PLAYING SEATTLE: Golden Idols Explore Realistic Side of Love on Uneasy EP

COLUMNS|Playing Seattle

On “Getting My Own Place,” a new song from Seattle band Golden Idols’  Uneasy EP, lead singer Patrick Broz croons, “I need some space, and you do too/We need some time to work this whole mess through/Couples counseling or admit we’re through: I’m getting my own place.” It’s a tragically familiar refrain for most people who’ve tried coupling, sealed inside a catchy electric keyboard package. That’s what Golden Idols is going for — Uneasy is full of nostalgic songs that challenge and reinvent the “fairytale” of love, and get to the truth of its many torturous, and sometimes comical, dimensions.

The EP, recorded at Seattle’s Earwig Studio by Don Farwell is one of several releases from the band, but only their second EP. While Golden Idols’ self-titled 2015 EP excelled at glistening psych-pop with the sheen of 1950s doo-wop and early ’60s surf music, Uneasy takes the band to a more bass-driven Brit rock place, reminiscent of bands like The Smiths and Arctic Monkeys, as well as The Strokes and Jeff Lynne.

A quick-witted Broz chatted with Audiofemme about Golden Idols, which he describes as “familiar, nostalgic, and at least a little blasphemous,” and the new EP, released in June.

AF: How did this band meet? What inspired you to make music together?

PB: I started the band in 2015 with Jewel Loree (Bass, Vocals) joining shortly after, having met as many do these days, online. There were a few lineup changes in drummers and keys over the first two years, but soon Saba (Drums, Vocals) arrived, drawn from across the hall of the practice space by the sweet siren song of our early catalogue. It was almost another year before Eric (Guitar, Keys, Vocals) joined; he was a quietly unassuming coworker of Jewel’s who quickly won over the rest of the band with his swelling leads and penchant for bossa nova. We couldn’t resist.  

AF: Where does your band name come from?

PB: The name Golden Idols is drawn from a mixture of religious iconography, from the golden calf of Judaism and Christianity to the statues of Buddha and multiple holy figures of Hinduism. Add to that, the noteworthy scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and you have a name that is familiar, nostalgic, and at least a little blasphemous, which is a fitting description of the band as well.  

AF: I read in your press release that these five songs are about love—but not the fairytale depiction of it. Can you explain what other angles of love you wanted to capture and why these different angles are important to you? Do you look for these different angles/sides of love in your own lives? Do you challenge the fairytale ideas we’ve been sold?

PB: Love doesn’t really get a fair shake as it is depicted in most films and songs; in most cases, it is one dimensional at best. We hear these songs about finding “the one” and finally being complete, and frankly, it’s a little annoying. Most of us don’t have those transcendent, romantic moments. You watch a movie with a wedding scene where everything is sun dappled and the music is just right and time stops the moment your partner steps into the aisle, but what most of us actually experience is something more like, you wake up at 6am to a house full of people you didn’t intend to invite to stay, and you are probably a little hungover, or exhausted because you were too nervous to sleep, and the next four hours is packed with figuring out why the flowers are already wilting, and who ordered the vegetarian meal, and at the end of the day, when you finally get to the honeymoon suite, all you want to do is sleep for the next twelve hours.  

What we wanted to show was the more authentic side of life and how, while most of us a generally good people, we are also at least a little bit of an asshole from time to time. Most people have strung along a crush because it made them feel good, or put off a breakup because they were afraid of the confrontation, or let a relationship fall apart because they were afraid to deal with the truth, that they had trust issues from a previous relationship they hadn’t dealt with, or really just weren’t that interested even though they really, really wanted to be.  

We tell these stories, not to glorify the more ignoble facets of our personalities, but to recognize that everyone has them; there is no Prince Charming, and if there was even he would have to use the restroom, and get back acne under his armor, and occasionally wonder what his life would have been like had he never met Sleeping Beauty after they’ve just had an argument.  

As a band, we don’t only care about telling stories of love though. We are perfectly happy to point out human flaws in all forms of human interaction; including the secret sort of thrill when you think about stealing the mini soaps in hotel rooms, or lying to a friend about having other plans because your really just don’t feel like going out, or pretending to listen to someone, but really only thinking about what you want to say next. Humans are beautifully complex and flawed beings; to pretend that we should all strive for some sort of fantasy existence, we do ourselves a disservice, and miss out on a lot of the little joys in life.

AF: What do you feel like your music is in conversation with? If you could simplify it—is it interacting with a common feeling, an era, an inspirational person, a nostalgic thing?

