If you know New Jersey music, chances are you know Eric Goldberg and Frank DeFranco. Fixtures on the local indie rock scene for close to a decade, they have not only been creating engaging and vital music with bands like NGHTCRWLRS and Delicate Flowers, they have also brought a much needed spotlight to many bands trying to get to the next level with their label Sniffling Indie Kids (SIK)–currently on the backburner due to their other endeavors. Delicate Flowers released their Die Project Unit II album last July with proceeds going to the Community Food Band of NJ but besides that things have been relatively quiet on the musical front for them both. This is understandable. With marriages, starting families, and the pandemic, lots of priorities have shifted.
But, musicians gotta music, and they don’t always go in one direction. In fact the most creative musicians are always looking for new ideas and techniques. Goldberg and DeFranco have now taken their indie rock acumen and added a healthy dose of electronic music to bring forth their exciting new project, Room 1000 Years Wide.
There have been hints here and there of their burgeoning interest in electronic music. On January 1st of this year Goldberg released a solo effort, 3ric Goldb3rg, which was his first attempt at mixing his previous work with electronic music. With DeFranco’s fascination with pedals and effects he was a natural addition to this type of songwriting. It has culminated in their new fascinating self-titled EP which will be released in August. Though relatively new to using electronic elements in their music you wouldn’t know it from Room 1000 Years Wide. It sounds modern, cohesive and intense.
Opener “Let Yourself” propels itself on an incredible bass grove reminiscent of Peter Hook’s work in Joy Division and New Order. Touches of guitar and a wicked drum loop are used perfectly. The fuzzed out ending is wonderful and reminds me what U2 were trying to do with sampling and loops on Pop, a vastly underrated album. “Here”, which we premiere below has ingenious touches of goth and techno. Goldberg channels Billy Corgan with his vocal delivery. You think the band might go crazy with synths and programming as their “new toy” but they work in these elements splendidly using the base of their indie rock sound. Elsewhere they get new wave and funky on “Eternal Sound” which echos the Talking Heads, Brian Eno produced song “I Zimbra” or head to Madchester with the bright “May Tomorrow Never End”.
We got together on Zoom to find out a bit more about the project. “We’re just happy you didn’t hate it,” said DeFranco.
How did this project come about?
Frank: It was something we always talked about doing. We always wanted to incorporate elements of electronic music and really explore that area but we never actually did it. Once we kinda learned how, and some of that help came from Joe Lanza who we ran SIK with, we kinda just got into a groove. We locked ourselves in a room for six and a half hours straight and wrote the first song together. We sat on that first song for a while until we were really ready to commit to doing more and had the time to focus in on it. We had always been in guitar rock based bands but wanted to do something a little bit different.
Eric: I don’t even know what spurred it. I honestly have no idea why we got together for this project the first time. As Frank mentioned our friend Joe showed us how to program drums and we said “let’s mess around with this” so we did and it turned out pretty cool. Since that went well we decided to keep getting together once in a while to work on it. And this was about 2 years ago when we started working on the first song so this has been in the making for a while.
How did the pandemic affect the collaboration?
Eric: What is interesting is we actually did most of the recording before the pandemic.
Frank: Literally right before it.
Eric: We finished it on our own by sending the files back and forth to each other once everything closed down. I had to do the vocals on my own but we had already done the guitar stuff together. Skylar Adler from Delicate Flowers mixed and mastered it. So we have been sitting on it for a while. Frank has a baby boy last July and I had one in March so we’ve both been like super busy.
Frank: To Eric’s point I think a lot of people got into the file sharing thing once COVID happened because they didn’t have an outlet. Eric and I were mostly done before the lockdown happened. We do have a second one that’s at this point 50% done that we were working on during the pandemic. But definitely “dad life” limited what we were able to do. What happened for me was I slowed down real hard at first. Then once Eric had a kid too I knew exactly what he was going through so I said I’m not even going to talk to you for two months. It’s exciting now because my little guy is going to be one in a week and Eric’s boy will be 5 months soon. We hung out for the first time recently.
Is Room 1000 Years Wide a one off type thing or do you see it as a long term venture?
Frank: If Eric’s onboard I’m down to keep doing it. It’s a different type of songwriting experience for us. The types of bands that Eric and I have been in it were either Eric would come to the band with a song or I would or someone would have an idea for a song and we would jam it out live in a room and then write and in a few hours you have something. With this what was so interesting was we really got to build layer upon layer upon layer together. For this first one we would lock ourselves in his basement or a room in my apartment and we’d be there for hours programming every snare hit and base drum. It was looser and more free-form in some ways, more groove oriented with the electronic element. I’d like to do this, honestly, for the foreseeable future. We have Delicate Flowers as our indie rock outfit but this is a really good “let’s experiment and throw things at the wall and see what falls into place” kinda thing.
