Although you don’t generally think of a Rock’N’Roll road show as the ideal setting for a married couple, Atlanta-based, psych-leaning, garage rockers Gringo Star and Shantih Shantih think otherwise… Nicholas and Peter Furgiuele of Gringo Star are currently on tour alongside their wives, Julia Furgiuele and Anna Barattin, who make up one-half of Shantih Shantih. Gringo Star are currently touring behind their fourth LP, The Sides and in Between, while Shantih Shantih are touring behind their debut LP, Winter in September, both released last year. The bands will be in town tonight and playing our very own Boot & Saddle. A few weeks ago I got the chance to chat with Julia, Anna, and Nicholas about their recent musical highlights, inspirations, and what it’s like to all be on the road together.
Izzy Cihak: First off, considering this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I’m curious your thoughts on the city. Any shows or experiences particularly stand out?
Anna Barattin: We are really excited about coming to Philadelphia again. Two years ago we played Johnny Brenda’s. It was so fun, but we didn’t have much time to look around. Last year we were at Bourbon and Branch drinking beer without realizing we were really close to a lot of things to see… Oops. Third time’s the charm!
Nicholas Furgiuele: A few years ago we hooked up with Justin from Sailor Jerry’s and he took us to the downtown storefront (Is that still there?). He’s a really awesome dude. We got to play a couple songs live in the store, had a song on a Sailor Jerry’s comp, and he hooked us up with a box of rum. We also really enjoy playing Johnny Brenda’s, we’ve been there the last couple times through.
Izzy: Unfortunately, the Sailor Jerry’s store has been closed for quite a few years now. And how is the music and arts scene in Atlanta at the moment? Is Little Five Points still cool, or have the bros taken over (like everywhere else)? I used to love it there, but I haven’t been in like almost 20 years.
Julia Furgiuele: The music/arts scene in the ATL is definitely thriving and full of talent and diversity—it’s what makes Atlanta so great. Little Five Points never really changes. Restaurants and retail come and go but the vibe there remains the same.
Nicholas: Yeah, Atlanta is doing great. Little Five Points is still cool, but now some other upcoming neighborhoods are blowing up with venues and art spaces. There are a lot of bands and artists from all over the city that are pushing hard and making great music and art. Lots of local festivals and lots of artists and musicians taking their creations from all over the world spreading positive messages and beauty.
Izzy: You’ve each been quite busy with your music recently. What have been some of the highlights of the past year or so for you?
Julia: Our last European tour in December was a highlight for sure. With support from our label, Wild Honey, we had a finely tuned run of dates in places we hadn’t visited yet, such as Germany and the Netherlands.
Nicholas: Our new album came out last fall on L.A. label Nevado Music, and we’ve been touring everywhere we can ever since. The USA/Canada tour was great, but getting to play Europe is always the trip of a lifetime. It was one of our best tours as a band. We got to play Spain for the first time, and a bunch of spots we’ve been before. We also joined up with The Orwells on a few EU shows at some historic buildings in Brussells and Amsterdam. Really nice dudes.
Izzy: This is a super personal question, but the tour’s press release compares Shantih Shantih to Beach Day (now known as The Carries), who are my favorite people in all of music. Are you actually friends or fans of the Hollywood, Florida sunshine punk (a term that I inadvertently coined, but that Kimmy loves) band?
Julia: Can’t say we are familiar with Beach Day, but we will check them out!
Izzy: What brought about the idea to do a “couples tour?” I’m sure it’s nice to be out with your built-in support system but, in classical way, it’s also very “un-Rock’N’Roll” [laughs].
Julia: Shantih tries to tour as much as possible with respect to our individual schedules but the Gringo’s are no doubt a professional touring band. There are huge chunks of the year that we don’t see each other so the chance for both bands to gig and be together is a kick-ass opportunity. Sharing gas expense ain’t that bad either [laughs]!
Nicholas: It’s always nice to tour with friends. We’ve done a lot of tours and shows, and when you have a camaraderie with the other bands, it immediately becomes more cohesive and enjoyable.
Izzy: What do you suspect will be the most regularly-played van music on this trek? It there currently anything you’re listening to a lot of?
Julia: The Shantih girls dig everything from ’50s girl groups to ’80s post punk. The fabulous Kinks are always a pleaser and we may listen to some Unknown Mortal Orchestra to beat the heat.
Nicholas: I just got this tape while we were out at Treefort Fest in Boise, at this great record shop there called The Record Exchange. It’s a ’30s compilation… Judy Garland, Count Basie and stuff. This, and a Sam Cooke Live from Harlem Square Club record have been pretty steady lately.
Izzy: And what about food? What’s your favorite road food? Do you think you’ll tend to all eat together, or that the bands will break off based on individual tastes?
Julia: Mexican food is the common thread. We can all agree on that. Most of us are vegetarian so usually it comes down to finding that option and a quality local coffee shop.
Nicholas: Usually, a little of both. Definitely Mexican food is a favorite. We’ve tried on the past few USA tours to bring a little camping stove and make a meal or two a day. That’s kinda the best when you have time. Find a park or scenic overlook or something. Saves tons of money and you eat better than at a gas station or fast food. But when the drives get long, time gets short, and it gets a little harder to keep up.
Izzy: What can be expected of the evening when you play Boot & Saddle?
Julia: Shantih is excited to play Boot and Saddle and play a high energy set with a couple of new tunes included in there. Anna B might even sing a song in Italian.
Nicholas: Gringo will be playing mostly tracks from our new album, The Sides and in Between, but also mixing in a few off the previous three albums.
Izzy: And what’s next for each of you? How are you hoping and planning to spend the second half of 2017?
Anna: We’ve been recording our new album and we plan to finish it after this tour. It’s a little different from the previous one and somewhat more organic. We can’t wait for it to be ready!
Nicholas: After this tour with Shantih we’re playing a few festivals and some regional one-offs/weekends around the Southeast. Then we are heading back to Europe at the end of Aug and Sept for some dates. In between the shows, we’ll be working on the next album. We’ve got about half the tracks towards a new album, so we’re planning to stay in the studio as much as we can.