mr. Gnome
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mr. Gnome

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Rock Indie

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"Rolling Stone - mr. Gnome's "Watch The City Sail Away""

Dreamy track from the duo's new album

Cleveland-based duo Mr. Gnome recently released their latest album, Madness in Miniature, and have embarked on a tour of the south in support of the release. Singer-guitarist Nicole Barille explains that their dreamy pop track "Watch the City Sail Away" almost didn't appear on the album. "This song was a last-minute addition to Madness in Miniature. It was written and recorded in one day at our house," she explains to Rolling Stone. "One intoxicated night Sam started playing the chords of the song on a toy piano, and in a haze I quickly made up the verse and chorus and we recorded it on my cell phone."

Although the track was a late add, Barille explains that lyrically the song befits a Mr. Gnome release. "The song and lyrics are representative of a mind on the brink of falling apart and yet seeing the beauty in the chaos. As with a lot of my lyrics, I tend to write about situations that are moments away from impending disaster," she says. - Rolling Stone


"Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - Summer Concert Series Interview"

Inspired by a taste for the surreal, Cleveland’s Mr. Gnome has been creating a singular amalgam of gritty, space-psychedelia since 2005, gaining them an ever-growing cult following across North America and Europe, as well as praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, Paste, Spin, Bust and more. Singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister bring an unfiltered approach to their craft, allowing for emotional and sonic variance. With a nod to the off-kiltered, the constantly touring duo are supporting their third full-length album, Madness In Miniature, which was recorded at Josh Homme’s (Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures) Pink Duck Studios in Los Angeles. While the previous two albums offered mere glimpses, the new album is an all-encompassing gaze into two delicate yet roaring, hypnotic and beautifully disconcerting minds that come together to make sense as one. Here, the Rock Hall catches up with Barille and Meister, in advance of their live free concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 1, 2012, as part of the Summer in the City concert series.

Rock Hall: What was the first record/CD you ever bought and do you still listen to it?

Nicole Barille: I'm pretty sure the very first piece of music I actually bought was a DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince cassette tape because I loved the song "Summertime." Pretty classy. No, I don't still listen to it, but I probably should break it back out for the summer.

Sam Meister: Ween and Faith No More.

RH: What artists did you listen to when you were growing up and what about them appealed to you? Any Hall of Fame inductees?

NB: I was just getting into music when the grunge scene was still exploding. I listened to a lot of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Radiohead (The Bends was one of my favorites). When I met Sam in high school, he turned me on to a lot of classic rock and soul that I hadn't gotten into yet - the psychedelic side of Pink Floyd, Iggy and the Stooges, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Lou Reed, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke. And together we discovered more of the trip-hop scene – Portishead, Massive Attack, Bjork, Tricky...

RH: What do you remember about playing your first gig – how old were you, where was it, when was it, how’d it go, the crowd?

NB: The very first gig that I played was in middle school. My cousin Greg and I played a bunch of Nirvana and Green Day covers for a party in someone's basement. A bunch of sweaty 12 and 13 year olds jumped up and down around us screaming. We played out of these tiny little Crate amps and sang without mics. It was hilarious and a lot of fun.

SM: It took me a long time to get up on stage for an official first show. Nicole went behind my back and booked our first show as "Gnome" in Kent, Ohio, at the Outpost – a converted strip club turned music venue. We had just finished up college at Kent State and our buddy was doing the booking at the club. We were pretty green and terrified to be up there – I think we played our 25 minute set in 15 minutes, maybe less – and all 10 people there were drunk enough to think it was just okay. So we kept going, and here we are today.Thank God for alcohol.

RH: What current bands/artists do you admire and/or are listening to these days? What about those particular artists has captured your interest?

NB: I love music that evokes emotion, transports the listener, has some grit to it occasionally. Vocally, Otis Redding will always be one of my favorites. Others that continue to inspire me: Tame Impala, Built to Spill, Portishead, Crystal Antlers, the Flaming Lips, Beach House, The Good, The Bad and the Queen, Bibio, Billie Holiday, Radiohead and on and on and on… (pictured: Mr. Gnome's 2011 album Madness in Miniature)

RH: How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard it before?

