Indie rock band Goldspot is set to release Aerogramme, their third studio album, next Tuesday. In anticipation of the upcoming release, which kicks off with a show in New York City next week, I called up Siddhartha Khosla, the band’s founder and frontman to talk aerogram(me)s.
Describe your new album, Aerogramme, in 140 characters or less.
The story of my parents’ journey to the U.S. in the late ‘70s. It’s a true concept record. I like sticking to concept records.
Of course I have to ask, why the name Aerogramme?
It’s so funny, because when I saw your interview request and I saw the name “Aerogram,” at first I thought it was a joke.
In order to share what the story of the aerogramme means for me is, I have to go back a little. So my parents came to this country in the late ‘70s to start a new life in the United States. They came here quite literally with eight dollars in their pockets. My mom was doing her residency in New Haven. And then they had me and they realized that it was really difficult to go to school, make a living and take care of a child. They didn’t have the money to afford great babysitters and ‘70s New Haven was not the safest place.
They had to do a series of things that were really tough, including send me back to India for a couple of years to live with my grandparents. They struggled a lot for a couple of years.
My dad would write letters to his family back home on these paper napkins. But he never sent them. He didn’t want to disappoint his family. When you’ve moved away across the world, you don’t want your family to worry that you’re struggling. Over the last years, I got to read these letters that he never sent. It inspired this whole record. When I was growing up, the letters they would send were “aerogrammes,” a sheet of paper that is envelope and a letter at the same time. And hence the name.
It’s been four years since your last album, And The Elephant is Dancing. What did you learn from making that album that you incorporated into Aerogramme?
I look at previous records as a stepping stone to get better. And I might completely fail because maybe the last one was great and I’m just maybe being too self-critical. But no matter how much I love them I look back and try to find out what I can do differently next time. The last album was deeply personal — the music reflects that — it came from a very honest and sensitive place.
I wanted this record to feel a little bigger and a little more epic. A little more groove-oriented. Musically it makes you want to dance a little bit too. The last album was a lighter approach than anything I’ve done. This time I wanted the album to feel more like a unit — like a bunch of guys in a room that got together and jammed. There was also a lot more collaboration in “Aerogramme.” In the past, I wrote and did everything myself.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
I have two.
The first is “The Evergreen Cassette.” In the ‘70s, it was incredibly expensive to make an international phone call between India and the United States. At that time, my parents could barely put food on the table. So my mom had to find some way to communicate with me. She was without her son in a new country and just wanted to sing her baby a lullaby and tell him that she loved him.
So my mom would send me an evergreen-colored cassette tape to me in India — it was just her speaking to me — singing me songs and telling me stories. And then I would record over that same tape and we would send it back and forth over the course of two years.
My second favorite is a song called “New Haven Green.” That’s about my parents’ actual flight to the United States in the late ‘70s and those letters on paper napkins that my dad never sent.
Last time I interviewed you, you had just gotten married. How has that impacted your music?
It’s a good question, because when my last album was written, I had just come out of a relationship. And so that record came from me going through a rough time. It’s always easier to write when you’re unhappy. Now, that I’m happily married, I did find it really hard to write this album, because I really didn’t have any personal struggles that I wanted to write about. I was and I am in a great place.
It was a great exercise, actually. Being happy personally meant I couldn’t write any sad love songs anymore. Really forced me to get deeper. I did research about what it was that I wanted to write about. I had a conversation with my dad one day and he showed me those letters. I think it really creates for some cool lyrical content. There’s a lot of stories in these songs — interesting things I gleaned out of these letters. My memory of that time. Going to India spending time with my cousins. Summers, sitting on a rooftop. Monkeys that would crawl on the rooftop.
And now for some short answer questions. Unlikely dream collaboration?
On repeat on your music playlist right now?
“From a Window Seat” by Dawes.
Christopher Moltisanti from The Sopranos.
One item you always carry with you?
For the last few weeks, my Omnichord from the early ‘80s comes with me wherever I go.
Your last release was a cover of Bollywood song “Ina Mina Dika.” Any plans to cover another Bollywood oldie? (‘Cause that would be awesome.)
I would love to! The Bollywood covers have always happened because I was working on a movie. I know it will happen — I just don’t know when.
What do you do when you’re not making music?
I do love to play golf. Even though I’m terrible at it, I’m addicted to it.
Join Goldspot at the Aerogramme release party on Wednesday, August 21 at New York City’s Rockwood Musical Hall. Buy tickets here. Each advance ticket purchase includes a copy of the new album. You can also find the band’s new single, “Border Line” on iTunes.
Kishwer Vikaas is a co-founder of and editor at The Aerogram. Follow her on Twitter at @phillygrrl or email her at email@example.com.