This week our ace freelancer Shane Danaher conducted an interview with Nick Caceres of Gratitillium, which should have been posted yesterday before the band's debut show opening for Jared Mees and the Grown Children last night. It's still a great read, and we'll have to check out Caceres and gang the next time they venture out.
Gratitillium (meaning “gratitude for animals,” according to the band) has led somewhat of a charmed—albeit brief—existence. The five-piece experiment from folk wunderkind Nick Caceres has grown rapidly from its basement project roots into a full-fledged sonic enterprise with a debut album slated for an early 2009 release on the local label Tender Loving Empire. Culling from the electronic psychedelia of Animal Collective, Gratitillium aims in its meandering songcraft to inhabit a world that is equally of and for nature's predisposition to frolic. I was recently able to talk with Caceres about Gratitillium's upcoming live debut, Tender Loving Empire and the inscrutable nomenclature of his most recent endeavor.
WW: How did Gratitillium get started?
It started as a recording project. The album that we're about to release [Gratitillium 1
] is pretty much recordings that I've concocted but before I was even four songs in it was like, “Let's get some more people in on this” and before long we had a full band behind it. So we've been working on remaking the recordings into live performable songs. The structure of the songs has changed a lot, it's become a lot more kind of uptempo and wild.
So Gratitillium was originally more of a solo thing for you?
Yeah, that's where it started. The recording's more sort of a solo thing but the performance has always been more about kind of making it with other people.
So is there a solid lineup for the group or are you planning to have more of a rotating cast type of thing?
It's really malleable, it's probably the most free form thing I've ever done. One of our members is probably going to be leaving soon to go on a trip and we're going to be switching around, probably add someone else.
How did you meet Jared Mees and the Tender Loving Empire crew, and how did you guys get involved?
They originally approached my other project, sort of my solo folk thing, and I think initially they were kind of interested in that so I got to know them. And eventually I was like “Hey, there's these weird recordings that I've been making. Would you be interested in putting them out?” And they were really excited by them so we just started going from there.
Would you say Gratitillium is your main focus at this point?
I would say it is at this point, but not from now on by any means. Just in this little time period it's more of where my energy's focused. But in the long run I'm probably going to be keeping a good balance. With the folk stuff I'm slowly but surely working on also turning that into a full band.
When I last talked to you, you mentioned that you were trying to change the name of your folk project from, well, your name, to something else?
Oh of course, that really is the first step. I never really had anything else to call it because I was doing the solo thing for so long. Bu there was always this debate of “Should I go for a different name?” Just because it was always sort of odd being like “Hey, we're Nick Caceres.” I was never a big fan of that.
Have you talked with Tender Loving Empire, or anyone else, about possibly putting out the releases from that band?
You know, I'm thinking that Tender Loving Empire is going to be the direction that the Gratitillium stuff goes in. With the folk stuff I'm keeping it entirely open, there's still a lot of development that's gonna go into it, right now it's sort of like a baby, but it's still really open. It might be the act that I try to make more of an attempt at a major label with. I think Gratitillium's going to be more just for the total fun of it, whereas that folk stuff is an effort to create something more kind of professional and potentially packagable.
So, given those goals, what's the difference in your songwriting approach between Gratitillium and your folk project?
The folk stuff, most of the songs I'm working on now were written more than a year ago and it came from a very, kind of, in my own head, eccentric artist zone that I was in. There was definitely a lot of angst in it and it was sort of my outlet for that. And I guess writing songs was more of a very particular process where I would really just trim all the loose edges and take a long-assed time to come up with a really precise vibe. Almost too much so, I almost got kind of sick of it, it was too extreme in a way for me.
And so your process with Gratitillium is a lot more open and, I don't want to say “haphazard” but…
Yeah, actually, that wouldn't be a bad word to use. I would say that Gratitillium more makes itself than me trying to make it. It just kind of almost falls together. Some of the songs on the album I just sort of made up as I went along in kind of a half-hour, very spontaneously, and some of the songs I put together bit by bit over the course of two and a half months. But for the most part it's a lot more free form, and a lot more fun, in the process.
That release you mentioned, that's going to be Gratitillium1?
Yes, I thinking that they'll all just be Gratitillium and they'll be more distinguished by the artwork than anything else. And then somewhere on it there'll be a little “Volume 1” or something.
This is your debut live performance on Friday, do you have anything special planned?
I don't know how much I want to get into it because I sort of want the performances to take people by surprise but definitely expect something wild. Most definitely we don't want to be telling people how to be or what to do. There'll probably be some costumes involved. And face paint.
How did you come up with the name?
Basically I made the first song, of the recording that's about to come out, which was the Crow song. I had no intentions of making an album or whatever, it was totally random, I just sort of made the track for fun and afterwards I just sort of said “This will be called Gratitillium.” And eventually after running it by a lot of people I just sort of kept it. Right now it means “Gratitude for animals.”
Gratitilium plays this Friday, Nov. 21 at the Artistery with Jared Mees and the Grown Children and Tune Yards. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., tickets are $6.
Photo courtesy of Nick Caceres