The Underground Sounds Of America: Bars Of Gold
Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.
You don’t often think of post-rock as being a conduit for total overkill, but Bars Of Gold make ‘too much’ their sonic mission. The Michigan sextet, featuring members of formative early 2000’s post-hardcore band Bear Vs. Shark, have forsaken the traditional need to go stripped-down and reeled-in, instead creating a brand of resonant, heartfelt post-rock that shimmers harder, crashes louder, and cuts deeper than the rest.
Hell, the band has four guitarists (that’s one more than Iron Maiden) — though even that, according to vocalist/guitarist Marc Paffi, is just about getting the most out of everything for everyone involved.
“Love isn’t convenient,” says Marc when asked about Bars Of Gold’s quadruple-ax approach. “We just want to spend more time with the people we love, so we add them to the band. It’s also really fun having four guitars that are not afraid to unite on the same chords, yet also not afraid to diverge from it completely, which is pretty magical.”
There’s definitely magic on the band’s new album, Shelters, out now on Equal Vision Records. Full of sunlit builds and thoughtful, cathartic crescendos, Shelters is a to-the-point album for those who like their music punchy without sacrificing emotional power. The band’s ability to harness this dichotomy between thoughtful and strong in quick, listenable songs is a feat unto itself, given other artists’ tendency to sprawl in one direction or the other.
“I can hear why it would be a dichotomy to other people’s ears, but these songs really are the most natural output of what we write together,” says Marc. “Really, all of those words and sounds go together and mesh well in our minds. The balance and tension of these songs just feel the most organic and natural. There’s always a bunch of things going on between all of us, so these songs really sum up and exemplify how we interact with each other too. It’s always a balance.”
Pumped after watching the band bring down the house at Brooklyn’s El Cortez, we asked Marc to fill us in on what gives Bars Of Gold their luster.
1) If you had to play one Bars Of Gold song for a newcomer to introduce them to the band, what would it be and why?
Worthless Chorus is a great example of how we roll. It starts out like a face ripper and ends floating in space. Although, to be honest, that song might be a bit too much of a juxtaposed, bipolar song, so a solid runner-up would be $20, which is an all-around solid jam and also exemplifies all of our interests in what we like in songs — super rad groove, assertiveness, and its playful.
2) List Bars Of Gold’s five biggest musical influences.
3) How does being from Michigan inform Bars Of Gold’s music?
Detroit, and Michigan in general, are definitely the context that most of are songs are informed by. It’s where we all grew up and currently reside. We’ve all spent countless hours on dirt roads, exploring forests, and living in deindustrialized, shrunken cities, that it absolutely leaks onto every track. Maybe even oozes, sometimes.
The ‘how’ is the part that we look at later. We spend a bunch of time talking about what we want our songs to do, but we honestly don’t fret much about how the context of the weirdness that is Detroit and Michigan affects us — but we know it does.
4. Who would be on Bars Of Gold’s dream tour?
The 1991 version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fela Kuti. Fugazi, in the Red Medicine era, and 1960s Neil Diamond. Prince after Purple Rain, and Leonard Cohen. More the Leonard Cohen as a poet. Early 2000s Tom Waits with the early, noisy Deerhoof. Charles Bukowski. Steve Yzerman and A Tribe Called Quest.
5. Your new album is named Shelters, but the cover shows a vast, open beach. What’s meaning behind that dichotomy?
First of all, fantastic analysis on your part. The painting is of Lake Michigan and its beautiful dunes. It’s a really calming and comfortable scene. So in a way it’s really a shelter, or at least to us.
Make sure to catch Bars Of Gold at one of the following live dates:
8 — Ferndale, MI @ Scheme Fest at New Way Bar
29 — Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
1 — San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill
2 — Los Angeles, CA @ The Hi Hat
3 — Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
4 — San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
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