Eric: We’ve been wanting to mess around with electronic stuff for years but we never did it. Part of that is because it’s not that easy to do it in a live space environment. When you’re in a band and everyone is in the same room it’s like “Well, I play this instrument” or I’m the bassist” or “I play the guitar,” but in this project Frank and I could be anything. Whoever has the idea could just go for it. Frank could program drums for one song and I can be on bass. Next song we can switch it up depending on the idea. A lot of back-and-forth and it it pretty cool that way.
The band name was taken from the title of a Soundgarden song. Why Room 1000 Years Wide?
Frank: We had a hard time coming up with a name. We first came up with Titanaboa, which is a giant, ancient snake. Right before we started to get our materials together to move on it a band by that name popped up on Spotify. We then threw a bunch of names around but what stuck out about Room 1000 Years Wide was that it sounded huge, massive. Just the description, the concept of using time to measure length. Just the visualization of the name reflected what we were trying to do with the music. We wanted something that was big and wide and vast. Also, Eric and I are big Soundgarden fans.
Eric: It was almost called Panini Head. Then one night we were brainstorming and came up with Room 1000 Years Wide just fit the music better.
Frank: Don’t be surprised if you see something from me called Panini Head.
Were you fans of electronic music before this? Influences?
Frank: Eric and I both think one of the biggest door openers to electronic music for us was Nine Inch Nails. We both really love Trent Reznor’s genius. For me personally, I’ve always enjoyed electronic components within music, not just pure electronic music. Like Broken Social Scene from time to time will have really cool electronic elements. It’s reflects what we are doing. It’s not necessarily electronic but where we use guitar and drum rhythms and then we add all these tools available to us that we would never normally use in the process.
Eric: I was into it a little bit. I got into Aphex Twin the past couple of years. Delicate Flowers guitarist Donnie Law showed me this electronic album from Mort Garson called Mother Earth’s Plantasia. It was a 70s album made for plants to listen to. It was really pretty, weird synth music. It’s also orchestral and I like that stuff. Billie Eilish is a contemporary influence. Her first album knocked me out. It just sounds amazing, the way it’s recorded. The way she blends so much together. It’s genreless. Her and Nine Inch Nails are the biggest influences for me because they combine elements so well.
Frank: One other influence I want to throw out there is another large influence in a different kind of way is guitarist Nick Reinhart. He’s from this band Tera Melos. He is someone I worship when it comes to the use of guitar pedals and effects. In a live setting, as with our former band NGHTCRWLRS, I always had this huge pedal board that I would be hopping around and stomping on. In a studio type setting we have a lot more play around room. Eric and I would plug and play and come up with different ideas. Use effects mixed with a computer. That exploratory side expanded for this project the capabilities of what we could do. I can’t praise Reinhart enough.
Do you envision playing this music live?
Eric: I’d be down to do it if we could find a way to do it. Maybe with loop pedals. It would we cool but tough.
Frank: That’s an interesting question. I won’t say no but here is part of the complication of doing it. For the first song it starts with one bass line, then another bass line then yet another bass line. So three active baselines. It would require us to put together an ensemble of eight people to do it. It would be difficult but awesome.
You mentioned you’re unsure on how people will receive the new project. Why?
Eric: We do think it is really cool. However, I just never have done something like this before. This kind of songwriting is like problem solving in a way. You can’t jam it out. You come up with a sweet riff or drum beat and build on top of it. We would built half a song which would be awesome and then figure out what to add. I released some songs under my own name that were similar to these and felt a little weird then, too. It’s because it’s so different. The tracks are a bit out there. I’m not sure what exact genre to even call this. Maybe because some of the influences aren’t considered cool contributed to being unsure. I’ve recently gotten into nu metal again.
Frank: I think these is some unsureness on our side because it is so vastly different than what we’ve ever really done before. But we really enjoyed it or we wouldn’t have kept the songs. I think historically Eric and I have a pretty good ear for what was good and what wasn’t good in the songwriting process from our past bands so we feel good about what we made but it’s so jarringly different from anything we’ve done in the past plus it’s hard to explain what it is. I think that is where the uncertainty comes from. But at the same time, we’ve been doing this for so fucking long at this point we need to explore new territory. It feels good to not care and just do.
Album Art = Husband & Wife Duo
Band Logo / Cover Design by Aaron Balavram
Album Art by Jasmine Jedrasik
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