Gavage – Self-Titled (75orLess Records and Port of Providence Records)
A couple of years ago, my friend Mike Kelly recommended checking out Gavage. I took notice mostly because in the 20-plus years of our friendship I only recall him turning on to one other band. It evolved into Kilgore and went on to become local legends that played all over the world on things like OzzFest. My friend might have missed his calling in life as a record label A&R scout because my first impressions of Gavage was, “FINALLY a punk band doing something different!” They had a saxophone going off like a lead guitar reminiscent of X-Ray Specs. I could hear influences varying from Stooges pre-punk to ’80s post-punk and everything in between, but it all comes across as natural.
The oft-delayed self-titled full-length from Gavage does a good job harnessing the energy of the band’s live show. It even has a tie in to the aforementioned Kilgore as it was produced by singer Jay Berndt. The twisting roads that Gavage drive down can be seen in tunes like “The Platonic Verse,” which starts with a jazz-like swing before winding up with an outro closer to the Dead Boys. “Five: Sixteen” takes its title and “inside outside, nowhere is home, inside outside, leave me alone” bridge from The Who song “5:15” while sounding the Raw Power era of The Stooges. “(Downtown) Where The Killers Are” is the total package as far as a jam for getting fired up on a Saturday Night. “Diamonds In The Mind” has a late ’60s Kinks-like sing-along-at-the-top-of-your-lungs chorus while “Terribly Sane” channels the Ramones. On their debut release, Gavage manage to capture the harmony of chaos that is a staple of their live shows and preserve it like a photograph. I threw some questions at Kevin Toth, David Simione, Chris Fragale and John Hoder from Gavage to find out about how the band came together, creating their debut release and what is next.
Marc Clarkin (Motif): How did Gavage come to be?
Kevin Toth: Well, Chris and I knew each other from college. When he moved to Providence, I used to visit from Brooklyn on some weekends. He eventually met David (at what would soon become our regular haunt, the E&O Tap) and it was there one night where we all decided that we wanted to start a punk band called Gavage. This is especially funny when you consider that neither Chris nor I had played in a band in over a decade, and David had once dabbled in drums but hadn’t so much as touched a drumstick in just as long.
David Simione: One night after a particularly long session at E&O, I bought a drum set off Craigslist, then immediately made Chris buy an amp and we initially set up camp at my friend’s practice space. Kevin moved to Providence from Brooklyn soon after, and Gavage became a real-life band. After a few months, a friend introduced us to John, who’d recently moved to Providence from Michigan. We thought he was cool because I’d seen a photo of him on Facebook playing a Rickenbacker bass. The first night we met John, the four of us ended up a few too deep, hopelessly trying to cover “Hybrid Moments” by The Misfits even though none of us could remember how it went; to this day, we still haven’t figured it out. We played our first show at Muldowney’s a few weeks after, and I guess people liked us.
MC: What were some of the influences that bonded the band?
KT: The greatest thing is the fact that we all came from very diverse musical backgrounds that you wouldn’t necessarily think could “add up” to anything. There is some overlap, for sure, but musically speaking we all come from different places. For me, I’d have to say The Adverts, Buzzcocks, Dead Kennedy’s and early The Damned are my biggest influences.
John Hoder: Hubble Bubble. I love this band in general, but definitely in relation to Gavage. This is what I draw from.
DS: In terms of playing drums, I would definitely have to say Jawbreaker, The Libertines, and The Menzingers; although Saves the Day and Beck are shamelessly my quintessential soundtrack to life.
Chris Fragle: Yeah, one of the greatest things about Gavage, at least to me, is that we’ve managed to pull together a coherent style that is reminiscent of other things, but we don’t sound like a copy of any one genre. If it’s not obvious from my guitar playing, my two biggest influences are The Jesus & Mary Chain and Sonic Youth.
MC: You recently finished your oft-delayed debut album – what were some of this issues you ran into?
CF: First off, Jay Berndt did a fantastic job with us on this. He really saw through the few rough edges we had and helped us make the record how we’d imagined. The toughest part was capturing the raw energy over anything else. As far as issues we faced, it took a lot of time to find the right mixes. The first pass was too huge and we came off sounding like a Butch Vig record … this was totally awesome, but not for Gavage. Then the next pass came back anemic and weak. We finally landed somewhere around Steve Albini, which did the trick.
MC: What makes for a great Gavage show?
JH: A hip-hop crew breakdancing in the audience.
MC: Now that the record is finally out – what is next for Gavage?
JH: We are looking to add another element to our sound with a keyboard player and another guitarist, which will most definitely change things up. Our next moves will really start to show once we meet the newest members of Gavage.
KT: You’ll just have to wait and see.
Gavage’s self-titled debut is available on online streaming services and in local record stores. After a raucous release party at AS220 as part of the Providence Garage Party, Gavage will be hosting a special listening party at E&O Tap in Providence on December 12 at 9pm. Copies of Gavage’s debut release will be available on CD and limited edition pink vinyl.