There’s a band called Cleaners from Venus that Jack Andrews, the singer-guitarist of Bloomington shoegaze band Daguerreotype, said he could talk about all day.
Cleaners was formed in 1980 by a prolific songwriter named Martin Newell. Frustrated with the music industry, Newell began recording songs in his kitchen on days off and self-distributing the music on cassette tapes, which he sold at a low cost.
Newell wrote and recorded music for the joy of making music, Andrews said.
Andrews said his roommate and bandmate Drew Auscherman makes music for the same reasons, who also fronts the indie rock band HOOPS.
Both HOOPS and Daguerreotype are lo-fi and self-recorded, and both have released music on tape.
Despite limited releases and Internet presences, the bands have recently garnered media attention outside of the Bloomington indie music scene, with HOOPS drawing mentions in prominent music outlets like the FADER and Gorilla vs. Bear.
“It did kind of come out of nowhere, but it’s nice that people are paying attention and listening and seem to like it,” Auscherman said. “I by no means want to be like, ‘Yeah, press is whatever.’ It’s cool. At the same time, it’s not everything, and it’s weird when people try to talk about it.”
The buzz came around the time Auscherman uploaded HOOPS’s “TAPE #1” to YouTube in early January. HOOPS released another demo, “TAPE #2,” and Daguerreotype, in which Auscherman plays drums, has one demo out and another on the way.
Aside from the recent press, Auscherman said he acknowledges there’s not much information about either band online — so little that he’s the only HOOPS member referenced in the blog buzz, even though bassist Kevin Krauter is involved in songwriting, too. That lack of information is partially personal preference and partially in line with historical do-it-yourself mindsets, he said.
“It’s really weird to think about how easy it is for people to get all of your information,” he said. “I dislike that a lot, but I think a lot of the secretiveness is just having fun because even being secretive in indie rock and punk or whatever is totally overdone, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to do.”
The house the two musicians share bore marks of DIY musicianship: in the living room, a coffee table was covered with craft supplies, a box of cassette tapes rested on the floor and a borrowed Korg drum machine sat across the room.
“We sort of know what we’re doing,” Andrews said. “It’s mostly about doing a lot of things and figuring out what works best.”
Both HOOPS and Daguerreotype draw heavily on ’80s pop and indie music. Andrews said he points to the Cleaners from Venus, early indie band Felt and shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine as his three primary influences.
Andrews said he has also been influenced by ’60s pop music, from the Byrds to the Beach Boys. Both members appreciate a human-technology dichotomy that’s affected their visual art elements, he said.
“We both like it when things look ... like something mechanical done by a human,” he said. “It’s got the perfectionism of a machine, but it’s done by a human, so there’s going to be some human error in it.”
The roommates’ home-recording skills have improved over time, Andrews said. After a couple of years recording, he said he thinks the upcoming Daguerreotype demo is the best-sounding release he and Auscherman have come up with.
Andrews said he hopes to have that demo out sometime in the next month. It’s also more collaborative than the band’s first release, which saw him playing all the instruments on several tracks.
“For the most part, one of my goals for this one was to have everyone on it so it sounds more like the band,” he said.
In addition to their main projects, the roommates collaborated on a tape late last year under the name Gum. A straightforward rock project contrasting with the other projects’ reverberated tendencies, the Gum tape provided recording practice and a songwriting refresher, Auscherman said.
“At least for me, it makes myself feel like a fresh songwriter if I just don’t focus too much on one thing, because then I think things can go stale really fast,” he said.
And even though he and Andrews are active in the local music indie scene, Auscherman said they have no plans to play live shows with Gum.
“Sometime in the last year or so, I realized that recording matters a hell of a lot more to me than playing live,” Auscherman said. “We both kind of stopped feeling like we had to play shows and felt more comfortable saying no.”
HOOPS’s immediate future includes a show Saturday at the Blockhouse with Grand Rapids, Michigan, band Jade TV. For Daguerreotype, Andrews said he has already started work on a third tape, and though he could see the band recording a full-length eventually, he’s taking the band step-by-step.
“Once we’re done with (tape) two, I’ll start doing three,” he said. “I love the idea of always doing something.”