SM: Soft, loud, psychedelic, dreamy, weird, stormy, crunchy, aggressive, ghostly, sweet, dark, bright, spastic, schizophrenic – pretty much, we're all over the place!

RH: What’s it like being on the road?

NB: The road is an adventurous wild ride of madness. Every day is different, every day is extremely interesting and we get to play music as our job – there's not much more you can ask for! It's really an amazing experience despite the long hours, lack of sleep and the fact that we live in bars. This country is insanely beautiful, and we've met so many wonderful people and musicians along the way, been exposed to new ideas, instruments, pedals, sounds… I don't think we would've grown in the way we have without living on the road as much as we do.

RH: Do you have a favorite city where you like to perform? If so, why?

NB: Cleveland of course! We love our hometown so very much. The energy at our Cleveland shows is very unique. Other favorite cities include Chicago, Portland and Seattle. Chicago is just a fun lovin' party city, and the Pacific Northwest is probably our favorite area of the country – love all the greenery, the cities are just amazing and the music scenes are extremely supportive.

RH: Do you have a favorite concert? One by someone else? And one by you?

NB: I saw Radiohead in 2001 – incredible set list and they just blew my mind. As far as our own shows, our last tour was my favorite by far. Luckily, every tour we do generates more buzz and more bodies in the clubs, so the shows on the last tour were a blast. But like I said before, there's no place like home and our homecoming shows are always a bit surreal. We're always overwhelmed by all of the support Cleveland continually gives us.

RH: What can your fans expect when they come to your show?

NB and SM: Magic, unicorns, wizards, intoxication, loud guitars, crashing drums, sex and sweat. - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame


"NPR: First Watch: Mr. Gnome, 'House of Circles'"

The Cleveland-based experimental rock duo Mr. Gnome was one of our favorite discoveries from South by Southwest earlier this year, and now the band is back on our radar with an amazing new video. "House of Circles," from Mr. Gnome's recent album Madness in Miniature, is an epic, wildly imaginative story about a band of rebel fighters who attempt to save the world from the evil Queen Machine. Read more at the link below... - NPR: All Songs Considered


"MTV Hive - mr. Gnome "The Way" Song Premiere"

Coveted thrift store finds always make for a good story, especially when it doesn't involve a t-shirt from the '80s that's now ironic and too small. Take for instance mr. Gnome's B-Side, "The Way," which was largely constructed from a thrift-store organ the duo found for twenty bucks in Madison, Wisc. "I started messing around one night and found this setting that reminded me of The Flaming Lips," recalls singer/guitarist Nicole Barille. "I started free styling a few melodies over the simple chord progression, recorded the session onto a GarageBand demo and when it came time to record, used all of those ideas and tried to really layer up the vocals so that each part progresses until the end." - MTV Hive


"Magnet Magazine - mr. Gnome"

Fun Times in Cleveland Today: Floyd fanboys mr. Gnome affirm that the weather outside is frightful...

Read the feature article at the link below - Magnet Magazine


"My Old Kentucky Blog - mr. Gnome: Madness in Miniature"

I’ve long been convinced that Cleveland’s mr. Gnome is destined for the big time. Now, admittedly, over the years here at MOKB, I’ve picked a few bands to click, only to have them clack. Nobody’s perfect. That being said, this noisy little duo manages to terrify and tantalize in equal measure with songs that exfoliate your senses without sacrificing tunefulness. Their newest release, Madness In Miniature, might be just the thing to get them over the hump. Lead single Bit Of Tongue proved to be such a good time, that we jumped at the chance to offer the whole enchilada as an exclusive stream. So dig in. - My Old Kentucky Blog


"Bitch Magazine - B-Sides: Mr. Gnome's Riveting Rock"

Madness in Miniature (El Marko) their new album released last week, is worthy of deep and multiple listens, and one of the best releases I've heard this year. The album is like one huge movement, with highs, lows, and effortless transitions that are less filler and more ingenious build-up in the form of fuzzy, melodic glue. Lucky for you, you can hear exactly what I'm talking about since you can stream the entire thing via Soundcamp.

