An insightful interview with Patrick Tape Fleming, the man behind the innovative indie-rock project Gloom Balloon.
In this one, we get to talk about the earliest Gloom Balloon influences, just how important the Beatles and Stevie Wonder have been in shaping their more recent sound, and how fatherhood has changed the songwriter. We had a chance to review Gloom Balloon for Alt77. Here’s a link to that review.
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Here is an excerpt from our conversation with the Gloom Balloon songwriter.
Their seem to be so many influences, but at the same time there’s something very fragile and and brittle about the music and the songwriting. Would that be right to say?
Yeah, definitely. I don’t write in a diary or go see a psychiatrist. Making music is like writing in a diary for me. I guess I tend to try to feel the all of the emotions whether it’s good, bad, sad, happy, funny, all of it. That’s kind of what gloom balloon started. I always see a picture of a balloon as kind of like life. Once you blow it up it’s destined to die but it’s very fragile. And, it can make a kid so happy to have a ballon, but then it can make a kid like so sad if it blows away or it pops.
Maybe the one thing that ties a lot of the material together is this feeling of melancholy and heartbreak. Is it difficult to go back to some of the material you’ve written and maybe play it live or just listen to it again?
When I wrote the debut record, I was very kind of down and out. My other band the Boys BontrolBenter just came off of a a 13-month tour. We put out two albums in a year in those 13 months. So i’d come off the high of playing live music every day to getting back to being the working man and so I was i was pretty bummed out.
And then also of the singers from my favorite band, Bill Doss of the Olivia Tremor Control, died. So of all the songs on that first record are about the world and about losing my songwriting hero.
It does feel strange going back to those type of things because a lot has happened in my world and the world in general in the past seven years.But, it also feels good. When you’re a songwriter you never lose that love or that connection to those songs.
When I reviewed your music I compared it to Half Japenese, but with a great the soulful background. Given that there are so many influences making their way into the music what is the theme that glues everything together?
I think you hit the nail right on the head, saying half japanese with soul. From a very early age I was very into like lo-fi indie rock music. You know, like Pavement and Guided By Voices, Sebadoh. Those type of bands made me believe that I could be in a band. It’s like what people said about The Velvet Underground in the 60s. People looked at them and they were like I can start a band because these guys are only playing four chords and it’s really noisy, but it’s also brilliant.
Like Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted or Guided by Voices’ Alien lanes, were records to me that sounded like they were made in somebody’s basement. They sound like they’re they left the mistakes in. So for for a 16-17 year old kid who didn’t know how to play guitar and was trying to record songs on a on a karaoke machine he got for Christmas, that was really that was really inspiring.
If you’re a painter and all you have is a big piece of wood and the colors brown black and purple you’re not gonna let that detour you from making a painting. You’re just gonna do it right. Lo-fi music is like That’s okay all we have is this four track and these songs with these out-of-tune guitars but it’s not gonna stop us from doing it. I think is really inspiring.