Interview with Geese, an American band

by Bela Omoeva

Interview with Geese, an American band

Photo by Curie Cha for WRBB.

This past Monday, the band Geese headlined a fantastic show at AfterHours. Comprised of lead singer Cameron Winter, guitarist Em Green, drummer Max Bassin, bassist Dominic DiGesu, and touring member and keytar player Sam Revaz, the band played a full, relentless show. The set mainly featured songs off their 2023 releases “3D Country” and “4D Country,” plus one unreleased track, “Islands.” WRBB’s Bela Omoeva sat down with Geese before the show for a fun, funny, varied interview — check it out below!

Bela Omoeva: How does playing live shows and being able to experiment with your sound help develop the music?

Em Green: We just get better at playing them after. Like, we always finish writing a record and then go on the road and play it. And I end up wishing that maybe I could go back and re-record some of the record because I'm just so much better at playing it after we just do it live. So yeah, I just used to, like, refine stuff after a while, and it's really interesting.

Compared to “Projector,” your first album, “3D Country” was such an expansion. It was so cool. Is maximalist a good word?

Em: I think it's a word.


Cameron Winter: Yeah, I think I've heard of that word somewhere, yes.

But does it work for this album?

Cameron: Yeah, I think so. We just wanted to sort of do everything we wanted to, and not really edit it too much in terms of, like, narrowing it down to a sound. I think a sound just sort of generated naturally, from having fun and adding a bunch of stuff on top of everything.

Does the label [Partisan Records] ever have a problem with that?

Cameron: Yeah, well, we're on a weird label. Because Partisan — like, certain indie labels will really let you do whatever you want, and then certain indies won't. But they’re still not like major labels. Major labels will just, like, take a sledgehammer to anything you make and their say is the end of the thing.

So it’s a good relationship?

Cameron: We have a good relationship. Partisan’s sort of in the middle of those two things. Like, there are definitely notes. But we sort of had to navigate that because we believed in the record — but also we had no leverage or anything. So we were trying to figure out what advice to take and what not to.

In terms of the internal creative process, do you ever worry about the line between being, you know, brilliant and experimental, versus being too indulgent? Is that ever a concern?

Max Bassin: We like to toe the line, yeah!

Cameron: We'd like to be both brilliant and experimental. We want to not overindulge. I feel like that's what we've always done — satisfy everybody.

Max: We just satisfy the masses.


Max: If it feels goofy, we also think it's really goofy. I don't know. We toe the line too much sometimes.

With the lyricism, it's cool how you guys kind of have this free association, almost. And with the vocal delivery, it's interesting that with your guys's music, you don't really do the talk-singing thing, which is trendy.

Max: That was definitely a focus, was to try to not do that. For the modern slate of bands, I think a lot of the tendency is to just think about what was last, because the music just sounds cool or something. Or, like, genuinely nobody in the band can sing, so that's really their only option. But I don't know. We're lucky that we don't have to do that, because if it was any one of us singing, it would be a lot like everything else.

Dominic DiGesu: You don't want to get any of us on the mic.

When you guys write your songs, how does the process work? Does it start with the melody, the lyrics, whatever, or do you have snippets that you put together over time? Does it just vary by every song?

Max: Kind of varies. I think it's a little bit of all of that. Sometimes you have just a vocal melody that, like, has chords. Sometimes we just have a bunch of ideas that have been sitting around, and we just put them all together.

You guys are touring with Greta Van Fleet this year, and then King Gizzard, right? How does that feel?

Max: Good. Great. Love both of them equally.

Completely equally?

Max: Completely equally.

How does having to factor in venue size change how you deliver your performance? Like, obviously, today it's a smaller venue. So if you're playing bigger arenas or whatever for those tours, does that change anything about how you perform?

Cameron: The bigger the room is, the worse we play, as a rule. No, well, that's not true —but I mean, like, big shows and big arenas do not mean a better show. In fact, arenas kind of suck to play.

Em: It's true.

Cameron: Even for bands that, like, aren’t opening. You get paid a lot faster if you play as many people as possible. But, you know, you can't really see anybody. You're usually wearing a pack of earbuds that are telling you what to do. It's just sort of disorienting. So small shows like this actually are probably more conducive to better shows, honestly.

Max: I feel, like, there’s just more pressure, so we, like, take them more seriously.

Em: The small shows?

Cameron: Yeah. You can see people's disappointment. It’s actually fucked up.

