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GSR

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"Music Dealers Featured Artist of the Month"

Gas Station Robber is a ground breaking indie group from Los Angeles, California. Consisting of Chris Holbrook and Craig Conard, their music has been compared to The Postal Service, Snow Patrol, and Death Cab For Cutie. Using both organic and inorganic sounds and utilizing visuals in their performances, its no wonder why I chose them as this month's Music Dealers Featured Artist.

WJ: What instrument would you say is most pleasing to the ear?

GSR: I would say the cello. It’s very soothing and has such a wide range of expression. I love the deep resonance of the instrument. It would be a great addition to our live show actually.


WJ: Why do you think Lethal Weapon 4 was shunned by original Lethal Weapon fans?

GSR: Well, I'm glad you asked that. This is something that I've wanted to get off of my chest for a long time. With Lethal Weapon 4 they just took it way over the top. I mean come on, adding Chris Rock to the cast as a cop? The only comic relief it really needed was Joe Pesci. The film is all about pyrotechnics and lacks a good story line. The best thing about this film is that it's Jet Li's american film debut.

WJ: What speakers/headphones/monitors do you like hearing music through most?

GSR: The Bose noise canceling headphones are really good. They have great clarity. The headphones allow you to hear all the little details in the music that you might have missed otherwise.


WJ: Have you worked with licensing companies before, if so, what makes Music Dealers sooooo much better?

GSR: Yes we have. I really like the Deal Board aspect of what you guys do. Artists can actually stay involved on a daily basis by seeing what opportunities are out there for their music. It gives you the sense that you have a little bit of control because you’re able to submit the songs that you feel may be right for the job. With most companies you’re completely detached and basically wash your hands of the entire thing once you’ve put your music in their catalogue.


WJ: One audio program, one piece of hardware and one brand of chips for the rest of your life..?

GSR: For me it would be ProTools, an MBox and Cool Ranch Doritos. You can't get tired of Cool Ranch Doritos.

WJ: How many words would you say you can make by rearranging the letters in your name?

GSR: I don't understand the question. I'm going to have to pass this off to one of the other band members. We'll get back to you.


WJ: Are there any strange or weird practices you might have while working on your tracks?

GSR: Absolutely, I work in the bathroom. Anytime I get a little spark for a song idea it’s off to the bathroom for me. I used to have a tape recorder set up in there back in the day because it was the only quiet place I could get to. With such nice reverb in there it has remained a staple part of my creative process.


WJ: If you could have your work used in any place, any television show, any movie, any screenplay- past or present, what would it be?

GSR: We're not too picky, we would just like our music used. It has real cinematic quality to it so I think it could work really well in film.

WJ: What was the most ridiculous place you ever performed, good and bad?

GSR: Craig and I almost performed at a children's carnival with our last band. When I say children's carnival we're talking about kids that were 5 years old and under. Our opening act was a tap group of 3 and 4 year olds. We didn't think that was the right demographic for us.


WJ: Was Star Wars better as a trilogy, or hexalogy, why?

GSR: Trilogy! All I have to say is Jar Jar Binks.


WJ: Where do you see yourself in 13 years?

GSR: I see myself focusing on GSR material in one form or another, whether it's scoring music for film / tv or writing material for our 10th release. I'd love to be collaborating with people on multiple music projects at that point.

- Music Dealers


"HYPE IT UP: Gas Station Robber"

