If you've kept an ear to the local music scene over the past year or two, the odds are good that you've heard about GGOOLLDD. Even though the band's barely been together since late 2013, the band's catchy and hypnotic blend of synth pop and rock has made them one of Milwaukee's fastest growing bands.
It's also one of the busiest, cranking out a four-song EP "$TANDARD$" last year, as well as a newly released music video for the newly released single "Boyz" and an upcoming box set from Gloss Records – all in between a flurry of energetic gigs all over the city and state, including the upcoming inaugural Arte Para Todos.
The band hits the Company Brewing (the former Stonefly Brewery) stage on Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. OnMilwaukee.com caught up with lead singer Margaret Butler and guitarist/keys player Tony Hunt to learn more (namely about the name) about Milwaukee's latest music obsession.
OnMilwaukee.com: How did you guys come together as a band?
Margaret Butler: Me and Tony met in the summer, almost two years ago. We met through Nick (Ziemann), who is our bass player and my boyfriend. Tony showed me some of his music; I loved it. We went out drinking together. We were like, "Let’s start a band!" I didn’t really think anything would come of it, just because we were, you know, out drinking. But we were getting excited about it, and like, "Let’s start this band!"
We both went home, and then Tony sends me this song at 4 a.m. The next day, I woke up and put lyrics to it, and I had him come over to the house and sang it to him. He was like, "I love that; let’s record that." So we did, and that was "Gold." That was our first song. We put it on Bandcamp, and the rest is history.
OMC: So did the name come from that first song or the other way around?
MB: I think the name must have been afterward because we spent a while trying to come up with a band name, and we came up with a song the second we were like, "Let’s start a band!"
Tony Hunt: Yeah, because Margaret’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and this was like two weeks before then when we finally got the song done. Nick tracked some bass on it, and we were like, "We should have a Halloween party and play it!" And then we’re like, "Oh man, we need a band!" (laughs) We did in an attic, our debut. There was a ton of people there.
MB: There was no drummer.
TH: We had some friends play on it with us, and our synth player Thomas (Gilbert) played with us. That was our first show, and then we got asked to play another show at Hotel Foster. And then we got asked to do another show.
MB: And another show and another show and another show … (laughs)
OMC: So how did the name come up then? Just, we have to give ourselves a name at some point?
TH: I think we just all really liked being named after gold, like it just sounded cool or something.
MB: If you type in "Gold" in Google search, it’s just the metal. We tried "Gold band," and it was all wedding rings. We were, like, you’ll never be able to find us if we’re just Gold, so we were trying to think of how to spell it differently. So we Googled "GGOOLLDD" and there was nothing, so it was like, "This is a good starting point!"
TH: I would say Google shaped our name. Changing the world one band name at a time. (laughs)
OMC: You have a kind of dual citizenship here in Milwaukee and in Nashville now. How do you make the band work with that distance?
TH: Well, I moved in November so it’s just been the past couple of months we’ve been dealing with it. It came at a time when we were just getting off of playing like two shows every weekend for what seemed like forever. Which was awesome, but we released "Gold," and we were playing shows non-stop, and people were like, "Release an EP! Release an EP!" and then we got all these show offers on top of the shows we already confirmed. We just kind of needed a break, and the holidays were coming up, so we took a little time off and worked on the single we just released.
MB: I think it actually works out better I feel that you’re there because instead of concentrating on playing shows every freaking day, we can actually get other stuff done.
TH: It gave some distance for the band and a little bit more clarity after the holidays and the 88.9 show and we filmed the music video. I think we all kind of agreed that this is something we want to pursue instead of just playing in attics around Milwaukee. Maybe we’re a little more goal-orientated this year because of that.
OMC: Obviously you’ve grown quite the audience here in a short period of time. Do you think that has to do with your brand of synth pop rock music, that there’s not quite a ton of that coming out of Milwaukee or Wisconsin?
TH: I think there’s a lot of a synth rock and synth pop bands around. I think a lot of it originally had to do with that maybe, just because there wasn’t a lot of attention on it.
