Gazebo Effect’s self-titled album marks new era for Chicago band

By Kendall Polidori, Staff Reporter

Courtesy Denis Cheng
Alt-rock group Gazebo Effect spoke with The Chronicle about finding its unique sound in a competitive field.

Each live performance put on by the five-member alt-rock band Gazebo Effect begins with a round of hugs and a tuna sandwich eaten by the superstitious lead singer.

With nearly three years of playing together under its belt, Gazebo Effect is making its way through the Chicago music scene with its first full-length self-titled album, released on Feb. 15.

The album reflects the change and growth of the band in more ways than one, including a more developed and polished sound. Bassist James Bloomfield said that before recording this album, the band had not been in the studio for over a year.

“With this album we were able to just sit on the songs a little bit more,” said Jamie Major, vocals and guitar player. “We had a lot more time to fine tune and polish the actual songwriting, as opposed to the first [album] … we wrote them, we played them and then we just kind of put them out.” 

While a number of the songs on the album are ones the band has been playing for some time, other songs like “Peace of Mind” shift the group into a whole new dimension of rock through powerful lyricism. The group is comprised of Major; Bloomfield; Ray Bach, guitar; Eric Dost, guitar; and Ian Robertson, drums.

As the lead singer, Major writes all of the band’s song lyrics and Peace of Mind was more than just any other song.

Major said the song was very personal for him, as he was struggling with depression and used it to help him accept himself and where he was in life.

“It’s like you can be depressed for a second, but you also have to keep in mind that you are going to get out of it, and there is other cool s–t going on in your life too,” Major said. 

Courtesy Denis Cheng
With nearly three years of playing together under its belt, Gazebo Effect is making its way through the Chicago music scene with its first full-length self-titled album, released on Feb. 15.

The members all knew each other through school and mutual friends, and Major joined the band when he attended a backyard show of theirs and stepped in when the original singer did not show up.

“The way we started kind of shaped how we sound,” Dost said.

Robertson reflected on the band’s growth after remembering a sloppy performance it had early on by the lake.

“It was honestly one of the best settings to play a show at, we just weren’t properly prepared. And we all got hammered.”

The album incorporates Major’s bluesy vocals even more, which leaves the band sounding similar to some of its inspirations, such as Mac Demarco and Twin Peaks. And while the songs may seem astutely crafted, Bach said a lot of them stemmed from playing around with different riffs on the guitar and adding in other sounds around them.

“I try to make stuff sound cool, and try to incorporate all those different elements [into our music].”

A recent show at Do Division Street Fest in West Town, captured the bands underlying goal, which is to have fun.

“I don’t think you write good music if you don’t enjoy what you are playing,” Robertson said.

The band continues that goal off the stage as well, with a colorful collection of merchandise, including a T-shirt of Guy Fieri eating pizza; all of the artwork for their EPs, album and merchandise are designed by their friend Austin Bower, who actually named the band when its members could not come up with anything themselves.

Although the group mixes a variety of different sounds, it is unmistakably recognizable as a Chicago-based band and has played local shows at venues like Schubas Tavern, Subterranean, House of Blues and more.

One of its proudest moments as a band to date is when it played a sold out show at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave., in April. Major said it was one of the band’s goals to sell out a show, and it was even more rewarding when it landed the show merely a month before the performance, which is short notice.

Major said band members had a hard time getting their start in Chicago, only because they feel they are not “in the scene” yet. He added it would be easier if they personally knew more musicians in the area.

The song “Peace of Mind” also makes a distinct reference to the city, giving the audience a deeper understanding of who they are and where they come from.

Going forward, Major said the band members do not have any specific goals as to where they want to be for the future—they just want to continue playing bigger shows and to expand to other cities outside Chicago.

In the meantime, you can catch Bach changing his guitar strings and Robertson kissing each member on the cheek before every show.