Updated: Sep 1
Originally from Eugene, OR, Gondos' roots are nestled in the University of Oregon and the local DIY scene where they sprouted up as a budding psych-punk group. Learning how to jam and shred house shows led founders Aidan Case and Chris Farquhar to dive deeper into their passion for music and being a part of the community.
After college, the group moved up to Portland and started recording their early projects. With the release of their Descender EP in 2021, Gondos started tapping in with the PDX scene, playing to bigger crowds and meeting new bands. Indie punk bangers like "DHM" and "Agate" are very reminiscent of the Bay Area band Hazy Portraits while their newer songs "Imitating Love" or "Cling To Me" could straight up be blasted alongside LA legends Glossy or Palm Sugar at a Long Beach backyard blowout.
After seasoning themselves in the local PDX scene, Ben Windheim (The Macks) joined Gondos to add some synth tones and other mixing elements to the group. Their latest release, Gondos, is a sure shot toward the heavier side of psych rock. Melding elements of pop punk, fuzzy psych, and noise rock, Gondos is mosh-worthy and pleasant to drift off to. It's a nice split, dreamy yet energetic, amped up and tuned in. Let yourself get in the mood by bumping it the next time you stroll to your local corner store. Take your daily dose and let it all roll.
Earlier this week, we had the chance to catch up with Gondos to chat about their latest release. Here's what they had to say...
Q: How did Gondos come together?
A: Gondos started in around 2017 when Aidan Case met Chris Farquhar in the dorms at the University of Oregon. It was almost an unintentional beginning, Aidan and Chris started playing music together because of a shared love of punk music, not really having the intention of starting a band. Later on, in 2018, Chris and Aidan moved into a house near campus with Grant Anderson and Conner Peeples who would later become the drummer and original lead guitar player for Gondos, respectively. While drunk at a bar one night, Chris was asked by an acquaintance if his band would be interested in playing his house party. Even though Gondos hadn't even been named yet, Chris said yes and Gondos booked their first show.
From then on the band played 2-4 house shows in Eugene, Oregon, a week. Back then we weren't any good at all, we just loved to play loud music and hang out with each other. But music quickly became extremely important for all of us. I (Aidan) had been writing songs my entire life and it meant the world to me to have such good friends who took them seriously and to finally play them live.
Q: What's the local scene like out in Portland, how's your experience been being part of that DIY community?
A: Portland is an amazing place to make music. The scene is supportive and extremely diverse genre-wise. There are hundreds of bands making incredible music and pushing themselves to respectable heights.
We moved to Portland after we finished school in Eugene in 2021, right after the pandemic because we knew The Macks (our good friends and also one of the best bands on the planet right now), and because we wanted to take our music further.
We've always been a DIY band, and the DIY scene here really seemed to bounce back strongly post-COVID, so the move made sense to us. We've received nothing but love and support here in Portland and we honestly wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Portland has a reputation for being kind of weird and dirty, and it definitely is, but good art is always made in places like this where people want to bend the rules and create something original.
Q: What are some of your favorite venues or DIY spaces to play? Any highlight shows over the years?
A: Portland is absolutely full of venues. The DIY scene moves from basement to basement as it does everywhere else, but there are a couple of staple spots like: Snake Farm, Anarchy Beach, and of course, generator shows under the overpasses on the East Side that are consistently fun and weird. As far as non-DIY venues go, our favorites are Lollipop Shoppe, The Six, The Doug Fir, and Mississippi Studios. These places have really incredible and caring staff that actually give a fuck about music and do so much work to help give local bands a platform. Not to mention there are some really cool sound techs at these spots!
We've had our share of jaded sound guys on tour, but it really means the world to us when somebody takes the time to give us a good monitor mix. One of our favorite shows we've ever played was at Mississippi Studios with our friends Forty Feet Tall and Spoon Benders. The sound was perfect and the crowd was alive and full of energy. That was the first time I think a lot of people outside the DIY scene saw us and figured out what we're about.
Q: How has your sound evolved or changed since your early projects?
A: Our sound is almost completely different from the early days. This band was born off of songs I recorded in my bedroom that didn't even have live drums. Our first two EPs are just baby Aidan in his room trying to figure out how to use Logic Pro.
Covid was definitely a dark period for everyone, but the silver lining was that it gave us the opportunity to really sit down and practice. We wanted to level up both as a band and on our own instruments. We definitely did that, and the Descender album shows that growth. That record was the first time we all recorded together and when we started working with Ben Windheim of The Macks, who later became our lead guitarist and synth player.
I started by writing mostly pop songs and disguising them with distortion and fuzz. I wanted to write really catchy hooks back then and none of us were really any good at our instruments. But over the years we've all grown a lot as musicians and the sound reflects that. There's a lot more going on in the music now, and it's very intentional. We're getting heavier, we're getting darker and we're growing up. Our sound has matured as we have matured as people and as artists. It's less about the catchy hooks now and more about creating something original, free, and new. We want to expand on the foundational sound we've created and take risks.
We really don't care much what people think and I highly doubt any of our records will ever sound like each other. We don't want to be held back by genre or what people expect us to sound like. We make what we want, what feels good, and what is true to us. This is a band of self-expression first and foremost and it will always be that way. The music is a reflection of what we feel and who we are, and it is definitely getting heavier, noisier, and more unpredictable.
Q: What's the process been like recording and preparing your newest release, "Gondos"?
A: Recording Gondos was the most fun we've ever had in the studio. Ben got himself an old 1/2-inch tape machine from the 70s (a Tascam 38 I believe), and we recorded the whole album live to that. We wanted to make sure that this album got the treatment it deserved and that's why it took so long.
We wanted to do it to tape because tape has such a familiar sound sort of built into it that any rock music fan will recognize. Almost all of my favorite albums are recorded to tape and I wanted to build upon that sound. The goal was to use vintage gear and vintage recording tech to create an older-sounding record but with new and inventive songs.
Gondos sounds like something you know, but it isn't. It has that old analog sound, but the songs are a new, original take on rock music. Recording to tape is amazing but also challenging. Mistakes are permanent and problems with analog technology require inventive digital solutions. A lot of these songs were written around the time Descender was released, and many different versions of them have been played live. Ben was a huge part of this record. Having him in the band and involved in the songwriting process was incredible. He takes a producer role in this band as well as being the best guitar player probably ever.
All of our time, money, and resources were poured into this album. We cut no corners and are extremely proud of it. It was difficult this time around to try and promote the album as we had a lot less money afterward, but we always do our best and the music comes first. It was tough to sit on this project for so long but it was absolutely worth it to end up with Gondos. This album is hands down our best work.
Q: Any plans for the rest of the year?
A: This coming year should be a good one. We're playing some really cool shows here in Portland and ideally getting back on the road for our third tour sometime in the summer. Our van exploded a while back so we're trying to save up for a new one. Ideally, one where the transmission stays in and doesn't fall out onto the freeway. And don't worry, we're already done with the demos for album #3. So I imagine this year will be a writing year, and at some point soon we'll get back in the studio and get to work on the next record (it's a weird one).