Max: It’s true. There was a couple shows where — it was a show we played in Seattle, where I was sitting, like, positioned right towards the stairs that people would exit from. And I saw one guy walk up, take one last look back, and we made eye contact. So he quickly turned his head back around and left. That was awesome. I thought we played pretty well that night, but I guess he didn’t agree.

I was reading up on your coverage before this interview — and a lot of it, especially for your first album, was, like, “They’ve come to save rock, they're this and that, and they’re prodigies,” and blah, blah, blah. I think you guys have mentioned that that wasn't your favorite sort of narrative. Was that just not something that resonated?

Em: No, it's all true.

Cameron: Yeah, it's all true. Rock is at the top of the charts now.

Max: Well, there's always a last fucking great rock band. There's been a last great rock band since, like, the fucking ‘70s, dude. I feel like with any band that is new and has some sort of attention, people love to romanticize the idea that [does a voice] “These guys will come around, and save rock and roll music, thank God,” but it's like, there's so many bands around. We were inspired by a bunch of bands that are still active. I don't know, it was a very weird thing, because then they'd be like, “Who do you guys listen to?” Like, King Gizzard and Black Midi and Led Zeppelin and shit.

Cameron: Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Em: Did rock die in the ‘50s?

Max: It did, yeah. It died without us.

Cameron: Well, no, it was especially weird because, like, we had no fans when people were saying that. So it was completely fabricated by magazines to sell more magazines.

Max: We had no music out. It wasn't even, like, you know — like, you could read the article. Like, “Check these guys out.”

Cameron: Yeah, and it obviously didn't work because we barely sold half the tickets from our first tour, so no one gave us shit, except, you know, whatever freelancer was writing for NME. So it feels good now. It feels more organic and on merit that we've actually been able to get people to come to the shows. That's been very much felt by everybody, because the first tour was a lot of people with their arms crossed.

Max: It was probably just a bunch of people that were trying to see what the hype was about. And we would play a show with, like, seven people there.

Cameron: Shoutout to those seven people.

Max: There was a time when we played in Germany, and this dude came up afterwards and goes, “I'm sorry for my city. I'm sorry nobody came.” We were like, “Oh God, it's okay. Like, you came.”

I don't know if it's just my opinion, but it seems like a millennial thing to do the whole rockist — like, waiting for the second coming of the Strokes or whatever. I feel like audiences who are closer to our age, like Gen Z, whatever, are going with less of the wanting the 2000s to come back.

Max: I think it's just an accessibility thing, because the generation of music listeners right now, or the newest generation of people that are streaming music, are learning about music with everything right there. Like, when we were making “Projector,” we saw videos of what was going on in south London, and we were super intrigued by it. Whereas like 20 years ago, we wouldn't even know that it was happening. So it's good. I love r/indieheads because they'll be relentless about, just, if it's good or if it sucks. Which is kind of awesome, because it's not like, “These guys are the best band around right now. They're the biggest band around.” I think it makes the importance of articles like that just nil, because nobody that is listening to music is reading articles like those.

Em: It’s comment-based.

Max: Yeah, it really is. Like, whoever is commenting on YouTube has as much power in my head as Rolling Stone. They call my music mid, I’ll cry.

With your guys's most recent music videos, like “Cowboy Nudes” and “4D Country,” you guys aren’t in the videos themselves. It’s just characters, like that old cowboy in “4D Country,” wandering the setting, things like that. Was the creative direction your guys's idea?

Cameron: Dom’s in the video.

Oh, my fault.

Cameron: He's the gremlin. He's obscured. No, that was definitely, yeah, we didn't wanna get on camera for the music videos for the most part. So we hired some actors off Craigslist to do the job. Boy, did they deliver.

Is there any specific reason why you didn't want to be on camera?

Max: I mean, I think it was like —

Cameron: We’re all ugly!

Dominic: I remember when they kept trying to make us do one of those live performance videos.

Cameron: Oh, like the “Low Era” video. That was just the result of us doing whatever. That video turned out fine, too.

Em: We tried a performance video for “Exploding House.”

Max: The timing was fucked up. They had, like, a JBL speaker and were like, “All right, play along to this.”

Em: I guess you could probably just do more if you don't have to be in the video. Then you can tell whatever story you want to tell, and it doesn't have to be centered around you being in the video, and you doing those things. I don't really know how to be on camera like that. But you can just hire people that do know and make a better piece.

