On Baghdad by the Bay, February 23: Interview with Vir, Geographer and Carlos Forster

23 02 2012

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Vir are a post punk, noise pop trio based in the SF Bay Area, comprised of Sam Sloane (Vox, Guitar) Natasha Arens (Bass) and Jeff Paul (Drums). Vir experiment with elements of post punk, psychedelic noise and shoegaze to conjure up a glacial, dark and dynamic sound. Based in Oakland, CA but with roots in Christchurch New Zealand, Vir has a binding affinity with many Kiwi post-punk trios such as the Gordons, Bailter Space and HDU. Vir released their 1st full Length “Shadow of a Mountain” in 2008. 2nd lp “Gillespie” appeared on Vibraphone records in July 2010 along with several elaborate DIY music videos. The band has just finished their 3rd lp “Engineers” with a tentative release date in May 2012. While keeping busy with local and out of town shows, Vir we’re Invited to play Noise Pop 20, opening for Bob Mould.

Their debut LP Innocent Ghosts captures these feelings of loss and loneliness, but also manages to bring out a sense of hope and exuberance. The marriage of Deni’s lush falsetto, Blaz’s romantically textured cello and Ostreicher’s pulsing rhythms exude a maturity of craft and cohesion often found in bands that have been playing together far longer. The self-released record immediately caught the attention of local and national critics, prompting SPIN Magazine to dub the trio “One of the Three Bands You Should Hear Now.”

In 2010, the band released the Animal Shapes EP along with a 7” single for the song Kites. The EP merges Geographer’s aptitude for crafting beautiful, haunting melodies with a knack for ethereal, layered sounds, marking an evolution of their distinct style. The EP garnered considerable praise, landing on several ‘Best Of’ lists including the SF Weekly’s ‘Best Local Version of Radiohead’ nod.

Amidst the flurry of live performances, the band took a break only to hit the studio to record the collection of songs that were to embody their next full-length album: Myth. The album proves that the band is taking their sonic exploration to new levels. Utilizing each member’s multi-instrumental backgrounds, the record finds Geographer creating distinctive sounds through varied instrumentation. Dynamic head-bobbers such as ‘The Myth of Youth’ and ‘Lover’s Game’ highlight the band’s ability to weave driving rock anthems with romantic nostalgia. “I wonder if I’m here for nothing. I wonder if I’m here at all. I wonder if I’ll ever love you for who you are,” Deni laments on Lover’s Game. Songs like ‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘The Boulder’ showcase a darker, sexier approach to groove that brings a more intimate element to the record.

With Myth, Geographer continues to navigate new territory, leaving us in anticipation of what will be revealed next. With such a bold album and an electric live show that breathes even more intensity into the songs, the journey seems to have only just begun.

Carlos Forster
It started out as a way of simply getting together. Old college friends, Carlos Forster and Matt Ward began looking for opportunities to connect on weekends. Scattered over several years going all the way back to 2003, Forster spent a number of weekends in the Pacific Northwest with Ward, hiking and swimming in destinations like The Columbia Gorge and Sandy River, between leisurely recording Forster’s songs.

No stranger to recording, Forster contributed backing vocals to Ward’s debut album Duet for Guitars #2, released in 1998. More notably, he helmed the San Francisco band for Stars from the late nineties to 2002, producing three acclaimed albums for the independent label Future Farmer (also home to early M. Ward recordings). In the wake of the band’s dissolution Forster went on to study and then practice psychoanalytic theory and psychotherapy. He now works in private practice and community metal health in San Francisco.



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