MB: There’s not a ton of synth bands, but there are a couple. I think we’re just a little bit more loud and obnoxious about it.
TH: I think our live shows are pretty fun. We beat ourselves up pretty hard if we’re not having as much fun as the audience. Every time we play, it’s a big deal: Margaret makes an outfit, we rehearse a ton and we make sure the lighting is cool and we sound good. We’ll try our best to bring the best show possible live to people who want to come see us. We’ve had a lot of repeat fans.
A couple of shows in, we were like, "Man, we don’t know anybody at this show; this is awesome!" And it was a normal Milwaukee show, where you know 90 percent of the crowd and then there’s the 10 percent of the bar patrons who are just there to drink and they’re like, "Who are these guys?" (laughs) We’ve just been really blessed and lucky with how our band’s been received.
OMC: What is it about the live shows that you want to make such an emphasis for?
MB: For me personally, that’s the whole reason for doing this. Those are the highlights of this whole project.
TH: I think we all grew up on going to our first concerts and that’s what made us want to be musicians or artists. You’re basically able to get music for free nowadays, but to be able to justify the $4 price tag of our songs, we want to give that back with a fun experience. And that’s kind of the reason why we started the band, just to have fun, so it’d be a shame if we didn’t try to carry that on a year later.
MB: These chicks get dressed in their heels and makeup, and they spend so much time getting ready, and they pay money to get in the door – or not, whatever – to go to a show where nobody is moving or dancing? Being one of those girls, I got really bummed out about it when I moved to Milwaukee because where I’m from, there’s a party every night. When I moved here, it was like, "No one’s dancing! No one’s moving! No one’s doing anything!"
TH: Milwaukee had a lot of the crossed arm, head-bobbing syndrome I think for a while. I think it’s gotten better in the last few years.
OMC: Last year, you debuted your first EP. What was it like making that and releasing that, finally getting it into the world?
TH: It was good!
MB: It was relieving. There were so many people like, "You need to release songs! You need to release songs!" We were playing the same six songs for the past 100 shows. We don’t have time to sit down and write, so it was finally nice to be like "Where are your songs? Where are your songs?" "Here! We have them! Take it! Here! Shut up!" (laughs)
TH: There was definitely a lot of stress lifted off because, for one, we had more than just one song – that we made in a weekend basically out playing on the radio for eight months. So that was cool.
I rewrote "Bling Ring" the week we released it, or the week before. Just a lot of little changes and then had to mix it, and we were down to the last deadline with problems with whatever you could think of with scheduling a release show.
MB: He’s being humble. But he had to rewrite the record and then mix the entire record. And then we sent if off to get mastered, and it wasn’t working out, so in 48 hours, he had to master the entire record by himself. So … yeah … pretty intense.
TH: It felt good to get it out and let people enjoy it, and I think a lot of people did, which was great.
OMC: I read you guys are hoping on a full-length at some point this year? Or are there other things you’re hoping to do first?
TH: I mean, we’re still writing and working on stuff and getting a solid live show together. We’re doing a Gloss Records release actually. I think it’s a really good holdover until we finalize some songs and get back in the studio to write and finish recording. We’ll probably have a full-length thing in the end of summer or early fall realistically. But for now, we’re focusing on these couple of shows in Milwaukee and then we go down to (SXSW) for a couple of shows. We’ll be playing shows again in April and May.
Every week is a new week for us. We get a new email that sparks a new decision or project. Everything’s moving very fast right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if things either sped up a ton or slowed down a lot. (laughs)
OMC: You’re performing at Arte Para Todos this weekend. What is it about this event that really spoke to you?
TH: Personally, I found the arts in school – that was the only thing that really got me into it – and I think the idea that education for that is getting cut and cut and cut, and I see so many art schools get closed down and programs get transferred. It’s a huge, sad thing – especially being a person that obviously is taking advantage of having that background. I think it’s amazing what they’re doing, getting so many people to donate their time for funding. It’s crazy.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.