Preparing to say goodbye to their lead guitarist Tim Smith, long-running Eugene post-rock band Gazelle(s) play their final show in Eugene Saturday, August 26, at John Henry’s, part of a short Northwest tour that will take the band to Portland and Seattle.
But before Smith leaves for the East Coast to be closer to family, Gazelle(s) will enter the studio one final time to record their third full-length album at Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock’s Portland recording studio, Ice Cream Party.
Post-rock incorporates typical rock band instrumentation into longer song structures that are most often instrumental, emphasizing extreme dynamic range and negative space. On their as-yet untitled final release, Gazelle(s) also explore dance-oriented grooves, with the heaviness and meditative contemplation expected from the genre.
In the band, Gazelle(s) violin player Michelle Whitlock fills the role of melody, like a singer, and the current rhythm section consists of Neal Williams on bass and Matt Kaplowitz on drums.
According to Smith, “Neal said in practice one time, ‘I want to play as few notes as possible,’” as opposed to the musical complexity that can typify post-rock music. “That gave us this idea to practice more restraint in our songwriting, and sort of sit down on grooves, instead.”
The band’s release, tentatively out by the end of the year, will also be recorded live in the studio, with few overdubs and little tracking. That’s a change of pace for the group, the band tells Eugene Weekly.
“We’re trying to knock this out in one day,” Smith explains. “It’ll be a style of recording I don’t think I’ve done since college. I’m excited to not have to feel the pressure of being so polished.”
“It’ll be a little bit rawer,” drummer Kaplowitz says, more like how Gazelle(s) sound performing live. Violinist Whitlock adds, “The energy we have when we play together, you’re going to be able to hear that.”
As for bassist Williams, he is excited to work in a space associated with Modest Mouse lead singer Brock. “In the late ’90s, Modest Mouse funneled me into more obscure music. That’s exciting for me,” he says. The recording will be engineered by Brandon Eggleston, whom Gazelle(s) have worked with in the past. Referring to Eggleston, Smith says, “He trusts us to really use the space well.”
With their guitarist leaving Eugene for Baltimore to be closer to family, Gazelle(s) are done for now, although Smith says he may try and plan a few East Coast dates for the group. As for the remaining three members, they’ll likely play music together — but the future’s uncertain, they say.
“Tim is such a unique guitar player,” Williams says. “We’re not going to try and fill that void and continue on as we have in the past.” And if the new project ends up something similar to Gazelle(s), he adds, “We want to honor the uniqueness someone else brings. But yeah, we want to keep playing together, and we’re going to miss the hell out of Tim.”