Mysterious... one of many words I'd use to decribe California's own Gas Station Robber. Even while corresponding online with the band over the course of a few days I had no idea with whom I was speaking. And that's the way Chris Holbrook and Craig Conard like it. Image isn't their biggest concern, but getting their music to you without a middle man is. With that in mind, GSR allow you to download their songs at their website, and will continue to do so as long as they're making music. Every month a new song is available for you to download and adore. Their approach towards image, or lack thereof, isn't new. Others have gone the way of covering their faces for whatever reason, but their urgent lyrics and moving instrumentation set them apart. With GSR it's simple, they want all of the attention to be paid to their music. The result is that of a band whose intentions are clear, making music with relevence. Every aspect of what is done is looked at and taken care of with kid gloves for Holbrook and Conrad. The haunting guitar effects of "Cigarette" will catch your attention against the calmness of a voice with urgent lyrics pleading for a release not a need for rescue: 'I'm locked inside like everyone I know/And still the outcome's the same/Don't stop me from walking out unfazed/Now stop me from walking out unfazed/ Don't stop me from walking out unfazed.' "Please" is a simple message of self defeat: 'Wait all night to show the one/That I'll be alright with one less to fight/Stay or leave/I will waste I will waste away" and later "Please just leave me alone/Stained and I'm the frozen one/Now is the time for the one left to find/Turn a leaf.' "Falling Off" finds it's tempo to be more upbeat with lyrics riddled with longing, desire, and temptation with lines like 'Tonight we're alike/A room, tonight my blood is wine/Stuck in a place where I will stay/Come back please and take me away/Afraid with you of coming down/Afraid of falling off.' "Killed the Chase" offers the most lush arrangements. The music seems to ebb and flow around a strong voice in this cautionary tale of the search for love and meaning: 'We now belong to all the things left in the way/And I have been sucked right in and thrown away/Another day down the same road to grey/Another day cuts the face and floats away.' The effect of GSR is soothing. Picture driving through the desert at night with the top down on some old beat up corvet, waving glow sticks while looking for shooting stars. - High Voltage Magazine


"Los Angeles Band Has The Right Idea"

Gas Station Robber wants you to take as much of them as you can. It would appear that my endless ranting about the state of music in this world has begun to spread like a cancer on the internet. Now, whether I am directly responsible or not, I will consider this a win in my book. Los Angeles band, Gas Station Robber has chosen to adopt the Radiohead, NIN code and give their music away for free via their website. Now who is Gas Station Robber? Well, you don't know them. But unlike all the other unknown bands polluting our beloved internet, this band has chosen to eliminate their crappy music carbon footprint. To do this they have put their music up for completely free download. Now whether this marketing concept will work or not is still to be seen. One thing is clear though. This is not a bad idea. When entering the site it is pretty straight forward. Large mp3 player on the right, a song auto-starts and text makes it very clear to download all music for free. You have the ability to submit your email address to be notified when a new song is posted and there is also a "support" button. This is basically a paypal donate button. I do like how you don’t HAVE to go through any type of transaction or email submission to the get the songs. An excerpt from the home pages main paragraph reads: "We are committed to the idea of free indie music so all of our songs are available to download with no strings attached." It appears that this is in fact the case. The band shows a confidence that the music itself will create returning fans and possibly soft sell donations and merchandise purchases. Profiting off the sales of CDs and mp3s is a constant misnomer of the music world. Any basic entertainment law class will tell you that no band will have enough sales to start making money off their CD revenue. All that money goes to labels, management and other success related entities. And without the help of a label's advertising and marketing you are left to your own skill set to make that happen. Those are pretty bad odds. So instead, Gas Station Robber has chosen to cut out the overhead of CD production, marketing and advertising campaigns as well as myspace spamming.They use the real world value of the word FREE and hope that it will return in the form of secondary sales through ticket sales, merch sales and donations for the music. So what about the actual music? Is it even worth this write up? My honest opinion is yes. Gas Station Robber is an electroacoustic two piece that bridges many gaps in current mainstream and indie music. It has very strong production, obvious movements in the song structure, very catchy melodies and infectious choruses. The secondary instrument parts stretch however, adding sounds more common in the experimental electronica of Boards of Canada. This push and pull of instrument sounds against the soft, articulate melody makes it sound less like an AIR ripoff and more like Notwist spinoff. And in today's watered down, image based electro subculture, the"faceless" feel of their promo photos suggest less worry about the look and more about the music. Anyone who cares about the state of music today will find that this group not only has the talent, but also the foward thought to move into new concepts of how to get their art to people. - Broowaha


