Wherever you may gnome

Atmospheric rock duo hits Blind Bob’s

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: Sam Meister and Nicole Barille of mr. Gnome will perform May 22 at Blind Bob’s

Nicole Barille and Sam Meister make a cool couple. The two halves of rock duo mr. Gnome, they spent their 2005 honeymoon in Cleveland, the city they call home, writing and recording their first demo. Ten years later, mr. Gnome’s brand of atmospheric psychedelic art rock hasn’t gone unnoticed—they’ve received positive press from Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and NPR, to name a few. With its elaborate soundscapes, cinematic music videos and album art that looks like it came right out of the Dungeons & Dragons “Player’s Handbook,” mr. Gnome is at once something unusual and familiar.

Mr. Gnome will play at Blind Bob’s this Friday, May 22. Nicole Barille spoke to me over the phone from Washington, where the band was in between shows.

You guys are on the road for about six weeks. On such a long tour like that, how do you maintain normalcy?

Nicole Barille: I think we’ve been touring for so long that we’ve made all the mistakes. It’s like training for a marathon, you have to treat your body right and not overdo it or else you’re just going to really wear out midway through. So you know, we became vegetarians pretty much because of touring. We were like eating mystery meat all over the country. Sam, he loves gas station hot dogs. That was one of his weaknesses. So we cut that out, and it really makes you feel better without the bad food intake. But yeah, that’s one thing that we do. And, honestly, we don’t really party as much as we used to. We’d rather be good every night than hungover. I think we realized that was a lot more important. We’re putting all this time and effort into things, so we try to be our best.

Obviously you tour as a two-piece. How do you keep that big sound that your albums have when you take your songs to the stage?

NB: Well, um, it’s really just been a learning process up there. We started in 2005, though we always tell people the first couple of years didn’t count. It was like the first time we were in a band, playing on stage. Like the beginning was just a learning experience. After that, we realized that touring a lot was really the way to grow and become better musicians and just develop our sound into something a little more. And through doing that, you just start to pick up little tips. I got turned on to loop pedals and octave pedals. You just start adding more to your arsenal, adding pedals that up different parts of songs to give them a little more texture, and you’re able to make the songs a little more exciting throughout. At the same time, our ears are always open, and we’re always trying to pick up more things on the way and just expand what we are doing.

You recorded your latest album, The Heart of a Dark Star, yourselves. Do you think you’ll do that from now on with your releases?

NB: I think it has its pros and cons. It gives you complete control, and there is no time restriction. I think that anyone that’s been in the studio just experiences the clock ticking down, and then all of that pressure to get all your takes right away and all that. And you just can’t experiment as much, and you kind of have to map everything out before you go in there. And then the cons are that you have to work – I mean you’re just working 24/7, you have to set up all the mics, get all the songs, you know. It’s so much more work, but, yeah, if you’re willing to do it. I think we’re gonna give it another step for the next one. I’m pretty excited about it. I feel like we learned a lot on the last one. But yeah, we’re excited to do it again this way and add a little bit more to our studio and see what we can do.

Your fans love your crazy videos. Any plans for a new one soon? It’s been a couple years since the last one.

NB: Yeah we have a video that is done for “Melted Rainbow.” Our publicist is still spending some time with it to figure out which outlet he wants to release it through. So yes, it’s all done, just kind of waiting on it, so it should be out this month.

You guys have played Dayton a bunch of times. Are you looking forward to the upcoming show?

NB: Yeah, we love Dayton so much, and the last show, I lost my voice for it. I was just so sick when we came through. It happened suddenly, and I was sick for that show and Chicago the following day. I was just so bummed out because we love Dayton. It’s such a good crowd, and Blind Bob’s is so much fun. It’s just, like, kind of like a house party vibe. So yeah, I’m excited to be back. I’m going to take care of myself, and, hopefully, I won’t get sick around that time again. The road’s a strange place. You can feel fine and all of the sudden… especially during the winter time, it can take the voice away, and that’s a constant worry of being a singer. No matter how well you treat your body, sometimes you’re just exhausted. But yeah, we’re excited to come back and just be healthy and have fun with you guys.

Mr. Gnome will perform on Friday, May 22, at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Show starts at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for patrons 21 and up. Grenades!! and Skurt are also on the bill. For more information, please visit mrgnome.com or call 937.938.6405.

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at josherlumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin
Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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