Like Buke & Gass, Nicole Barille and Sam Meister are a duo that commands a powerful range of sound. Barille's vocals and guitar provide much of the melting effects of Mr. Gnome: they alternately fuzz, rage, or melt melodically, often in contrast to each other, with licks and loops all around. The well-metered bang and buzz of her guitar, held down by Meister's drumming, grows and twists throughout the album. Refreshingly, they're a band that's hard to pin a genre to (I tried to phrase something along the lines of "prog verging on metal with a touch of psychedelic," but everything I thought of sounded pretentious, and worse, inaccurate). They rock hard, but their melodic interludes and upsets are frequent (and clever) and the arrangements of vocal layers are superb.

The album quiets down a little at the end with "Winter," and "Watch the City Sail Away," which provide dreamy respites to the harder songs, yet still feel part of a larger opus, and are a testament to the band’s ability to create lullabies as well as breakneck rock songs. But the last track, "Capsize," brings it back again to drive the album home, Barille’s bright vocals against a frantic instrumentation. Her guitar accelerates to an unstoppable pace, finally crowning to a conclusion. She does the same thing with her voice, keeping it low and steady and then breaking into an alley cat howl of lyrics.

I love the album, but seeing them live confirmed Barille's talent. She commands her guitar and pedals deftly to create the complex arrangements heard on the album: Soaring vocal loops are laid over droning, powerful guitar chords, and haunting reverberations capture you, only to abruptly crash back into a hardcore power chord. Once and a while she would treat the audience to a miniature shred fest.

by Kjerstin Johnson - Bitch Magazine


"Magnet Magazine - MP3 At 3PM: Mr. Gnome"

Floating between ephemeral and ghostly vocals, heavy hitting percussion and sharp psychedelic guitars, Mr. Gnome plays experimental music that’s infectious. With Nicole Barille and Sam Meister splitting instrumental duties, it’s quite impressive to hear how full of a sound the pair can create. Today, we are proud to premiere “House Of Circles,” off third album Madness In Miniature (out October 25 via El Marko Records), on magnetmagazine.com. The track was recorded at Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studios and was engineered by Justin Smith (Arctic Monkeys, Eagles Of Death Metal). - Magnet Magazine


"Rolling Stone - Band To Watch - mr. Gnome - Madness in Miniature"

This Cleveland band – singer-guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer-pianist Sam Meister – is at once Rust Belt scrappy and dreamily explosive, like they can't decide if they want to represent their hometown or blow it up. Mr. Gnome's third album evokes the dada bounce of local heroes Pere Ubu, as well as the giddily overheated primitivism of that other Midwestern boy-girl team; they may amble into a toy-piano interlude or let loose an anxious caterwaul over a Sabbath-worthy brick wall of a riff. On "Watch the City Sail Away," Barille sings, "The sky explodes/With a smile," in a voice somewhere between Billie Holiday and Bjo¨rk – and you get the sense that these two are pretty psyched to see what comes next.

By Andrew Flanagan - Rolling Stone


"NPR's 2012 SXSW Best Music Discoveries"

Mr. Gnome

The latest record from this Cleveland-based, guy-girl duo is the appropriately titled Madness in Miniature. Their songs are both small and intimate, but also dark, chaotic, and explosive, like the soundtrack to some twisted fairy tale.

~ Robin Hilton
- Esquire Magazine


"Surrealistic Pillow - Mr. Gnome Sings Electric"

THE FIRST HALF of Mr. Gnome's Madness in Miniature plays like an extended suite. Songs stop short; new ones jump in to replace them; interludes bloom out of nowhere only to disappear just as quickly. Album opener "Ate the Sun" alternates between delicate verse and full-squall chorus, while "House of Circles" sounds like five entire songs crammed into a tidy but stratospheric epic of roiling moods and electrified hums; "Bit of Tongue" begins with a sweet, folky rattle and ends in a guitar blowout.

