Q&A w/ Marvin LeeAndru Gomez is a musician who was born and raised in the Lewis-Clark Valley. He relocated to the Palouse and plays quite often in and around the Quad Cities. He has a show coming up at Hogan’s Pub in Clarkston later this month. I decided it was time to sit down with Andru in the office of Canter’s Idaho, a Lewiston bar, and talk shop.
Marvin Lee: How did you get into music? I know you play both guitar and drums. Which one did you learn to play first?
Andru Gomez: I got into music when I was about 15 as a player, and guitar was my first instrument. I had been listening to music before that for a long time because of my father. I used to listen to his vinyl records as a kid. Then I picked up drums a few years later after learning to play guitar. A good friend of mine named Brad Parsons played guitar when we were kids, and I just thought it was cool. I got the bug and started playing guitar every day for, like, hours. I probably sounded terrible.
You play as a solo artist and with a band called Astronaut and the Trees. I like both incarnations. What I want to know is: Why the band name Astronaut and the Trees?
AG: Yeah, my drummer Will Thompson thought of The Trees. I told him I had wanted something Northwestern but I didn’t want it to sound macho or like some crazy band name. I just wanted something that was kind of basic, and he said why not call it The Trees? After we started playing as The Trees for about three months we found there were a lot of bands named The Trees on YouTube and iTunes. We already had a hundred ‘likes’ on Facebook, so we had one shot to change our band name, so we decided to just add something to it. I just added Astronaut to the beginning of it because I think Astronauts are really cool, hence Astronaut and the Trees!
How did you and Will Thompson come together to form a band?
AG: I used to play drums in a band called The Spine before I started doing my solo work again. I mean, I used to play in bands before The Spine. I used to play in a band with my good friend Brian Baugh before The Spine for about three years. I got an itch to play my own songs again, so I started jamming with Will. We originally started playing my original solo acoustic songs, where he is playing drums, then after about a year of that we started playing electric-based songs. That is why I have two groups.
TLC or En Vogue?
AG: TLC, because at the freshman dance I danced with a girl to the song Waterfalls. It’s such a good song! Red Light Special by TLC is the very first song I danced to with a girl.
I recently heard one of your songs called ‘The Bird.’ I liked it very much. Is that particular song released, and if so where can we find it?
AG: Yes, it is out! It’s available on bandcamp.com. You can search Astronaut and the Trees on that Website, and it will come up. … What people don’t realize on the song is we are a two-man band, and the song is heavy. We use loops. I split my guitar sound into a guitar amplifier and a bass amplifier, and that is the first song recording where we used that sound, and it does sound much bigger than two people. The song started as a slide guitar riff I just made up during a jam practice, and it remained virtually unchanged. We just fine-tuned the song. It was a total inspired moment.
I imagine with your band having a new single out, you guys probably have some shows lined up. Would you mind sharing those dates with us?
AG: We’re playing two shows with a band called Sorority from Coeur d’Alene. The first show is at Hogan’s Pub Friday, Feb. 20. The second show is the following night in Coeur d’Alene at a place called Hogfish Bar & Grill. I am also playing a solo show at The Cider House, in Pullman, Feb. 5 for the release of their pear cider. I am also playing every Thursday night at Merry Cellars Winery in Pullman.
Do you have any pointers or advice for someone who wants to get into playing music?
AG: I would say find at least 10 to 15 minutes a day to play. Don’t be worried about the way you sound. Have fun with it. Do a little bit every day, and you will get there. I also think learning songs is a great way to learn your style. If you like playing something, keep playing it and don’t worry too much about the direction. The song will find a way to let itself out.