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Schizophrenic art-rock’ finds home at Skully’s with mr. Gnome

Courtesy of Sam Meister

For Cleveland husband-and-wife duo mr. Gnome, music can be found in the occurrences of everyday life.

“It’s just where we live, the weather, the moods, and just life,” said Nicole Barile, guitarist and lead vocalist of the group. “We’re definitely a bit spastic and all over the place. I think that just the constant, everyday things that we go through kind of seep into the music.”

Barile’s husband, Sam Meister, plays drums, piano and sings backup vocals.

Mr. Gnome is scheduled to perform at Skully’s Music Diner at 8 p.m Friday.

While mr. Gnome most generally fits into the genre of indie rock, it has elements of psychedelic rock as well.

Barile also draws influence from other female vocalists.

“Not necessarily the rocker girls, but more of the really spacey, pretty, floaty vocals over psychedelic music,” Barile said, referencing singers such as Björk and Beth Gibbons of Portishead.

“I usually call us schizophrenic art-rock,” Barile said.

Barile and Meister both attended Ohio State for a year before transferring to Kent State. There, they formed a band with a few other students. This band eventually dissolved. However, Barile and Meister continued to play and write music together.

Eventually, they began putting on live shows.

“At the end, when we were getting our degrees, that’s when we actually started playing out,” Barile said.

Mr. Gnome released its first EP in 2005. It followed with another EP in 2006, before releasing its first full-length album in 2008. Mr. Gnome released its latest album, titled “Madness in Miniature,” on Oct. 25.

While the title would seem to indicate a turbulent sound, it’s more like a controlled chaos.

“Whether it be a creepy dollhouse goth-lullaby or a fiery guitar maelstrom with Barille’s voice tipping into banshee territory, the band remains fully in command,” said Ned Lannamann of The Portland Mercury.

Barile said that since mr. Gnome formed, it has been progressing in its live performances and in songwriting.

“When we started as a two piece, we didn’t really know what we were doing at all, and we were just so green in general with playing live,” Barile said. “I think we’re a totally different band now. You end up picking up so many tips and just growing from what you’re doing.”

Barile said that she thinks “Madness in Miniature” is the best album the group has released so far.

“What we were going for was a full album that kind of takes you on a trip, on an adventure,” Barile said. “Those were always the albums that I grew up on, and always find myself being drawn to.”

While many of the songs on the album fit together and complement one another well, the range of sounds and the varying moods are also captivating.

“There’s a prog-inflected windiness to the sound that’s a lot closer to a three-act opera than a three-minute pop song,” said Chris Parker of Boise Weekly.

Barile began playing guitar when she was 13 years old. Since then, she has used music as a mode of therapy.

“I was really inspired by music just going through that whole weird stage of life,” Barile said. “Just being able to always turn to the creed of sorts, that was always really neat to me.”

She said that her attraction to music is driven by “that therapeutic process of kind of turning off your brain and just zoning out for a little bit.”

Barile attributes the bands growing popularity to hard work and dedication.

“We’ve just been working really hard for the last couple years and just kind of pouring our hearts into our records and our shows and just spending a lot of time on them,” Barile said.

This dedication does not seem likely to stop any time soon.

“We’re getting ready to tour again in the spring, and probably just start working on the new record,” she said. “We definitely have some creative juices flowing.”

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