Madness in Miniature is the third full-length record from Cleveland's Mr. Gnome, a duo consisting of guitarist/singer Nicole Barille and drummer/keyboardist Sam Meister, and while it's easy to remark on their ability to make huge-sounding music with merely two people, what two-piece doesn't do that nowadays? What makes Mr. Gnome remarkable is how they've sorted through their tangle of sounds and melodies to make a concise record that never sprawls. It feels huge, but once it's over you'll need to start it again—and it's an album that handsomely rewards repeat listens.

"I definitely try to paint pictures with the words," says Barille, "but I don't want them to be literal in any way. The last one we wrote," she adds, referring to Mr. Gnome's previous record, 2009's Heave Yer Skeleton, "they were all kind of based around dreams and being out of body, weird stuff like that. But for this one, we wrote all the songs during the wintertime and spring and summer in Cleveland, which are just such major climate shifts. I think that's why every song has a different vibe to it. Maybe that's just like living in Cleveland, because the weather's always changing and it's going to affect your mood no matter what."

Barille also says the album's cohesiveness was deliberate, the result of a lot of fine-tuning. "We spent a ton of time putting it in all types of orders and figuring out which way it would work best. And then, when we nailed the order down, I started working on the interludes to just really tie it all together. Especially in the MP3 age, I'm a fan of a record that can feel like an adventure or a trip. Those are always my favorite records."

Mr. Gnome started in earnest after Barille and Meister finished college. "We've known each other since high school. We always were playing together but it was never too serious, it was more just like intoxicated jamming," she says. "When we finished school, I think it was the first break that we'd had where we could just mess around. So we just got a handful of songs—I actually forced Sam to play our first show. I didn't really tell him that I had booked it. I had to force him up onstage and I think we played, like, six songs in 10 minutes. We played them super fast!"

There's always been a Portland connection with the Cleveland band, too, beyond the city being one of their preferred tour stops. Mr. Gnome's first full-length, Deliver This Creature, was partly tracked at Jackpot! Studios here in town. Meanwhile, Madness in Miniature was recorded in part with (and mixed entirely by) esteemed Portland engineer Beau Sorenson. "He was the first person who really understood what we were going for," Barille says.

The duo found Sorenson through the folks at Madison's Smart Studios, where Sorenson used to work. "I hit them up and asked for a couple demo discs from all their engineers, and Beau was easily our favorite," Barille continues. "We picked him out of this little smorgasbord of songs off a CD, and we met him and we brought all the tracks to him. He's just an incredibly nice person, and we both really liked delay and reverb and so we just kind of fell in love. He's mixed all of our full-lengths and always does an excellent job. He's really into analog gear and he's just turned us on to so many cool things. He's got a great ear, and I feel like he always ups the production value of what we're already doing."

Three albums in, and Mr. Gnome has mastered the cogent pacing and dynamic control that give their songs drama. Whether it be a creepy dollhouse goth-lullaby or a fiery guitar maelstrom with Barille's voice tipping into banshee territory, the band remains fully in command. Barille chalks it up to confidence earned through experience. "You just have to go on stage and get in front of people because your body does weird things that it doesn't do when you're alone."

by Ned Lannamann - Portland Mercury


"ALARM Press Pop Addict: Mr. Gnome's Madness in Miniature"

Formed in 2005, Cleveland-based duo Mr. Gnome has been offering introspective, spooky indie rock ever since its inception. Even though the art-rock band is composed of just singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister, Mr. Gnome finds a way to make a lot of noise. And thankfully for us, it’s noise worth hearing.

Though two-pieces are fairly common these days, Mr. Gnome has managed to stand out with the best of them. The band’s latest effort, Madness in Miniature, finds Barille and Meister confident, collected, and ready for the limelight, armed with a catalog of varied instrumentation and musical styles.

