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Interview: Eighth House!

Ahead of their show with They Are Gutting A Body of Water, Knifeplay, and Show Me Mary, Eighth House sat down to discuss their new but rapidly growing shoegaze band. With many members being a part of other local bands/projects such as Gamine and Flippants, Eighth House hopes to expand throughout the scene and bring back shoegaze music to Columbia. Their wide range of individual music styles and inspirations contributes to a unique sound that attempts to stray from traditional shoegaze compositions. Though they only have 3 shows under their belt as a band, with their first being last November, it is obvious that the group has the talent and the vision to grow their band and emerge as a very influential group in the Columbia music scene. At the request of the band, and to introduce each member, included are each of their Zodiac signs.

Heather - Lead Singer: Scorpio

Gabe - Guitar: Virgo/Libra Cusp

Richard - Guitar: Gemini

Laurent - Bass: Gemini

Rug - Drums: Scorpio 

Tell me about how and why y'all started the band

Laurent: So I just moved to Columbia in July of 2021 and I started going to a bunch of local shows.  I think what the catalyst to that was going to a First Thursday at Arts and Draughts when I saw this guy (Gabe) playing with Flippants and they had such a wild show.  And then I just kept seeing him all the time.

Gabe: It was after a while that I just kept seeing Laurent around so much like Art Bar and certain NBT shows. We went to see Slow Crush;  that was kind of like when we first talked. 

Laurent: Specifically we talked about how obviously I love Shoegaze, and I asked if Gabe knew any local Shoegaze bands. Gabe was talking about how there used to be and how he actually used to play in one called Soft Focus which is no longer together, But there weren’t any Shoegaze bands at that time.  So I thought, I love Shoegaze, and I play bass, so what if…?

Gabe: That’s kind of where it started, I met Heather also the summer of 2022 cause we were both at Mid Summer together, but we didn’t meet until a little while after that.  We hung out together a lot that summer and then I found out she was a singer and also was very talented in other ways like playing guitar and some other instruments like saxophone.  

Heather:  I went out with Gabe, Hayden and a couple of our other friends one night and we were like bar hopping, we were all sitting outside and Gabe and Hayden said we’re doing a band thing, you should be in it.  I said sure, that would be sick.  I will try my best but if I’m not a good fit, I totally understand.  

Gabe:  And then they were a good fit.  Originally we had my friend Hayden playing guitar and doing some textures and stuff, and we had like one practice with him and we didn’t have a drummer yet, so I was using a drum machine.  So I hadn’t asked Richard yet or Rug to join, I kind of floated the idea around. Me and Rug played together in Gamine and I’m always wary of overworking people.  

We had one or two practices with Hayden at their place and then it just wasn’t really going to work for them.  So they kind of dropped off before we even had a show.  So what was our first show?

Laurent and Heather:  It was New Brookland Tavern and we opened for Cathedral Bells.

Gabe:  Right yeah it was like a Wednesday night so it was perfect for our first show.  

Laurent:  The whole idea behind that was, if we force ourselves to have a show coming up (this was like a month after we started playing), we’d get together and actually write some songs. 

Gabe:  Yep, and I’ve done that before and it’s worked so I thought I’d do it with this one. It worked, I think it worked really well.

Laurent:  We had maybe one or two practices before the first show.  

Heather:  They were both like the two nights before our show.  Those were the only practices we had as a full band, the band as it is now.  

Gabe:  I have known Richard for many years.  We’ve played together probably since 2018, because Richard has his own project called Cloud Repair.

So I played guitar for his project and then I played bass for him last year, I think, once or twice.  I’ve had Richard play in various projects across the years, so me and Richard have been trading talent and friendship for the last, like five or six years.

I’ve known Rug for like a long time.  They used to play in a band called Danger Boys, also My Brother My Sister, and Alarm Drum was the main one.

That’s when we really met because I was playing a lot of music around that time.

