Interview and photos by James Damion
Cinema Cinema was formed in 2008 by cousins
Ev Gold (guitars/vocals) and Paul Claro (drums). The duo
released its debut album Exile Baby later that
year and since then, Cinema Cinema has performed over 400
shows across nine countries, and in 40 of the 50 states.
The band has received acclaim for both its ferocious, take
no prisoners live sets and its experimentally-minded recordings,
the most recent of which - 2017's Man Bites Dog
- was hailed by New Noise.com as "a hodgepodge of haunting,
jazzy, chaotic art-punk noise... an intimidating and absorbing
listen here, not for the meek." With a new album on
the way, James Damion queried guitarist/vocalist Ev Gold
about Cinema Cinema's role in the noise-punk underground,
how this unusual partnership evolved, and where it might
Q: In previous conversations, we’ve
talked about the early stages of Cinema Cinema. Can we go
back a bit before you formed? Where you were both at musically?
Other bands you might have been in. Or ones whose music
you feasted on?
Ev Gold: Sometime in 2007, well before uniting as a band,
Paul and I happened upon the chance to play together via
a recording project that my uncle (a.k.a. Paul’s father)
was involved with. A natural musical chemistry arose immediately
between the two of us. I think we both sensed that something
was beginning at that point.
In the months that followed, timing would have it that the
musicians I was playing with were moving onto other things
in their lives. I had been in bands, off and on, since 1994
and for the first time in over a decade was without any
collaborators. I had yet to achieve many of the musical
goals imagined in my youth. I wanted to play music in all
50 states, to break the road open on a long and winding
national tour, (maybe) as support for a well-established
act. I also hoped to tour Europe one day. Another goal was
to make a record with one of the producers who’s work
I was a fan of. Don’t get me wrong, since joining
my first band at the age of 15, I had done a semi-healthy
amount of music stuff, but I was still hungry for a lot
more. Wanting for a band scenario that was about total commitment,
willingness to make music activity first priority, and serious
minded pursuit in chasing the sound wherever it goes.
As 2007 was ending, I was 29 years old and not sure what
would come next. My search for fellow players was continuously
proving unsuccessful. One night that December, Paul happened
to have a gig in NYC with the group that he was in at the
time. I was trying to meet up with a potential bass player
(found on Craigslist) that night and the plan fell through,
so I popped up to catch Paul’s set. I was totally
blown away by his playing and presence. I had already known
that he had talent and felt the spark when we jammed a few
months earlier during my uncle’s studio session, but
this night made me realize that if I could play in a band
with him, I would have all I needed for a future in music.
I spoke with him afterwards and it turned out that he had
also felt that spark accompanied with the itch to attempt
playing together, for real. On January 11, 2008 we hit the
practice room to experiment. It worked. Our first gig was
six weeks later (February 22, 2008 at The Delancey in NYC)
and we haven’t looked back since.
Q: My reaction hearing Cinema Cinema for the first
time can only be compared to the first time I heard Big
Black’s “Songs about Fucking,” Amphetamine
Reptile-era Helmet and of course seeing Jesus Lizard live.
Can you share some of the bands or maybe albums that helped
influence or shape the band’s thirst for nihilism?
I think hearing the Sex Pistols at an early age, with
that confident swagger of the pissed off and disenfranchised.
The charisma in the “fuck you and all you stand for
because it means nothing to anyone” kind of snarl
I heard in Johnny Rotten’s voice. That attack stance
was a starting point. Then, Black Flag really hits me not
long afterwards. I devour the incendiary combination of
music and words and try to wrap my head around just how
far out you can get under the free flying flag of “punk”.
Reading the Rollins “Get in the Van” book was
a large percentage point on my further investing in the
idea of making art at any cost, especially the eschewing
of conventional thought about class, society and the “American
dream” of wealth and prosperity. I started to look
at the world and my place in it, as a musician, a lot differently
after both those bands infected me.
Q: During our many interactions. I’m often
taken aback by how mellow and soft spoken you can be. A
polar opposite of what we’ve come to see on stage
and in your music. Where does that fire we often see, come
from? Is it like flipping a switch?
Yes, flipping a switch is an apt analogy. A transformation
occurs. I’m afforded a great deal of natural therapy
when engaged in this way. It’s like a frenzy and when
it comes to an end, I feel peace. When I go for long periods
of time without the sonic exorcism, it gives way to a form
of torture on my psyche. I guess that’s part and parcel
as to why we have found a way to stay kind of hyper active
over the last 11 years (averaging 40+ shows per year, while
releasing four full-lengths and a handful of singles/EP’s).
In terms of where the fire comes from, there’s a burning
pit deep in my soul. It would be a tired paragraph to illustrate
specific points of pain, fear and disillusionment experienced
in my younger years that fuels it, as I know that ALL of
us have our lives’ trials and issues. I don’t
know that I have had it rougher than any other human on
this spinning globe of unanswered questions. I do know that
I have a LOT of stuff afloat in the moat and I doubt I will
ever reach that ‘kumbaya’ type point of inner
peace and freedom required to cut the ‘shiny-happy/feel-good’
record. It’s just not in the cards.
Q: You once told me that in experiencing or understanding
Cinema Cinema, you had to be willing to “surrender
to the trip.” I have my own understanding of that
and I think it’s pretty open ended. I think it can
be left to each individual’s perception. That said,
I’m rather curious as to what it means to you.
Total immersion in the moment. Be here now. We make music
less for the entertainment value and more for the opportunity
to actually feel alive. Life happens where thought ends
and action begins in the moment you occupy. Surrender to
the trip, take the ride. Be in this moment, with us.
