August 1998

The Gerbils
"Are you Sleepy"

You already know about Neutral Milk Hotel, so meet the Gerbils - bassist Scott Spillane, guitarist Will Westbrook and drummer Jeremy Barnes - essentially the current NMH line-up minus singer Jeff Magnum. The four band members have known one another for years; Spillane, Westbrook and Magnum's friendship goes all the way back to Ruston, Louisiana - Elephant 6's birthplace. With NMH topping college radio charts, the Gerbils have released their full-length debut, "Are You Sleepy?" (Hidden Agenda/Elephant 6), a collection that follows the band from fuzzbox pop of their first singles through to newer songs that feature wilder instrumentation and orchestration. "The new songs are probably a lot more thought-out," says Westbrook. "There are more instruments. But we still try to keep [the songs] simple. Scott writes some amazingly beautiful songs, and a lot of them are really heavy. Then we'll pop them out. I get a hold of them and put some interesting sounds on top of that."