Laurent:  This is the dream lineup for me.  I love this group of people so much.  

Since your first show in November, what has been your favorite, and why?

Laurent: The last show we played was a house show where there were a string of fundraising events, like 3 house shows, where we were raising funds for a community member and friend of ours who was given federal charges for participating in the BLM protests back in 2020. The show we played was at this house that usually has metal shows but has been branching out to other things too I think. It was a really special show for me because we got to finally play a show with Gabe and Rug’s other band, Gamine, and Gabe’s other band Flippants. 

Heather: Yeah it was an epic lineup

Rug: That was my first time seeing all of those bands together 

Laurent: It was really lovely to play alongside our friends and be there with a lot of community members for a good cause. This was also our first house show, and as soon as we started playing we knew it was gonna be a good night. The vibe of everyone was great with all the dancing and moshing. 

Gabe: I also liked our show in Charleston, which was show number 2

Laurent: I did not at all 

Gabe: Yeah there were a lot of technical aspects that got in the way of our sound and how we played on stage. Apart from barely being able to hear anybody else, and Laurent having the same problem, my amp died 2 or 3 songs in. It kind of exploded. 

Laurent: We also were playing in a boatyard kind of venue set up on a boat, so it was really hard to hear everyone. 

Gabe: I just liked it because it was cool ya know.

Heather: Yeah the crowd and the environment was sooo awesome 

Laurent: The vibe was great, I just wasn’t happy with the sound and how we played. 

Are there any differences you’ve noticed about the scene in Columbia compared to other places like Greenville or Charleston?

Gabe: Personally I think Charleston’s scene has a very different vibe than Greenville’s scene. My take on it is that Greenville’s scene is very young. I just keep finding more bands, I do a little dive on instagram and keep finding bands I’ve never heard of. It feels like I just blink and there’s 10 more bands that pop up. It’s very exciting and cool because there’s a lot of new, cool bands and sounds that Columbia doesn’t have. A lot of rock and grunge revival and stuff like that. Charleston’s scene is kind of disjointed because the city has a lot of cliques and circles, but they always seem to impress me every time I go down to play. They also have a lot of places to play. It’s not as young and up and coming, but I feel like the existing people will always have a new project. 

Have you noticed any differences in Columbia’s scene over the years you’ve been involved?

Gabe: Yeah I mean I left Columbia in 2018 and then Covid happened, so there was kind of a dip there. When I moved into town there were a lot more places to play, and a lot of places over time have closed. I know for a fact Rug can attest to this, there were a lot of good house show houses. They moved around and exchanged hands but there were always a lot of them. Around 2018 there started being less and less and less, and there were like 2 years where there was nothing. The scene hasn’t changed, and the amount of bands hasn’t changed. Columbia has a room problem. There’s New Brookland Tavern, which we know and love, there’s Art Bar sometimes, although it’s 21 plus, and I can’t really think of anywhere else in the way of house shows besides one that historically has been a metal house. It’s not so much the people, it’s just the venues. 

Rug: There’s a high turnover of people too I think. People keep coming and going and moving away. 

I know you guys are a very new band, but have you noticed any changes in your sound in that time?

Gabe: The way it’s been going as far as songwriting, is I have all these compositions in the genre, and then I’ll give it to everybody and they’ll learn it and add their own thing to it. Now recently with this new group of songs we’re writing, Laurent will write something and then I’ll write something, then Heather will write the vocals, and Rug does the drum parts. We’re kind of figuring it out ourselves but together. We have a lot more initializers, like Richard has a group of songs he’s initialized, and me and Laurent too. So now it’s not just I’m composing and giving it to everyone, it’s like we’re all composing together. 

Laurent: The nature of it being five of us and all of us having our different influences and things we’re into really filters songs through everyone’s different style, and by the end of it the song becomes a whole different project. 

What are your individual inspirations as musicians?

