Exposure: Three Blocks from the Wake
Three Blocks from the Wake: Apologia
Three Blocks From The Wake are Vicki Cole and Gary Sargenson; a duo formed in Ayr a few years back. Since the early days of jamming and low-key shows played to mostly friends and students, the two have since focused their sights on Glasgow. A handful of self-released demos that have gathered interest from those who appreciate haunting and sparse electronic atmospheres and slightly darker ambient flows has since led to plans for recording what will now be the band's debut full-length - expected sometime in the not-so distant future. In the meantime however, to get you all better acquainted, here's guitarist and co-founder Gary with a bit of an introduction to this most interesting of duos.
So, how did you first meet?
We first met in Ayr through some mutual friends. We both had bands and had talked about playing a gig together, but when Vicki’s band split, we decided to write some songs together.
How did you first go about writing music? Did you just jam and hope for the best?
Initially we wrote songs by exchanging tapes. When we started we decided to do acoustic music, and the first couple of songs we had were acoustic ideas of mine that Vicki put vocals on top of.
Did you share similar influences beforehand, or has this grown since meeting? And who or what would you consider to be the biggest influences on your music?
We definitely had very similar taste in music when we met. I think originally we wanted to sound like Death Cab For Cutie mixed with Joanna Newsom. We both had a love for The Postal Service as well, and I was getting more interested in drum programming, so we ended up developing the sound to incorporate synths and electronic beats. I’d say our sound is a combination of the minimalism and sparseness of guitar bands like Low and Arab Strap, with the electronica of The Postal Service and Bjork.
What would you consider to be the biggest inspirations to you lyrically?
Vicki writes all the words and they are mainly inspired by the lyrical styles of Joanna Newsom and Bjork, as well as writers like Virginia Woolf. They are often quite dark, but this works well as a balance to the music, which is often very pretty.
Live you often incorporate extra members. Is this something you'd like to permanently expand to in the future, or will this always be a two-piece?
Since there’s only two of us, we write songs with more instruments than we can physically play live, so we’ll probably always need an extra member to play important parts with us. The actual band is however just Vicki and myself. We do all the songwriting and play all the instruments in the studio. I like keeping things as simple as possible.
Your music is often quiet and rather sparse, an atmosphere which can be tricky to pull off live. What do you prefer, recording or playing shows?
Both are great but I think at the moment we find it easier to pull off our sound in the studio. The quiet, minimalist music we make can get lost in a live environment. There’s a lot of space in our music so it doesn’t immediately grab your attention like a loud guitar band. This makes it difficult, especially if you’re playing to people who have never heard of you. We are working on a balance between keeping the minimalism but also adding things to keep it interesting to watch and listen to. We haven’t completely mastered our live sound yet, but I think we get better with every gig.
If you had the chance of playing with anyone in the future, who would it be?
I’d love to play with Low. They are an amazing live band and when they started out playing live they probably faced the same challenges as we do due to our similar minimalist styles.
Can you tell us a bit about the album you've got in the works?
We’re currently in the final stages of writing our album. We’re scheduled to record it this summer and it will be released on Gargleblast Records run by Andy Miller. We met Andy when we went into Chem19 to record some songs last October. He liked our music and said he would be interested in doing an album with us. We’re delighted to be working with him as he is a fantastic producer who has worked with bands we love - particularly Mogwai and Arab Strap.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Well, we’re going to record the album and then get back to playing live. I’m looking forward to playing the new batch of songs and developing our live setup. We’ll also look to play some shows around Scotland over the next six months.
Three Blocks from the Wake play Captain's Rest, Glasgow Mon 6 Jul.