Would you guys say you have a wide range of references? Like, I think you guys have mentioned Ween a couple of times in interviews. In addition to the ones you've already mentioned, are there any new sources of inspiration that you've had since completing the “4D Country” EP? That can be music-related or visual, or, like, books, whatever it is.

Max: I mean, the Beatles, just getting into them for the first time.

Em: We’re doing our musical homework and listening to all the bands that y'all were on in, like, high school, and just dive into it.

Cameron: I mean, no, lately, we've honestly had more of an emphasis on — we're doing demos right now. We're doing a lot of writing, and we're going to play at least one new song tonight. But, we're just — more of an emphasis on, like, live music. Like, stuff that's especially older, like the one-take stuff from the ‘50s and blues and stuff like that. And a lot of Miles Davis. And some canned stuff too, some weirdo tape stuff that we've always been into. But we're sort of singing in a new way.

Max: It's definitely skewing more trance-y.

Cameron: Like Velvet Underground.

Max: Just trying to make, like — I don't know, not overcomplicate shit cause that's what we tend to do. So stuff at its core is very, very simple or like super — I don't know, I think it's more about, like, we're trying to fuck with the atmosphere. More than just, “We need to do this and you need to play it fucking perfectly right now.”

You guys have said that you really had to weigh the decision to whether to break up and go to college versus stay together. What factors went into that decision when you made it? It would still be an active choice that you're making now, right?

Cameron: Honestly, as of recently, I'm pretty sure I’m not gonna go to college at this point, which is okay. We have friends who are in college who are really interested in what we're doing, and touring, and, you know, all of it. It's kind of exciting. But then, I sometimes feel like the grass is still greener on the other side, because I definitely don't have that many friends right now, other than the band. Like college, you know, at the very least, you're paying money to get friends, you know, who are interested in the same thing. So I don't have that. But all my friends are fucking adults who are engineers and are miserable and, you know, do fentanyl by accident. So, anybody else?

Max: I’m not gonna answer this question because I’m totally unequipped to answer it. I shan’t.

Em: Maybe at some point. It doesn't make sense to me right now. I tried taking some classes last year. And they went okay. I couldn't really split my time and energy in the way I was expecting to. So if I get to a point where I can do that, and I want to go study something specific, then yeah. Hell, yeah.

With your guitarist [the Dec. 2023 departure of founding member Foster Hudson], he made the other choice, right? Was that challenging at all or was it just, like, “I get it”?

Max: I mean, it was tough. Again, it's not — this is such an unconventional thing that I understand why. It makes sense. But also, I can't speak on it. I was never planning on going to college anyway. I think college is really great if you have a really solid idea, or if —

Em: If you want a stable schedule and predictability.

Max: I don't even think that. I think, like, that's cool. I'd rather just get a job to have a schedule. I feel like if I were to go to college, I'd want to treat it like higher education and come and do something that I could only get from college.

Em: But I think that there is a consistency to life that you can get out of working a job like that, or going to school and having to go five days a week, that the life that we have doesn't offer.

Max: To be fair, I will say the touring thing is a lot of balancing between doing normal life and then doing tour. Because for six months out of the year, I am working a 9 to 5, like, as much as I possibly can. I feel like I do have the means to do the things that I want to do with my life, while not spending the money on school. And that was my plan anyway, I was going to try to make music work. But also, it is very daunting, especially when you don't have something that you can transition into. If there was no deal or promise of, like, “You guys will go on tour at some point,” I don't think we would have made the decision we made, honestly.

Em: If there wasn't a way to build it.

Max: Yeah.

Em: If there was no tangible or sustainable project, then, yeah, I would have just gone to school like a plant. I think there seemed like there was an opportunity to do what we're doing now, so I took it.

Max: Felt like I had to.

That’s pretty much it for my questions. Do you guys have any questions that you wish people would ask you, that you don't get asked?

Max: Nah. I mean, I was gonna try a stupid joke, but not really. I do wish that interviewers would do research, which I appreciate you doing. I mean, just even saying, like, “I like seeing you guys's musical inspirations.” Because it'll be like — we got an interview one time. This dude is like, “So like where in L.A. you guys live?” and we’re like, “We’re from New York…”

Cameron: I wish people asked me where in L.A. I live more often. I wish I lived in L.A., and I wish interviewers asked us where we have a studio in L.A.

Em: Hollywood! No, I don’t know.

Cameron: So we can go, [grumpy voice] “Shut up, we don’t live in L.A.!”