The mainstream press seems to go out of its way to pigeonhole bands by insisting that every town has its own unique sound. One year the “Austin sound” is the hottest thing going. Twelve months later, critics are declaring Austin dead. The new essential music has the “San Diego sound.” And so on.
The truth, as usual, is much more complex. While some towns have a distinct musical bent, it rarely constitutes a universal sound. According to some supposed experts, Denver is currently on the wane after being the most recent “it” city. Yes, there are some tried-and-true musical moves that can be associated with Colorado's biggest city, but it’s safe to say that Scatter Gather doesn’t know or care about them.
“The music is never weird just to be weird,” says Zach Antonio, the band’s bass player and co-songwriter. "Maybe 'unique' is a better word.”
Guitarist/singer Carmine Gabbianelli admits that things can get complicated here and there in Scatter Gather’s tunes, but he, too, insists that it’s not intentional.
“As weird as some of the meters are, we really do try to simplify things,” he says. “We’re just trying to write good songs, combining the new with the old styles of music.
Gabbianelli describes the band’s sound as a mix between traditional soul music and math rock, which is a very apt summation. Gabbianelli and Antonio met in Boston while attending the Berklee College of Music before moving to Denver, so it’s not really a surprise that they are talented musicians. On stage, Scatter Gather looks like a typical three-piece rock band. The group has typical instrumentation: drums, bass, guitar and a couple of microphones. About thirty seconds into Scatter Gather’s set, however, audience members begin to realize that they aren’t watching a group of guys bent on aping something they’ve seen on TV. Songs stop and start abruptly. The band changes tempo and time signature often, sometimes within the same tune. The minute listeners decide that they think they know what Scatter Gather’s thing is, the band shifts into another style altogether. It’s jarring but refreshing to see musicians doing what they want, divorced from any outside expectations.
“The way I’ve been approaching writing music for a while is to write what [I] hear,” says Antonio. “I think that it’s gotten to that point where the further you go down the rabbit hole of listening to music, there’s all these possibilities. It’s interesting to find these catacombs.”
Now, after spending a year in the studio recording its new self-titled album, Scatter Gather has another abrupt change up its sleeve.
“That little permutation for the project is going to end soon,” says Antonio. “We have this new drummer, Jörn Bielfeldt. This was the original drummer we wanted, and it just so happens he’s available. I’m excited to introduce that element.”
“He just has his style,” adds Gabbianelli. “He’s a creative voice, but he’ll have no problem taking [our songs] apart and making them his own. It’s almost spiritual, without all the negative things that come with that.”
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In another typically odd move, Scatter Gather is premiering the video for “What More?” — a song that doesn’t really represent the style of music the band is known for.
“It’s kind of adopting a style that’s sort of somewhat popular right now,” says Antonio. “It’s kind of a nod to surf rock or psychedelic rock, both of which are popular right now. We took that and made light of it because it’s so trendy. It’s fast and high-energy, something that doesn’t quite fit into that niche.”
A release show for Scatter Gather’s self-titled, self-released album is scheduled for Thursday, June 23, at Syntax Physic Opera with Holophrase, Ben Varian and Nancy Strong.