Tyler Lavoie ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
No one does post rock quite like Gates. Since 2011, the New Jersey band has been mixing stunning vocal melodies, dense guitar riffage, and triumphant songwriting. But those aren’t the only things that distinguish Gates. In a recent interview, we learned about the band’s true passion: grave robbing. If you’re already a Gates fan, you’ll be happy to know that working on new material isn’t the only thing they’ve been up to as of late. They’ve also been sneaking into graveyards after hours to pillage coffins.
And if you’re not a fan after that…well, why wouldn’t you be?
Check out our chat with Kevin Dye below and see Gates with Pianos Become the Teeth at Middle East on May 12th.
What is the background of Gates? How did the band start?
I sleep really heavily, and one day I was in such a deep slumber that my mom thought I was dead. Three days later she buried me in New Brunswick as per my final wishes. I woke up, confused and panicked six feet underground in total darkness. There, I had a lot of time to think about the things I’d wish I’d done in life, chief among them being the desire to start a rock band the likes of which had never been heard. Luckily, after an indiscriminate amount of time, my grave just so happened to be targeted by an entrepreneurial grave robber named Ethan Koozer and his band of thieves; King, Arms and “Mad” Mike Maroney. Surprised to find a living, breathing person lying in the coffin they’d hoped to pillage, they asked me to join up in their life of crime. I agreed, and in a final act of fate, the robbers just so happened to play in a band in their spare time, and needed a singer, and thus Gates was formed.
What was the process for writing and recording Bloom & Breathe?
We wrote the process collaboratively, eventually trading grave robbing completely for crafting songs. We recorded the album in Long Island, and I co-produced the album with Mike Watts, which was the first time we allowed an outside producer to come into the recording process. We couldn’t have been happier with the input that he had on the album, and it was awesome being able to stay in the studio for a month straight and really focus on recording and not stealing family jewels from dead bodies.
What did you guys hope to achieve with the record, and how do you feel it’s been achieved?
With Bloom & Breathe, our main goals were to write a cohesive record, to really play to each other’s strengths, and to become huge rockstars so we don’t have to unearth loved ones and steal their treasure anymore. I’m super happy with how the album came out, and I think we really learned how to write with one another and support what each other are doing. The process of working on the track listing and the theme from the beginning was definitely tedious at first, but I think it set precedent for how we’ll write in the future and made the album flow better overall. Unfortunately we’re still not huge rockstars so we met 66.6% (repeating of course) of our goals and I’d say that’s pretty solid.
What has touring been like thus far?
Tour has been great so far, it’s been raining almost every day which really softens up the ground and makes for easier digging. We’ve also always wanted to tour with Pianos Become the Teeth, and we’re huge fans of their new record Keep You. It’s been so incredible to see them perform every night, as well as Loma Prieta who are so aggressive and great players. It’s a very eclectic tour, and there’s a lot of different sounds and styles as the night progresses which I love. But mostly we’re living by Fieldy’s Rules, partaking in pleasures of the flesh, and selling gold which we’ve stolen from the graves of those who have left us.
What can someone expect from their first Gates show?
I’m not sure I’d want someone to come in with expectations, and really just come into what we do with an open mind. That being said, we definitely try to bring the energy and dynamics of our records to the live show, and to even build upon that to really create a seamless performance. I would definitely expect to also leave the show having made out with the person standing next to you, and to have found absolutely no evidence whatsoever that we lead a pitiful life of crime.
If you could tour with any band, who would it be?
There are just so many bands that we’d love to tour with, it’s so hard to name just one since we all have different tastes. Lately I’ve been saying Nine Inch Nails, because I think it’s a pretty lofty goal and it would be insane to tour with a band I look up to so much in regards to production, performance, songwriting, the whole package. I think if we were touring with NIN it would be safe to say that we could leave our life as grave robbers behind once and for all.
What’s something you’ve done with Gates that you never imagined having the chance to do? And, going forward, what’s something you’d like to accomplish?
In 2012 we were lucky enough to tour the UK with a band called Fallacies, and that was just an unreal experience. We went to places like Thurso, Scotland, which I guarantee I would never have gotten to see had I not been in this band and had that opportunity. The drive up to Thurso was breathtaking, and it was surreal. I think in the future I would love to tour mainland Europe for the same reason, just to see places that I’ll never get to see otherwise, even if it is just the inside of a bar in most cases.
Is Gates working on anything new?
We’re working on upgrading from just graves to robbing banks, museums and jewelry stores so keep an eye out in the local papers. We’re also looking to keep touring off Bloom & Breathe, put out some unreleased material later in the year, and get to work writing our second LP as soon as we possibly can.
You can purchase the band’s debut Bloom & Breathe on Bandcamp. Check out a music video for the band’s track “Not My Blood” below: