Revealing Nature

by Stephanie Kalem
published in the Weekly Planet on August 31, 2000

His name is Jeremy Gloff, and he is an Internet addict.  As a matter of fact, his 11th and latest release, Spin Girl Spin, is a 14-step – well, 14-song – program of his own device.

“This whole album,” Gloff explains, “all the songs are kind of about me, but I cast them as different characters, …I admit, I had a pretty bad, or I do have a pretty bad Internet addictions –so the album Spin Girl Spin and the next one…a lot of that deals with that whole ordeal.”

Gloff has taken a coupla bad spins around the cyberblock.  He accidentally hooked up with a friend’s boyfriend online.  He also started a relationship with someone in Florida while still living in Buffalo, N.Y., and though the guy had helped Gloff get through a dark period in his life, he admits that the man he met at the bus station was nothing like the one he’d imagined.

Um, Jeremy, you don’t mind if I put this stuff in the article, do you?  “Yeah, you can put whatever you want,” Gloff told me more than once during the course of our interview.  “I don’t care.” I guess you couldn’t care, after releasing 11 records, all of them about yourself.  “I think if people are just more candid and honest about themselves,” he says, “something can be learned from it.”
Wise words from a man of 25.

Gloff started making music on a Casio when he was 17, recording synth-pop modeled after Madonna and Paula  Abdul, in his hometown of Fredonia, N.Y.  He didn’t learn how to play guitar till his third tape; by the fifth release he was living in Buffalo and getting a slightly harder edge.  “That was when I decided I wanted to be a spokesperson for the gay community,” Gloff recalls.  “…It was on the acoustic guitar, but it was a lot faster, a lot more sharp edges.”

Somewhere between Fredonia, Buffalo, and Tampa, Gloff hopped couches in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, constantly writing and recording, his sound evolving through synth-pop and folk-punk.  “I just never stop,” he admits.  “…there was always something new that I wanted to try.  So I just kept going and going.”

On Spin Girl Spin, to be released this October on local imprint Unshared Worldwide, Gloff filters his confessional poetics through an acoustically driven pop sound that bears marks of Kevin Kinney, Big Star, Patti Smith, and pop radio from the ‘60s on.  “When I make music,” says Gloff, “usually what I listen to is a lot different than what I write.  Like, Spin Girl Spin, the whole time all I listened to was Marianne Faithfull.  She was kind of a big inspiration. …I was also listening to a lot of Sonic Youth at the time.  Lately I have been listening to Emmylou Harris a lot.”

Throughout Spin Girl Spin, Gloff’s distinctively breathy, slightly nasal tenor – sort of a cross between Lloyd Cole and Morrissey – is wrapped around lyrics as intimate as a diary, yet often as subtle as a secret nod of assent.  “I cannot promise you forever,” he sings on the country-ish “Infrawhite,” “I cannot promise you next week/ But the words you speak/ make me hopeful again/ you haven’t complained of my laughing/ I’ve given lots of head but never compromise/ There’s truth in your eyes and this scares me.”

The recording of Spin Girl Spin began in July of ’99 but had to be delayed a few months while the bay area’s Atomic Audio studio was being renovated.  The album was finished in December.  “It took a lot longer than my next one is going to take,” says Gloff.  “I was really about ready to give up on my music before I did this one, so it’s kind of like getting back into the groove.  …I was just in a bad mental state, kind of like, oh, there’s so many singers out there, I’ve already done it all.  No inspiration, I guess.  But then Marianne Faithfull came along.  Thank god for Marianne.”

The musicians and singers on Spin Girl Spin are, in large part, folks that Gloff met at Busch Gardens, where he works.  “I think there’s a lot of talent to be found at restaurants and stuff like that,” he says, laughing.  “I’ve always worked in fast food and crappy places, and those are all the people that will never pursue anything that they do.”

For people like that, it’s a good thing there’s people like Jeremy Gloff, with an insatiable desire to bare his soul.

“I think I kind of do it for myself first,” he says.  “It’s kind of like a form of therapy.  And then after that, I would hope that maybe someone can get something out of it.  Or, it’s fun to sing along to.”

Spin Girl Spin will be available in early October.