Nashville rock trio The By Gods don’t waste time. Their latest album, “Get On Feelings” (recorded at Carl Amburn’s Oklahoma barn studio, Mousetrap) packs nine alt rock uppercuts, only three of which clock in at over three minutes. They have a sound that some compare to legendary 90s rock acts such as Fugazi and Bob Mould. The By Gods eschew a trendy fuzziness for a straight-forward rock attitude. Their pounding drums, catchy harmonies and sly lyrics evoke more a vulnerability than their “I really don’t care” posturing may indicate. “I’m 45/ Drunk and stupid spinnin’ most my life/ Too young to die, but old enough to make me realize/ It’s been a long lonely road…” belts lead singer/guitarist George Pauley on “Gave Away.”
IndyBuild had a chance to chat with George Pauley, Tye Hammonds (drums) and Natalie Pauley (bass) of The By Gods. At the time, they were in the studio working on the follow-up to “Get On Feelings.” Read below to learn about the trio’s views on being compared to legendary bands, using social media for attention and disconnecting from your own music.
The Road to Becoming the By Gods
IB: What lead all three of you to The By Gods?
George Pauley: Me and Tye have been playing together since freshman year of college at University of Louisiana at Monroe. That band broke up and then we moved to Nashville in 2005. He started playing with a really awesome band in Hunstville. After [the] Hunstville band disbanded he moved back to Nashville and we started playing The By Gods stuff. We were originally a two piece just to keep it simple because we’re really good friends, we’re roommates and it was just easy; no drama, no new chemistry to work out in the band.
Natalie Pauley: I started playing with them around March 2015. Our first show was in April 2015, so yeah… [laughs]. I just started playing bass that year. Basically they needed a bass player so George bought me a bass. I started learning it and we started playing together… I never played bass before last March.
Talk a bit about “Get On Feelings” and what kind of mood you were attempting to capture.
GP: We’ve been recording with Carl [Amburn] for a long time now. He has a sound that we always try to go for [with] every project we have. Comparing this one to the last album, we just wanted to do the same thing, I did at least, with the songs; just keeping the pop, simple, 3-minute songs or less. I wanted to try and introduce a few different chord arrangements and make this album a little bigger than the last one.
Dealing with Social Media
You’ve also talked about how “On The Radio” is your reaction to bands begging for attention online. How as a group do you approach that aspect that every artist sort of has to do, which is building buzz, using social media, etc.?
GP: It’s something we have to do but we feel like we don’t do a good job, or we don’t do it enough. I just see a lot of bands that… it’s all they talk about. And it’s all I talk about too, but it gets on my nerves when some of my friends talk about their bands 24/7 on Facebook and whatnot. So I kind of use those as examples of what I shouldn’t do… But sometimes I feel like I should, I don’t know…
Who Compares and What’s the Response
You’ve also been compared to so many 90s bands from Foo Fighters, Fugazi, Nirvana, etc. Are those comparisons limiting for your creative process or are they exhilarating?
NP: I’m going to try and answer this but I’m basically answering for George… I think a lot of those bands we’re compared to are definitely big influences on all of us. George writes most the songs and we all come together creatively in the end. When people compare us to those bands it’s almost like you can’t believe it. It’s awesome, but you just kind of makes you have to do more or be better, which isn’t a bad thing…
GP: It’s cool because Natalie had two or three years of an outside perspective on what we sound like and what we’re doing. It was never a bad thing, like, “You guys have a 90s sound or whatever.” I don’t hear it…
NP: I don’t think any of us here that, it’s weird. None of us think we sound “90s” but we always get that.
GP: I think a lot of it has to do with the sound of the records. The drums sound really real, they sound like those 90s drums that were big then; those huge, real-sounding drums. You don’t hear that a lot now especially with garage rock that is out, it’s just this over-fuzzed, lo-fi sound that is huge right now. For indie bands at least, you don’t hear that very often lately.
Was that something Mousetrap worked with you on? How did you achieve that?
GP: It’s just the sound Carl [Amburn, producer] gets with the drums. It’s why we go to him. His drums are awesome. Tye is a really good drummer and we really want other drummers to hear him play. We want a drummer to like the album as much as a singer or guitar player or somebody who just likes rock. [Those are] the records we like, even if it’s not the best song, if they drums are cool we still love it.
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today with The By Gods?
GP: Trying so hard. With all the bands I was in before this, I was always trying to write these deep songs that meant something. It’s stupid for me. I cringe when I listen to that stuff. But now, I’m kind of disconnected to some of this a little bit… It’s nothing super personal. It’s maybe a view I have or a story idea, or something real simple, and I like that. Now I can listen to this stuff and play it and I’m not super attached to it in that way where it’s something that has some deep meaning I’m trying to get across.
Sometimes the songs that are most effective are the ones with melodies that just get hooked with you…
GP: Right, that’s the main thing I look for is the melody. I almost could care less what the words are. The bands I liked in the 90s were like that; the lyrics sometimes didn’t even make sense, but I love it because the voice and the melody just worked together.
How do you arrive at deciding how often you are going to put out music vs. how often you are going to go out on the road?
GP: I think we just try to put out as much as we can. A lot of bands will put out a record and you won’t hear from them. They’ll do their tour then just kind of die out for a few years. With indie bands or bands that aren’t signed, I don’t feel like that works that well because you don’t have any momentum. I’m always trying to write some stuff and as soon as we can we’re trying to get up here to Norman, [Oklahoma] and record, get the album in our back pocket and [be] ready to go whenever there’s a spot when it’s just going to be dead for a while.
So you’re recording a third album right now. Can you talk a bit about the sound of that one?
GP: We just finished all the drums. It’s the same genre, same thing, but I wanted to try more unexpected bridges, stops and punches. I really wanted a song that starts with bass, just little things make the big difference in this one compared to “Get On Feelings.” It’s got a little bit more of a minor sound. Natalie is going to be singing on a lot of it, but it’s still got that Mousetrap sound to it that we like.
The By Gods are currently on tour. Check their upcoming dates here, and grab “Get On Feelings” here.