At some point in our lives, we must all face the loss of a good friend. And though the world can be an ugly place because of it, some people are able to take that raw devastation and channel it into something poetic, something beautiful. Where others have bounced back, Cymbals Eat Guitars has seen tragedy and bounced forward.
The indie-rock quartet’s third LP, aptly titled LOSE, refers to the loss of frontman Joseph D’Agostino’s longtime friend and fellow musician Benjamin High, who died suddenly just as the band began to record. Cymbals Eat Guitars has come a long way from Staten Island. Since D’Agostino assembled the band’s members through a Craigslist ad in 2007, they have refined their shoegaze sound while developing uncensored and heartfelt lyrics. This Wednesday, October 1, the band makes its Santa Barbara debut at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. We recently caught up with bassist Matthew Whipple to discuss LOSE and what the band’s members lost along the way.
Why did you choose to call your newest album LOSE? Does that reference an overarching theme? There are themes of many different kinds of loss running through the record, but we chose the specific word “LOSE” in all caps for how open to interpretation it is for the listener. We wanted people to be able to apply the feelings the record evokes to their own experiences.
Did the writing flow because the songs are so personal? Joe works particularly hard as a lyricist because good lyrics matter. … [But] it’s always been that way with all of our songs. A lot of the songs are very open. A close listen will reveal the details that are most important to each listener for their own lives, and that is what is most exciting now that the record is out and it isn’t specifically ours anymore.
Did you come up with the idea for LOSE’s album art yourselves? What’s the story behind it? We wanted to use images of ourselves for the art, and I had an idea that was kind of a Plan B at first to wrap our heads in cable and take head shots. They ended up looking cool, so we used them for the four panels of the CD and LP. Each band member has their own panel. Our art director Rick [Jacques] shot it and laid it all out beautifully.
Sounds like you guys are very involved with the artistic process behind every facet of your work. The new music video for “Laramie” is very esthetic — what inspired that? Milton Ladd is the director and our great friend, and the video treatment came 100 percent from him. He envisioned a series or collage of evocative images that matched the song perfectly, and we’re really happy with how it turned out!
What’s been the best part of the new tour so far? The crowds! So far, it has been a joy opening for Bob Mould, Jason Narducy, and Jon Wurster. Their crowd has been really positive and welcoming. But we’re definitely excited to start doing some of our own shows and to play some cities for the first time.
You’ve played a lot of shows in N.Y.C. recently. Any other cities or venues you’re looking forward to visiting? Santa Barbara! We’re hoping there is a real-life version of Meryl Streep’s bakery from the movie It’s Complicated.
Cymbals Eat Guitars plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Wednesday, October 1, at 9 p.m. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for tickets and information.