Q: I’ve seen you live and I’ve been
to your rehearsal space in Brooklyn. Both of which made
me curious as to your approach to song writing and building.
Can you take me through the process?
I collect musical ideas, recording them onto my phone.
I never flesh anything out that far since it will likely
change once I throw it into the ring, with Paul behind the
kit. I try to not attach myself to a singular vision of
the piece as it might not even pass the initial test of:
“does Paul like it and want to work on it?”.
If we begin to kick the idea around and it seems as though
it will stick, it usually gets named right away. Then we
push it and pull it, over and over, until it feels right.
We are deep in this process at the moment, working up new
material for the next CC album, with hopes to get into the
studio by summer 2019. I can attest it is both an exhilarating
and arduous task. We’ve been trying to shut-down,
in terms of gigs - to focus on writing alone, but it is
hard! We are always itchy to play live, so turning down
show offers becomes its own small dilemma. We constantly
try to find a reason to dignify confirming the show or starting
to plan the next tour.
Q: You’ve done a lot of touring, particularly
in Europe. What is it that draws you to hop on a plane,
cross the ocean and play for a bunch of Euro’s who
may not have even heard of you?
We had the very good fortune of having our first European
voyage be in support of the Martin Bisi Band, in 2013. Second
stroke of lucky timing with our European fans was, earlier
that same year Black Flag had toured over there and Greg
Ginn was wearing a Cinema Cinema T-shirt for most of those
shows. When we arrived at many of the venues on that first
run w Bisi in November 2013, small helpings of music enthusiasts
had already looked us up. That was a REALLY helpful introduction
for us. We jumped the curb from being an unknown American
act, coming over to undoubtedly play for “Euro’s
who may not have even heard of us” to being the opening
band for an extremely well-regarded producer’s (five-country/16
date) tour, compounded with the Black Flag endorsement rendering
the amazing scenario of having a tiny bit of awareness about
us before playing our first note. We immediately broke the
decibel limit at our first show, in Prague, and set the
table for a long standing relationship to commence. I think
we’ve been over there six times since. Our current
record label is UK based (with an office in EU as well),
so the European love affair continues!
We remain steeped in gratitude to Martin for taking the
chance of touring with a band he only knew for a short period
of time and had yet to record. Also to Greg, for tapping
us to open the Black Flag reunion stuff and spreading the
word worldwide of Cinema Cinema, as much as he did for a
time. They both have made such major contributions to so
many artists paths over the decades. It’s an honor
to be counted among those lucky ones.
Q: Having toured both the Eastern and Western sections
of Europe, have you noticed many differences in the people
coming to shows or in your daily exchanges? Where have you
received the best or most involving reaction?
I can say with total honesty that there’s been nothing
but positive experiences and supportive enthusiastic crowds
at the majority of the European shows, east or west. The
wonder and care attached to music lovers over there seems
to come from very a committed place. They take their art
seriously! New things excite them. You CAN be a small band
and still be received very well over there. All the scenes
are supportive, not competitive. It is a radically different
experience, in terms of the entire touring endeavor. The
clubs and owners understand that paying the band, feeding
the band & helping to arrange lodging goes without argument
or conversation, it is a given.
We have done really well in Germany, Berlin and Hamburg
especially. Also in Austria, Vienna is one of our best stops,
every tour. It is a consistent spot where we have as many
people who know us and come to support as we do here in
almost any of the states.
Q: Has the time away had any negative effect on
your jobs, relationships or hygiene?
Nothing has been affected enough so as to pose any issue
with our continued pursuit. We’ve quit jobs, but we’ve
gotten new jobs. We have loved ones who understand us and
accept who we are. The fact that we’ve been at this
for over a decade now speaks for itself. The only thing
that can stop us would be a mutual decision made to take
a hiatus or some sort of health issue that could arise from
an unforeseen corner of life to get in the way.
You’ve performed as a duo now for a long time, but
you’ve had some additional players along the way.
Martin Bisi immediately comes to mind. Has there been a
time when you’ve considered bringing more personnel
to the band permanently?
No. At the very beginning, as soon as we felt the energy
between the two of us when playing, we made the decision
to not look for other members on a permanent basis, ever.
That’s not to say that some other guests aren’t
slated to appear on upcoming stuff, as we do have some cool
and exciting things on the horizon. Stay tuned!
Q: You’ve been releasing new music at a steady
pace for some time now. Each one seems to come with an added
bonus, i.e., the legendary production of Don Zientara, your
tour with Black Flag and of course working with Martin Bisi.
Was there anything special outside of the music itself on
Man Bites Dog that I may have missed?
This was our second record in a row working with Bisi.
Those building blocks of experience proved powerfully important
in terms of the end result achieved. I want to give a lot
of credit to him for the record that we came away with.
Martin’s input and hard work were integral, from start
The “special sauce” on Man Bites Dog is a man
named Matt Darriau. He’s likely best known as part
of the Grammy award winning jazz-world act, The Klezmatics.
He’s a reed master, a wind conjuring powerhouse and
cuts a great foil to Paul and I. Our first foray into having
a guest musician on a recording took place when Darriau
contributed saxophone to “Exotic Blood”, “Digital
Clockwork Orange” and “Shiner no. 5” on
Man Bites Dog. We have gone on to record about two albums
worth of material with Matt, for our side project with him,
a trio we call CCMD - very different type of stuff from
any other recorded output of ours. Hopefully at some point
in the future that material will see the light of day.
For more information, visit www.cinemacinemaband.com.
is an independently published music fanzine
covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage
music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State
area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music
fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming
bands and a resource for all those interested in
rock and roll.