WLUW met up with Nic Gohl, Kevin Fairbairn, Shiraz Bhatti, and Drew Mcbribe of Deeper at Pitchfork 2023 to discuss inspirations, their album making process, their best party tricks, and what songs they have on repeat right now. Check out the interview below!
Interview Conducted by Sarah Cline and Aly Westrin
Aly: So take me back to the beginning of when you individually became interested in music. Was there a certain musician, class, or a family member that got you inspired in the music realm?
Nic: For me, I started taking lessons when I was young and found it frustrating and hard to learn. My parents were like, Well, if it’s really frustrating, you might like it. So we’re gonna give you lessons. And I was like, Alright, I’m just gonna keep doing it. And I kind of took to it. So, yeah, I think from then I was I was kind of obsessed with music.
Shiraz: Yeah, I started playing in the, in the school Symphony Orchestra in middle school, in the percussion section. It kind of happened on a whim. Then I got a drum set for my 14th birthday. And as angsty teen, that’s where I got all my emotions out and felt really good to express myself in that way. I feel really fortunate to find these guys and do this for a living now.
Drew: Yeah, so when I was like, I don’t know, 10 My uncle lived with us for a moment. And he played music. He had a bunch of guitars. And yeah, he had an Epiphone acoustic that I was just like, I loved it. And so I just started playing guitar by the stuff that he had in our house. And then when he moved out, he only lived with us for a few months, but when he moved out, I was so excited about playing music. My parents got me my own guitar, and yeah, I was just kind of obsessed with music from from then on, and, yeah.
Aly: Very cool, thank you for sharing that.
Sarah: So I wanted to ask about what your biggest inspirations are, like right now? And how those have changed since you first started making music. How have those inspirations evolved?
Drew: Well, yeah, I guess, you know, I was just actually talking about this a little bit ago. But yeah, Total Control is definitely like an influence for, for me, and I think for the whole band, like definitely. They are, I guess you’d say, a post punk band, but have other facets to their sound, you know, like, a lot of electronic elements and things like that, that kind of don’t make them just seem like another post punk band. So that was definitely something that was an influence on me. Also, something I listened to a bunch of the pandemic was Liraaji, an ambient artist, that inspired me to just kind of work on some like, little like ambient interludes and things like that, that like ended up on our next record. So those are a couple things that come to mind for me.
Shiraz: Yeah, I’d have to agree with Drew. I think collectively, we’re all lowkey big ambient fans and big punk music, and just general rock music indie fans. So Nicholas Jaar, to me has always been an inspiration, the way he’s able to get all these textures together in a really cool way. And the band Liars, Nic and our old guitarist, Mike put me on to them. With them, each record is different and I really love that they’re able and confident enough to to put new stuff out that doesn’t sound the same as it as it has before.
Kevin: Yeah, I’ve been, I’ve been mostly interested in like people that are trying to sustain grooves for long periods of time. I guess that’s where ambient music comes in as well. But like, krautrock, or just I don’t know, kind of general like groove based music fits in. I grew up listening to more, I don’t know, kind of general, like Pop or rock bass stuff. So that kind of like coalesces into something that’s a little more like what we sound like.
Nic: Yeah. My first real influence, I remember is listening to like, Third Eye Blind. I had a yellow Walkman. And I remember, my parents were from Detroit. So we would go to Michigan every summer for like two weeks. And then on the drive back to Chicago, I would sing Third Eye Blind songs on the the top of my lungs in the car, and my brothers would beat me up and tell me to be quiet. So yeah, I liked that stuff. And then, when I got a little bit older, I remember. Wilco was like a huge influence on me when I was in middle school and high school. I still love Wilco, but I remember visiting my brother in Montana when he lived out there for a little bit. He played me Kicking Television, their live album, and I remember hearing “At Least That’s What You Said,” the guitar solo. And I was like, that’s the kind of guitar I want to play. So yeah.
Sarah: And then this kind of relates to the new music you guys have been putting out when you’re making new music. Are you sort of seeing this stuff as a continuation of the sound you already have? Or are you sort of like actively searching to like break new ground?
Nic: I don’t think we think of ourselves as breaking new ground ever. We just are trying to make music that feels good to us. I like exploring with creating music that interacts with older music that we have. When I write lyrics, I like to bring up old past lyrics. And I feel like that just feels natural. But no, we’re just trying to do whatever comes naturally to us as musicians.
Kevin: Yeah, I think like whether you want to admit it, or not, every band has, like a rule within itself. Like we can all write stuff that sounds like whatever. But sometimes it’s gonna sound like deeper or not, and you kind of know it when you know it. We played something in the practice space the other day that we kind of made up on the spot. I listened to it back and I was like, this is really cool. Does it sound like Deeper? I’m not sure. But like, maybe six months down the line, we’re going to amend it to a point where it sounds like the band. I think whether you want to or not, everything just becomes like a continuation of itself. Yeah, we can define it as we want. But yeah.
