Guts Club goes heavy and puts everything it has into cathartic new … – NOLA.com

Guts Club is drummer Ronna Sandoval, from left, vocalist-guitarist Lindsey Baker and guitarist Alex Dimeff.
‘CLIFFS/WALLS’ is out Jan. 13.

Gambit staff writer
Guts Club is drummer Ronna Sandoval, from left, vocalist-guitarist Lindsey Baker and guitarist Alex Dimeff.
Recording “CLIFFS/WALLS” made Lindsey Baker physically sick.
Last year, the New Orleans guitarist and vocalist and her Guts Club bandmates, drummer Ronna Sandoval and guitarist Alex Dimeff, got together with producer Nick Pope to record the latest Guts Club album in one, long take. Baker, Dimeff and Sandoval threw themselves — physically and emotionally — against the towering wall of sound they’d built while writing “CLIFFS/WALLS” and left nothing behind.
The trio of musicians were sore for a few days after, and Baker caught a bad sinus infection. “CLIFFS/WALLS” is the fourth Guts Club album that Baker has recorded, but she’d never had a physical reaction like that. The writing and recording of the intense, crushing record was cathartic, Baker says, especially after the last three years of pandemic challenges, mental health struggles and an oppressive political climate.
“I’ve never felt so good just playing music,” Baker says. “I’ve never felt the confidence I feel now … I feel like it makes sense now.”
Guts Club will release “CLIFFS/WALLS” on Friday, Jan. 13, with a show at Siberia that also includes psychedelic doom band Mars and post-doom group Fauns. Doors are at 9 p.m. and cover is $10.
“CLIFFS/WALLS” is a significant — although, maybe not completely out-of-the-blue — new sound for Guts Club, Baker’s main songwriting project since 2015. That same year, Baker, who was born in Pennsylvania and based in Philadelphia for some time and then Brooklyn, moved to New Orleans with her wife, writer Kelly McClure.

Baker leaned into violent, gloomy country and blues on her first three Guts Club records, “The Arm Wrestling Tournament,” “Shit Bug” and “Trench Foot,” and a dark intensity always bubbled under the surface of the twang. On the new post-metal record, Guts Club casts a droning, overflowing wall of sound using two guitars plugged into bass amps and pounding drums using a kit with a second floor tom instead of a snare. Baker says the three queer musicians in the band half-jokingly call it “gay doom.”
Each of the five tracks is at least nine minutes and coaxes the listener deeper into its textured folds. Delivered in sparse yells, Baker’s lyrics reflect on loss, grief and love. The song “The Gun Collector” was written for Baker’s wife, who unexpectedly lost her mother and then father soon after several years ago. The title song is about the ways people build impenetrable defenses during traumatic times.
On past Guts Club recordings “I was singing about hanging people and putting them in the trunk, and I still sort of am, but it makes more sense now” with the styles, Baker says. “There isn’t this disjointed contrast from this [country twang]. Now it all connects.”
‘CLIFFS/WALLS’ is out Jan. 13.
After the release of “Trench Foot,” Baker says, she found herself playing louder and heavier — and steadily moving away from the insular and straight-, white- and male-dominated country scene. She plugged her guitar into a bass amp, started working with more effects pedals and things got louder. And then the pandemic struck.
“I say it’s because I was upset or having a hard time, but I can’t really pinpoint why or how that happened,” Baker says, “but I would just go into my space and add pedals and rearrange songs, and they would just progressively get heavier.”
As more music venues started reopening in summer 2021, Baker, who books at Uptown club Gasa Gasa, reached out to Sandoval, who plays in punk band Coffinwolf Ultra, and guitarist Alex Dimeff, who performs as the shoegaze project Student Driver. The trio started rehearsing and developed “CLIFFS/WALLS” into a full-length album. When it came time to record, Baker knew it would be best to lay it down live in as few takes as possible in order to communicate as a band, save studio time, and maintain the music’s visceral feeling. Only two songs needed a second take.
Nick Pope “was able to rig his studio to make that happen for us, and I’m so glad he did,” Baker says. “I love what happened during it.”
Find more about Guts Club and “CLIFFS/WALLS” at gutsclub.com.

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