"MTV GSR"

Gas Station Robber's music was featured three times on MTV's Real World Brooklyn and twice on the Real World Cancun. Their song Dreams Are Dead became a fan favorite after being the focal point during the second to last episode of the season. - Soundtrack.MTV.com


"Back to Basics"

In the city of lights, glitz, glamour, & sometimes mayhem, there's a rare thing happening. Musicians making music for the love of it. In Los Angeles, past the masses of music monguls & the ones crawling their way to the top at any cost, there's a smaller sub-set of rockers who bring us back to what we love about music. What we love about those who make music. We've had the pleasure of being along side the careers of a few, but it's the guys behind Gas Station Robber that strike us most for their genuineness & their sincerity. RAPT: One of the things that distinguishes Gas Station Robber is this notion of free, independent music. You've created something that's solely about the work itself and we gotta admit, especially with the industry of today, that's pretty damn refreshing. What shaped your commitment to this kind of project? CRAIG: Are you refreshed enough to want to buy a t-shirt or a flashdrive? I don't know about Chris, but I honestly didn't know what else to do. Putting out records the traditional way is no longer viable for most bands, especially us. I personally went back and forth for a long time about the pros and cons of giving away the music. But it boils down to this... I know that no matter what, I'll always be in my room recording. Songs will always be completed. I've been doing it consistently since I was 16, and I don't ever really see myself quitting. So if I'm going to spend that amount of time working on my craft, then I'd prefer that as many people get to hear it as possible... even if it means giving away what I've spent 15 years learning to make. CHRIS: We really enjoy doing what we do and we want people to hear it. So for us it is solely about the music that we make and getting it to people. If it's free then maybe they'll give us a listen and come out to a show at some point. RAPT: As part of this effort, you've said that it's your hope to put out new material monthly....what's the response been like? CRAIG: In general it's been really good, but sometimes it's hard to get people to hear you when you say that it's free and available on a monthly basis. You sort of have to shout it at them. We've played shows before where Chris announced three times that our music is available for free on our website. After the show we'd have people come up and say, "Wow, I really liked such and such song. Is there a way you can email it to me?" It's funny. They don't offer to buy it, and yet they don't hear you when you say it's free. But once you manage to convey to them how the band operates, they really seem to like the idea. CHRIS: We see an increase in traffic on our website and myspace when we release new material on the 15th of each month. So that's been encouraging. RAPT: There are a lot of positives to be said for distributing your work through the internet & being able to reach so many; what's been particularly rewarding in this experience for GSR and your music? CRAIG: I like the instant nature of the whole thing. It's nice to finish a song and just post it right away, rather than sitting on it for months and months while you finish the rest of the record. RAPT: But some could say that there's a certain feeling of being cut-off to the direct-connect-with-people-thing when you're basing a lot of what you do from a web standpoint. You do still get out & play live though....what do you get out of that time, live, on stage? CRAIG: Unfortunately I've drawn the duty of handling the technical aspects at the shows, which are fairly extensive, and the potential for failure always looms. So I'm desperately trying to keep the train on the tracks at most shows, as is generally reflected in my facial expressions. Chris and Nick seem to have fun, though. So that's nice. CHRIS: We put so much time into writing and recording these songs so the chance to finally perform them is such a great release. Our songs don't make you want to get up and dance so people are rather mellow when they come see us live. You never really know what people are thinking until they approach you afterwards and let you know. Having that instant feedback from people is cool too. RAPT: So, for lack of being able to say it any more eloquently, a lot of your music is just beautiful. This is the stuff you put on when you're alone in your house and doing some soul searching (well, maybe that's just