On Fillmore (Darin Gray, Glenn Kotche) :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Bassist Darin Gray and percussionist Glenn Kotche first began playing together nearly 20 years ago, when they hunkered down in the studio with "mutual best friend" Jim O'Rourke to record what would become his 1999 album Eureka. Not long after, they formed a duo, On Fillmore, rooted in a shared love of experimentation, free improv, and field recordings, but also, a tangible personal connection that Gray says was apparent immediately.

“It was an instant thing – from the first time we played together," Gray says. "It would be too romantic to say that I knew we were going to play together forever, but like, it was almost like that. It was one of those weird moments that not only musicians have, but just human beings have, where you just know. You know this is right, you know something special is happening. I’ve learned to appreciate those moments, because there’s not that many of them in life.”

Both maintain a tight schedule -- Kotche as a member of Wilco and a solo composer, Gray as a touring member of Jeff Tweedy's side group Tweedy, among other commitments -- but there's a palpable sense of joy when they are able to make recordings together. Last year, they played on guitarist William Tyler's stunning Modern Country, and now, a new On Fillmore LP,  Happiness of Living.  Recorded in  Brazil, the two opened up their sound with a wide cast of collaborators, including Ciara Banfi,  Domenico Lancelotti, Alexandre Kassin, Caetano Veloso's son  Moreno Veloso, vocalist  Gabriela Riley, and Mauro Refosco of Thom Yorke's  Atoms for Peace.

AD caught up with Kotche and Gray individually to discuss the kaleidoscopic, layered sound of the record and discuss why Brazil -- and On Fillmore -- maintain special places in their hearts. Those conversations, condensed and edited, presented below.

On Fillmore :: Jornada Inteira

Aquarium Drunkard: What space does On Fillmore occupy for you creatively?

Glenn Kotche: It’s always scratched an itch I don’t really cover in a lot of my other work. It’s just been a great partnership with Darin to just follow our whims. It’s just very different from my composing or even my solo playing, and especially from Wilco. We push each other to not put up any walls and just have open minds. I don’t think On Fillmore feels like anything else I do.

Darin Gray: On Fillmore is definitely not a side project. It’s always there. It seems like we take really long gaps between working together, but actually we don’t. We’ve done film scoring, some commercial work. We always have something on the burner we’re doing. We’ve recorded hours of stuff that hasn’t been released. It occupies a huge part of my mental space. I consider it one of my main things, if not my main outlet at the moment.

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.