted to get more existential and ambitious lyrically for this one. A lot of the songs are about that anger that I had, and I felt it was worth expressing. A little bit of my own thoughts will make it in there, but I was just drawn to it because it felt important.

From a musical perspective, what pushed you further away from the sound you had on ‘Projector’? There’s elements of you returning to your roots of being a proggier, jammier band.

I’m surprised you brought up stuff from pre-’Projector’ because nobody ever listened to that. ‘Projector’ was the most original thing we’d made up to that point, having made two or three crappily recorded projects. We were listening to bands like Preoccupations, Ought, Women – that was our own version of that, which involved a lot of weed and synthesiser sounds. We over-produced the shit out of it, but in a good way. We rightfully got put into that post-punk bubble of bands that have the same influences as us, and while some of that is really good, it didn’t feel like what we see the band as. Our goal at the outset of this record was to make something that can’t be termed post-punk.

Prior to Partisan signing you, you were on the verge of calling it quits, right?

Yeah, we’d all been accepted into college. It was really the last possible moment that a change could have been made, and we got lucky and started getting offers.

With that in mind, how do you feel having made two records for a label has changed your outlook on the future of the band? 

Oh my god, so many ways. I knew nothing about the music industry three years ago; it was just this distant, fickle thing. We’ve come in with a lot of optimism and wanting to work hard, but we’ve also introduced money and stakes to our friendship, which is really poisonous and scary in a lot of ways. Back when we were in high school, I used to see successful bands breaking up and fighting – like you’re one of the biggest bands to exist, why would you ever give that up and stop fighting for your creative vision? I couldn’t understand it as a 16-year-old, but I totally get it now (laughs). It’s a lot, and it’s not the life some people want. The ups and downs are very extreme, but at the end of the day, we’re learning so much musically and that’s the most exciting part. What we do have is this blind and foolish musical ambition to make it really good and keep moving away from what we’ve already done.

Did the process of making ‘3D Country’ feel more free than ‘Projector’ did?

Yes and no – they both felt free. ‘Projector’ was super free because we didn’t have to answer to anyone at all, so we were free to make mistakes I guess. This record felt better in that we had definitely progressed a lot musically. Since getting signed and going in, we got to a point where we could make what we wanted to. We had an idea in our heads that we couldn’t really accomplish immediately. That was more freeing in a way. We also had people helping us – we could hire backing singers and a string section.

I’ve noticed that you’ve grown a lot more comfortable in your voice and sticking to a more consistent style too, why did you choose to move away from the variety of voices you used on ‘Projector’? 

I just feel like there’s a lot of talk-singing at the moment, and while a lot of it is great, I get mad at it because it really doesn’t suit some bands like they might think it does. I got mad at the trend, and I wanted to do the opposite of that and sing way too hard. Now the singing parts are really overblown and exaggerated. I really like vocal affectation too – I know it doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, but I find when it’s done right it can be really beautiful. I have a lot of vocal inspirations like Linda Sharrock, Robbie Basho and Tim Buckley.

Is there a particular point in your past that was your ‘eureka moment’ for wanting to be in a band?

I’ve been thinking about this actually, there have been a few moments that clued me into different things. I remember being in eighth grade being driven to school and my dad put on the song ‘International Feel’ by Todd Rundgren. It starts with all these bleeps and bloops, but when it got to the chorus, it modulated down in a way that sounded so crazy to me that I never would have anticipated. It literally blew my mind, so I listened to everything he had ever done in a week after that.

Was music always a big thing around the house?

It wasn’t the be all and end all of life, but my dad would show me music when we were driving. There’s a part of him that finds it kind of pretentious to make music similar to what we make, but he does like it. During ‘Projector’ he was a real help because I’d take him early demos, and the ones that were bad he’d be really honest with me about them. He’s helped me grow, but he’s always been good as a resource to tell me when something’s shit.

Are there any people external from your family or the band that gave you that extra push?

We were in an after-school programme that put a bunch of kids with rock equipment in a room learning covers, and we had an instructor called Bob Jones. He’s now in the bands Pill and P.E. from New York. He was a huge help, especially when labels came knocking as he could give a lot of great advice. He’s been with us since we were 10. We took him out for dinner with our first advance. 

How do you hope people will react to the developments in sound on the new record, and what do you think their takeaways will be?

I think it’s going to be positive, but I can never tell. People have responded better than I thought to the singles. There’s a few people who think it sucks, but I disagree. It’s a more representative direction and I just hope people like it. We tried our best.

I think if you’re enjoying it, you’re at the very least staying true to yourself.

Well said.

3D Country is out now via Partisan Records/PIAS. Listen here.

Illustration by Line Hachem

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