PB: Our music is derived from two primary influences. The first is “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift.  His darkly humorous satire about the socio-economic climate at the time really struck a chord with me as a song writer (word play not intended). The second influence was from the first time I really listened to the lyrics of “Angel of the Morning” by Merrilee Rush. I grew up listening to music from the ’50s through the ’80s; what we at the time referred to as Oldies, and it all sounded so pleasant and hopeful. It wasn’t until I really paid attention to that song that I noticed how dark it was, thematically; consider a young woman negotiating a one-night stand, knowing full-well there would be no second date, willing to go through with it anyway on the simple condition that he was nice to her in the morning. How messed up is that? Or “One Fine Day” by The Chiffons; basically a hopeful statement that, after he has finished sleeping around and is ready to be a father and a husband she would be there waiting for him. Or “I Only Have Eyes For You” by The Flamingos who croon, “I don’t know if we’re in a garden, or on a crowded avenue” – honestly sir, if you are on a crowded avenue, you should probably know it; you will probably walk straight into traffic.  

To state it simply, our music is a conversation with everyone about ideas of nostalgia, and fantasy and romance and to invite our listeners to look deeper with us. Or to rephrase: I was once standing outside a very old castle or church in Nantes, France and I overheard a local remarking how he liked to take his dog there to defecate because the tourists never watched where they were walking.

AF: Do you see yourselves as a “Seattle” band? Does the punk/DIY ethos move you and the music? If it doesn’t, why not? How do you contextualize your sound?

PB: That’s a good question; I have never really given it much thought. We do maintain a slightly darker (more damp) sound; I suppose we must be a Seattle band. In the end, I don’t know if it is really up to us.  

There is something I love about the DIY ethos though; while sitting here, I am surrounded by a guitar, a bass and keyboard, a sewing machine, an ice cream maker and some screen printing materials that just arrived in the mail. Our songwriting process is heavily wrapped up in DIY, but I would be lying if I said we didn’t also enjoy sitting in a mixing room at a studio, knitting together a great mix.  

AF: Tell me about the new EP. What are some underlying themes for it (besides love)? What personnel were essential to its creation?

PB: This EP is really about relationships of all sorts. In addition to love, we also dive into obsession and rejection, the point at which lust gives way to ennui, and the often paralyzing inability to face one’s fears in the face of commonplace opposition. Although I write all the songs, every member of the band is essential to the process. I bring the story and a melody, Saba adds beats with influences more further ranging than I can even say, Jewel bring infectious bass lines making each of the songs dance worthy, and Eric adds depth.

AF: How do you create best? Do you all write together, or does one person bring in an idea and then the rest fill in their parts? What’s your writing process?

PB: I tend to write the songs to start. Because I am primarily a songwriter, I work best by completing a full demo, or what I would consider a complete thought. I almost never jam, and I marmalade even less often. Generally, I record every instrument and vocal harmony in the song and share it with the band, at which point, they often do something completely different (this is an essential part of keeping my aforementioned ego safely in check). We then workshop a new track over the course of a few weeks or months until it feels done. At this point it is ready to be recorded or played live. Some songs rarely see the stage (like our beautiful but congenitally down tempo, “Let You Down”), while others, we play out almost as soon as we have written them.  Our live shows are a great way to hear new music in its infancy.  

AF: This EP feels intimate and personal. Is it autobiographical? Or do you write about characters or from a character’s point of view?

PB: While it is impossible for anything not to be at least a little autobiographical (especially with an ego as big as mine), I consider myself to be primarily a story teller, and a satirist to a point. I create characters who, often comically, speak to something true about all of us. We can connect with the plight of the protagonist in “Uneasy” who can’t bring themselves to finish an argument, unable to face the true nature of the underlying issue, because we have all felt that way at one point or another. It is personal in that we all share these feelings, though we are sometimes ashamed to admit it.

AF: If you could have dinner with one musical artist, who would it be and what would you eat? And why?

PB: I think I would quite like to share a meal with Jeff Lynne. His music has been more of an inspiration to me than I would like to admit. I would also love to meet The Crystals and I like to pretend I would get along fantastically with Jarvis Cocker, but if I’m honest, if we actually met, it would probably be a lot of awkward silence.  

AF: What are some future goals you have for Golden Idols?

PB: I would really love to tour Europe. We haven’t had a chance to make it yet, but it is definitely on the To Do list. And next time I’m in Dublin, I know not to take the tunnel; that’s 8 Euro I’ll never get back.

AF: Next show? Are you touring? Give readers a way to follow what you’re up to.

PB: We have a show at the No Sleep Till Greenwood festival September 1st in Seattle. We also have a show November 30th at Tractor Tavern, also in Seattle. We are currently working on new music, which we hope to release some time next year, but for now, you can follow us on Spotify, join our mailing list at our website, or any of your other favorite streaming services.

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