Forging a uniquely creative sound, David Gross and Colin Ruffino first met when their world’s collided under the guidance of an eccentric art instructor in high school. It wasn’t long before Home Video was born, a band which displays an original flavor of introspective electronica that pulls influences from a variety of mix-and-match genres. It is on this night at Santa Monica’s newest venue, The Central Social Aid Pleasure Club, that Home Video performs select, finely honed songs from their new album. Before the show, they kindly step outside with MXDWN to share a few words.
Starting from the beginning, how did the idea of Home Video evolve into the band it is today?
David: We went to high school together. We were in art class and discovered that we liked a lot of the same stuff, so by the time we got to college we were playing with a third guy in New Orleans. He got married and had a few children. But the two of us [Colin and Dave] were living in an apartment in New York.
And yet, now you all live in Brooklyn.
Colin: Yeah, it’s cheaper.
David: And more humane. When I moved to the city I sublet a place with some friends and people were smearing dog shit on the doors. It was a hectic environment. Three roommates in a little basement apartment. And feces.
If it were a VH1 reality special, I would watch that.
David: Yeah, the dramatization of people smearing shit on the walls.
Colin: People were throwing used condoms in the backyard.
David: We were just being terrorized from all angles. Anyways, I happened to be working in the area and reverse commuting from Manhattan. I got to know the neighborhood as a nice escape.
Where do you guys record in Brooklyn?
David: We have a home studio, but we have to record drums in a live studio.
How do you feel that geographic change affected your music?
David: It gave us the space to set up as little studio. The most change was from New Orleans to New York rather than New York to Brooklyn. We didn’t really have a band in Manhattan, but when we moved out of New Orleans our stuff got shorter and faster.
How do you think you’ve grown musically since then?
David: Yeah, we definitely grew musically. Now we actually know what it is we like.
So you know what your aim is when you write a song?
David: Yeah. It’s much easier to get to a place where we like Home Video to be at.
Would you say more focused?
Colin: Not necessarily more focused as it is more of that aesthetic philosophy.
David: We’ve gotten a lot better production-wise too. We started off tinkering and now I think we can fool people into thinking that we know what we’re doing.
Like, “We’re a real band!”
[laughter] Yeah, exactly.
For the record, how many albums and EPs do you have out?
David: We did one album in 2006. Our first EP came out on Warped Records in 2004. We put out our own EP two years ago. All of it has been leading up to this new album, The Automatic Process.
How did you enjoy making this new album?
Colin: It was cool.
David: It was a long, arduous process.
So from 2006 to 2010, you spent all of this time honing the songs on this album?
David: Yeah, totally. Some are that old or were in progress for that long.
Colin: We’re very slow.
That could be a good thing and it could be a bad thing.
Did you ever get frustrated with yourselves because of being perfectionists about your songs?
David: Oh, yes, definitely.
So do you feel confident with the content you are releasing?
David: 100%. It just took awhile to get to that point.
What do you think is the underlining influence in the music that you make?
David: Lots of stuff. Movies, books, pop culture, politics, life.
You’re obviously both well versed in a variety of instruments. What is your individual musical background?
David: I came from a classical background. My parents are both classical musicians so I was raised on piano lessons through the end of high school and then I stopped training classically and started learning liberal arts. I’ve been getting into electronic production in high school and through college.
What about experimental rock music made you wean off of the classical teat?
Dave: I don’t know. It just fit my personality better.
Colin: I picked up guitar in my early teens and self taught. I messed around with other instruments in high school. I’m pretty untrained.
A self made man, huh? So this is your primary band; have you ever been in any other groups besides Home Video.
David: That other band, which we were both in.
After this tour, what direction do you want to take Home Video in?
David: We have this idea of making the next album within a year and see how that time constraint forces us to be less anal. It will be focused and cohesive.
Colin: also, we’ve been struggling. We have other jobs. It’s hard to commit six months to the studio and that’s part of why it takes us so long.
David: I think if we were really focused about it we could accomplish just as much in a year.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
David: a lot of it is on the darker end of pop electronic music.
Colin: Darker and maybe more thoughtful. It’s not 4/5, but it’s not frat party music.
David: It’s also smart music. I hope.
Does that mean you won’t be playing any jock jams tonight?
What musical territory would you be interested in exploring with Home Video that you have previously?
David: That’s a good question. We haven’t really discussed it. Our first album was very minimal and we tried to get the most emotional impact out of it with things like chords and layers and beats. With this one we let go and added a lot more textures and maybe we can tighten it up again. And… I don’t know. We haven’t talked about it.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and I wish you the best of luck with tonight’s show.
All photos by Pamela Lin.