By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
It’s not that Gosling sounds like the Beatles. I can hear the influence, yes, but I think they sound more like power pop with Tourette’s: a little jaunty and hooky — with explosive outbursts that suggest real rock ambition. It’s not even that Gosling kind of looks like the Beatles, with their mop-tops, peg-leg pants and fitted jackets.
Gosling reminds me of the Beatles because they act like the Beatles: Their band rapport smacks of A Hard Day’s Night and Help! Remember those early Beatles interviews, where the band take the piss out of journalists and run interviews sort of like a football game, exchanging jokes in a series of passes, interceptions and fumbles? Gosling is a lot like that.
And sure, it doesn’t hurt that their drummer, Isaac Carpenter, smiles throughout their live sets. I met Carpenter, and Gosling singer-songwriter Davey Ingersoll, before a recent show at the Viper Room (sponsored by Indie-103 FM, which has been spinning them of late). We sat in the tiny room at the back of the club that feels like a train compartment. (Seriously, it’s got to be one of the smallest greenrooms in L.A.) I began by asking where they live.
“Davey lives in Echo Park, and the rest of us live in the Valley in the same house,” says Isaac.
Davey interrupts: “I was booted from the house. My shenanigans got me kicked out.”
“He’s crazy,” Isaac pipes back in. “The drugs, and sex and sexual Internet.”
“I don’t try to hide it from the rest of the house,” Davey deadpans, adding, “Oh, and I have a volatile temper.”
“With two wives and a kid around, we couldn’t have him there,” Isaac reasons.
The exchange seems so earnest in the moment, I take it as fact. In the interest of journalistic accuracy, though, I figure I’ll double-check my facts. (Something about “sexual Internet” rings false.)
“So,” I ask. “Is that true?”
Isaac, with a big smile like a wink, asks, “Which part?”
The guys in Gosling do not take themselves seriously (hooray!), but they are serious about their music. Their recent album, Here Is . . . (V2) delivers a mash-up of sounds and styles, dipping its fingers in many genre pots — electro, hard rock, soft metal and pure ’60s British pop. The main thread is the contrast between the sprightly, poppy hooks and Davey’s nasally, high-pitched wails. (To make another comparison: Think Axl Rose fronting the Beach Boys.) Lyrically, the songs run the gamut from the romantic “Stealing Stars,” with its Bonnie-and-Clyde-outrunning-the-cosmic-police references, to the darkly bubbly “Mr. Skeleton Wings,” with its haunting, almost vengeful chorus, “If you want me, I’m at the top of the heap . . . if you climb over all the bodies we’ll meet . . .” Davey admits that they had to edit their list of influences on their MySpace page. “It was getting ridiculously long,” he laughs. Right now, the list stops at 44, ranging from George & Ira Gershwin to T. Rex. (Add Elton John: “The Burnout” features an extended “Bennie & the Jets” breakdown.)
I ask what brought the band to Los Angeles; Isaac responds they “came down for the celebrities, and the palm trees,” and “to live the good life.” I can’t separate the tongue from the cheek.
I kinda knew what to expect beforehand: I had watched Gosling’s video diary on their MySpace page, made during the recording of Here Is . . . . In one entry, Davey is “caught” getting shocked by a rogue wire to comedic effect worthy of Charlie Chaplin. In another, Isaac — a cherub all of 5-foot-2 — claims to have beaten up the 6-foot-3 manager of their studio space. “So much rage and so much anger came out,” Isaac claims, that he kept pounding this man in the head.
The band members, also including guitarist Mark Watrous and bassist Shane Middleton, have all known one another since grade school. Back home, in the Washington area known as Tri-Cities, they were Loudermilk, a hard-rock band. About three years ago, the band changed its name to Gosling and took the whole show on the road to Los Angeles — and that included Isaac’s wife and Shane’s wife and kid. “We didn’t want to be closed off from the rest of the world anymore,” says Davey, settling into quiet-serious mode. (His voice rages onstage — it’s borderline David Banner — but he’s exceptionally soft-spoken in person.) “Anyone who grows up in a small town knows there’s not a ton of outlets or opportunities to be artistic or creative.”
Here in Los Angeles, he found himself being inspired: Trying to find his place in L.A. became trying to find his place in the world. “I got real introspective, and it inspired me to write about what I saw — the sprawling dichotomy of Los Angeles. It’s got the worst of the worst, and this weird, glitzy crust over the top of all the shit. So I wrote about that.”
“He hated life!” Isaac laughs. “I think maybe he was inspired in his songwriting by being uninspired.”