Countless Thousands guitarist Danger Van Gorder calls the sound "enthusiastic rock," an aesthetic created in response to all those bored-looking rock-scene kids playing SoCal stages around his native Garden Grove up to the Sunset Strip near where he's relocated (here's looking at you, Foster the People). He and bassist Davey Munch and drummer Jonathan David are just happy to be playing music—and the self-professed nerds aren't too cool to show it. Last year's aptly titled debut LP, We're Just Really Excited to Be Here, is, if nothing else, a testament to that attitude.
OC Weekly: So you guys got together on Craigslist. That's always a crapshoot. What are some music-related Craigslist horror stories you've lived through?
Danger Van Gorder: There's a quiet, spiritual horror in repeatedly meeting and inwardly cringing at unskilled musicians. Being the dude who has to say, "No, thanks" a dozen times absolutely blows. I got lucky, though; there were no cokeheads or unexplained knives, and only the one fella who turned out to be 59 years old.
You've gone through several drummers and bassists putting this project together. Why are you so hard to work with?
There comes a point when people realize exactly how dedicated I am to making music my career, and that is the precise point at which the lesser of them bail. For a number of years, I managed to only meet musicians who played music because it made them feel cool and worthwhile and sexable, and my natural wide-eyed faith in humankind tended to blind me to their innate douchiness.
You've said the musical common ground for the band is a pirate shanty. Please explain.
It was the first song we wrote after Jon had joined the band, and it spoke to all our innate nerdiness. What's cooler than a revenge song? A revenge song with fucking pirates. We just want to tell stories, and while our subject matter may occasionally be ridiculous, we will always respect the story and engage it with enthusiasm. Irony is so banal these days, anyway, so hopefully, our angle will catch on.
You refer to your style as "enthusiastic rock." What's that about?
Enthusiasm is absolutely our most defining characteristic, and "enthusiastic rock music" instantly lets people know the tone of the band without pigeonholing us. We all bring so many different schools of music to the table, but our repertoire is nevertheless cohesive and uniquely identifiable when given that theme. Plus, it's awesome to see the intrigue strike people when we are described as such. Makes them interested. Branding.
So, then, who's your antithesis? Who's the boredest-sounding band out there?
I love this question, just for the subtext of "Whose fans do you want to make enemies out of?" But I am an honest man . . . therefore I'll concede that when I first heard "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People, the room went cold and my vision narrowed. "Our battle shall be legend," I thought, and leaped into the moonlit city streets.
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Which records made you want to play the kind of music that you play?
When I was a kid, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater PlayStation game had a soundtrack that was unlike anything I'd ever heard before. Goldfinger's Hang Ups was the world beater for me. Then in high school, I discovered the Weakerthans' masterpiece Left & Leaving, an album so lyrically profound and evocative that my understanding of rock became inverted—it is a landmark of storytelling in music, something I will forever hopelessly slouch toward in my own creativity. Maybe it's too bad I never inherited their subtlety, but I guess I'm just too jittery. One of my many faults.
This column appeared in print as "Rocking the Enthusiasm."