There are bands who acknowledge their limitations, and there are bands that are so unconcerned with achieving any level of success that they intentionally add hurdles between their music and the mere prospect of letting listeners know they exist. You can probably count new Milwaukee punk project Gallery Night among the latter classification. Though Gallery Night (<- Here’s where we’d link their Facebook page if they had bothered to make one) takes pride in its “un-Google-able” name and lack of bass player, the trio’s roots in bygone Milwaukee band Centipedes, Chicago-based Football, and Baseball Furies (Chicago by way of Buffalo) is enough to make the purposely low-priority project stand out.
Before Gallery Night goes on display in Milwaukee for the first time at Cocoon Room tomorrow, Milwaukee Record spoke to drummer Kelsey Kaufmann and baritone guitarist Christopher Brook about why they decided to keep playing together after Centipedes ended, what new variable/Vanguard co-owner Jim McCann brings to the table in the role of singer and guitarist, and Gallery Night’s all-around easygoing approach to music.
Milwaukee Record: So when did you all meet?
Christopher Brook: About a year ago [Jim and I] just happened to be suffering from too much social anxiety to handle Mitten Fest, so we just came [to Blackbird] and drank and decided to start a band. He asked if I knew any drummers, and I said I know just the person. That’s how Kelsey got pulled into it.
MR: And by that time Centipedes was over? It seems like it was sort of a quiet departure, with no last show announced or anything.
CB: We recorded and then our singer moved out to California for a while, so that kind of wrapped it up for us unofficially. Then the other guitarist in Centipedes moved out past Madison, and then it was officially done.
MR: You said you recommended Kelsey. Why do you feel you guys play well together? Why did you want to do it again?
CB: We get along really well. That’s a big part of it. I mean, I don’t want to be in a band with individuals that I don’t care to hang out with otherwise. And our playing style—we probably come from totally different approaches but—it works really well together.
KK: Yeah, as far as what we listen to and the bands we’ve played in before, they sound nothing alike. Chris has introduced me to a lot of music, not that it has any bearing on what we sound like. None of what we listen to actively sounds like what we’re playing.
CB: I think that’s true for all three of us. If you were to take us by what we’re listening to on our own time, you wouldn’t find too many commonalities there.
MR: Well, we’re already basically there, so why don’t we get into the all-too awkward question for a band that has never played a show. What do you sound like?
CB: That’s a hard question to answer. I can tell you things about us. Obviously you know what drums sound like.
MR: I’ve heard them once or twice.
CB: Well, Kelsey hits them really hard, so there’s that. Jim likes really bright, piercing guitar with a lot of reverb, and he’s the singer. I also play guitar, but I play a baritone guitar rather than a bass guitar, so that changes the composition of what you’d expect a normal three-piece to sound like. It’s the same basic set-up as Centipedes, except a three-piece now, and the song structure is a little more deliberately unrefined. Not that Centipedes was all that complicated. We’d joke about having songs with two parts in them, but we’d play for six minutes. With this band, we might still have just two parts to a song, but we’re only playing for a minute and a half.
KK: When I explain to buddies out of town, I say A Frames meets METZ meets garage rock.
CB: I like all those things and I would think we’d fit on that bill. But I don’t know, it’s seems like every time we write a song, it comes out somehow in an entirely different direction. I think it’s a little too soon to say.
MR: How many songs do you have written? Or how many will you play at the show Friday?
CB: We had a six-song set when we played in Chicago in December.
KK: But we didn’t have a name for that show.
MR: Oh, so this isn’t even your first show, just your first show in Milwaukee?
CB: Yeah, we had an under-the-radar show. We’ve had a hard time settling on a name, but we got asked to do a Christmas party in Chicago, so we just assumed the disposable name “Christmas On Easter Island.”
MR: How did the test run go?
CB: I think it went really well. Better than I had expected.
MR: What’s behind the new name, though? Are you hoping to trick people into walking into your shows?
CB: Jim’s last band was Football. He has a weird sense of humor, and one thing he liked about the name was how particularly un-Google-able it was. I think he was excited when we started kicking around ideas of completely unhelpful band names.
MR: What were some others?
KK: Google. Internet.
CB: At any rate, the idea of having a band name that is not even helpful to our cause of being a band in general, it’s ridiculous and it’s counterproductive, but it kind of makes us laugh. And eventually people will catch on. If people want to hear us, they’ll find a way to figure it out.
MR: You got into your background together, but what does the new variable, Jim, bring to the band? What’s he like to play with?
CB: He’s great to play with. He’s pretty easygoing.
KK: Unfettered flexibility.
CB: He reins things and keeps things more driving and to the point. I tend to meander a bit more, so that dynamic works.
KK: Jim kind of came to the table with, “Okay, I have these chords. Let’s do it. Let’s make a two-minute song with no bullshit.”
MR: It seems like with that philosophy and even the name and everything, it’s a low-stress project. The aim isn’t getting on MTV or taking of the city. It’s just an outlet.
KK: I think that’s super fair. I think we’re all approaching it from the angle where we’ve all played music for a long time, and we really like playing together on Wednesday nights. We all respect one another. I’m stoked on the music that we’re playing, but I’m also stoked to be able to chisel out time each week to kick it.
CB: It’s never going to be a chore for us. It’s just going to be something we do because we want to.
Gallery Night will make its Milwaukee debut Friday, March 6 at Cocoon Room as part of an all ages show that also features Dogs In Ecstasy, The Hussy (Madison), and Other Masquerades (Illinois). The show begins at 7 p.m. and costs $7. The trio will also open for Whips on March 21 and Disappears on April 14, both at Cactus Club.