If you read this site semi-regularly, take even a passing interest in Milwaukee music, or have turned on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee within the last hour, you assuredly already know GGOOLLDD. On the weight of its criminally catchy debut EP $TANDARD$, the synth-pop project came out of nowhere to capture area acclaim, win Song Of The Year honors by the aforementioned radio station, and put on lively shows everywhere from Turner Hall and Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party to fashion shows, a concert cruise, and the 20th anniversary party at Walker’s Pint.
Before GGOOLLDD was a Brew City darling, though, it was a less-than-serious musical endeavor that only intended on playing one Halloween show in an attic. However, some 15 months after that low-risk attic outset, GGOOLLDD has succeeded with a focus on fun and an inability to say no to any worthwhile, exciting, or just plain strange opportunity thrown their way. Before the band takes to Turner Hall to play Saturday’s Pablove 6 benefit concert, Milwaukee Record asked GGOOLLDD’s Tony Hunt, Thomas Gilbert, and Nick Ziemann about the rapid rise to local prominence, why they feel their music resonates with Milwaukee audiences, and how they handle members being split between Milwaukee and Nashville.
Milwaukee Record: Last year was your first full year as a band. You won an 88Nine award, had some great opening gigs, and played a ton of festivals. What were some of the highlights that stand out from the first year?
Tony Hunt: I guess just starting a band. We played an attic gig for fun at the end of October , and we just invited a bunch of friends. I think we had Lowdown Sound open for us. It was just all last-minute, all fun. We just wanted to throw a Halloween party. It’s Margaret’s favorite holiday. Off of that, our friend Bree was there. She was like, “You guys are awesome. Do you want to do this fashion show at [Hotel] Foster next month?” We were like, “Why not?” and then “Shit! Now we need a band.”
Thomas Gilbert: We only had four songs and no drummer. We played that show without a drummer, just like tracks of drums.
TH: That show went really well, then John [Revord] at Boone [& Crockett] asked us to do a show, and it just kept going.
Nick Ziemann: We kind of weaseled our way into a couple things. Once there’s a new active band in Milwaukee, everybody’s like “Oh, there’s fresh meat?” And then you can easily get on things.
MR: It seems like Milwaukee has really rallied around you. You’ve gotten a lot of local love. Did you expect the response?
TH: No. It was never intentionally supposed to be anything. We didn’t really put much thought into being an actual band. Then more and more people kept asking us to do more and more things.
NZ: I’ve been in a few bands and I’ve never had the general support from as many people, and it’s the most generous I’ve seen Milwaukee be—at least to any band that I’ve ever been in. It’s nice when you don’t have to work to get people to listen to you.
MR: This is mostly for Nick. Is there a reason you think that this project seems to resonate the most with people? Is it because it’s not the type a type of music we’re used to hearing from Milwaukee?
NZ: I think that’s part of it, and I think it’s the positivity of it. Our winters here are fucking long, and you see a lot of shoegazing bands—and I love a lot of those bands, personally—but I speculate it’s because it’s just relatively upbeat. Margaret does a great job. I’ve been with her for seven years and I always knew that if she’d ever play with a band, she’d kill it.
MR: It just seems like an easygoing, fun project. When we previously spoke, Margaret told me she’d never been in a band before this, and you guy only really started writing music for this project in November 2013.
TH: We wrote that [first] song the week before the first show. We planned the show before we had the music. I was like, “Fuck now we need songs!”
MR: So it was a really wild and unexpected first year, but what does the present year hold for GGOOLLDD? I know you have a music video coming out in less than a month.
TH: A music video, a new single, a remix album of the EP, and then a full-length…though that’s tentative.
NZ: We kind of play things loose and fast.
MR: It seems like it’s been working so far. With you living in Nashville now Tony, does it become more difficult to stay so easygoing and in the moment? It seems like you’re back a lot.
NZ: I have a feeling the highways between Milwaukee and Nashville will be used heavily over the next few years.
TH: It’s not that bad. I don’t think it’s difficult. We had agreed to all these shows, then we’d get people asking us to fill in dates between the shows we’d already agreed to. So we’d play Turner Hall, then we’d play [Riverwest] Public House for 10 people, then the Majestic. So we’ll take some time off. We just want to work on some new stuff and get our heads back in the game.
MR: Speaking of local shows you accepted, you’re playing the Pablove benefit concert this weekend. Why was it important to take on this show?
NZ: Not only is it for a great, positive, and compelling cause, sometimes I think philanthropy can be such a third party thing, like “I want to look like I’m doing something nice.” I think the Castelaz’s story and what they did with a horrible situation to raise awareness and raise money, it’s hard not to get behind that. And the Pablove stuff is always well-curated, so we knew we weren’t walking into a sloppy situation. It’s always well-billed and well-attended.
TH: We’re just honored to be asked. It’s crazy, like, full circle. A year ago we just did this for fun, but now we’re going to open for the lead singer of Garbage at Turner Hall, and we’re honored to donate our time to do it.
At Saturday’s Pablove 6 benefit concert at Turner Hall, Shirley Manson of Garbage will perform a one-off show with Sons Of The Silent Age, a David Bowie tribute band featuring Matt Walker (Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins) and Chris Connelly (Ministry). Other acts on the bill include Replacements tribute band Pleased To Meet Me; Morrissey/The Smiths tribute band The Salford Lads Club; GGOOLLDD; Brett Newski; and Rebecca Hron.