Founded by brothers Pete and Nicholas Furgiuele in 2007 in their hometown of Atlanta, Gringo Star has been making really good music for a decade and seems to be one of those bands that only gets better with time. Together with newly joined bandmates Josh Longino and Mario Colangelo, they’ve created their fifth album Back to the City, which was released in August via Nevado Music. True to their roots, the album was written, recorded, and mixed at Studio 234 in Atlanta. Gringo Star’s previous albums borrow from a range of genres and decades, resulting in a clever cohesion of sound that resonates on Back to the City. With a faculty of fresh talent, Gringo Star continues their anachronistic exploration while offering a fresh take on modern rock. The satiny doo-wop of “Midnight Till Dawn,” the surf-rock buoyancy of “Threw It Away,” and the psychotropic raw energy of the title track demonstrate the band’s ability to do it all—and do it well.
We spoke to Pete about their musical roots and the making of Back to the City:
Tell me about the process of writing, recording, and self-producing your new album. Is the end result what you had in mind in the beginning phases?
Our process of writing has pretty much been the same since we were teenagers writing together. Usually either me or Nick will work out a rough sketch of a song idea and bring it to the other to take the idea further with structure–maybe some final lyrics or instrumentation ideas. We used to record mainly demos at our studio and then go to other studios to “properly” capture the song, but we finally acquired the studio gear we needed to do what we wanted on our own.
On Back to the City we had the idea to incorporate some strings on a song or two, and the end result was so much fun for us we ended up getting our friend Dave Claussen to record on several of the tracks. Dave is an amazing musician, and we were so happy with what he did. Also we had newer member Josh Longino sit in and lay down bass and guitar on the tracks. It was a first for this lineup in the studio, and it really worked great for us.
Your debut album All Y’all was released almost a decade ago. Since then, you’ve lost and gained members, made a few more albums. How has your sound, or your approach to music-making changed?
Really we are still approaching writing the same way we have always approached it—just going from song to song and trying to make each one unique in its own way. We have always loved trying to pull from as many different sounds that we like in the hopes of always making something that feels fresh to us. After ten years and so many ideas already explored, the real challenge is finding new ideas to work from. It really comes down to finding melodies we like and building ideas around them.
Do you come from a musical family? How has your familial relationship helped the band evolve?
Neither of our parents actually played music much but it was still very much part of our upbringing. Our grandad on our mom’s side was a DJ. He owned record shops in Columbus, Georgia. Our dad was just a big music fan, and our parents combined made for a great record collection that we dug through when we were little. We’ve worked together for so long that Nick and I have a system engrained in us for collaborating and recording.
How would you describe your music to someone if you were trying to sell it to them?
I’ve never liked trying to sell music to somebody with words. Music is something made for your ears. I’d just as soon have somebody listen and make their own decision that way. In the end, musicians have to do it for themselves. Trends and fads come and go, but the actual recordings are the things that last.
If you could have anyone guest star on an album, who would you choose?
What is the current music scene like in your hometown, Atlanta?
There is so much going on here. You could go to like five venues a night to see shows, and still you’d miss bands. Atlanta still felt like a small town only a few years ago.
Who are a few other Atlanta artists whose music we should get to know?
Gotta shout out our sister/wife band Shantih Shantih. They rule.