us). There's a quality that stays with you long after the song has stopped playing. Where does the music come from? CRAIG: I've always had a weakness for beautiful songs. I don't really like fun songs. I hate to dance. But I can listen to the same beautiful song 30 times in a row. It's the harmonies that get me. Most people listen to lyrics first and foremost, but I've always paid the most attention to the way that harmonies weave in and out of one another. So I'm always trying to get my parts to weave in and out of Chris' parts. CHRIS: I love good strong melodies so that's what I'm shooting for most of the time. But it has to come from an honest place and not be too forced. Most of the time I'll just grab an acoustic guitar and record myself humming a melody or singing a lyric that comes to me in the moment. I'll play it back and see if anything strikes me. Photo by Moonie RAPT: Okay, time to talk life. Neither one of you is originally from Los Angeles but you've both been in the City of Angels a significant amount of time now.......what's the day to day when you're not with the music? CRAIG: I wish I could say that I had a day to day life outside of music but I really don't. I work in the mornings doing engineering work for a film composer named Michael Brook and then I come home and wait around until I'm inspired to work on a song. If I'm not working on a song then I'm trying to stabilize the live rig and/or building cooler lights for the live show. There's some beer drinking in there somewhere as well. I caulked my bathtub yesterday so that was exciting. It's so white now. CHRIS: I work in the video game industry during the day. In my free time I like to stay home with my girlfriend or just hang out at friend's places rather than go out. I'm kind if a homebody. Craig tries to get me to come out and play racquetball with him occasionally. I always resist because not only did he beat me the last time we played, I also crawled out of there feeling like I was going to puke. Who knew racquetball could be so tough? RAPT: Chris, we noticed you're from San Antonio. We'd be jack-asses if we didn't bring up our immediate neighbor to the South here; c'mon....San Antonio is fanfriggintastic. You get home often? CHRIS: Actually, I haven't been home in almost 2 years or so. It seems that family is always coming out here or heading to New York where my brother lives. I love San Antonio though. I appreciate it more the older I get. RAPT: So are there any talks of kicking off some kind of tour or city sweep? CRAIG: There's plenty of talk... CHRIS: We've actually talked about lining up something in San Antonio, Austin and then playing some shows on the way back to Los Angeles. We'll let you guys know if that comes together. It probably wouldn't be until late spring or so if that does happen. RAPT: What's the long term future of GSR look like right now? CHRIS: I'm excited about the future. We have complete [creative] control over everything that we do. So I think for us the future is endless. RAPT: Last movie you saw? CRAIG:Twilight CHRIS: I did not see Twilight. Next question please, thanks. RAPT: What other music or artists are you tuning into right now? CHRIS: I've been listening to The Notwist a lot. I just saw them and they were fantastic. The new album is really good. I'm always listening to Elliott Smith. The Most Serene Republic a little bit too. A friend of mine just turned me onto Andrew Bird, so I'm kind of jumping into some of his stuff right now as well. RAPT: Los Angeles is a regular melting pot when it comes to the amount of creation & work you can easily surround yourself with...so what do you take away with you from being able to work with your peers in the world of music? CRAIG: On a professional level, LA is unbelievable. I've pretty much learned everything I know from engineers and producers that I've been fortunate enough to work with in the studio. All you have to do is go listen to some Michael Brook and Husky Hoskulds records and you can see where I get a lot of my influence. So if you want to learn how to put records together this place is unrivaled, I just wish the live music scene was stronger. CHRIS: Yeah, the music scene out here is kind of weird. For me, living in Los Angeles, I'm introduced to new music all the time. Most of my friends are musicians or at least really into music so I'm always being introduced to different artist's. Sometimes that's where inspiration comes from. You here someone doing something that's different or unique in a certain way and that makes you want to create. Interview by V. Gonzalez & Cristina Fritz - The Rapt Magazine


