If you are a fan of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive or Guided by Voices, Overlake may just be for you.

The three-piece from New Jersey recently released their dream-drenched, all-enveloping latest LP, “Fall,” the band’s first record for Bar None Records.

The Swerve Magazine recently spoke with Tom Barrett (vocal/guitar) about “Fall,” along with their harrowing ordeal with a carbon monoxide leak in their rehearsal space that inadvertently led to finding what they were missing: a full-time drummer.


The Swerve Magazine: Can you talk about the beginnings of the band? You and Lysa Opfer (bass/vocals) were playing in another band (a five-piece) when you met. What drew you together musically?


Tom Barrett: We’d known each other for a few years before we were in that band together. In late 2011, we had both started wanting to do a new thing, and we had similar tastes and a desire to start playing our own music, but it was our friend Michael DiTullio who really brought us together. He's a drummer, and in early 2012, he'd posted on Facebook about wanting to jam with some new people, and Lysa and I were the first ones to respond. We got together and played without really conferring with one another, and we came up with the main parts to the first three songs on “Sighs.” It was kind of miraculous. We eventually stopped playing together for various reasons, he ended up leaving Jersey City to go live in Austin and more recently San Francisco, but we're still friends, and this band would not exist were it not for him.

SM: How serendipitous was meeting Nick D’Amore (drummer) after going through that revolving door of drummers?

TB: Very. Not only were we going though a particularly rough drummerless period, but we'd had a carbon monoxide leak happen in the building where our practice space is in Passaic during that time. It was tragic. A bunch of folks were hospitalized, and two people perished; this guy who was kind of a big figure in the local skateboarding community and his wife. I'm not exactly sure why they were there. I heard they'd been preparing for some charity event the next day as the leak was happening, and as I understand it, they eventually just passed out and never woke up.


So things were already looking kind of grim for us and this didn't lighten the mood. Not long after, I was introduced to Nick at a mutual friend's birthday party. We quickly hit it off and had this long conversation about Sonic Youth. Our friend mentioned that Nick was a drummer and suggested we should try him out, so we invited him to a practice at a local hourly space in Downtown Jersey City. He'd learned two songs prior to meeting up and everything just clicked. We became fast friends. I think it only took two practices for Lysa and me to decide that he was going to be our drummer, and the shows have all been great ever since. His presence and energy are definitely huge assets to the band, and he's become an essential part of our lives, personally.

SM: You guys get a pretty big sound for a three-piece. Is it consciously constructed or is that just how the music naturally flows from Overlake?

TB: We were going for a big sound with just the three of us from the start, but I couldn't tell you how we got there. We use small amps, plus I'm not well-versed in the gear world at all. I just use whatever I have at my disposal, usually whatever I can afford, and just try to make it work somehow. One thing I was kind of sure about is that with the drums, the ride cymbal should be put to work and be really washy. It's kind of essential to the overall sound of most of the songs.

SM: How did going into the studio with Nick on drums change the feel of the recording process for this record?

TB: It made for a quicker process, and it took a great deal off my shoulders. I'd played all the drums on “Sighs,” so having Nick on board relieved me of that task this time out. We'd also been pretty well-rehearsed by the time we reached the studio, and we had the luxury of being able to finish the record in the same place where it started. The basic tracks for “Sighs” had all been completed at our friend Tommy Unish's space in Brooklyn along with some guitar. He lost that space during the making of the record, so we did the rest of the guitars at our practice space, vocals, and overdubs at his apartment, some vocals at my apartment with the cats running around—it was kind of chaotic. Fun, but chaotic.

SM: How do you feel this album is different lyrically, thematically and musically from "Sighs?”

TB: I really couldn't say how similar this record is to the first one, either lyrically or thematically. There are definitely feelings of loss and longing that permeate throughout both records, which is not something I'm very mindful about as I'm coming up with the words. I just try to think of words that sound like they fit with the music, and then maybe decide for myself what they could possibly mean, but not always. They're pretty abstract.


Musically, the songs are a bit more streamlined. It doesn't have the same kinds of peaks and valleys that Sighs has. That album feels slightly more experimental to me. Maybe that's because of the kind of scattered way we made it, but this one definitely has its own feel. It's a bit more straightforward.

SM: How would you describe "Fall?”

TB: I’d say it's an album you should listen to and let speak for itself, honestly. It's difficult to do that without resorting to comparing ourselves to other bands. I'm trying to get away from that, haha.

SM: When did the writing take place for "Fall"? Is there a favorite song on the album? Have you played anything from "Fall" live yet or were these songs road-tested before going into the studio?

TB: The oldest song from this record dates back to 2014, so we've been playing these songs for a while. It's time to work on new ones, which we'll do eventually, but the album is new to the world, so we'll be playing these for just a little while longer, haha.


I don't really have a favorite song on the record. It changes everyday. I'm just really super-proud of the whole thing front to back. It was a fun one to make, and it's definitely the best-sounding thing I've ever been a part of, personally. The very fact that we even completed it much less got it released still astounds me, mostly because I have a long history of never completing things, but we got to cross this finish line together. It's a good feeling.