Drew: Yeah, I think to that end, also, like, as we were writing this record, there are definitely conversations like “does this fit into the deeper sound?” And I think, to answer your question one way, it’s like, do we think about fitting in our previous sound and the short answer is no. We’re just writing songs. And then we kind of reflect on does this work? Does this not? But then also just being like, you know, realizing we are the band and we can kind of redefine at any time what is or is not part of the Deeper sound. The thing that we were working on the other day, it’s like, does this actually exceed what we feel is within the bounds of even, like, the furthest edge? Yeah. So those are basically the conversations that we have when we’re writing new stuff.
Sarah: What was the process of finding that sound that you were like, Okay, this is Deeper?
Drew: Oh, my gosh, well, on the first record, we recorded two songs at a time in five batches, like, months apart. So we’d have like, two songs that are really punky, two songs that are really dreamy, and stuff like that. So when we listen to all the songs, we were like damn, does this work together? And we’re like, well, we just have to put this out. This is the record. And so I don’t think there was one moment where we’re like, this is our identity. It’s really as much figuring it out as you go and it sort of like starts to calcify as you write more songs.
Shiraz: I just feel like we’re a product of our environment. Like back in the day, you know, we’re playing basements and DIY shows and, and we’re just trying to make music that would reverb and bounce off the walls, and just, give a good atmosphere to like, the empty warehouse, we’re playing or whatever, you know. And then we’re like, oh, we gotta make a record. Let’s just make songs and that kind of became deeper.
Sarah: And going from playing like basement shows, how does it feel to play like one of the largest festivals in your hometown?
Shiraz: It feels pretty wild and feels like a progression. We’ve been doing this for, at least me and Nic, have been doing this for going on 10 years now. But it’s cool to see that these certain songs work in outdoor festivals, and they’ve worked in small basements with like, six foot ceilings. That’s where we wrote pavement. You know.
Kevin: The first song that deeper ever wrote was pavement. And we played that yesterday. So I don’t know. That’s pretty cool.
Nic: Yeah, I think like, we’ve had a lot of practice. We’ve toured a lot. We’ve played festivals, maybe not as big as pitchfork, but I don’t know. It’s kind of like riding a bike. And I feel like we’re pretty proficient at that.
Sarah: The set was great. Full compliments to everyone.
Aly: Okay, I have some fun questions. do y’all have like a craziest or wildest tour experience?
Nic: I don’t know if we can say it on the air…Well, no, I do have a good one. Our, first tour to the East Coast. We played in New York. We played like two shows. And yeah, they were very, very bad. We parked our car in Bushwick and we were staying in Chinatown in Manhattan. And we went back to our van to get the gear to set up for the show that night. And then we realized that we lost our keys the night before while going out. And that was pretty crazy. So our car was unlocked. Nobody took anything. And we had to figure out how to get this rental car out of New York. So, we played the show and then felt like we were going to have to cancel the rest of the tour because we had no spare keys…And I’m telling this story poorly…but we convinced Drew to go into the the police station nearby even though we had already contacted them and they said they didn’t have the keys. We were like, we should just go in and see if they have them. So Drew went in and the rest of us are outside.
Drew: During that time they were taking turns punching each other in the stomach.
Nic: Don’t ask us why we did that. That was poor judgment on our part. Anyways, Drew comes out of the police station, and he’s like “anybody looking for these” and he just like throws out a bag with our keys that somebody ran over. They were totally mangled.
Shiraz: We had just played in front of literally seven people, a terrible show, and we just started partying like we just signed to Sub Pop because we found these keys.
Nic: Yeah, we partied until four or five in the morning. That was probably one of the best experiences post finding the keys. So good and bad story.
Aly: So glad there was a happy ending there.
Aly: Next question, best part trick?
Kevin: I can throw food really high up in the air and catch in my mouth. Yeah, yeah.
Nic: Kevin’s really good at catching food in his mouth.
Drew: I took a video of him in Northern California. And you’re doing them consecutively. yeah. Chocolate covered almonds. Yeah.
Shiraz: We’re talking 40 feet in the air.
Drew: One of the last things we did, before the pandemic, we stopped in rural Illinois. And Kevin was just launching cashews. It was amazing. And I wanted to film it.
Kevin: I did like a dozen in a row. We were waiting outside. I had a bag of cashews. I was throwing them up literally as high as I could, you know, we’re talking 40-50 feet and I was catching them. And then Drew was like, “I gotta film this.” And then I did two or three in a row and I didn’t catch them we were like, Oh, man. Looking back months later, I was like, Man, the pandemic would have been so different if we had that content of me catching cashews in my mouth all of history.
Nic: A different party trick, but Kevin’s very good at spinning basketballs on his finger tips.
Kevin: Peple do that though. Lots of People do do that.
Nic: But you’re very good at it.
Kevin: Catching food is a little more novel of a party trick.
Nic: I enjoy that.
Kevin: He’s impressed by it more than most people.
Nic: And Kevin can actually transpose any word on a keyboard.
Shiraz: Kevin is a party trick.
Aly: Wow. Okay, next question. What song do you have on repeat right now?
Shiraz: oooh man, I guess…Can I peek?
Aly: Yeah, of course.
Aly: All good choices. Okay, I think that’s that’s all we have for the interview but thank y’all so much for talking with us!
Follow Deeper on Instagram and check out their Spotify below!