While working on its eponymous first LP, bummer-pop group Soft Gondola didn’t know that it would also be its last. But lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist Daniella Trimble had a feeling.
“I didn’t know that this would be the last record, but I knew that while we were writing it that it wouldn’t be sustainable to continue playing music with people with tons of different projects,” says Trimble, “at least if it was going to be collaborative.”
Alongside Trimble, Soft Gondola is made up of Patrick Haley Coyle, Nate Campisi, and Ryan Hizer — all of whom are established members of the city’s music scene and have multiple musical endeavors outside of the band. Coyle, of late Pittsburgh band It It, purses solo work under the name Pat Coyle. As the audio recording engineer at Mr. Smalls Recording and Mastering Studio, Campisi’s name is splattered throughout EP and LP credits in the local music scene. He is also part of multiple bands, including Jiant Eagle and Locks & Dams. Hizer is the man behind the synth-rich project Good Sport and produced Sad Girls Aquatics Club smash debut EP, Vodkawine.
“We’re all super busy and feel that we can’t give it the attention that it needed anymore,” says Trimble. “So we decided it’s best to lay it to rest while we're at a high point.”
The saying goes that things come into your life for a reason, and for Trimble, Soft Gondola served as a way to get her settled and adjusted in a new city. She started the project shortly after moving to Pittsburgh in 2016.
“I feel really comfortable here and I feel like Soft Gondola was born out of a lot of uncertainty,” says Trimble, “and managing those types of feelings and the style of music we were playing was very much defined by my sort of very particular writing style. I feel like I moved away from that and I want to explore things with new musicians. You can get into a cycle playing with the same musicians over and over again.”
On Soft Gondola, the band’s first and final album, Trimble’s emotions are on the forefront. “You’re just a fuck up who thinks I’m stuck up for wanting more than your routine,” she coos in “Fuck Up.” On the sweet and melancholy track “Why Do We Bother,” Trimble sings, “It keeps getting harder to imagine, imagine, imagine, we’ll make it through.”
“These songs are all super personal for me,” says Trimble. “I take from my everyday life and interactions that I have with the people in my life that I love, and sort of navigate those relationships and write about them, so I can get those feelings out and process them for myself. A lot of the themes written about in Soft Gondola stemmed from a lot of confusion feeling in life.”
However, Soft Gondola wasn’t written entirely by Trimble. While she did come up with the lyrics and guitar chords, the creation of the album was highly collaborative. When the members were able to find time to create together, each person gave the session their full time and energy. Trimble says she left space when writing to give the others room to each add their own flare.
“It’s cool watching three really awesome musicians come to the table and figure out a way for their different style to dance around each other in this thing that I wrote,” says Trimble. “[Coyle] took it in a much more experimental direction.”
Hizer described their creative process as surreal, mentioning that everything came together easily. “Everyone in the band is a very attentive and reactive player. As a group, we're good at letting a song do what it wants, listening to each other, adjusting the arrangement, and finding spots to add color,” he says. “I've been in many bands where getting a song over the finish line can feel like pulling teeth, so I'll miss the easiness of writing with this gang and hope we find more excuses to work together.”
Soft Gondola LP release and final show. Sat., July 20. 9 p.m. Collision. ‘Ask a punk for the address’ $7-10. www.facebook.com/softgondola