Mr. Gnome

By Brendan Coticchia

Mr. Gnome

The Smiling Moose

Friday, March 26

Doors open at 6 p.m.

The Smiling Moose

Friday, March 26

Doors open at 6 p.m.


(412) 431-4668

This isn’t your typical garden-variety Gnome.

Cleveland indie rock duo Mr. Gnome’s sound has been described as Karen O fronting Queens of the Stone Age, Cat Power doing vocals for Kings of Leon or Sonic Youth backing Joanna Newsom. While seemingly contradictory descriptions such as these have raised eyebrows in the music press, guitarist and vocalist Nicole Barille has a simple explanation for the band’s peculiar musical stylings.

“I grew up with grunge being a big influence, but [drummer Sam Meister] was really into classic rock and trip hop. It ended up working out, though, because we found that we didn’t limit each other to what we liked or disliked. We were able to stay open minded,” she said.

Barille said that Mr. Gnome grew out of mutual “free time we had after finishing college. We just started to experiment with things — I’d usually come up with a riff or a melody. Then we’d just start to play off each other and see where it went.”

That creative partnership has propelled the band through the recording of two EPs and two LPs within the last four years, the most recent being Hear Yer Skeleton, which was released last November to much praise. This spring, the band is scheduled to go on its sixth tour — playing in nearly 40 cities across the country before returning home in mid-May.

“We’re pretty excited because this tour will take us to a few cities that we haven’t hit before,” Barille said.

She added though, that the often intense touring schedules the band has experienced in the past have had an enormous impact on their work.

“Our sound isn’t necessarily just influenced by other artists and bands. Just being on the road and playing in different cities are things that have been important to the way we make music. It’s a struggle to get through an eight-hour drive, sure, but the sorts of things that you take away from it make it worthwhile.”

Last April, the band was invited to record at Pink Duck Studios in Los Angeles, owned by Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme, which Barille said “was a really cool opportunity. There was a lot of vintage gear that we got to work with.”

“Everyone there was super laid back, too. We were sort of weirded out about that at first,” she said.

Barille described the experience as refreshing, particularly given the “difficult” environment that the music industry has found itself in for the last several years.

“It really feels like there are no rules in it right now. It looks like it’s crumbling, so everything has become sort of spastic and disorganized.”

The band recorded several more tracks in Cleveland before sending everything off to Butch Vig’s Smart Studios in Madison, Wis., a process that Barille describes as being “much more drawn out than our last album.”

“We had actually written all of the material before going to Los Angeles,” she said. “But, we took our time after we got there. We laid down the instrumentation first, then it was two or three weeks before doing the vocals.”

“We felt that we needed to sit on this one a little longer,” she said.

Mr. Gnome’s schedule for the rest of the year, however, looks to be anything but relaxed.

“We’re actually in the process of writing new stuff right now. There are two new songs that we’ll be playing while we’re on the road, and then we hope to start recording around August or September. Once we’re done with that, we have another tour coming up in October.”