Interview with guitarist David Mitchell | By Joshua Maranhas
Math rock—much like actually doing math—is tricky for some bands, while for others, it’s like patterns in nature to painters. Montréal’s Gulfer are naturals. They paint with guitar, creating beautiful patterns with notes, stopping and starting on time. It’s sharp, like hitting a canvas with a painter’s knife.
Dog Bless—released on Topshelf Records March 2—is their latest canvas. This album blows like an ocean breeze through the seasons. They’re continuing to elevate emo—they’re adding math rock to it.
Sometimes heavy, more often light and ethereal, Gulfer are always creating feeling. The notes carry in the air. Vocalist and guitarist Vincent Ford’s lyrics follow like an autumn leaf bouncing along a sidewalk from lament to promise—gruff vocals that scream of introspection and pull from the troubled soul a sense of joy.
Dog Bless comes at you in waves. Gulfer subtract some stuff from the last full-length, 2015’s What Gives, like the prevalent down-stroke of guitar, but that “noodly” guitar, their finger-tapping fretboard sound, is intact. In fact, it’s front and center.
The band see this record as a departure from What Gives. Guitarist David Mitchell says, “We wrote and recorded that [previous] record in the midst of being heavily influenced by the ‘emo revival,’ and while we still are, I think these songs take influence from indie-rock in a way broader spectrum. As a result, I think we’ve written a more original record and, hopefully, are beginning to find a unique voice as songwriters.”
The first single from Dog Bless, “Fading”—with its outtake vocal introduction of the main hook—is the most fun. Gulfer play to tweeting birds calling back to their stop-starts. It’s natural, free, evocative of spring, and runs counter to the precision tap. “It’s really indicative of what we’re going for on this record,” Mitchell says, “and I think it will set a good precedent for what people should expect from the rest of the record. It’s one of the last songs we wrote for the album and one of a few songs on here that we haven’t already released in a live session, so I’m glad to be sharing something that will be totally fresh to our listeners.”
Gulfer paint a picture with “Fading” that carries through the album. It hangs unpretentious, like a child’s landscape watercolor, then dives into math. Fibonacci could appreciate the art they create through music.