Train Conductor x Ballets – Gold Cuffs EP

From their respective homes in Fort Worth Texas and Albuquerque New Mexico I recently approached bands Train Conductor & Ballets to give me their thoughts on their new joint EP released this March titled Gold Cuffs.

Let’s start by getting to know a little bit about both bands. What are your names, where are you guys from and how’s it going?

Ballets: We are Nathan Bon, Andy and James (me) We are basically just friends still jamming in the garage, in a good way.

Both bands have an incredibly lo-fi sound. I instantly get soundtrack feelings from the EP, like Vincent Gallo buffalo 66 vibes. When did you guys start finding this kind of sound? Listening to the self-titled Ballets EP it’s a lot more electronic. Can you explain the evolution?

Ballets: We have enjoyed lo-fi stuff together this whole time, including Neutral Milk Hotel, early Dr Dog and Atlas Sound, etc. Its always good to sound like a cassette tape, even on mp3.

Train Conductor: Train Conductor has had a few different lineups because of me moving from Fort Worth to Albuquerque. I enjoy Vincent Gallos movies but I always thought he was kind of a dick. I try to portray his Brown Bunny blowjob scene through my guitar solos. Haha, just kidding. I take the analogy as a compliment. We have always been lo-fi. Train Conductor is starting to integrate more and more samples in the recordings and in a live setting.

I noticed on Earth Spirit Moon Spirit you guys collaborated and brought in William for a guitar part on ‘Who can use these things’. Is that where the relationship started and the idea to release Gold Cuffs?

Ballets: Me and Will go way back. We were in Small Flightless Birds with Nathan and Bon 2007-2010. We may reunite soon.

Train Conductor: James and I used live together, take Earth and Planetary science classes together and make music together. We have recordings dating back to 2007. Small Flightless Birds music can be found here. We came up with the idea to do a split 12” at Austin Psych Fest last year.

Everybody always want’s to know something about the production process. Do you guys have a particular piece of equipment or software you like to use?

Train Conductor: I have been making libraries of weird instruments lately. 3D Night was almost entirely made with autoharp samples. I cut off the attack so you only have the ambience of each chord.

Ballets: Ableton and pure early 90s style psychedelia

I liked the Artwork on the EP cover and I also noticed artwork on both your old EP releases were fitting to type of music you are releasing. Do you put emphasis on that aspect or does it just happen subconsciously?

Ballets: We explore the same territory with the graphics as we do with the sound. I think Gold Cuffs is the most focused cover that any of us have done. Raef Payne made it.

Train Conductor: We try to make the artwork look how our music sounds. We had a more realist approach this time with the Gold Cuffs being on the cover.

Who are some of your past and present musical influences?

Train Conductor: The bands I listen to now are Night Beats, Deerhunter and The Warlocks. I am really down with some Ethiopian jazz too.

Ballets: Suuns, Nirvana, Temples, Slowdive, the song you hear when you are on hold with the national health insurance marketplace, My Bloody Valentine.

The Label Gold House from Albuquerque seems to be a start up. Is there anything we should be looking for in the near future from the label?

Ballets: Gold House Records is going to be amazing! Look for upcoming releases from Young Lungs, Reighnbeau and Post War Germany, as well as new stuff from us and friends.

Train Conductor: Gold House Records is going to be a new representation of the Albuquerque music. They filled a void in the music scene.

What’s the music scene like in Albuquerque and Fort Worth? Is there anybody we should keep our eyes out for?

Train Conductor: Fort Worth music scene is lacking a lot of psych rock. Most of the music there is comprised of whiskey drinking folk singers. There are a few bands like Skeleton Coast, Year of the Bear and Chingalotus that make it worth it though. I have now moved back to Albuquerque to be a part of desert scene.

Ballets: Albuquerque is great for music. There’s no cooler place to collaborate and there are a few good venues like gold house, sister, effex and sometimes burts tiki lounge (if you can bring the party). The best artists in ABQ right now are REIGHNBEAU, Young Lungs, Sun Dogs, Uranium Worker, Klondykes, and the upcoming Holy Glories and Jippsi Gold.

Last Words?

Ballets: Order Gold Cuffs on Vinyl a

Train Conductor: Thank you so much for interviewing us!

Elliott MacDonald

Founder and editor in chief of The Strathcona Publication. I grew up in a neighbourhood called Strathcona in Vancouver on the North side of Hastings Ave. It was colourful, and vibrant with all kinds of inspiring experiences. This is my tribute to Strathcona.

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