The album flexes its muscles frequently. Oscillating between raucously distorted guitars, atmospheric soundscapes, persistent drumming, and Barille’s full-on belt-outs and soft-spoken vocal layers, the body of work immediately calls to mind the best stuff by Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Kills, with hints of Queens of the Stone Age peppered throughout. And just a few tracks in, it becomes apparent: this is fright rock at its finest.

The most interesting moments of Madness in Miniature are when Barille and Meister are in full-on rock-out mode. With so many parts and arrangements, you sometimes forget that there are only two people masterminding this album. Obviously, it’s easier to pull that off on a recording than in concert, but there are so many ideas floating around this haunted house of an album — chilled-out tracks bleed into ghostly, supernatural sounds, which then bleed into crunching rock 'n' roll — that it leaves you wondering where the band will go on the next track.

“House of Circles” is the clear-cut hit here, featuring an array of sonic qualities: clean-cut guitars at the intro and verses, riff-laden interludes and bridges, raucous choruses, both sweet and distorted vocals, creepy harmonies, pulse-pounding percussion, and Halloween-esque howling. This variety is reflected in the rest of the album: “Bit of Tongue” features subdued guitars and pleasant, straightforward vocals; “Wolf Girls” features high-speed riffs and relentless drumming; and the short-lived “Run for Cover” features a heavily textured harmony from Barille and Meister as the song builds.

Barille shows quite the variety, not only in vocal range but in vocal style. Swaying between more subdued, standard approaches, and then reaching into peaks of throat-tearing yelping — but always hitting her notes — Barille’s voice is one that should not go unrecognized. (It’s one that could certainly give Karen O a run for her money, anyway.)

But even with the variety, Mr. Gnome is truly at its finest when it turns up the distortion and lets loose. Tracks like “House of Cards,” “We Sing Electric,” and “Capsize” show that the band is at full strength when it’s going bat-shit. If Mr. Gnome keeps churning out artistic Halloween rock like this, there’s no reason the band can’t become an indie staple.

Posted by Michael Danaher - Alarm Press


"Cleveland duo gives feminine nuance to prog-rock complexity"

If it weren't for the willful overweening weirdness that's apparenly required of every proggy pop-metal album (see Coheed and Cambria, System of a Down), this record probably would have been made already. But it's approach was just too powerfully obvious. Why not give heavy, down-tuned, open string riffs the unadorned beauty and poise to match the glistneing production? This duo's debut full-length balances a soulful, feminine power that recalls Scout Niblett and a drummer who coldly demands dymanic shifts with almost electronic precision. It's an earnest tug-of-war.

Jason Simms - Spin Magazine


"Breaking Artists - mr. Gnome"

BREAKING
The Rolling Stone New Music Blog

Hype Monitor: Mr. Gnome

The Band: Mr. Gnome

The Buzz: OK, full confession: we didn't even know there was a band called Mr. Gnome until we looked at the BFR charts. And we keep up on this stuff. So, buzz? They're a duo from Cleveland named Mr. Gnome. Any questions?

Listen If: Good god, man, they're called Mr. Gnome! How many more reasons do you need?

Key Track: The excellent "Night of the Crickets," where great swipes of serrated guitar slash across Nicole Barille's gooey vocals. The absolute antidote to all those shrinking violets we've been big upping lately.

http://www.rollingstone.com/blogs/breaking/2008/05/hype-monitor-radio-dept-mr-gno.php - Rollingstone.com


"Pitchfork: Forkcast - mr. Gnome"

Pitchfork: Forkcast - mr. Gnome:

New Music: mr. Gnome: "Rabbit" [MP3/Stream]

