Singer/drummer Andrya Ambro talks about her experimental rock trio's new album, 'My House,' in an all-too-quiet car
Gold Dime drummer/singer Andrya Ambro is in the backseat of a car on the way to a show in Philadelphia while her bandmates, bassist Ian Douglas-Moore and guitarist John Bohannon, are up front. And even though Ambro sings and wails and sweats with her friends onstage constantly, she feels awkward answering questions over the phone in front of them.
“I'm feeling shy,” she said, then addressed her bandmates: “You guys can turn on the radio whenever you're ready.”
Ambro’s reticence, though, doesn’t stem from sheepishness or from a lack of trust. It comes from a desire for inclusion. “If you were in the car and asking me these questions and they were a part of it, I wouldn't have a problem,” she said. “But because they can't hear it, it feels super weird.”
That urge for collaboration was a driving force in the making of Gold Dime’s just-released album, My House (Fire Talk Records), which the experimental rock act recorded a chunk at a time last year. “I set [Gold Dime] up so that I started writing the songs and just kept bringing people in. I didn't always want that; it's just kind of what happened, and then you get used to that process,” said Ambro, who also played in rock duo Talk Normal. “I always wanted to collaborate; it's just a matter of finding the right people.”
In Douglas-Moore and Bohannon, Ambro found the right musicians, and after playing the new songs live for a while, the bandmates’ individual contributions became a cohesive trio. “All the songs feel a little bit deeper and heavier to me than previous songs, and maybe it's because they are more invested in it,” she said. “You can feel that, I think.”
There’s a loose, spacious feeling to the songs on My House, with plenty of room for Ambro to sing/speak/shout in her punk-rock-beat-poet style. “I don't really understand the process of [songwriting]. I never write with any kind of lyrical intention, like, ‘This song is about this part of my life,’” she said. “There's always a kernel, whether it comes from the drums, whether it comes from the bass, whether it comes from just my voice. Then it’s like, what is the emotion or feeling of that? That drives the whole thing. Sometimes I'll just improv lyrics over it. Sometimes it's random, and it's only after the fact that I kind of see the through line.”Other awkward things: replying to an email you intended to forward; walking the exact same speed as a stranger on the sidewalk; blanking on a neighbor's name. What's not awkward? Our daily newsletter
While there’s no overarching concept to My House, Ambro recognizes an undercurrent of angsty defiance in her songs, often paired with a sense of joy — all of which fits Gold Dime’s sound. “I want the drums to be huge and driving. I want the guitars to be triumphant and hurt a little bit and be almost awkward at times, almost like the little engine that could. I love really aggressive but very grooved bass lines. I love things that are swung and straight all at the same time,” she said. “Some of it's pretty out, but I do want it to also be somewhat catchy.”
Gold Dime is still on the road, and on Saturday, Oct. 19, the trio will make a stop at Skylab, where the band will be joined by two of Columbus’ most exciting local acts, Son of Dribble and Kneeling in Piss. While driving to Philly during our phone call, Ambro pondered what she learned during the collaborative process of making My House. But not until she arrived at a gas station, where she could get out of the car.
“I think I need to learn to trust certain things about what [my bandmates] play or how it needs to feel for them to create. I guess that means I have to let go of some things more quickly,” she said. “I have to let them bring themselves to the table.”