By Justin Vellucci
Pittsburgh Current Contributing
Audiophiles and home-recording aficionados will not believe their ears when they hear Gaadge, it’s that simple.
Frontman Mitch DeLong, who founded the project as a solo endeavor in Erie in 2014 and has since expanded it to a full band since moving to Pittsburgh in 2016, recorded the group’s 12-song debut on free Audacity software he found on the Internet. But for some reason, the Crafted Sounds record, which is titled Yeah?, sounds like it was handled by pros and is larger than life.
“All of this stuff has been recorded either at my house or our practice studio,” DeLong, who lives in Bloomfield and works in a Strip District coffee shop, matter-of-factly explains. “We have yet to go into a studio to [record].”
DeLong doesn’t heap praise on the Audacity software, though. Instead, he hails Ryan Hizer of Good Sport and Trey Curtis, who mixed and mastered all of his rough draft recordings.
“Both of those guys just nailed it,” he laughs.
Gaadge – which references a line DeLong half-heard in a movie while falling asleep one night – debuted with a split cassette they funded and self-released with lo-fi Pittsburgh heroes Barlow in 2018. The first peek at the newest Gaadge material hit the Internet Feb. 11 with the release of the single “Twenty Two.”
“[‘Twenty Two’] seemed the most accessible representation of the thing we could put out to get people’s attention,” DeLong says. “There are catchy songs [on the new LP] but they’re all a little different.”
The man speaks the truth. Yeah? flirts with the sensory-drenching shoegaze style of My Bloody Valentine and Swirlies as much as it does the sloppy but catchy college rock of Pavement. Songs like “Intro” rock and blister the skin; they sit right alongside tracks like “Creeping Weeks,” which is complete with lush synth washes and quiet acoustic refrains. At times, the band echoes the lo-fi ethos and vibe of Pittsburgh’s Barlow.
Ethan Oliva, a White Hall native and CCAC student who works a retail job most days, plays guitar alongside DeLong in the band. He’s also one of the two Gaadge-ettes who also happens to play in Barlow; drummer Andy Yadeski is the other one. (Bassist Nick Boston rounds out the line-up.)
“I’ve been playing and writing – badly – since I was 5,” Oliva says. “I pretty much taught myself everything with recording and guitar playing.”
But what about COVID? Well, Gaadge knows its social distancing and plowed forward as best it could. The group started recording the LP in April 2020, as the first wave of the pandemic was cresting. Many of the band’s fans haven’t even heard much of the material.
“We’re just dying to play these things live,” Oliva says. “For the most part, these songs have not seen the light of day or anything.”
Oliva, like DeLong, also is stunned by the scope and polish the free Audacity software branded their quartet’s work.
“I think this album sounds much bigger than the setting actually was,” Oliva says. “I think people might be shocked to hear how little equipment was used.”
The Pittsburgh institution Crafted Sounds will release Yeah? on cassette, CD, and on your favorite music-streaming platform on March 19.