By the sound of "Rabbit", the two people behind Cleveland's mr. Gnome are no laughing gnomes. This song from mr. Gnome's debut full-length, Deliver This Creature, pulls a heckuva lot of noise out of a small hat, pretty much just Sam Meister's tribal drums and the reverberating vocals and sludgily atmospheric guitar fills of Nicole Barille. "Rabbit", run: Barille raises her voice from a breathy whisper to a double-tracked, sustained holler, and her guitar playing ranges from high-pitched, psyched-out tremolo to bone-crunching distorted thrums. "Rabbit sleeping in my brain, wishing things would stay the same," Barille sings. mr. Gnome (yes, that's their lower-case) have been much blogged about on the strength of their catchier, keyboard-accented "Pirates", but their rabbit habit suggests a more patient side-- "Don't you rush in like that," Barille and Meister begin, in harmony. Trix are still for kids.

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/page/forkcast/50475-mr-gnome-rabbit-mp3stream
By Marc Hogan - Pitchfork


"Eight Criminally Underrated Albums From 2009"

mr. Gnome – Heave Yer Skeleton

Definitely on the extremely short list of cool things from Cleveland. Even better than their last album, which I loved. Sounds like ethereal icelandic fairies being pummeled by concrete guitars in a dirty Cleveland parking lot. AKA: awesome.

~ Nate Douglas - Paste Magazine


"Sleep With One Eye Open: Mr. Gnome"

Let's be honest here: Cleveland gets a bad rap. There's the depressing weather, the losing football team and the over-arching notion that there just ain't much happening.

Now those first two — sure, true. But the third? Well, it's hard to bash the city's goings-on when a band as inventive as Mr. Gnome calls it home.

The guy-girl duo plays huge post-rock that whispers like a scared kid afraid of monsters one minute and explodes into the screaming demon that haunts him the next. Singer/guitarist Nicole Barille sings with a Bjorkian inflection — warbling lullabies, howling freakouts — while her just-plain-gigantic, screeching guitars sound like a brick wall crushing a pack of innocent schoolgirls as they cross the street. Drummer Sam Meister pounds his set like he's about to steal its lunch money, then kick its ass anyway.

Why all the kiddie metaphors? Mr. Gnome play with all the manifested fear and wonder of childhood. The band's second LP, last month's Heave Yer Skeleton, could be the soundtrack to the most terrifying dream of your 8-year-old year, when monsters did live under your bed, when ghosts were set free as soon as the lights went off, when you were only moments away from being gobbled up by something hellish. These things happen to us adults, too. They're often referred to as "That Acid Trip When I Freaked Out."

[Ed. note: Keep this music away from easily-frightened children]

That said, Barille's haunted pixie voice is one of the more unique in rock, and not easily forgotten. Especially in your dreams.

~ words by Justin Jacobs - My Old Kentucky Blog


"Over The Hills & Into The Valium"

One hesitates to describe Mr. Gnome as a two-piece band. The awesome rush of sound that comes out of Nicole Barille's lungs and guitar and Sam Meister's drums seems much bigger and more powerful than anything two people are capable of. Mr. Meister shifts the room with each stomp of his kick drum, while Ms. Barille launches landslides of surging, Sensurround guitar on the Cleveland duo's second CD, Heave Yer Skeleton (El Marko Records). He hammers down her Sabbath-y riffs with a Bonhamesque finality on "Plastic Shadow," and they scour the clouds away with punk tempos and flamethrower blasts on "Cleveland Polka." But that's about as "normal" as Mr. Gnome gets. Stormy passages like "Hills, Valleys and Valium" are broken up with spacy interludes where Barille's eerie, wraithlike keening mood-swings into delicately angelic cooing. Such arty juxtapositions are freaky, cute, savage and scary, all at the same time. Mr. Gnome don't really sound like anyone else, and their ghost-ridden songs only make sense with a dreamtime logic.

