Gaffer Project began in September of 2011 with Jordan Doyle doing it as a solo act. Jordan mainly yelled poetry while using a program called Ableton Live to sequence backing tracks instead of live instrumentation. In May of 2016 Jordan asked Christian Holliday to join the project. Gaffer Project then became Christian on drums and Jordan on bass guitar. The backing tracks are still used but only to make the two piece sound fuller and only in certain parts of the songs.
Jordan: Tom Waits is a huge inspiration to me. I hope to grow old with the woman I love, be weird and keep making music. Bands would be mewithoutYou, The Chariot, Young Widows, Menomena. Comrades (now of Facedown Records) took me on my first tour back in November of 2012 and we’re still really good friends. DIY can be hard but it’s worth it.
Christian: Rich Mullins, Brennan Manning, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, Henry Rollins, Josh Scogin, Pantera, July Talk, Tom Waits. The Movie Ragamuffin. Displaced people.
Cold Sessions is a live recording we did of the set we played in October through December. We tried to capture the live/unpolished feel compared to other recordings that may sound more produced. We called it Cold Sessions because we so happen to form colds during the time we had set aside to record the live session. So “Cold” Sessions seemed fitting.
What was recording that like?
It was a set we toured on that we really enjoyed but didn’t want to retire without some kind of recording of it. We set up mics and did everything in one take. The writing was over most of the summer, either converting old songs from the solo act into live music forms or writing the two new songs that ended up in the set.
What is your general writing process like?
We will usually jam drum and bass until we find a riff we enjoy. We’ll then repeat that riff until we know what we’re both doing on it. From there we’ll begin blocking out, verse, chorus, etc to figure out the flow of the song over all. We’ll record demo versions so we can write backing tracks around the tempos we’re comfortable with as well as use the demos to write lyrics around. We’re currently working on a new full length album called Slowknife: A Study of Fear, in which we were able to record samples of live cello, piano and other instruments that can then be played back as backing tracks. Lastly rerecording everything in a higher quality to result in a finished song or album.
Does one person come up with the majority of your music or is it a combined effort?
Jordan writes most of the music but Christian orchestrates the parts.
One thing I noticed while watching your set is your unique aesthetic. You have the eye makeup, the lightbulbs, other really cool lighting effects, etc. tell me a bit about that.
We both believe our inner personas are the foundation of our aesthetic which influences our music and the performance. A performance is the grand finale to what has been written and rehearsed therefore it is the celebration of hard work for the writer. It is also a tool for isolation from personal and social problems. This isolation is intended to cultivate an atmosphere to find peace or clarity. We believe this creates freedom. With that said, we view our performance as an invitation for the audience to experience this.
Our performance is the physical way to express the emotion behind the music and we want those in attendance to also experience this. The reactions from the audience are encores to the celebration and confirm what we believe in achieving. This motivates and challenges us to accomplish the mission of creating such isolation and freedom for ourselves and the audience night after night.
Going off the previous questions, how is the visuals you create beneficial to your music or to the experience of seeing a show?
A Gaffer is an old English term for a lamp lighter and has since become a term adopted by lighting technicians in film and theater. As our namesake we wanted the lighting and visuals to be a key part of the performance and theatrics. Many folks have said that the shock of lights coming on or turning off causes a strong and moving emotional response and connection with the music when you see the room change so dramatically. The lights also help grab folk’s attention when we begin our set and perhaps entices them from going outside to smoke.
The haircuts. One thing really notable about Gaffer Project is all during the show you are in the back giving people haircuts. How did you get started doing the haircuts?
Jordan: My mother has cut hair my entire life and growing up she had a shop built into our house. I started cutting my friends hair when I was a teenager, using her equipment. Mostly easy, simple things like buzz cuts, but my friends liked it so they kept coming back. My mom gave me my first set of scissors and clippers and I’ve been cutting ever since. I think ten years now.
What are some of the benefits of doing hair on the road?
