New York synth-pop duo, Great Good Fine Ok‘s fourth EP, GGFOUR has been released to the world. In talking to vocalist Jon Sandler as the band was en route to an Atlanta tour stop, there was a sense of both relief and excitement. Excitement because there is always that emotion present when you are about to release music. Relief from a sense that he was able to process what he was going through into an eclectic and funny body of work.
GGFOUR makes you both want to dance and to reflect on things. Just like in life, you can either make peace with the rain and sit with it for a while or jump into a puddle and keep going. We talked to Sandler about “Gone,” the creative process in making the new EP, and his personal journey in what makes these songs tie together into something special.
How has the tour been for the band so far? How’s the crowd reaction been and have you been playing a lot of songs off of your forthcoming EP?
Yes. It’s been great. All the shows have been amazing. The crowds have been the most energetic that they’ve ever been. We’re playing all the songs that are currently out on the new EP. We’re also playing one that isn’t out yet. There’s going to be another one that nobody’s heard yet.
With your upcoming EP, the band worked in a lot of new instruments. Things like acoustic guitar and lap steel. How did it feel utilizing these new tools within the recording process?
It was really cool and sort of a natural progression for us. Originally when we first started, our songs were mostly synth based. Luke and I are fans of so many different genres of music. We both play instruments. We like real instruments, haha. It’s always a real treat to get real instruments with amazing players and introduce sounds that make it feel a little bit more real. That’s what we were going for on this EP. Everything sounding a little bit more human.
I wanted to go into “Gone” for a little bit. Touching on the meaning first. At first it seems as though it’s about relationship loss, but it really could be referencing loss of any sort. In the chorus, the word gone is sung in a tired or exasperated way. How was the experience writing this song?
Yea, I mean when we did first start it about two years ago, it was definitely about breaking up with something. That hour after they leave and you don’t know if you’ll ever see them again. That kind a feeling. What I said in an interview recently this past year, I’ve experienced a lot of loss and deaths in the family. I found that the lyrics sort of transcend the relationship thing.
I don’t think about relationships anymore when I hear it. If you listen to the chorus, the lyrics could be about any type of loss. It’s cool when a song could do that and take on a greater meaning.
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve experienced so much loss in a short time span. How has that changed you as a musician and going into a new phase with a brand new project?
Yeah, it’s certainly given me a lot of inspiration and things to write about. Those kind of life changing things just kind of motivate you to do what you love even more, ideally. For me, that’s been the case. I think the best songs come out of the most extreme emotional cases. Whether it be the greatest love or the greatest loss.
On the song, you worked with Transviolet and Sarah McTaggart does some guest vocals on the track. It sounded like you had some fun bringing her in.
We were trying to find the perfect voice for that song because we thought it was great. We were looking to get the right female voice. Not to add someone for the sake of adding someone. We wanted someone who was going to add something special to the song. When we heard Sarah do it, we just knew she was the one. Working with her afterwards, we come to realize that she is extremely talented as a singer and artist. Very easy and a pleasure to work with.
One of the good things about the IV EP is how it seemingly goes through a lot of musical genres. “Terrified” with Pell is a good example of this. It’s like a lot of the previous remixes the band has worked on where your able to mold all your influence into something unique to GGFO.
First off, a good song is a good song. It’s fun to combine genres and make a song that sounds kind of crazy, but still works. Working with Pell was awesome. That’s another case where we were looking for the perfect person because that song had been in the works for a really long time. We were looking for someone to add something and then Pell came along and did that rap and just killed it. Then we had him sing and his voice was just perfect.
There are two songs that I quickly wanted to touch on that are on the upcoming EP. “Touch” is a song where you find that specific type love and nothing could ever feel the same afterwards. “Terrified” speaks to a trepidation with telling someone how you feel about them.
What it all boils down to and I’ve been thinking about this EP a lot – it’s transition. The feeling of getting into a new situation or even letting go of a situation and the emotions that come with all that. I like that with each song on this EP, it has that push and pull. From one emotion to another, but not in any sort of positive or negative way. That’s all just part of life. The stamp on it all is that none of it’s easy.
Going into recording this EP, did you have a particular sound in mind? Even with all the genres it touches on, there seems to be a bit of connective tissue that runs throughout each of these tracks.
Yeah, I mean honestly, the thing that connected them all the most is that they were all written around the same time period. I write all the lyrics so it was all what was going on in my life during that time. While the music can jump around sound and genre wise, the songs kind of all have this common thread of where I’m at this age or time.
Most of them, we weren’t really thinking about an EP when we wrote them. We were just writing songs. Then, we started thinking about it a little bit and compile them into an EP. The songs really worked together because they were written so close.
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez