Interview with guitarist/vocalist Matthew Carroll | By Kayla Greet
Out of Omaha, Neb., See Through Dresses are heavily steeped in dream pop, post-punk, and shoegaze sounds. Guitarists and co-vocalists Mathew Carroll and Sara Bertuldo—who plays synth as well—started the band in late 2012, after working on songs individually. Shortly after that, they rounded out the rest of the band with Alex Kirts on bass and Nate Van Fleet on drums. Carroll says that he and Bertuldo didn’t know the rhythm section before playing music with them, but that they “won us over with beers and smiles.” After the band’s friend Lamont Brown—formerly of It Looks Sad—talked up See Through Dresses to his band’s label, they got an email from Tiny Engines asking them to sign.
In October 2015, the four piece outfit released a six song EP called End of Days through Tiny Engines. They have already had a good response to the new material. “We went with a pretty straightforward rock aesthetic for this one and also got a little noisier,” Carroll expresses about the new EP. Their song “Haircut” is a clear crowd favorite, both on record and on stage.
See Through Dresses did a lot of touring in 2015, including their first European venture. “Overwhelmingly, Europe—and in particular, Germany—was so unbelievably kind to us. We were shown the sweetest hospitality and left feeling humbled,” Carroll shares about their overseas tour. Back in their home state of Nebraska, are there many bands who would fit on the bill with such a unique and dreamy band as theirs? Carroll illuminates that they play with “everything from rock, punk, metal, [and] folk. As for Omaha, I’d say there are a lot of good bands doing cool stuff, not so much in the way of dreamy ‘90s, but more in terms of good classic alt rock.” See Through Dresses are a very versatile and standout group who look forward to being exposed to all kinds of people and art.
For the uninitiated, the band do an incredible job making every instrument sound like it is in its own world, marching to their beat of their own drums, so to speak. The end result is this tight, layered, and on point dreamscape of sounds and fuzz. Carroll postulates that it’s attributed to Van Fleet and Kirts “holding it down in the rhythm section. They keep us all together when Sara and I go into weird guitar parts or when the melodies are working around the main timekeeping.” This symbiotic relationship allows them to walk out on a ledge almost too far, but then, pulled back just in time. “It’s more about fitting together in the arrangement and playing off each other than being entirely technically sound,” says Carroll.
As a whole, See Through Dresses don’t proscribe too heavy to the shoegaze genre, though they certainly acknowledge their influences. Carroll laments that—though their catalog is wildly diverse—people tend to latch onto the pedals and synth more than anything. He says that it “wasn’t difficult to play shoegaze, because we just played stuff we felt good about and our influences manifested themselves without us even knowing they were in the room.” Bertuldo and Carroll are the primary songwriters and tend to stick to singing their own respective lyrics, which creates a beautiful vocal duality throughout their records. Every now and then, there is an overlap like the track “Happy” on their first LP. Carroll says that they share vocals on that song and refers to it as “a sweet gift she gave to me on that one.” Listening to their own distinct voices, Bertuldo is reminiscent of Breeders era Kim Deal, whereas Carroll is a breathy J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.; they bounce off of each other very well.
If you are searching the Internet for See Through Dresses’ material, you would be remiss to forget the word “band,” as many provocative photos pop up without it. When asked about the origins of their name, Carroll says, “I wish we could say we were savvy enough to have foreseen the issue, but Sara one day came to us with the name and we all thought it just seemed right somehow. So, here we are, nudity and all.” He also admits that it’s partially appealing because it’s provocative, and that, in the end, a band’s got to have a name.
Check out See Through Dresses’ new EP, End of Days, from Tiny Engines, and try to catch them on the road sometime in 2016.