Playing Like ‘Grown-Ups’: We Chat With The Saratoga Springs Pencildive Band
May 22, 2021 –
It turns out that you can just “create a group”. Just ask Pencildive singer / songwriter Gina De Nardo. She and drummer Zach Hirsch recently told me about their first full album. The adults. It was recorded in a cabin in the Adirondacks during the pandemic. Hirsch calls it “a catharsis record.” You can hear the funnel of emotion that Hirsch describes on the ten tracks that will be released on May 28 on Albany’s Paintbox Records. And if Zach Hirsch’s name sounds familiar to NCPR listeners, it’s because he was an NCPR reporter from 2013 to 2018.
Gina De Nardo: I mean, I’ve always played music my whole life. But as far as being able to actually enjoy having a band, you know, there was a point where I was like, wait, can you just make a band? Can you just do that ?!
GDN: I am Gina De Nardo, I am the singer and songwriter and guitarist of Pencildive.
Zach Hirsch: And I’m Zach Hirsch, the drummer from Pencildive.
Doyle Dean: You have a new record soon.
GDN: Yeah. The album is called The adults.
DD: So where was it recorded? And was it recorded during the pandemic?
GDN: Yes. And we were lucky enough to be able to go up to a cabin up north that my friend owns and we brought all our gear there and checked in for a few days. I think technically two days? Is it correct? One day! A real day … I don’t know, the weather is crazy. And our friend Jesse (Bolduc, from Nashphone Studios), who recorded and mixed the album, you know, brought all his stuff, we put the mic all over the booth. And we were just tough.
ZH: I would say the severity and difficulty of the pandemic, I don’t know about you, Gina, but it definitely leaked into my playing on the album. That kind, the experience of recording in that booth in the Adirondacks was like, kind of an oasis of, dunno, hope and joy, in a way because it was a time really difficult, we had figured out this thing to do it safe. And it was just like, not just Ordinary, but as amazing be there with everyone. All that energy must have been channeled into the music during those few days. And it did. And it was really cathartic. And I think it comes out on the album like I think it’s a catharsis album.
GDN: It is a place dominated by men. And you know, a lot of times you’re the only woman on the poster. I think people don’t expect me to go on stage and be loud and scream. And so it’s nice to see people being surprised about it. And it’s also good to inspire other women who are considering doing something like this.
DD: Yes. Is there someone who has inspired you for a long time?
GDN: Oh, that’s a very good question. Wow. The turning point for me, I guess, was … I was playing drums, the first “band” type band I was in, playing gigs and projects that were fun and fun. And I played drums in there and I was just like, wow, we just like to put together a band. I imagine that maybe that’s what inspired me. Or maybe it planted the seed, for me thinking that maybe I could do something with my songs, which I always wanted to do, but didn’t really trust. So here is.
DD: What do you think gave you confidence?
GDN: I just do that.
DD: You take center stage as a singer, guitarist, do you remember the very first show you kinda liked, took the stage, and what it was like?
Google Display Network: Yeah, so much anxiety. So Pencildive was originally a two-piece, and that was me and my friend Asa. And I think we played an Open Mic or something. But they introduced us a little bit, you know, they did something about it.
DD: And you’re kind of like, no, no, no. Hush.
Google Display Network: Yeah, I was like, that’s not what I wanted. Yeah, and you know, it’s so silly because you think, you know, there aren’t a ton of people here. I just got on stage. We’re just trying to see what the songs sound like. But yeah, definitely a ton of anxiety. I had so much anxiety that I went on stage and forgot how to play one of my songs, Zach went through that …
DD: So what are you doing?
Google Display Network: What do I do? We didn’t play that song. I was like, “I don’t remember!”
DD: Tell me about what it’s like to play a live show. And I know you must be dying to play live, in front … in a club or whatever. You know, what is this? When is everything going well?
Google Display Network: It’s good. When you play, I mean you give and take energy from everyone, right? So you like to get that not only from your band mates, but also from the people participating in the performance. So, I mean, it’s, you know, you kind of feed off of it.
ZH: It’s like the state of flux, it’s like that, it feels really good and natural. And then it’s also another level of this catharsis and just the energy that is pouring out. And I think the album captures that really well, but I think it’s even better live and it’s even better live. So yeah, we’re really dying to do that.
Learn more about Pencildive here. This piece is part of NCPR’s Underscore project. Pencildive was featured on The Dean’s List (indie rock, alternative pop and more) which airs Mondays from 3 p.m. to 3 p.m. on NCPR. North Country Public Radio is supported by the listener. We rely on our digital media listeners and consumers to create content like this. You can support NCPR here.