Gap Dream’s Gabe Fulvimar Praises Burger Records, Describes Living and Working In a Storage Unit
For an Akron, Ohio, native living in a storage unit behind his record label's office in Southern California, Gabe Fulvimar is a natural at capturing laid-back West Coast ease. Fulvimar cut his teeth working alongside friends in Ohio, including fellow Akronites the Black Keys, but he's the lone musician behind Gap Dream. His most recent release, 'Shine Your Light,' is filled with surfy, psyched-out jams built with textured loops and lots of synthesizers.
Having joined Burger Records, worked with Bobby Harlow of Conspiracy of Owls and set up camp in his live-in recording space, Fulvimar channels aimless-stoner attitude into real garage-rock ambition. Checking in with Diffuser.fm from the road in Tucson, Ariz., he recounts his time in the Midwest, the struggles of going digital and his relocation to Southern California.
What did you grow up listening to?
When I was in high school, I was obsessed with Devo and Sonic Youth. I was obsessed with with some me really weird, abstract stuff, too, like Glenn Branca -- stuff in that kind of vein. It was the weirdo stuff that I liked, where they seemed like they didn't know what they were doing. It was kind of cool to see a successful band come out of the notion that they didn't know what they were doing, even though, at the time, bands like Sonic Youth really did know what they were doing. But you know, I went to high school in the mid-'90s, so whatever was going on then, I was digging it. I liked stuff like Spiritualized and Pavement, too.
Growing up in Northeast Ohio, you probably had to worship Devo, from Akron.
Oh yeah, and Guided by Voices, too, is another nice Ohio band. But I never felt like Akron was anywhere to be, like, "part of a legacy." I didn't even know about a lot the great Akron bands until my 20s.
Yeah, they're are some great bands from that area. They just take time to find.
Yeah, like Human Switchboard and Hammer Damage and all these crazy-ass punk bands that were going around then. Akron's weird, especially when it's your hometown. You shouldn't love it that much, or you're going to want to stay. [Laughs]
Did you first started working with Burger Records after the Caravan of Stars Rolled to town in 2010?
That's when I first met Lee Rickard, one of the founders, and was introduced to Burger. I started ordering stuff from them, and after about a year, I worked up the nerve to send them something.
How did that relationship start?
I met Lee at the Happy Dog in Cleveland in 2010, and he's a goofball like me. We got along, just came together. I liked his vibe, and he's funny and scatterbrained. He left a mark on me, because when you meet people in music who you like, it makes you want to search out more of them. I really liked Burger and what they were doing, the things they were releasing. They release stuff on their own, but they work with other labels. They do their own thing, and I was really impressed with that. I wanted to collect all the tapes, collect all the buttons, all the T-shirt, you know? I just wanted to give them all my money. I think I was ordering a lot and not paying my rent because of it.
One night, I ordered something and screwed up my PayPal. I think I entered the wrong address or something. I had to e-mail them the next day and say, "Hey, I f----ed up." They fixed it for me, so I figured since I had that correspondence, I would just keep it going. I was talking to Sean [Bohrman, another co-founder], because Lee doesn't use the Internet. [Laughs] I told him I met Lee, and he said Lee remembered me. I had just made three Gap Dream songs at that time, so I sent them over. I didn't hear anything for, like, three days. Eventually, they wrote back and said to send more. I sent them about 10 tracks, and that eventually became the first Gap Dream record.
More artists seem to gush about Burger Records than most other labels, independent ones included.
No label right now captures do-it-yourself like them. I don't care how many indie labels there are: Burger is independent. They're trying to bring music to everyone and doing it unabashedly. They're not doing it for anything other than wanting to turn you on.
And they're one of the only labels still putting out tapes.
It's funny, because from the interviews I read with Sean, they sort do tapes because it's affordable. They're not trying to make a tape scene or anything, but you know, tapes are fun. Why wouldn't you want a cassette tape? I remember going to Camelot [Music, in Canton, Ohio] and buying tapes when I was a kid. It's nice to see that back. And it's cool to see people get excited to buy music in a non-digital format. When the iPod was coming out and everyone started buying MP3s, it was scary for someone like me, who like buying vinyl and tapes. I like holding things and reading things and touching things. Having a little f---ing computer-brick thing with a bunch of songs, you don't really care because there are so many on there. You're actually listening to music when you put a record on. You put a playlist on, you're forgetting about it. You put a record on, you're listening to it, which is what people should be doing.
If you think about the way music is and the ways artists are making it, people are trying to make records, not singles. They all want to make albums. You get to a point where there's really nowhere to go. Music is kind of f---ed. I see Burger and it's like, "Holy s---, rock 'n' roll is back." It's like a glimmer of hope. They push you to be your best. I have a really close relationship with them. They try to help us do this. They make music enough, and they want us to do it the right way. It's a fantasy world, and we're playing a game. We're trying to see how far we can go before it comes crashing down, I guess.
How did you first meet Bobby Harlow?
The first time I met him was on my birthday when I turned 30, which was 2010. I was in another band that opened for Conspiracy of Owls. I had just gotten their tape and seen them once before, so they were on my mind. I ended up really met him for the first time when we played South By Southwest the first time. And he's a genius, so I wanted to work with him.
Is it true you guys recorded the album in a storage unit at Burger Records?
Yeah, I live in a storage unit behind Burger. I recorded the first album on my laptop, then I sent Bobby tracks online through Dropbox, and he'd mix. We'd talk on the phone about what we wanted to do, and he'd make it sound great. I've been recording my own s--- since I was 14 years old, and I had never heard anybody work on my stuff before. Hearing somebody take my frequencies and put them where they needed to be was really exciting. The best part is hearing it on vinyl. That excitement never goes away.
Was it hard working on the record over the Internet?
We have a great working relationship because weren't ever even in the same room. I was in California and he was in Michigan, and we rarely talked on the phone. It got so automatic that I would just send him and he would send it back. He would advise me -- not in a pushy way, but gently -- by saying things like, "Maybe you should put something like this over here."
He taught me theory and songwriting tricks, so it worked in a really cool way. It's the closest thing I've ever had to a mentor. And he was really complimentary and a really dynamic personality. We were just making a record together, getting stoked and having fun. I had heard stories about him getting intense in the studio, but me and him never got into it once.
Maybe it helped being in two different places.
Yeah, and I also listened to everything he said. He could've told me to do anything he wanted and I would've been like, "Yeah, you get me." He's a genius and respect him.
Living at Burger, how much do you get play with other bands?
As long as I'd like, really. When I get my makeshift studio setup, it will hopefully be way more. I have a headphone setup, but I don't even have monitors right now. I got to do some stuff with King Tuff, which was pretty cool. We did that headphones in my little crummy setup, but it came out really well. Bobby helped with that one, too.
This tour, I've been trying to figure out when I can get some downtime and play with other bands. It's the first time in my life I've been surrounded by really cool people trying to do the same thing.
Do you have any neighbors in the storage units?
No, I'm an orphan out there.
What's been the most memorable moment on the tour so far?
Well, there have been so many. I'm still in the cyclone of it all. We played in El Paso at this place called the Monarch, and it felt like a Star Wars bar. It just looked like that bar in Star Wars, and it had that whole vibe to it. We played really well in there, but all the shows have been fun, though.
On the road, though, I did have to sneak across the boarded coming back from Canada. That was pretty fun. I was on the Growlers' tour bus and didn't have my passport. I just kind of hid in the back of the bus. I didn't get in trouble, though, so that was cool.