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Chandler, AZ | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Chandler, AZ | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Alternative Indie




"Mid-August Roundup"

Gillwire-Silver Streak. Gillwire is Arizonan J.G. Thwaits, and he's crafted an impressive debut album that mixes power pop, classic rock and indie pop with the common thread being his sense of melody (He calls it "retro-alternative pop", which is a good a description as any). The title track (and opener) is a clever tune that's equal parts Beck, Cake and Dean Friedman, the gentle, lilting "Find Me a Movie" finds itself in McCartney/Neil Finn territory, "Big Win" boasts a beats-based melody, and "Sand in My Pockets" is the most power-popping track of the lot. While this is a debut album, Thwaits sounds as though he's been around the melodic block a few times before. - Absolute Powerpop

"5 Mellow Singles"

The coffee-pop act known as gillwire is the brainchild of Jonathan Gil Thwaits. The Chandler band is preparing for the impending release of their debut album by sharing a few rough cuts including the single, “Tragedy Sells”. Combining Ben Folds-esque vocal stylings with an airy alt-pop. Don’t let the name of the track fool you, “Tragedy Sells” is an upbeat number with a bit of lyrical bite. Keep in mind, these tracks are unmastered, but they offer a little sampling of what’s to come. For the finished product, you’ll have to head to Sozo Coffee in Chandler on July 8th (or wait for the digital release). - YabYum Music and Arts

"Silver Streak, A Bold Debut from Arizona Band Gillwire – Artist Interview"

Silver Streak brings a wide range of emotions and musical styling together into a package that is delivered as if from an alternative garage band after taking a few music history and literature courses. Gillwire is the creation of Chandler Arizona resident J.G.Thwaits (middle name Gill) who wrote and recorded this, his debut album, in his garage while also holding down a full time job as an electrical engineer. Mixed in throughout the record are hints of influence from the likes of Beck, Cake, Elliott Smith, and The Beatles, the result is eclectic pop rock with a healthy dose of grit. From track to track you get a sense that each selection is the portrayal of a formative moment from the life of the storyteller and collectively they convey the experience of living, loving, and surviving in the world.

Silver Streak will be released July 8th along with an album release show at SoZo Coffee in Chandler AZ. Lee Cromwell sat down with Gill to talk about the process of making the album, his inspirations and next steps.

LC: As I listen to this album, I wonder if it’s biographical. Does this album have a theme or a story in itself that is greater than just a collection of pop songs?

Gill: The story of how this album became a reality is the theme of the album. The songs are very personal expressions of the emotions and struggles I’ve had over many years as I’ve tried to balance my artistic drive with the need to be a responsible provider for my family; those two things have been at odds more often than not but I find myself unable to give either of them up so life has ended up being a fight to make it work. There are rewards and trade-offs that come along with it and those situations have sparked a lot of good song ideas, so in a sense, I would say that a lot of my experiences that would be categorized as failures from a traditional standpoint have been a catalyst for me to create some of my best work.

LC: Can you give an example of a song that highlights this struggle?

Gill: Sure, Sand in my Pockets is the first one that comes to mind and it’s really the perfect example. I talk about coming home and a kiss for baby which show my feeling of domestic responsibility but unfortunately there’s that visual image of me turning out my pockets and having nothing but sand, which doesn’t put food on the table. Time and waiting are recurring themes, waiting and hoping for some success, it’s a poor man’s love song, expressing gratitude for those who stand by me and are patient during the hard times.

LC: With a song like Silver Streak, which you’ve chosen to be the name of the album and the first track, I hear more confidence; it’s more upbeat and optimistic. How does this play in to the overall theme and why did you choose it as the title track?

