Gabriel the Marine began as a writing collaboration between Long Island natives Michael Desmond (vocals, guitar) and Dylan Ebrahimian (violin, piano, vocals) in 2008. After gathering a full band together, they released a self-titled demo and a five-song album, opened shows for bigger bands in the New York/Tri-State area, all the while gathering a fandom for their unique indie-rock sound. Their work is highlighted by intelligently woven string arrangements, working in tandem with poetic vocals and varied guitar work. The band recently released their second EP “Stars Collecting” and toured with Taking Back Sunday and Bayside. The Pioneer had the chance to speak with Dylan Ebrahimian after his return.
The Pioneer: It’s been about three years since the last Gabriel the Marine EP. What was the hold-up and how has the band been reaching out to fans in that time?
Dylan Ebrahimian: Yeah, it has been a while! We put out an EP in 2009 when we were seniors in high school, and for about two years, we went through different bassists and continued to write and throw out songs as we matured as people. About two years ago, we started recording some of the songs with this producer, Jim Wirt in Cleveland, who had done Jack’s Mannequin, Incubus, etc. We did three different sessions with him, spaced out between six months each session. After that, we were talking to labels and so on, and the process just took longer and longer. During that time we’d still play shows and tour, and would make new friends this way. By taking our time we taught ourselves how to eliminate and how to satisfy our tastes/needs as a group. So, this new EP just came out on October 30 and an LP will be out in the first quarter of 2013.
TP: The band was able to raise money for the new EP through the fundraising website Kickstarter. What was it like jumping into a project like that?
DE: The Kickstarter was a huge help. We asked for $5,000 and anyone who donated would get something in return. (We’re still sending those out now — sorry!) The more our album got pushed back the more the gifts did. I know it’s kind of controversial, the whole fan-donation thing, within the music world, and I find myself taking different stances on it, but the money was used to make music for the people. Not to buy a tour bus or a freighter or anything like that. Anyway, I think about 40 different people donated. It shows how much difference a few people together can make.
TP: What can you tell us about the new EP and its content?
DE: The new EP is called “Stars Collecting,” which is a name of one of the four songs. The others are “In Tension”, “Honest,” and “Like a Child.” “Honest” and “Like a Child” were written and recorded about two years ago and “Stars” and “In Tension” were written and recorded about a year ago. They have different styles but I think all go together nicely. “Stars” is very pastoral and dreamy, and the strings I wrote on it I tried to make sound very Copland-like, really American. “Tension” is my favorite, as it sounds chilled out, but when you listen carefully, every instrument is having a complex conversation at breakneck speed. “Honest” is the straight up rock song. “Like a Child” is the ballad.
TP: Long Island is home to a host of bands like Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and Bayside, many of whom your band has shared a stage with. How well do you feel your band has fallen into the music scene and where do you hope to go on a larger scale?
DE: I think what’s so interesting about Long Island music is that there are so many people to collaborate and create with. I think, although there is a definitive sound that can be mimicked too much, many of the bands that are out today are doing very different things from each other. We just toured with Taking Back Sunday and Bayside and while we all have different styles, I felt that everyone in the audience was enjoying the three bands for different reasons. I’d love to do something like that again. In general, I think there will be a lot more collaborations and crossover projects happening on the island.
TP: You and [vocalist/guitarist] Mike Desmond started writing with each other back in high school. Are you satisfied with where the band has gone in that time? Further, can you tell us about the journey the band has gone through in making your creativity a reality to share with others?
DE: Satisfaction is a funny thing. It happens and then it’s like it never happened. But the way time works, is that you go through certain thresholds based on your decisions and actions, and that determines who you are. Based on that logic, even stupid mistakes we may have made in the past determined and shaped us into who we are today, so to regret is to regret your own existence. That being said, I find myself feeling blessed to have so many inventive, funny, and warm people in my life that I can share in this journey with. I don’t think many have experienced what I’ve experienced, and at the same time the life of a traveling musician is a well-tread upon path that probably millions have taken. It’s a funny juxtaposition of being a voice amongst the many in the chorus, and being alone.