Posts Tagged ‘Ben Guterl’

Forth Wanderers

Pen pals are going out of fashion. In the age of social media, WhatsApp and the like, the thought of crafting a long thoughtful message – one that only your closest confidant will read – sounds archaic, really. But not for Forth Wanderers. The making of the New Jersey band’s second album, their first on cult indie label Sub Pop Records, was crafted via meticulous communications between lead singer Ava Trilling and guitarist Ben Guterl – who actually lived in the same zip code at the time. The pair would send melodies and lyrics back and forth, each adding their piece before the song was in decent-enough shape to demo with the rest of the band. Sure, they probably used the internet, but the result is like listening to the secret correspondence between close friends.

This formula is repeated again and again, but never gets boring. In fact, these might be some of the most well-crafted rock songs you’ll hear all year long.

Forth Wanderers (Release Date: April 27, 2018

When you’ve got riffs like these and a voice like hers, you’re pretty much golden. The riffs in question are the spindly, expansive, geometrically unusual building blocks of Forth Wanderers’ sound, arching guitar architecture that turns the band’s big Sub Pop spotlight moment into a monument. The voice belongs to Ava Trilling, who applies her deadpan soprano to lyrics like, “He says he likes my taste/ But I bite his tongue, you know, just in case.” Consider them Built To Spill built for 2018 indie rock, trading awestruck twee visions for frank ruminations on the politics of collegiate social life.

Forth Wanderers employ a tin-can-telephone style of composition which they use even when living in the same area code. Since first collaborating in 2013 as Montclair, New Jersey high schoolers, guitarist and songwriter Ben Guterl and vocalist Ava Trilling have passed songs back and forth like pen pals. Guterl will devise an instrumental skeleton before sending it to vocalist Ava Trilling who pens the lyrics based off the melody. The duo then gather alongside guitarist Duke Greene, bassist Noah Schifrin, and drummer Zach Lorelli to expand upon the demo. It’s a patient and practiced writing system that has carried the quintet through two EPs (2013’s Mahogany and 2016’s Slop) and one LP (2014’s Tough Love). Forth Wanderers, the group’s sophomore record and Sub Pop Records debut, is the group’s most comprehensive and assured statement yet.

Now living in Ohio and New York respectively, Guterl and Trilling have evolved their separate but collaborative writing process. “The only way I can really write is by myself in my room with a notebook, listening to the song over and over again,” Trilling says. “I’ve never sat down to write a story, I write the song as it unfolds.” Since her lyrics are often embedded with intimate truths from her life, the private writing experience often leads to intense self-reflection.

On Forth Wanderers these introspections include meditations on relationships, discovery, and finding oneself adrift. Despite the inherent heaviness of those themes, Forth Wanderers feels joyous, a rock record bursting with heart. Take “Not for Me,” a romping track about “the ambivalence of love.” Trilling’s confession of “I can’t feel the earth beneath my feet/Flowers bloom but not for me” resists feeling like a dreary, pitying complaint; instead, as her bandmates bolster her melancholy with interlocking harmonic intricacies, she soars with self-actualization. Opener “Nevermine,” is a surge of confidence inspired by an ex-lover who is still captivated by her image. “I don’t think I know who you are anymore/And I think I knew who I was before,” she jabs with relish. On “Ages Ago” Trilling paints the image of a constantly-shifting enigmatic lover. “I wasn’t sure who they were, they changed constantly (hence the metaphor describing the “grey coat” and cutting their hair just to “stay afloat”),” she says. “I wasn’t going to wait any longer to find out.”

http://

Recorded over five days by friend and audio engineer Cameron Konner at his Philadelphia home studio, Forth Wanderers amplifies the heartfelt sentiments of their earlier works into massive anthems. Guterl and Greene’s guitars have never sounded sharper, Schifrin and Lorelli’s terse rhythm section is restless, and Trilling sounds more self-assured than ever. These are exuberant, profound songs driven by tightly bound melodies and a loving attention to detail.

Released April 27th, 2018

Forth Wanderers know how to open an album. The band’s latest album begins with vocalist Ava Trilling boldly declaring, “I am the one you think of when you’re with her”, on their previous album, 2014’s Tough Love, the first words she hums, over solemn guitar harmonics, are “I want to be known as the girl who’s stone cold.”

“I’m still not known as that—it’s still a desire,” she says along with band members Forth Wanderers guitarists Duke Greene and Ben Guterl, the latter of whom is the band’s primary instrumental songwriter. They headlined recently at famous venue Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn there shortly after releasing Slop via Father/Daughter Records, and they’ve opened there for their mutual high school idol, (Sandy) Alex G (later, when Trilling shows me a video of her eight-month-old German Shepherd , “Proud” is playing in the background). It was back in high school that shared musical passions and live music brought Forth Wanderers together; after high school, the band recorded Tough Love just before all its members except Trilling, the youngest, left for college.

