The process of making art can be incredibly sensitive. Art is a labor of love, but when the end product is a reflection of yourself, there’s a lot of intrinsic pressure to create something excellent because your ego’s at stake. For drummer Jonathan Gilad and guitarist and singer Jesse Brotter, making music can be stressful. They found solace in their most recent music collaboration, Lenderson.
“It started as this project-less, amorphous thing, but we knew that we were doing something that felt good together as a way to move away from the heaviness of making music,” Brotter said.
The duo, who also makes up one half of the band Crumb started making music together for Lenderson in 2015. Their first, self-titled EP is set to release on January 20, 2017.
“What’s nice about the EP is that it kind of seeped through the cracks in the moments when the pressure could ease up. We seem to put pressure on each other at the same rate. We have the same tendency to be super difficult on ourselves and kind of lose sight of doing the thing, so teaming up helped put a period on things,” Brotter said.
The first song on the EP, “Blast Off/Exploder,” is an instrumental ode to one of Brotter’s childhood nightmares. Brotter explained that even though it’s lyric-less, the song still tells a story:“The guitar, it’s not so direct, but it has that voice or lyrical component,” he said.
As for the story, he explained, “I had a dream when I was a kid that stuck with me about when I heard the scariest sound ever made, and I can’t really replicate it because of the magnitude, but it probably sounded like shrill orchestra strings. It overtook me, and I don’t even think it had a source—it just came from inside me, and I fell to the ground clutching my ears, and it was just a really heavy experience, not in a negative way necessarily, but I’m always trying to get back to that. I want to hear the scariest sound again, but I’m also terrified.”
While he describes this song as a search for the scariest sound, it’s not particularly frightening. The song is just over four minutes of alternating uptempo and downtempo guitar and drum cycles.
Gilad salvaged the second song, “Cutglove,” after Brotter considered abandoning it. “I’d been chewing on it for a couple years because I have a tendency to marinate in that shit. Then Jonathan came up with the entire second half of the song, and that kind of gave it some life,” Brotter said.
“Cutglove” is the only song on the EP that has lyrics simply because it’s the only song Brotter wrote lyrics for. He said he would “prefer to be cryptic” about the meaning behind the song.
The last song, “Lender” is a lazy, psychedelic instrumental that Gilad described as “that magical bass song.” It was made so spontaneously that Gilad says he’s not even sure he knows how to play it.
“I think our approach to recording stuff is usually pretty calculated, and on this night we just played something that felt really good. We set up this super janky mic setup on a guitar amp. It was just a fun experiment to see if we could capture something we were hearing in the room, and that’s where it came from,” he said.
The duo is uncertain what’s to come next, if anything at all. “Something that’s nice about this project is that I’m not sure if there’s going to be another thing, or if we’ll just suck up any remaining Lenderson songs and use them for Crumb, but I think that’s a really nice element for me because it takes the pressure off,” Brotter said.
Above all, Brotter and Gilad appreciate the flexibility of their no-strings-attached project. As Brotter explained, “it kind of makes me want to write more songs for Lenderson since we don’t have any direct plan.” But whether it’s for Lenderson or one of their other music projects, Gilad and Brotter are definitely not done making music.