‘Angular indie rock shot through with noise and atmosphere’: Ithaca’s Night of the Iguana releases self-titled debut album
On Thursday, June 30, Night of the Iguana will return to Practice at Pete’s, the ongoing series of indie-rock shows at Pete’s Cayuga Bar in downtown Ithaca. It’s the Ithaca band’s first gig since its mid-May album release concert at The Upstairs, and a fitting return to where it all began – the trio played its first-ever show at Practice at Pete’s on July 26, 2019.
Fronted by Steve Gollnick, a veteran of Ithaca bands such as Hubcap and the Insect Brigade, as well as one of Ithaca’s top singer-songwriters of the past 20 years, Night of the Iguana currently also includes drummer Mike Parker and bassist Eva Revesz, who replace Laura Elise after the self-titled debut album was recorded in 2020.
Gollnick recently answered a few questions about Night of the Iguana (self-described as “angular indie rock shot through with noise and atmosphere”), his evolving guitar style, and recording the new album, which you can find online here: https://nightoftheiguana.bandcamp.com/releases
Q: After playing alt-country/roots-rock/power pop with Hubcap, going in the opposite direction for Insect Brigade, then edging back with Grand Turk – not to mention a detour for an excellent solo album – what was your goal in forming Night of the Iguana?
Steve Gollnick: I was going for a more angular sound, rather than the strummier stuff I used to play. I’ve been much more influenced the last few years by post-punk and indie rock from the 80s than anything else. When Laura and Mike and I started playing together, the songs I had just seemed to work well playing these sort of single-note lines that work off the bass parts. The sound of the band came together pretty quickly, and both Mike and Laura came up with cool parts that very much shaped the overall vibe.
Q: When and how did you record the album? Any challenges from the pandemic?
SG: Laura, Mike and I did the basic tracks at Pyramid (Sound Studios in downtown Ithaca) just before the pandemic, live in the room with lots of bleed. I did guitar overdubs and vocals at home when everything was shut down, which was a good thing to focus on when the worst of everything was going on. We worked on mixing when we could over the last year. It’s not like we obsessed over it, just kind of chipped away at it when we had a chance. And we were really excited Alex Perialas wanted to do the mastering. It’s a very live record and raw, which I think gives it its energy and strength.
Q: After playing with some excellent lead guitarists, including Peter Glanville in Hubcap and Billy Cote in Insect Brigade, what’s it been like being the only guitarist in the band? How has that shaped the music?
SG: It’s been really freeing. I’ve always been the rhythm guitarist, which I was good at. It’s been a challenge being the only guitarist because I’m really limited skill-wise. I’ve worked a lot on my sound at least making my limitations interesting. It’s really great to play with a trio. The sound is a lot less cluttered. There’s so much more space, but it’s still a big sound.
Q: What do you like about working with Mike Parker, who you also played with in Grand Turk?
SG: Mike’s an absolute monster of a drummer. He’s really open to everything. I give him a lot of space to work out his parts and he always has great ideas for arrangements. And, of course, he’s a top-notch studio engineer, which you can hear on the album.
Q: There’s one cover, “Dead Mannequins,” on the new album, from Shawn Donovan – can you talk about him, and why you chose that song?
SG: Shawn’s one of my favorite songwriters ever and one of my closest friends. I’ve covered “Dead Mannequins” for years in different bands and it fit in perfectly with the sound of this band. I’m really happy he graciously gave us permission to record our version.
Q: Do you have new songs since the CD, or new stuff with Eva?
SG: We’ve got a bunch of new songs in the works, including two we’ll be playing at the Pete’s show. Eva’s been coming up with some really cool song ideas on the bass, and I think the writing process overall is gonna be much more collaborative going forward.
If You Go
Who: Night of the Iguana, Triple 5 Spout and Microbes, Mostly
What: Practice at Pete’s
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, June 30
Where: Pete’s Cayuga Bar, 116 S. Cayuga St., Ithaca