One might have expected the physical separation that college can cause—not to mention the emotional maturing it usually brings—to take a toll on the band’s first full-length, written across this distance. Instead, it’s made them tighter. As Trilling tells it, the process of writing Forth Wanderers “was the exact same thing” as with all their previous releases. If anything, the separation only enhanced the band’s charms: Trilling’s featherlight, melancholy singing and radically open-hearted lyrics; Guterl’s gradually unfurling guitar lines, which notably focus more on piercing single notes than on chords; guitarist Duke Greene, bassist Noah Schifrin, and drummer Zach Lorelli’s magical ability to transform Guterl and Trilling’s foundation into mid-tempo rock songs equal parts muscular and downtrodden.

“We never had the relationship where we would sit down and make the song together,” Trilling says. Their songs have always been Internet-born; Forth Wanderers began when Guterl, as Trilling recalls it with a hearty laugh, “kinda slid into my DMs” with a guitar demo. Greene and Guterl laugh, too, suggesting this is a story they recount often. “I shot my shot,” Guterl adds to even more laughter. Trilling then recalls sending a vocal track back to him without his prompting. “I blew his mind,” she jokes, the whole group still cracking up.

It’s clear that, if anything, Forth Wanderers are a strong bunch of friends as bandmates. Trilling, Guterl, and Greene are elated to be, for once, in the same room (“We’re the only friends we have,” Guterl, certainly the most wry and excitable of the three, jokes). These days, their time together is limited: The band had to record Forth Wanderers in just five days, which they did in their close friend Cameron Konner’s Philadelphia home studio.

Not that the band needs much time to perfect its music (in fact, they’d originally reserved two days with Konner). A Forth Wanderers song comes together in many rooms, with no pressures regarding time. On Forth Wanderers, a particularly impressive result of this freeform approach is Trilling’s increasingly confident melodies and lyrics, which she writes at home, alone. “Taste,” her favorite of the new songs, is exceptionally vulnerable. As she describes it, the “narcissistic and petty” viewpoint of “Nevermine” is riveting. And she’s so assertive on “Saunter” that it’s impossible not to root for her.

“After I write [lyrics], it’s therapeutic,” she says, “because I look back and I’m like, ‘Oh shit, that’s how I’m feeling. I had no idea.’” Even across state lines, Forth Wanderers is a space for all its members to relieve their stresses. “Our relationships are all stronger now, because we have this goal that’s really unique,” Guterl says. “We’re like a family in every sense of the word. We fight and work shit out. It’s the good and bad parts of being in a family.”

Band Members:

Ava Trilling (vocals), Ben Guterl (guitar), Zach Lorelli (drums), Duke Greene (guitar), Noah Schifrin (bass)

Forth Wanderers

Forth Wanderers employ a tin-can-telephone style of composition which they use even when living in the same area code. Since first collaborating in 2013 as Montclair, New Jersey high schoolers, guitarist and songwriter Ben Guterl and vocalist Ava Trilling have passed songs back and forth like pen pals. Guterl will devise an instrumental skeleton before sending it to vocalist Ava Trilling who pens the lyrics based off the melody. The duo then gather alongside guitarist Duke Greene, bassist Noah Schifrin, and drummer Zach Lorelli to expand upon their demo. It’s a patient and practiced writing system that has carried the quintet through two EPs (2013’s Mahogany and 2016’s Slop) and one LP (2014’s Tough Love). Forth Wanderers, the group’s sophomore record and Sub Pop Records debut, is the groups’ most comprehensive and assured statement yet. On Forth Wanderers these introspections include meditations on relationships, discovery, and finding oneself adrift. Despite the inherent heaviness of those themes, Forth Wanderers feels joyous, a rock record bursting with heart. Take Not for Me, a romping track about “the ambivalence of love. Opener Nevermine, is a surge of confidence inspired by an ex-lover who is still captivated by her image.

On Ages Ago Trilling paints the image of a constantly-shifting enigmatic lover. “I wasn’t sure who they were, they changed constantly (hence the metaphor describing the “grey coat” and cutting their hair just to “stay afloat”),” she says. “I wasn’t going to wait any longer to find out.” Recorded over five days by friend and audio engineer Cameron Konner at his Philadelphia home studio, Forth Wanderers amplifies the heartfelt sentiments of their earlier works into massive anthems. Guterl and Greene’s guitars have never sounded sharper, Schifrin and Lorelli’s terse rhythm section is restless, and Trilling sounds more self-assured than ever. These are exuberant, profound songs driven by tightly bound melodies and a loving attention to detail.

Forth Wanderers (Release Date: April 27, 2018) Sub Pop Records