Interview: Gates

Courtesy of Sean Murphy

Courtesy of Sean Murphy

By: Sean Murphy
Che Cafe
5 May, 2014

Before scores of indie-rock obsessed fans, New Jersey-based Gates performed in La Jolla at the Che Café Collective on Sunday, May 4th. Prior to the show, lead guitarist Ethan Koozer indulged a few questions about Gates’ creative catalysts and their recent nationwide tour with Frameworks and Tiny Moving Parts.

TV: So let’s get the toughest question out of the way. Is tonight’s show going to be good, or great?

E: I’m thoroughly excited for it, Gates as a band has never played California at all, let alone San Diego.  The California shows have been awesome so I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

TV: What has inspired Gates to create the music you’ve put out?

E: We pride ourselves in doing whatever we want to do, and we make jokes to ourselves because we’re not “the cool band” at all. Our determination for writing, is writing music that we enjoy. I often wonder, how many people haven’t gotten the shivers listening to a song? In that sense, we get a huge spark from just making people think. Writing our new record took over two years. We think a lot about everything, and we don’t take it lightly at all. In terms of reason why we do it…I think it would be cool (for the music) to have an adverse reaction on the listener. To have them spend time with it, and listen to it, and just pull something away from it.

TV: What does Gates hope to achieve in the long-term?

E: To pay our bills! It’s a hard business to sustain being in a band like this. We all have rent and bills to pay. We all have jobs back home, but to be in the band you need to be on the road a lot. It’s a second job, so it’s hard for employers and people to understand that. In order to keep our passion alive, and do what we want, the long-term goal would be: to be able to do what we love to do…which ultimately means we would have to get paid for it. (Laughs)

Gates’ performance included numbers from their new album You Are All You Have Left to Fear. Gates’ unhinged cool coalesced with capable musicianship, demonstrating that their live show is a spectacle that ought to be consumed in person. After Gates’ set ended, vocalist Kevin Dye talked about the content of Gates’ music in the wooded parking lot behind the Che Café:

photo credit: Sean Murphy

photo credit: Sean Murphy

TV: Regarding the album title, You Are All You Have Left to Fear, does this imply overcoming an individual’s self-perceived shortcomings?

KD:  Yes, in a real general sense. In the context of the song, it’s referencing body image issues specifically. I just feel that society forces people to feel that they have to look a certain way. You either have to look that way, or you’re not happy with the way you are. So you want to change yourself, then you look in the mirror, and you’re not happy with what you see all the time. And no matter how many times someone tells you that, ‘you are beautiful’, you can’t accept it. It was something I was frustrated with at the time since people feel that they have to look a certain way, which I don’t feel is important at all.

TV: In that case, would you describe the new song ‘They Only See Shadows’ as an encouragement for people to become more self-aware?

KD: I think it just came from a spot of frustration with that, and maybe necessarily feeling like it’s not going to change in my lifetime, and it’s not going to change in somebody else’s lifetime. Though it could benefit them if it did. Maybe somebody that doesn’t really have the realization that society, or anything, is making them feel the way they are, and that they can change that, and they just don’t know how. (When) there’s no one there to really say to them that, ‘it’s o.k.’ We’re trying to say that, and just have a voice, and say something about it. Although whether it makes a difference remains to be seen.

As veterans of the New Jersey indie/basement rock scene, Gates has impressively self-produced two EP’s since 2011. With bands like Thursday as their inspiration, Gates adheres to a regimen of extensive practice sessions 3 times a week in their basement rehearsal space. Their diligence consequently paid off by touring with bands like Prawn and Gifts from Enola, before signing to Pure Noise Records. Their new label re-released their EP You Are All You Have Left To Fear in 2013.  Lately, Gates toured with The Gaslight Anthem, and have just finished recording their debut full-length with producer Mike Watts (The Dear Hunter, As Tall As Lions), due out on Pure Noise later this year.

photo credit:

photo credit: Sean Murphy