"Top EP of the Week: Gas Station Robber"

Their sound is definitely on the melancholy electronic tip. Neither of those descriptors would be words that draw me in, normally, since I tend to prefer my sad whiners be folksier or with a little more rock bombast. But something about their sound is worth paying heed. They call their sound "electroacoustic," and who am I to argue? The song I've included, "Cigarette," is the least electronic and most acoustic of the songs they sent us, so naturally that's the one I find most mesmerizing, but none of the five songs they sent had me holding my nose or praying for it to end. More to the point for you, dear readers: They are all about sharing their music in DRM formats without asking for anything but donations. While it's possible they're as financially secure as Radiohead, I highly doubt it, so if you like what you hear, maybe you'll consider tossing a few bucks their way. - Bottom of The Glass


"The Isgoodmusic.com Presents Report"

Gas Station Robber (who was originally scheduled for midnight) made it to the stage around 1:30. As much as the venue managers assured me the club would start hopping with hipster runoff from Echo Park, the room was pretty much anemic at this point. Damn shame. If I had to say someone stole the show, Gas Station Robber had us stragglers all at gunpoint. Their signature light effects (primarily interior-lit keyboard stands with timed color changes) made for nice free hallucinogenics. But the sublime combination of Chris Holbrook's smooth vocals, Craig Conard's guitar and electronic programming, and Nicholas Emerson's flawless keyboarding reminded me that Isgoodmusic is not just about being cool, but being original. This is a band to watch out for. - IsGoodMusic.com


Discography

Debut Full Length Release - "Out of This Place"
Sophomore Release - "Bright Side"

Photos

Bio

Chris Holbrook, Craig Conard, Nicholas Emerson, Nicholas Conner and Steve Poon are Gas Station Robber. Their music has often been compared to Snow Patrol, The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie. While their music embodies a few of these elements, they maintain their own very distinct sound. Their live performance brings a bit of a rock touch to each of the songs and features an LED light show synced to their music. GSR’s music has been featured on MTV's Real World Brooklyn and Cancun.

Chris Holbrook grew up in San Antonio, Texas. He hails from a creative family; his mother runs a dance studio, and his brother is an actor on Broadway. Although constantly exposed to the arts as a child, he got a fairly late start in music at age 20, when he first picked up a guitar. At 22, after a move to Los Angeles, he began to focus strictly on singing and songwriting. He and Craig met soon after, and a few years later began GSR.

Craig Conard is from Kansas City, and learned to play guitar there. In late 2001, he moved to Los Angeles and began a career in audio engineering. He worked at The Sound Factory as an assistant engineer, and eventually left to start making records on his own. A few months later he met Chris Holbrook, started a rock band, and eventually morphed it into GSR. Currently, Craig works with Michael Brook (Composer, Producer, Scored An Inconvenient Truth and Into the Wild among other works) and Boyd Tinsley (Dave Matthews Band) on assorted projects.

Nicholas Conner is originally from Minneapolis, MN. As a child he was more of an athlete, until he turned 12 and unearthed the power of the drum... which to this day still dictates his life. In MN he studied with Dave King, was the house hand drummer playing with Mark Wheat, and also helped create the band, “A Whisper in the Noise", who he recorded and toured with internationally. He made the move to LA after his group was mangled by a coast to coast tour. He then joined forces with a band called "Solare" until GSR gave him an offer that he couldn't refuse.

Nick Emerson was raised in Michigan, near Ann Arbor. He has played the drums since age 14, and took up keyboards a few years ago when he started performing with GSR. In addition to joining GSR, Nick has recently been dabbling in remix production, original electro/dance tracks, and spinning records at parties and clubs in the LA area (DJ OH! / Magic Hour). Nick also works with his good friend/musician, Noah Andrade (Ugly Zombie), on a "hardcore/experimental electronic" project known as "NCxWP".

Steve Poon, originally from San Francisco, California, spent the majority of his youth immersed in music. He dabbled in a variety of instruments before settling on the bass guitar by age 12. Steve played with musicians in a multitude of genres, from Jazz to Pop to Hard Rock; learning everything he could and playing with as many people as possible. It was Steve's reputation for his versatile playing and explosive live performance that got him work with Shafter & My Former Self; two of the Bay Area's most talented bands. However, It was the desire to do more and Steve's love of music that led him to follow his dreams in Los Angeles. Currently, Steve doubles on Bass in Impel (www.myspace.com/impel); whom he's played with for the past 3 years.