Courtesy of mr. Gnome
Layering looping guitar riffs and vocals along with heavy drumbeats creates the psychedelic and schizophrenic sound that is mr. Gnome.
The band, which self produces all of its album artwork, T-shirts and videos, is scheduled to perform at Skully’s Music-Diner with The Town Monster at 9 p.m. Saturday.
With backgrounds in art education and video production, singer and guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer and keyboardist Sam Meister use their experiences to create almost every aspect of their albums.
“When we started mr. Gnome, it was an opportunity to start being able to put a picture to a complete album by being (able) to create the covers which was really cool, same with the videos,” Barille said.
The album cover for “Madness in Miniature,” for example, is of a brown and white bunny with a gas mask sitting in a wheat field with yellow and orange suns sinking into green rolling hills behind it. In the sky, creatures indistinguishable as angels or demons fly around with arrows loaded into their homemade bows.
Mr. Gnome draws on inspirations such as art nouveau, folk art, surrealist art and touring for their art.
“We take a lot of pictures when we are on the road and we just get to see so many things, so I think that definitely inspires what we are doing,” Barille said.
The band started after Barille and Meister got out of a performing arts college in Cleveland.
“We were playing in a band with a couple of other people, but we never left the basement,” Barille said. “Sam and I started jamming on our own with a couple of song ideas that I had, and that’s how it all started.”
Mr. Gnome’s music is difficult for even Barille to describe.
“I am bad at describing our music, but its definitely schizophrenic, psychedelic and a little punk rock,” Barille said. “It’s kind of all over the place.”
The way mr. Gnome creates its music is very different from many five-piece bands, Barille said.
“I play the guitar and sing, and Sam the drums and some keys,” Barille said. “I do some live looping, the guitar parts and vocals are layered on top of each other.”
Barille said it took some years and practice before the band became what it is today.
“The first year or two were definitely a painful experience of being very green and trying to become better performers,” Barille said.
Adapting what it records into a live setting can be a challenge to a two-person band, but mr. Gnome seems to enjoy it.
“Between two people, that can be difficult and kind of a challenge, but that’s kind of the fun of it,” Barille said.
In November, “Rolling Stone” named mr. Gnome a “Band to Watch” for the upcoming year, a feat Barille said was crazy.
“Mr. Gnome’s third album evokes the dada bounce of local heroes Pere Ubu, as well as the giddily overheated primitivism of that other Midwestern boy-girl team; they may amble into a toy-piano interlude or let loose an anxious caterwaul over a Sabbath-worthy brick wall of a riff,” said Andrew Flanagan, writer for “Rolling Stone.”
Some mr. Gnome fans said they love the layers and Barille’s haunting voice.
“While listening to ‘Sit Up & Hum’ off ‘Heave Your Skeleton,’ my ears are that of a child at story time,” said Jayna Holehouse, 22, from Plain City, Ohio. “The ebb & flow of mr. Gnome’s music leaves you shaking.”
Tickets are $7 at the door the day of the show. This event is 18-years and up.