Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Two Gallants

Two Gallants
Photo by Misha Vladimirskiy

Touring in support of their fifth full-length record We Are Undone, folk-rock duo Two Gallants (Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel) will play Toronto’s The Garrison tonight. Ahead of their performance, A Music Blog, Yea? recently gave Stephens a call to discuss recording in Stinson Beach, negative consequences, European audiences, and bands they dig. Enjoy:

Two Gallants: Hey Alicia. How’s it going?

AMBY: Well, thanks. How are you?

Two Gallants: I’m doing pretty well.

AMBY: I’m glad to hear it. Thanks for having a chat with A Music Blog, Yea? today.

Two Gallants: Yea, sure. Thanks for doing it.

AMBY: It’s our pleasure! First off, congrats on the recent release of your last record We Are Undone. Tell our readers a bit about the album and the experience you had creating it.

Two Gallants: We recorded it in Stinson Beach and we recorded in this new studio which is kind of an old mansion or castle that was converted into a studio about a year and a half ago. It’s kind of a magical place to record a record – it has a really beautiful atmosphere. Being away from the city, friends, and distractions made it a pretty memorable experience. I think we probably enjoyed recording this record, and got more immersed in it, than any other record we’ve done before.

AMBY: It’s a pretty heavy record, lyrically. Throughout the album, I took away the elements on environmental change and how people can be like sheep; herding together and losing their authenticity, all while wanting to acquire the popular. Could you expand on what the record’s lyrics and subject matter means to you?

Two Gallants: There are a few different things that we spoke about. One thing that I kind of struggle a lot with is how I feel like we’re put in this position now that almost everything we do has become socialized as “normal”. All of the comforts that we’re used to, every decision you make, or thing you do has negative consequences to our environment and to the world. You’re put in that position where you’re constantly kind of forced to compromise and question certain things that you have. Even though, at least for me, bringing my own bag to the supermarket or something… I don’t think that will “change the world” or anything, but we’re put in this position where it’s almost hypocritical to drive to work when you’re concerned about the state of the world. I struggle a lot with this notion and predicament that I often find myself in.

AMBY: Were you trying to make people more aware and less destructive through the lyrics?

Two Gallants: I mean, I don’t think too much about making people try to do or think anything. I mostly just end up writing about things that are on my mind or affect me – the dilemmas that I live with. If they happen to resonate with other people then I’m glad.

AMBY: For sure. It’s a nice bonus if people agree or relate.

Two Gallants: I don’t spend too much time, nor do I think that it’s appropriate to try to change someone’s lives – it would be a little pretentious for me to think that you can do that through a song. You know? If some people happen to hear something that they haven’t thought of before or it changes their perspective a bit, then I definitely am honoured and grateful.

AMBY: Being your fifth album, I’m sure you’ve had multiple influences over the past few records. Who or what did you look to for some inspiration while creating We Are Undone?

Two Gallants: At the time, I was listening to a lot of Reverend Gary Davis and some artists that were more on the instrumental side.

AMBY: Did recording in Stinson Beach influence you?

Two Gallants: I guess I kind of took a lot from our surroundings and the environment we were in up there while recording. I’d wake up in the morning a couple of hours before we’d start and I had this amazing perch in my room overlooking the ocean. It was almost too cliché, how beautiful it was with the amazing view [laughs] while I was writing lyrics. Without sounding a bit too sappy, I was kind of thinking about the beauty of the world and how tragic it would be if so much of it was destroyed.

AMBY: Both of you started making music together at the age of twelve. Did any of your ideas or influences from your teen years have an impact onto the new record?

Two Gallants: Nothing specifically. I think that when we first started playing music together, before we even started this band, a lot of the music we listened to was more grunge and punk. Then when we started the band our influences were much more traditional like country and blues and stuff like that. I think, over time and over the last few years, we’ve kind of come around to some of the stuff we were listened to when we were thirteen or fourteen. That’s why our last couple of albums are a bit heavier, I suppose.

AMBY: And you’re soon going to embark on the North American portion of your 50 city tour. How was Europe?

Two Gallants: Europe went really well. I don’t really know why, but people tend to like us over there.

AMBY and Two Gallants: [laughs]

Two Gallants: I can’t really put my finger on what it is, but we get quite a bit of love from people over there. In general, touring Europe, the hospitality is sort of better. The way people treat musicians… it’s with much more respect. I think there’s sort of an understanding or dignity that they place upon musicians and artists that I don’t really think happens as much in America. I get the impression that artists and musicians are highly valued members of society.

AMBY: You can definitely tell there’s a difference. A lot of our readers are based throughout Europe and it’s easy to see that there’s this massive sense of pride that they have when singing in a crowd at a show or something as simple as buying a new vinyl. Music is a community over there.

Two Gallants: Yea, definitely.

AMBY: Well, to wrap things up, you’re now announcing new tour dates for the summertime. If you could curate your own festival, who would you want to be part of that line-up?

Two Gallants: Hm, I don’t know… probably a bunch of bands who aren’t around anymore [laughs]. There’s an album I’ve been listening to by the band Viet Cong and I think their album is pretty good. Who else? There’s a band called Golden Drugs who are from Oakland that we’ve played with who are pretty awesome. There’s the band Papa who we’ve toured with in the past. There’s a band called Happiness who we just played with and they’re a really good band. There are a lot of good smaller bands right now who we’re fortunate enough to play with. I’d like to get a bunch of those bands together and play a show or festival sometime.

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Thank you Two Gallants, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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