Gill: This is my bold affirmation to the world that I’m here and I’m going to play you my music. I’ve had a fair share of playing in groups that never quite got off the ground, a bunch of false starts but it’s all been crucial to building my skills and confidence, the confidence was probably the most important. I had a moment a few years ago where some things financially started turning around for me after a long run of hard work and sacrifice, I finished an engineering degree and got a decent job. I was energized by the fact that I could pull it off and I started believing that this success in one area of my life could lead to success musically. It was a confidence booster and I channeled that confidence back into my music, which had been on the backburner for a time while I was completing school. I started planning my record in earnest and I wrote this song. It was really a pep talk to myself because I needed to trick myself into thinking I had the goods to deliver what people wanted to hear, while in reality I had about only 20 followers on my facebook page and I was not selling out any shows, I was an unknown showing up to open mic nights.
As far as the title goes, my mid 30’s brought me this streak of silver highlights right on the top of my head and I’m just wearing it as a badge of honor and committing to get my music out to the world before I’ve got a full head of silver! The song is about looking back on many failed attempts, coming to terms, and recognizing that I didn’t regret trying. I’m glad I put all the effort into it even though I didn’t have anything to show that by industry standards was a success. I did have songs that got me excited, and even if nobody else appreciated them, it was worth it enough for me to keep trying.

LC: I know you’ve pretty much self-produced this album and chosen to multi-track yourself playing all the instruments as opposed to putting together a band. What is driving this decision? Do you just like to have total control?

Gill: I haven’t really thought of it as a decision I made by choice, it’s more like this was the only way this record was going to get made at this point in my life so I went with it. I could have taken more actions to start a band, I have at times in the past and it opens the project up to a whole new set of complications, especially for someone like me with limited resources who is trying to build up a career in music on the side of other life responsibilities. This record was made little by little in the garage at all hours of the night and day. I would sneak in sessions whenever I had the energy to, usually late nights and early mornings. Sometimes I would wake up at 3am to go work on it. By the way, there is one instrument I didn’t play, my son plays the oboe on Lost for Words which really turned out great and he did it in one take! He continually impresses me.
I am putting together a group to play at the album release show and going forward I plan to perform live with a band periodically. I really do enjoy playing live and with other musicians. Learning to play the drums has been one of the hardest parts of making this record but it has really increased my all around musicianship I feel, but still, I’m not the best drummer around so I’ll gladly turn those duties over to the right person when I have the opportunity to. A good drummer makes all the difference.

LC: When you say you made this little by little, what kind of timeframe are you talking?

Gill: When it comes to Love and Find me a Movie were the first songs I started working on, the demos of those I started back in 2013 so all in all I’ve worked on this for more than 2 years but it started slow and gained momentum. Most of these songs I’ve recorded multiple demo versions of before settling on the final arrangement. It wasn’t till the past year that I got most of the recording gear needed to finish it so the actual recordings that made it on the album were almost all done between Fall 2015 and Spring 2016.

LC: Stylistically there’s a lot going on in this record and from a compositional standpoint it seems rather involved. Where is this influence coming from? And who is your target demographic?

Gill: I hope that people my age, older than me, and younger than me will enjoy listening to my music but at the end of the day, I’m mostly trying to make music that I like. Maybe a little ego-centric of me but that’s what I know how to do, and that keeps me going. During the writing and recording process I have to play and listen to these songs so many times that I just have to make music that keeps my interest and I hope that others can feel the same positive experience that I do. I really love the process of writing and recording songs.
As far as my influences, I started out in a community boys’ choir, church choir and school orchestra on the violin. I would walk to school and hum the tunes to myself and make up my own variations. So rock/pop music was not my first influence at all, maybe that comes through in my arrangements. I do love pop music though and when I was 13 I discovered my dad’s collection of Beatles records and I was captivated and enthralled.
I think composers such as Randy Newman set a precedent for pop tunes with a sophisticated twist and that’s something I aspire to. Also Elliott Smith was just great at that, throwing in changes that nobody else was really doing in post-grunge alternative music.

LC: I can hear that choral influence on some of your songs and in places you seem to use the voice as a supporting instrument covering a large range. Did you just develop your ability to create and perform vocal harmony arrangements from your choir experience?