Laurent: It’s so simple for me. I have had a sort of non traditional way of getting into this music. I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of rock music. I had a phase where I was really into guitar hero, so I got into Sonic Youth. It made me like a lot more guitar driven music and noisier things. When I graduated I wanted to explore new genres and a friend of mine introduced me to a whole bunch of things. Early on I listened to a lot of Jamaican Dub music and post punk. A lot of post punk is inspired by Jamaican Dub music, specifically the bass lines. They have these really heavy, repetitive, trance like bass lines that I love. My approach to writing bass lines comes from a lot of the Jamaican scene from the 60s and post punk artists like Jah Wobble. 

Rug: I like a lot of, to put it broadly, fast jazz drummers and fast punk drummers

Gabe: I listen to everything all the time. In high school I was into drum and bass and death metal, nu metal and stuff like that. I came here and got into radio, and that opened up everything else like shoegaze and local music and genres I hadn’t heard of. I got really into jazz, I had a jazz radio show for a while. More recently I’ve been following all of the newer revival groups, like 80’s goth and 90’s grunge revival that all touch on shoegaze. As far as this genre, I’m really into Swirlies, Sonic Youth, early My Bloody Valentine. There’s this southwestern scene that’s coming out of western Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, like Glixen that me and Laurent really like. There’s Glare, Keep, Trauma Ray, Narrow Head, Bleed, more grunge and heavier stuff coming from Texas. The Philly scene has a lot of good stuff like Nothing and They Are Gutting A Body Of Water (who we’re playing with in like a week), Knifeplay, there’s a lot of good bands coming from the Philly and New York scenes. 

Laurent: I really enjoy that we all have different favorite genres and approaches. I listen to a lot of shoegaze but when I’m writing my bass lines I don’t try to write something traditionally shoegaze. I listen to a lot of soul and black music, funk, african songs stuff like that and the bass lines there are really, really cool. 

Richard: This sounds corny but I really rely on them to help kind of cultivate my taste. This sounds like an excuse but recently I just haven’t been listening to a ton of music. Life is so busy that I’ve been preoccupied with other things. Nonetheless, you can derive inspiration from other non musical mediums, whether it’s film or literature. I think you can get a lot of cool ideas in terms of creativity and transfer that over to your musical compositions. 

Outside of the band and music, what fills up your free time?

Gabe: Personally I have a day job that keeps me occupied during the day. Outside of composing and playing in 2 or 3 other bands, I paint occasionally, I’ve been getting into cooking, and I do a lot of graphic design. 

Laurent: While I really enjoy eighth house a lot, my main priority is that I’m actually in grad school, and so is Richard. I’m getting a PhD in Biology so I do a lot of research about how predator-prey interactions affect butterfly population growth. That consumes most of everything for me, and I like it a lot. One of the reasons why it’s especially difficult is that I do field research in Colorado in the summers. In a few months Eighth House will be on a little hiatus because I’m gonna be gone. 

Richard: As Laurent just mentioned, I’m also in graduate school. That becomes your life for better or worse. I’m getting a degree in literature, so I read and the library is my second home. It’s very time consuming, but music is a great way to release the energy that gets pent up. Obviously reading is a sedentary activity, so I like to go wild playing music, and I also really like to run. That’s another way of getting outside and in the open air. 

Rug: I like to draw, I do collage stuff sometimes. I play guitar too, nothing crazy. 

Heather: Just work pretty much. 

When someone asks you what shoegaze is, or you have to describe your music to someone who doesn’t listen to much shoegaze, how do you explain it to them?

Laurent: I sometimes am embarrassed or don’t want to say that it’s shoegaze, so I always say 90’s alternative rock music as my go to. Just because there’s a little reputation of people who listen to and play shoegaze, and I feel like for most people if I just say 90’s alternative they’re like, ok! 

