Joe Gaudiana started releasing music as Edgar Clinks in his dorm-room while studying at poetry at The New School. After relocating the indie-rock project to Providence, Edgar recorded their latest album, “i live in a tree these days” in a time spent listening to The Magnetic Fields, R.E.M, Brian Eno, Joni Mitchell, Beat Happening, Pavement, and The Breeders. After releasing their album on Super Wimpy Punch, they’ve been touring the US & Canada heavily, stopping home to write and record a new album.
INTERVIEW WITH JOE GAUDIANA (GUITARIST/VOCALIST)
(Interview conducted and written by Connor Sullivan)
Q: How was your recent tour?
A: Really good and really sweaty. We went to Toronto, which is one of my favorite cities ever. We played with a lot of good bands, including our friends Beverly Tender from Providence. Lots of sleeping on floors in my really hot, sweaty sleeping bag with no A/C. It was great.
Q: Any low points on the tour, city-wise?
A: Probably Cincinnati, since no one was there. But they gave us free burritos and beer, which made it worth it.
Q: What projects are you guys looking toward making in the future?
A: I’m recording an album now, and maybe halfway done with it. I’m recording it with a ton of people — basically anyone that feels like playing with me at a given time. I’m trying to make it a point with this album to use as many people as I can. Utilize the talents of my friends and try to include them on the album instead of it just being me playing all the instruments, which was the case on my first record. The latest one, however, was recorded with Sean and Pat over the course of five days, at Hanging Horse Studio in Norwood, MA. Trying to do the opposite of that with this release. I’m recording every song at a different studio with a different people and different bands contributing to each song. The first song was recorded in January, but the record won’t be complete until September.
Q: Did you grow up here?
A: Yep. I grew up in Scituate, which is about ten miles west of Providence. And then I went to school in New York at The New School only to come back.
Q: What was your stint in New York like?
A: That’s where all the early shows were. It was just like me and my roommates at the time. Tons of shitty bar shows. We had a couple good ones, however. We played Cake Shop, which was fun. We went to Boston and played O’Brien’s with this band called The Owens. They were mostly pretty bad shows in bars with nobody there though. When I moved to Providence, I started making a lot of friends and playing lots of great shows with people like Beverly Tender, Lady Queen Paradise, and Food Court.
Q: What other projects led up to Edgar Clinks?
A: During high school, I was in this pop-punky Green Day-wannabe band. But by my senior year of high school, I was done with that. That was like the year I discovered Pitchfork and became really pretentious for a couple years. My freshman year of college, I was trying to write noise stuff that was deliberately inaccessible. In retrospect, I was probably just hiding behind that stuff. I figured no one could make fun of me if I just hid behind a wall of noise. I saw Fleet Foxes in Brooklyn that year, and realized I could never write songs that involved that kind of orchestration. Later on, I started going to more DIY shows and began to write actual songs instead of noise. I decided to make an album before I even did shows. I did it alone, with my friend Eli on drums. Shortly after that, I began playing lots of Boston shows, started playing a lot with Food Court. Who just broke up. It’s basically just been the same since.
Q: You think you’re fairly established in the scene at this point?
A: In a sense. I have a lot of friends, but then there’s this whole other side of Providence I don’t know. Sometimes it feels like I know a lot of people, but then I realize just how big Providence truly is.
Q: Ever think of leaving?
A: Oh, all the time. Not because I don’t love Providence, but just because I wanted a change. I was actually gonna move to Philly or New York or something after that tour in January, but instead I just booked another tour and figured I’d move after that tour. But then I booked another tour. I’ve just been touring constantly for seven months this year. I figure after this next tour in July I’m just gonna get an apartment in Providence during August.
Q: Is there time for a day job in the midst of all this songwriting and touring?
A: I worked at Nice Slice pizzeria for a year and a half. I might work at the new location on the West Side for a couple months or so. I also worked at Cable Car for a couple months. But for the past seven months I’ve been on the road constantly, so there’s been no time.
Q: What thematic content do you tend to address in your songs?
A: Caffeine. I probably mention coffee in like four out of five songs, which is something that someone recently brought to my attention. My songs are about like everyday experiences, and I have coffee every day, so even if the songs aren’t explicitly about coffee, it’s in there because it’s in my everyday life. I try to write about things that seem mundane and give them a sense of wonder and surreality. Smoking weed, eating food — I try to elevate experiences like that. Make something ordinary seem more important. Like, in this moment, there’s this glowing aura around a cup of coffee, as opposed to it just being there with no sense of wonder.
Q: Do you still get to experience these ordinary experiences while on tour?
A: Good question. Yes and no. Touring is actually very monotonous. You wake up somewhere you’ve never been in someone’s living room and just get coffee and hop in the car. Drive for four or five hours, get to the venue, try to eat something really quickly before you play, play a show, and then you’re just at the bar or at someone’s house drinking beer. And then you sleep at a stranger’s house again. For how messy that may seems, it’s actually very calculated. Even when you want to be more spontaneous and stuff, you can’t because you have to drive and plan things out carefully. It’s tough to experience the things you want to on tour. But I guess that’s why I also like it — you’re stepping out of your sense of ordinary, eating at places you don’t get to, interacting with people you’d otherwise never meet. When you play a house show and step out of the car and meet like seven people for the first time, it’s also kind of the opposite of the mundane.
Q: Do you draw from stuff that happened on tour in your lyrics?
A: No, not really. I used to really romanticize touring and being really inspired by the road. I thought I was gonna write this epic record that was inspired by being a vagabond and being in a new place every day. But unfortunately you don’t have that much time to write, as much as I would like to. I guess all those experiences are internalized and it comes out into something, but nothing is really “road-inspired.” I don’t think anyone would read the lyrics I’m writing nowadays and be like, “Oh, this guy’s been on the road a lot.” Quite the opposite, actually. I think I’ve been writing a lot more about being indoors. I’ve just been appreciating that stuff more. I wrote a whole song about sitting on a couch. Which is way more fascinating than that would lead you to believe.
Q: What do you listen to on the road?
A: A lot of stuff. This tour, we had Sonic Youth’s A Thousand Leaves. Which is a great, underrated Sonic Youth record. I never really listened to it until I bought it in a record store in Ohio. I bought that, Beaches & Canyons by Black Dice, and Dub Housing by Pere Ubu. Those are the ones we bought and had in heavy rotation. Shawn also bought a Belly record, and that’s a really good band. Technique by New Order, too. Really crazy techno and house. It’s got that weird vaporwave album. Always got Elvis Costello on rotation too.
Q: What do you like to read?
A: Poetry, nonfiction, art criticism stuff. Lately, I’ve been really wanting to read a novel. Like the new George Saunders novel. I was just at Symposium looking for it. I also tend to read a lot of 33 ⅓ books.
Q: Are you excited for Foo Fest?
A: Oh, definitely. My friends Lady Queen Paradise are playing. HAIRSPRAY QUEEN, too — we share a practice space. Midriffs is great. I’ve been going to Foo Fest forever, probably since junior year of high school. One time I saw Brother Kite, this Death Cab For Cutie or Band of Horses-esque band, and then immediately after, this band White Load. It was completely awesome to go from opposite genres of music. That one probably wasn’t my favorite Foo Fest, but definitely has to be one of the ones I appreciated most. I didn’t really get to go while I was in college, since I was away in Berlin and New York during the summers.