Gill: I have done a lot of group singing, I was in multiple choirs through high school and college. As a lower voice, most of the parts I get are harmony and I’ve always had a keen interest in theory so I like to know what the chord progression is doing and how my note fits in to the chord. When I was 13 my voice had changed so I was singing bass in the school choir but it was also my last year in boys’ chorus and I was singing 2nd soprano there! So ever since adolescence I’ve been exercising my falsetto high range, it’s not the prettiest but it gets the job done. Even after all this singing, or perhaps because of it, I’m aware of my voice’s shortcomings and I’m still trying to find ways to overcome or compensate for them.

LC: Shortcomings such as?

Gill: Well, with so many great singers in the history of recorded music it’s hard not to compare yourself. The act of comparison to the greats can give you drive to improve and keep your eye on a high standard but it can also be a discouraging and harmful exercise. I’ve lamented over not being able to sound like Freddy Mercury or Ella Fitzgerald, I wouldn’t get past the audition on one of these pop singer voice contest shows but then I remember there are so many artists I love that probably wouldn’t either and I want them to keep sounding like who they are, so I’ll try to do the same.

LC: As a solo singer-songwriter, did you ever consider releasing an acoustic album?

Gill: Yes I did consider it multiple times. I even planned out tracklists and started recording acoustic demos. The appeal of that route was that it’s a more practical project to pull off than trying to get a full band sound. Some of my songs do work this way and I will probably release these versions in the near future but in the end, the allure of adding drums and other instruments was too great. I didn’t want to be just another guy with an acoustic guitar, especially on my first release. At the heart of most of my songs is an acoustic guitar but it’s just a starting point for me on which the arrangement is built. Sometimes after it’s done it sounds better to me to take away that foundation guitar track and just hear all the other instruments that were built up around it. I still think back to my first band, as a teenager I was rocking out with my buddies, it’s a great feeling that I always keep going for, so I’ve tried to capture that group feel on this record.

LC: Looking forward you mentioned you plan to put a band together and do some performing, will this be a continuation of the Gillwire project or will it take on another form?

Gill: Yes most likely I’ll form either a permanent group to go forward as Gillwire or keep with the solo artist model and assemble musicians as needed when it’s time to perform and tour. I definitely think of Gillwire as a band though. For now I’m focused on promoting Silver Streak and making connections with people who would be interested in this type of music. The internet makes that possible with those outside of our local Arizona area, which is great, but as far as live shows go, I’m going to start where I am and build it up. I already have songs and plans for more recording projects so 2017 should bring some more releases.

LC: Well, the record sounds great and I wish you the best in translating it to a live band experience, I’ll be anxious to see how it turns out. - The Cromwell Treatment


Silver Streak - Album July 8th 2016, Danger Boy Records



Gillwire – An alternative pop rock band from Arizona led by Jonathan Gill Thwaits with sounds reminiscent of Ben Folds, Beck, Elliott Smith, and The Beatles. While working as an electrical engineer, Gill established the band as a home side project that gained momentum through a few years of experimentation in the garage. The twelve songs that would become the debut album Silver Streak took shape as Gill acquired the equipment and production skills necessary to create a professional grade release. The majority of the album was recorded in the nine months leading up to the July 8 2016 release date, during this time Gillwire transitioned from an acoustic solo project to a full band live act.

The signature sound comes from carefully crafted arrangements using unique instrumentation such as oboe and glockenspiel intermixed with more traditional alternative rock elements. His vocals top it off by telling tales of the struggle to balance artistic drive with real world trial and responsibility in a charmingly optimistic way that retains an air of vulnerability. The depth of composition and harmonic structure allude to Gill's pre-engineering music school training in latin and jazz as well as his love of 60's soul. The end result combines the energy of an adolescent garage band with the intrigue of a musical alchemist. 

Band Members