Gabe: I’ll do something similar, like early 90’s british rock, which I guess is a book definition of it. To simplify it for people who don’t listen to it, indie rock is a decent place to start. I usually say it’s loud, but not metal. Walls of sound and noise. I’m trying not to get too jargony, I usually do say shoegaze though. There’s not a band that does that in town, so I'll start there. 

Heather: I just tell people it’s shoegaze, and they ask what it is, and I’m just like “I don’t know” 

Laurent: Sometimes I will clock people based on if I think they’re pretentious or not, so if someone seems like they listen to shoegaze I’ll tell them it’s shoegaze. This is probably not a great thing to do but I don’t want to go through the whole process of them asking what shoegaze is and why they call it shoegaze. 

Gabe: That’s the thing is that title is a derogatory joke. It was an art critic that was like “yeah they didn’t move around they just stared at their shoes, they’re shoegazing” and they’re describing like probably one performance where they just looked down and played and sang. I usually try to simplify it down to fundamental pieces which are like loud, guitar driven, pop, rock. 

Laurent: That’s the thing that I think people miss out when they talk about shoegaze music. It’s inherently a pop genre. The music, the chord progressions, the song arrangements, are all very much inspired by 60’s sunshine bubblegum pop from that era. Trying to create these pop songs in a new format where the songs are covered in noise but the noise enhances that. Some people don’t get it, and that’s fine, I don’t like every genre either. 

How did you come up with the name Eighth House?

Gabe: I’ve been into astrology for a very long time, and it’s only recently that I’ve been reading more about the 12 houses. The signs are at home in these different houses, but the houses modify your planets further. It creates an even more specific reading of that sign. The eighth house is the house of sex, death, and transformation. Taboos, and kind of like the dark house. I read that when I was going through what the houses mean and I was like, that’s insane. That’s a perfect name. It’s bland enough that when you read it you’re like “it sounds cool, I don’t get it” and then there’s more of a story later. 

Laurent: I’m also really pretentious and I don’t want it spelled with the actual number 8 at all. I feel like it just looks better all lowercase. Which is also a reference, because MBV did that a lot because of this poet, E.E. Cummings. That man wrote a lot of things without any sort of capitalization. 

Heather: We’re deep rootedly pretentious 

Where do you guys see yourself taking the band in the future?

Laurent: For me, I never thought I’d be in a band. I never thought Eighth House would even come into fruition, it seemed like Gabe was serious about it but when we first met up it was before I left for Colorado last summer. It seemed too good to be true, and I thought they would flake on me. I got back and met heather, and we talked about it and had practice maybe a week or two later. I didn’t think we’d play a show but we did, and now we’ve played 3 shows. We have like five songs and a bunch more we’re writing. I think the next step for us is creating a logo for the band because we don’t have one. 

Heather: It’s so hard because it’s so permanent

Laurent: It needs to be this perfect envisionment of what our imagery and lyrics are. I don’t want to rush into it, because once you create a design that’s it. I know you can change it but it’s there forever. After that I think the next step is to record some music and release an ep. 

Gabe: Yeah in the next year or two it’d be nice. I think we’re in a good place now, we have a lot of good shows coming up before Laurent goes to Colorado. Hopefully we can get some recording done in that time but if we can’t we’ll do it when they get back. I don’t know who is staying in town for what lengths, Laurent still has some time before he graduates, Heather is figuring out her next steps, Richard’s in school, I’ve flirted with the idea of moving away in like 2 or 3 years. 

Laurent: It would break my gosh darn heart if Eighth House broke up. 

Gabe: I see us maybe in 3-5 years probably going away and coming back, maybe changing names. That’s the thing, Richard and I have been playing music together for a long time so I think the interpersonal combinations will probably stay the same but the name might change or the music style might change. Personally I don’t want to not know these people. The friendship will stay and I’m sure the music will come along with it. 

Laurent: Everytime we’re in practice and doing something new I just start cheesing really hard. It feels unreal to me, and I feel really lucky to call all of them my bandmates, and more so my friends. 

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