Banner image Michelle Pullman
Hi guys! First of all, thanks for finding the time to do this interview, it is much appreciated! So would you like to introduce the band?
Ides Of Gemini, meet Cvlt Nation. Cvlt Nation, meet Ides Of Gemini: Miss Sera Timms on bass and vocals, Mrs. Kelly Johnston-Gibson on drums and backing vocals, and me (J.B.) on guitar.
How did Ides of Gemini came to be? I know that your singer, Sera Timms, used to be a member of Black Math Horseman. Did you meet through that band?
Sera and I met several months before Black Math Horseman formed. Once they started playing shows, I helped them out selling t-shirts and hauling gear. I was so inspired by her voice that I wanted to write songs for her, even though I hadn’t played guitar in several years. In 2010, Black Math Horseman were supposed to do a two-week tour of Europe and I was going to fly over with them. We were sitting on the plane at LAX, getting ready to take off when that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano erupted and all transatlantic air traffic came to a grinding halt for over a week. BMH were forced to cancel their tour, but Sera and I had already taken two weeks off, so we suddenly had time on our hands. That’s when we recorded the first Ides Of Gemini songs for what would eventually become our first EP, The Disruption Writ. Shortly after that, we met Kelly and she joined on drums.
I would to ask how it feels having a music journalist (J. Bennett) as part of the band? And also, what is it like for a journalist to operate from inside the band rather than as an outside observer? Are you more critical when it comes to your own work? Do you try to hear it as an outside critic would?
I like to think I’m even more critical of our own work than I am of others’ work, but maybe that’s wishful thinking. Because I write the basic foundations and arrangements for our songs, it’s my job to try and shed any elements that might sound like someone else. I feel like I might be in a better position to do that than most people because I hear so much new music all the time. But who knows? That could be wishful thinking, too. Either way, I haven’t seen many direct comparisons between us and other bands in the reviews of our latest record, so it seems like I’m doing okay in that department.
Can you give us some insight into the way your songs are created? Is it an individual process or more of a collaborative effort? How often do you guys rehearse together?
We usually practice twice a week—more if we have a show coming up. As far as songwriting, I write all the guitar parts and basic arrangements on my own before passing them off to Sera so she can come up with vocal melodies and basic basslines. Then we send everything to Kelly so she can come up with basic drum patterns before we all head to the practice space and fine-tune our parts (and the arrangement) together. Sera usually has some lyrical ideas by that point, but she’ll finalize them after we nail down the final arrangement.
Sera Timms’ vocals have been the focal point of your releases so far, and that is also the case with your new release Old World New Wave. Do you write the songs in such a way as to give her voice the spotlight?
As far as I’m concerned, Sera is the star of the show here. Her voice was the original inspiration for the band and continues to be my inspiration for writing Ides Of Gemini songs. I don’t want to downplay what the rest of us do—it’s all crucial to the band—but Sera’s voice is absolutely the focal point.
I know that you guys do not really like to discuss the lyrics of your tracks, but is it possible to just tell me one thing: how did it come to, in a way, revisit Constantinople with “22 May 1453”? The day when a lunar eclipse occurred, said to prophesize the fall of the city. Is it that you were not done with the concept of Constantinople?
Old World New Wave is divided into two parts: The “Old World” portion is side A of the vinyl and is very much connected in spirit and atmosphere to the material on Constantinople. The “New Wave” part is side B, and points our way forward as a band. “May 22, 1453” is the first track on the “New Wave” side and signals the fall of Constantinople and the end of the “old world” phase. In that sense, I feel like some of the songs on the “Old World” side of the record could have maybe fit on the Constantinople record—even though we consider them to be very much new and improved versions of that style. On the other hand, I don’t think any of the songs on the “New Wave” side would have fit on Constantinople.
For me, it is quite difficult to define your sound, so I’ve used a term I have seen most people describe Ides of Gemini as: dream doom. Firstly, do you like that description of your music? And secondly, in an era when it is quite easy to label a particular band, how does it feel like having a sound that stands out?
“Dream doom” is a phrase that someone on the Internet used to describe our music sometime after the first EP came out. We liked it at the time because it seemed fitting for what we were doing. These days, I’m not sure how much it applies. Plus, we noticed that another band picked up on the term and started using it to describe their own music. So they’re more than welcome to it. We’d much rather have a sound that’s difficult to describe.
The sound of the album is very nicely done, and very appropriate for your music. Can you tell us where the album was recorded and which engineer(s) you used?
Thank you. We owe a lot of the credit to Chris Rakestraw, who also recorded/engineered Constantinople. The new album was recorded at a different studio, though: Valley Recording in Burbank, CA.
You have also released a couple of EPs, a split album with Vermapyre and the Hexagram 7”. Do you have any plans for any other split albums or anything else of that nature in the near future? Any songs that did not end up in Old World New Wave perhaps?
We’re going to release a 7” in April that will feature a new song from the Old World New Wave sessions that unfortunately couldn’t fit on the vinyl version of the album—plus a very unique cover. Well, it’s a sort of a cover: We’re taking the lyrics from someone else’s song and writing our own music for it.
You have an impressive roster of bands you have played live with, sharing the stage with Old Man Gloom and The Obsessed. You have also toured with Ghost B.C., as well as by yourselves as headliners. How different would you say those two tours were?
The European tour we did in the fall of 2012 was a learning experience in almost every way. It was our first tour as a band, so there were a few kinks to work out in the live setting, but for the most part we did pretty well on that front. The tour also suffered from poor planning, mostly in terms of situations and locations a more experienced band would have known to avoid. But we also played a lot of great gigs and overall the experience was invaluable. The North American tour we did with Ghost in the spring of 2013 was equally invaluable, but in a completely positive way. In terms of gaining a wider audience, touring with them was like hitting the lottery. We got to play huge sold-out theaters almost every night as the sole support for a fantastic band. We really can’t thank the Ghost guys enough for the opportunity.
Do you have plans for any upcoming gigs?
We’ll be playing at Intronaut’s 10th anniversary show in Los Angeles in December and hopefully touring in the new year.
Are there any new bands that you have recently discovered that you would like to share with us, or any older releases that you have been revisiting?
One of my favorite records that came out this year was The Oath’s self-titled debut. Sera and I have been listening to that one a lot. Unfortunately, they broke up before the album even came out. As for older stuff, I’ve been listening to a lot of Iron Claw, Rog & Pip, The Sweet, and Echo & The Bunnymen. Sera and I have also been getting into the soundtrack from Rosemary’s Baby.
Alright guys! Thank you again for finding the time to do this interview! Wish you all the best and hopefully I will see you playing live in the near future.
Thank you very much for the interview & Cvlt Nation’s amazing support over the years. You guys rule.