Jordan: The stories. The first time I ever did a straight razor shave was at 2 am, in Chattanooga, on a car hood, under a street light, outside of a Tacobell drive through. My friend Evan wanted a shave and when I was done I confessed that that was the first shave I’d ever done. He said I did a good job and his friend piped up saying he wanted one too. I don’t offer shaves anymore though. Too often we’ll play somewhere where alcohol is being consumed.
Cutting hair is just a really nice way of meeting people. You’ve got them in the chair for 15, 20 minutes and folks usually like to talk. I like to listen.
Sometimes venues aren’t cool with me cutting and that’s fine. I respect them for having us and letting us play.
My hair cuts are always a service from a friend to a friend. No set price, though we do except donations. If you need a hair cut, we’ll get you a hair cut.
The main benefit I’d say though, is when I can set up to where the person getting their hair cut can see the stage and watch the other bands play. I feel guilty taking people away from seeing the other bands, bands that I hope would stick around to see my band’s set. Also it’s just cool! Feeling the relaxation of getting your hair cut and being able to watch cool bands. It’s something I’m really happy I get to do.
I loved that you guys seem so interested in meeting people, making conversation, and putting out that positive energy.
Jordan: I think the DIY music is about people. Friends helping each other out, strangers helping each other out. I don’t deserve kindness but when I’m in need I hope folks show me some. Christian and I are both Christians and firm believers in trying to love and invest in people as well as loving your neighbor. Also, when you’ve been cooped up in a station wagon all day, it’s nice to talk with new folks. It’s almost like our time in the yard.
Why is the connection with people important?
We value their time and their coming to the show. Usually we’re strangers and don’t know many people in that town other than maybe whoever set up the show, so you’ve got to learn to make friends quickly. It’s easy though, we’re all there for the same thing. It’s nice to spend time with folks that share similar interests.
Has this attitude helped make touring, band, and life experiences better?
Absolutely! If you’re not a total dolt, doors just seem to open. Folks are down to let you crash on their floor, jump on their show and hopefully come back through and do it again sometime on a future tour.
I know your on the road a lot, how often do you tour?
Since October we’ve been averaging a least two weeks a month with some tours being up to an entire month. We’re currently working on a tour out to WY and back over the course of April. Over summer mainly trying to tour to and from festivals we’re able to be a part of. But booking is easier when school is in and you can rely more on college towns.
Are you hoping to tour full time?
For the foreseeable future, that’s the plan. Keep making music, and try to tour as much as possible. Sometimes we’re able to work a day job when we’re back home on a break but it’s only until we leave for the next run.
Best and worst part about touring
Being able to take a performance we’ve worked really hard on and being able to share it live with people in far away places that may have never seen it had we only ever played locally. And tacos.
Jordan: I miss my wife. I hope someday we’ll be able to support ourselves enough with the band to be able to take her on the road with us.
Christian: The inconsistency in the quality of coffee.
Do you have any upcoming shows/projects/tours?
2. The Slowknife full length is set to be released in Late March/Early April.
3. Touring solo March 30th through April 30th.
4. Touring with Eaves from Richmond May 14th through May 30th.
5. Playing Flood City Fest May 19th in Johnstown PA.
6. Booking. Booking. Booking.
Any last words?
Uh, I want to thank my Mom©, Dr Pepper©, and Gold Bond© Fresh Triple Action Relief Powder Spray!
We’re going to Disney World!
Please go check out our friends in:
Genosha(VA), Sons (NJ), Born Hollow(NC), Idle Threat.(TN), Formerly Bodies(MI), Eaves(VA),Belial(AL), XY Spaces(AL), Sunraider(AL), Comrades(CO), Mongrels(VA), Holy Smokes(AR), Dying Whale(GA) Tigerwine(CO), Lung(OH), Servants(MA), Pocket Vinyl(CT) Everything Wilts(OH) Trudge(NC), Jack Flash Pomades(FL), Wired Coffee House(IN).
Photos by Kayla Hands at KHPhotographyIN