mr. Gnome returns to Blind Bob’s
By Gary Spencer
Some people believe there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. The feeling seems to be mutual between the rock show audience at Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District and Cleveland, Ohio band mr. Gnome. (Yes, the “mr.” address is intentionally spelled with a lower case “m”). This Friday, mr. Gnome will be making its fourth appearance at the downtown music venue and the band seems to be just as excited as bar patrons about yet another evening of rocking out in the Gem City.
“We absolutely love Dayton,” said mr. Gnome guitarist, singer and frontwoman Nicole Meister. “It’s a great town, wonderful people and you guys definitely know how to party. The crowd in Dayton is always so attentive and enthusiastic as well, so it’s always a pleasure to play for you guys.”
mr. Gnome is a pretty wonderful band. Consisting of Nicole and drummer/pianist Sam Meister, the Gnome formed in 2005, and even from their earliest recordings up through their 2013 EP Softly Mad it’s clear the duo has a strange but natural musical chemistry. mr. Gnome isn’t afraid to experiment with musical textures – soft, atmospheric and enchanting intermingled with hazy distortion – pulse-quickening tempos and a deceiving trippiness that a lot of psychedelic bands wish they could summon. Topping this all off are the vocals of Nicole Meister, which on record are layered on top of each other, often sounding like a schizophrenic choir of disarmingly soothing singing, chanting and forceful shouts of defiance. And somehow mr. Gnome creates this miasma of musical enchantment of both light and dark that never feels forced or disingenuous. This arty, bipolar element to the music is something that is also echoed by the band.
“We tend to be a bit schizophrenic in our writing because we love so many different styles of music,” Nicole explained. “We have always been art dorks. We’re really attracted to the surreal side of things, exploring the subconscious, tapping into another side of reality and I think that type of exploration shows in our music as well. We don’t ever limit ourselves or avoid any type of inspirations that might be seeping through in the writing process. Sometimes a song will go from punk to spacey to stoner rock, and if it feels right we’ll just let it touch all of those different stylings within a five-minute period. This might confuse some listeners, but I think the ones that really get it totally understand what we’re going for.”
If mr. Gnome seems a little too abstract on paper, the duo exhibit their dualistic nature by emphasizing their more direct and aggressive side when performing live.
“Our live show is spacey, punk rock-y, loud, intense, soft, stripped down […] kind of all over the place, like our records tend to be,” said Nicole. “It’s definitely a more raw version of who we are on record […] there’s only two of us up there, so we’re definitely on our toes the entire show.”
Music lovers in Dayton aren’t the only people beginning to notice the aural magic mr. Gnome has been creating both on record and onstage. Rolling Stone named mr. Gnome as a “Band to Watch” after giving their 2011 full length platter Madness in Miniature a glowing review, and the duo was even invited to record at Queens of the Stone Age mastermind Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studios in Los Angeles. Add in their widely circulated reputation as a must-see live act and it’s easy to see how mr. Gnome has been steadily building an audience across the globe for themselves and their music.
“Every tour we embark on leaves us with so many amazing stories and experiences,” Nicole said. “Just to watch our fan base grow all over the country – and all over the world – has been extremely flattering.”
And while mr. Gnome is wrapping up the calendar year with several regional gigs, the band has its sights on making 2014 one of the biggest of its career. The band will be wrapping up the writing and recording of its fourth full-length album and then the duo will be making confirmed appearances at a handful of national music festivals, including South by Southwest in Austin and the Treefort Festival in Boise, Idaho, along with yet another full-scale tour of the U.S. and hopefully bringing their musical charms to Europe.
With all they’ve done and will embark upon in the future, Nicole and Sam seem to be very happy and grateful to be able to share their music and art with such willing audiences in Dayton, Ohio, and everywhere they may go.
“It’s just been great to continue to make music and do something you really love with your life,” Nicole said. “We love you Dayton and can’t wait to come back!”
mr. Gnome will perform Friday, Dec. 20 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Human Cannonball and Good English are also on the bill. Admission is $5 at the door for patrons 21 and up. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit mrgnome.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.