~ By Falling James - L.A. Weekly


"Artsy Indie Rock With a Bite"

Artsy Indie Rock With a Bite:

On their debut album, Deliver This Creature, Cleveland's Mr. Gnome announced themselves as a duo with powerful potential. They had some great songs, but the album felt a little lacking. Heave Yer Skeleton is just what you hope to hear from a second album - a growth in consistency and a refinement of what made the band unique in the first place. Like any self-respecting rock duo these days, singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer Sam Meister make a full band sized racket, appropriate given that they recorded in the studios of Josh Homme and Butch Vig. They move effortlessly between an energetic, haunted moodiness - sometimes within the span of a single song, like the slow burning, "Sit Up & Hum." The playful "Vampires" is Mr. Gnome at the band's poppets, a catchy little ditty with a typically odd narrative that explains the sharp turn the melody takes from feel-good to heavy dirge. Barille certainly invokes Karen O at times - there's no getting around the similarities in a few of the yelps and coos - but she's no copycat, and the music world is plenty big for the both of them. Full of curious twists and crunchy riffs, Heave Yer Skeleton finds Mr. Gnome living up to their earlier promise.

8 out of 10

~ Adam McKibbin - Outburn Magazine


"A Cleveland Duo Unveils Its Skeleton Stew"

mr. Gnome: His Hers

A Cleveland duo unveils its Skeleton stew.

Sam Meister was into Portishead and Björk when he started writing music with Nicole Barille, a fan of heavier acts like Tool. She soon introduced her new collaborator—the duo took the name mr. Gnome—to the more abrasive, harder end of the sonic spectrum.

"We've known each other for a while, and we've always turned each other on to different styles of music," says vocalist and guitarist Barille via phone while shopping for last-minute supplies on the eve of the band's tour in support of their second full-length, Heave Yer Skeleton (out this month on El Marko Records).

Mixing wildly contrasting sounds is a gutsy approach to music-making that can easily fail, even in the most capable and ambitious hands. While a mélange of influences can make a band's sonic palette richer, it can also make it muddy or schizophrenic—an inherent risk that Cleveland's mr. Gnome has successfully avoided since they began stirring the pot four years ago with their hybrid of dark psychedelia, punk-informed lullabies, and soaring, operatic rock. "So I think those [influences] kind of fused and made our sound what it is," Barille says. "Or what it began as—experimenting and exploring with all the influences we already had."

The band's exploratory mission led first to two EPs hinting at their potential, which was fully realized on 2008's full-length, Deliver This Creature, a deeply seductive kaleidoscope of serrated guitars, primal and powerful percussion, and Barille's otherworldly vocals. Planning a follow-up, they found themselves with the pleasantly unexpected opportunity to record at Pink Duck Studios in Los Angeles, owned by Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures leader Josh Homme. Studio manager and engineer Justin Smith, who's previously worked with QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal, and Arctic Monkeys, helmed the sessions.

"It was a really cool process," says Barille. "It was different than other times we've been in the studio...Justin was always coming up with new ways to record us and bring out our sound even more."

Heave Yer Skeleton expands upon the groundwork of Deliver This Creature, with Barille's vocals foregrounded even more strongly—something she never envisioned having the confidence to do when young. "When I was 13, I was all infatuated with the whole grunge scene going on, and tried to write my own songs like that and sing when no one was home," she recalls with a bashful giggle. "I'd set a microphone up, swing it over my closet door, and turn my amps up as loud as I could. I'm sure it sounded horrible. I never thought I'd be singing in a band."

~ By Hannah Levin - Seattle Weekly


"mr. Gnome Brings Surreal Sounds from Josh Homme's Studio"

The new album by Cleveland duo mr. Gnome, Heave Yer Skeleton, is a surreal rock listen. Largely recorded at the Los Angeles studio of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, the band's sophomore full-length contains layers of echoey, keening vocals and effects-slathered guitar courtesy of Nicole Barille. She's anchored by the propulsive drum work and instrumental fills of Sam Meister. Together, they've created a surprisingly big, lush record.

Skeleton sprawls stylistically, mixing atmospheric numbers with screwy pop and roaring prog-rock. Barille says this sonic density and variety came about in part because there were so many cool tools available at Homme's Pink Duck Studios. The musicians had at their disposal vintage amps, crazy effects pedals, and all manner of guitars — basically every noisemaking toy Homme and his compatriots have accumulated over the last decade. "I think we tracked way too many things," she says with a laugh. "We kinda went crazy. Full bands don't have that many tracks, much less a two-piece."

