Geographer has come quite a long way since the release of their debut, Innocent Ghosts, in 2008. In the past five years, this indie syth-pop trio from San Francisco has played their hometown’s famous Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, headlined their very own nationwide tour, and were even named one of the “Bay Area’s Top 20 Bands” in 2011.
Geographer has consistently evolved and pushed their limits with each release, and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the group is currently on an 18-day/15-show tour around the western United States and will headline The Echoplex tomorrow night, November 5th!
Frontman Mike Deni took time out of his busy touring schedule to answer a few of our burning questions. See what the talented singer had to say below, and don’t forget to snag your tickets for Geographer’s Los Angeles performance.
What’s the story behind Geographer’s name?
I liked the sound of Geographer, but I’m also comparing the work we do as musicians to the work of a geographer, or cartographer, really. The way that a song is an imperfect abstraction of an emotion is much like a map to a place you’ve never been. Holding a map of somewhere is not like walking around the place, but it does give you more information and from more angles than you could get without a thoughtful view. When you have a feeling, and you turn it into a song, you distance yourself and the listener from that feeling a little bit so you can understand it all the more.
What is the inspiration behind Geographer’s latest release, Myth?
I was very interested in the idea of myths and how they pertained to the modern age, mostly in relation to the dreams we nurture in ourselves — the dreams of love, happiness, fame, success, an afterlife, togetherness. Life was beginning to feel quite strange to me. I was finding that the dreams in my head were not matching the reality around me.
Was the writing process for Myth different than it was for your debut full-length, Innocent Ghosts?
Very much. Innocent Ghosts was pure emotion, while Myth was very thought out. I had an idea that I wanted to see through from beginning to end of the whole album. Not a concept album by any means, but certainly a theme that I wanted to explore various angles of in different ways. Innocent Ghosts was just what came out of me at that time, living in New Jersey and then in San Francisco as I was getting my feet on the ground.
How has Geographer’s sound evolved over the past three records?
Learning what it means to be a band has changed our sound a lot. Developing individually as musicians, learning that there’s a difference between regurgitation and writing, playing shows all over the country, seeing people’s reactions to things, and then eventually deciding we wanted to release a record that had everything we were capable of at the time in it, taking variety into account.
Should we expect new material from Geographer any time soon?
I sure hope so. We’re working on it.
You recently completed your first headlining tour earlier this year. How was that experience different than touring as a supporting artist?
Couldn’t have been more different. When it’s your show, it’s your show. You can do interesting things, you can take risks, you can play things besides the no brainers.
When you’re supporting, you want to wow people. You’re winning them over. You’re constantly the underdog. People don’t show up expecting the opener to be good, and it’s a challenge to have the audience walk away and say, “Wow, who the hell are they and why haven’t I heard of them?” But it’s a fight, you know, every step of the way, against expectations.
When you headline, that work is done. When you step onstage to a sold-out crowd who came for you, you can concentrate on other things, like, “How do I make this the best show these people have ever seen?” That’s something to strive for.
For Geographer’s November 2013 Tour, you are scheduled to play fifteen shows in eighteen days across the country. Does the stress of constant touring ever feel overwhelming?
The only thing that bugs me is lack of sleep. If I can sleep, I can do it all, but when you get three hours of sleep five nights in a row and then you’re supposed to, well, put on the best show someone’s ever seen, that’s just not going to happen. It can be frustrating when you see yourself performing below your potential, but really, touring is a nice, simple life. You get up, you drive, you try to play the best show of your life. You go to sleep, get up, and do it all again.
It’s always fun to see how people transfer their sound into a live setting, and when you listen to it every night, you really get to know someone’s music. I’m looking forward it.
Was the preparation for this tour different from past tours?
Very different, insofar as we’ve been so busy that there was no preparation. I’m a man who likes to practice, but we’re going to have to go with our guts on this one. We’ve been out so much recently, we don’t feel like we even took a break, and this tour is really a continuation of our last tour where we didn’t get to hit these towns.
I see that the last date of your November tour is in San Francisco. How is performing in your hometown different than playing in other cities?
There’s just an energy and excitement in the room that is different than everywhere else. I think people here really feel like we’re holding the banner for them. They want to see us succeed, and they see us as one of their own. We have so much love for the first people who came to our shows, so it’s like a big family reunion every time. It’s a very different kind of excitement than playing NY or Austin and being shocked by the overwhelming excitement and affection in the room. That’s like a “Wow! Is this real?” feeling. San Francisco is sort of like a “Let’s do this!” one. Every show feels like a celebration of what we built together from the ground up.
For more information: