The Gluons
by Kevin J. Elliott

Dayton, Ohio, circa 1993, was a boom-town for indie-rock, and as a wide-eyed teenager, there likely wasn’t a better place in the country for a crash course in DIY culture. Once the record stores closed, though, the loft studios and performance spaces converted back to warehouses. The major players’ tragedies and triumphs taking them beyond the city limits, Dayton returned to being just another dot along 1-75, with few reasons to hit the exit ramp. Maybe that’s over-romanticizing time spent cruising Brown Street, seeing GBV play a VFW hall or Braniac destroy the concrete slab of the Newspace or a Saturday afternoon previewing Scorched Earth Policy cassettes at Trader Vic’s, but those sorts of experiences have gone missing. Dayton’s like the mysterious island on Lost, unable to return to that time, stuck in a perpetual state of decay.

Building something out of nothing in this new century is Squid’s Eye Records, a collective of bands with colorful names and even more colorful sounds. And sticking out like a sour thumb from that pile are the Gluons. The duo of Andrew Ashbrook and Matt Rose has only been together for two years, but has already produced an endearing barrage of pop noise on two releases, Meet the Gluons and the recent Gluons Forever. Both exhibit a post-Braniac schizoid clash of brash electronics and lo-fi garage histrionics, the perfect antidote for a Dayton without a distinct heartbeat. Some have even called them Dayton’s first “shitgaze” band, even if the tag has become hard to attach to anyone except the bands that invented the term.

Before the Gluons take the stage for their virgin Columbus show at the Agit Reader–curated bash on March 7 at Cafe Bourbon Street, I got them to reveal all their secrets and maybe shed some light on why Dayton has hit such a slump.

Can you think back to the day that you decided to start the band? What prompted you to actually do it?

Andrew Ashbrook: Totally. It was snowing outside and we were real stoned, playing Smash Bros. on the 64. We were at Matt’s old apartment, and this was all like 2006, I think... I know we were at least 19. We were listening to Suicide’s second record and we just got to talking about it. ”Let’s start a band.” And then we made love on acid.

Matt Rose: Yeah, something like that. Interesting, yes?

Where did you come up with the name Gluons?

AA: We didn’t, actually. An old girlfriend of mine came up with it. She was into science. I told her about what we were doing, and she suggested “Gluons.” So we voted between that and “World Friends United.” Who knows what could’ve been.

Are you both originally from Dayton? Were you around during the big boom of the mid-90s? And if so, what did you take from that time that influenced what you do now?

MR: I‘m of English decent, born in Upper Hayford, England. During the Great Eclipse of the mid-90s, I was very young, still playing with action figures and dumpster diving.

AA: I was born in Houston, Texas. We weren’t even 10 when Dayton was a happening scene. I don’t know, I’m not really a ’90s man. I just don’t have that go-go attitude. But Kim Deal can blow me any day.

So this is one I always ask. Fill in the blanks: In 10th grade I was listening to ___ in the ___ doing ___ with ___ .

AA: In 10th grade I was listening to Metal Box in the suburbs doing acid with my mother.

MR: In 10th grade I was listening to myself play guitar in my bedroom doing beer with Andy, among other retards.

I haven’t seen an actual rock show in Dayton for years and it seems like a lot of the old venues cease to exist. Do you think that the scene in Dayton is still healthy?

MR: I don’t like the scene in Dayton. I don’t think there’s much of one anyway. Most of the people around here already have their own expectations of what a “Dayton band” should sound like. But it all sounds like shit to me.

AA: It’s true that everything is closing. It’s hard for us to get gigs. We had the Acid Fever House for about a year. That was the place to be, let me tell you. But that’s all over with now. I can’t say if the scene is healthy or not. I don’t really care.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Squid’s Eye Records. How did you get involved with that? Can you elaborate about some of your favorite bands on the label?

AA: I met Tony at a party I was throwing one week when my parents were out of town. I had never seen him before, and he was invited over by Brian Baker and his friends. Anyways, it was my first time trying mushrooms so I was a bit on edge, and Tony and I just weren’t clicking. That’s the nice way to put it. I ended up chasing everyone out of my house that night with this broken mic stand so I could listen to a Stereolab album. Scott Deadelus was the only one who stayed because he locked himself in my bathroom with this chick he was with. So for the next year or so we didn’t speak, but then I moved into this house with the Baker Bros. and our dealer. Tony was always over there because he wanted to start this label based around them. And with a few kind words here and there, he eventually listened to our album and gave it the seal of approval. That’s how we became involved with Squid’s Eye.

I was told originally that you guys were “the first shitgaze band from Dayton.” So I was really intrigued to hear the music. It does have that sensibility to it—extreme fidelity, broken riffs, constant noise. Did bands like Psychedelic Horseshit and Times New Viking have any influence over you?

MR: No, we didn’t know about Times New Viking until Jon Lorenz (Skull Lab/Art Damage Lodge) told us we sounded like them.

AA: Yeah, it was a pleasant surprise. We’ve never spoken to any of them before. It would be nice to meet them. Psychedelic Horseshit is a wonderful name for a band.

Haven’t had the chance to see you live yet, but I was curious to know how much you incorporate the electronic detritus from the recordings into your show?

AA: Well, we’ve been using a drum machine for years. That’s electronic, I think. Matt and I are getting sick of playing guitars, so we’ve been using the keyboards more and more.

MR: Our recordings have volleys of pleasant melodies. When we perform live, both of us play several instruments at once in order to sound exactly like our recorded masterpieces.

AA: Uh-huh, volleys of everything.

When you started making Gluons Forever, how did you want it to differ from Meet the Gluons?

MR: We use more synth and keyboards in Gluons Forever, see? The songs are more poppy too!  It’s a thousand times more dynamic than the first album. I hope everyone loves it as much as I do.

AA: Radical. The first album is all guitars, just lots of flange and phaser, wah-wah’s, etc. Some of the tracks are heavily treated. This one is more calculated. It’s also shorter, but with more songs. We’ve got about 17 right now, most of them about a minute or so. Been listening to a lot of Gene Defcon lately. We’re releasing it ourselves. It’s the wave of the future baby.

You told me you guys were interested in doing film and zines in addition to the records. How has that been going? Can you elaborate on what that project will be?

MR: I don’t know what you’re talking about; all we do is make music.

AA: We would absolutely love to do some film work, but no one has the balls to help us out with it. We want to make something that’s like Help! meets The Holy Mountain. But who gives a fuck, it won’t happen anytime soon. I’m working on a visual companion piece to Gluons Forever right now, lots of collages, an essay or two. And I made a poster, our first ever poster. Clearly things are starting to look up for us.

I’ve had a tough time interpreting a lot of the lyrics, so I’m not sure if you’ve got any constant themes in your songs. I do know you have a lot of songs about girls. Is that a reflection of the Gluons getting a lot of action or none at all?

AA: I get laid like it’s my job.

MR: I have a girlfriend and all that. Hopefully one day we’ll get married. Wish me luck guys and pray for me.