Barille and Meister formed mr. Gnome in 2005. Since then, the couple has been a two-person cottage industry, consistently building and promoting the band. When they released their first album, Deliver This Creature, in 2007 on their own El Marko label, they threw all their possessions in storage and hit the road. They've since released two EPs and two full-lengths and toured relentlessly, slowly building their fan base with each successive circuit.

The mr. Gnome sound invites all manner of comparisons. It contains elements of PJ Harvey, Cocteau Twins, and Sonic Youth, as well as warbly songstresses Joanna Newsom and Cat Power's Chan Marshall. One of the more bizarre critical descriptors to make it to print said the group sounded like Fiona Apple fronting Black Sabbath. Barille seems to take all of this in good humor, although there is one comparison that gets under her skin. "Probably my most hated one is Evanescence," she says, adding that she's heard a number of strange reviews of her band: "It's like, are you even listening to the same record?"

The songs and lyrics on Skeleton have a woozy, altered-states quality, and that's no accident. Barille says that while writing the album, she was reading a lot about Edgar Cayce, the "Sleeping Prophet" of the 1920s who would predict the future while in a trance. "He stated that dreams are incredibly important to your waking life, and how necessary it is to dissect and analyze your sleeping self," Barille explains. "The term 'Heave Your Skeleton' was coined by author Sally Foster Wallace to describe the act of going to sleep. It all seemed to tie together."

In the middle of Heave Yer Skeleton is a track titled "Cleveland Polka." It's a howling, punked-up framing of the polka beat: Think Yeah Yeah Yeahs rolling out the barrel. Barille says naming the song after mr. Gnome's hometown was a no-brainer. "The Polka Hall of Fame is actually in the city that we used to live in, Euclid, which is by Cleveland," she says. "Cleveland needs props; we have [Cavalier basketball star] LeBron James, and that's about it!"

Perhaps with mr. Gnome's help, the struggling post-industrial metropolis can build a reputation as a leading exporter of superior-quality, trance-inducing rock.

~ By Mike Rowell - San Francisco Weekly


"Top Albums of 2009"

1. Mr. Gnome, Heave Yer Skeleton (El Marko)

When it comes to otherworldly rock 'n' roll, Cleveland's Mr. Gnome tops the list for amazingly ethereal albums. On Heave Yer Skeleton, singer-guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer Sam Meister create a moody dream world of two-piece punk, smashing guitar-textured tectonic plates with hypnotic atmospheric effects and volcanic percussive power.

~ Keith Gribbins - Cleveland Scene Magazine


Discography

Echoes on the Ground EP (2005)
mr. Gnome (Self-Titled) EP (2006)
Deliver this Creature LP (2008)
Heave Yer Skeleton LP (2009)
Tastes Like Magic B-Sides (2010)
Madness in Miniature LP (2011)
Softly Mad B-Sides (2012)

Photos

Bio

~ Rolling Stone Magazine BAND TO WATCH (Dec. 2011)

~ NPR's 2012 SXSW Best Musical Discoveries

Inspired by a taste for the surreal, Cleveland's Mr. Gnome has been creating a singular amalgam of gritty, space-psychedelia since 2005, gaining them an ever-growing following across North America and Europe, as well as praise from the likes of Rolling Stone (named Band To Watch, December 2011), Paste, Spin, Magnet, NPR, MTV, Bust, and more.

Singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister bring an unfiltered approach to their craft, allowing for emotional and sonic variance, twisting from soft lullabies to interstellar chaos. The duo's mood swings are mirrored by the band's surreal album artwork and music videos, all created by Barille and Meister themselves.

The constantly touring duo are currently wrapping up production on their fourth full-length album, the follow-up to 2011's critically acclaimed Madness in Miniature.


Band Members