New Jersey-based hardcore punks Gel are just over a week away from releasing their excellent debut full-length album Only Constant. On the album, Gel adds even more depth to their wonderfully frenzied hardcore as they continue to build on their sound, ripping through nine furious songs (and one chill one) in just under 15 minutes. Only Constant will be out March 31 via Convulse Records and Gel will be playing two album release shows in New York in April.
Through the magic of the internet, Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with guitarist Anthony Webster to talk about the new album, their first European tour, and more. Read the interview below!
Only Constant will be your first full-length album. What was the recording process like? How did it differ from recording an EP?
The recording process felt no different than anything we've done before. It was mostly just done by ourselves, but it was engineered and produced by our friend Trish, whose touches were very welcomed and helpful. The writing process was definitely a little more stressful, as we wanted to create something cohesive and not just a collection of songs. I think we did exactly what we set out to do with this record.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Usually, I have done most or all of the songwriting. On this record, we were a lot more collaborative and wrote with multiple members of the band being present at a time and every song has had multiple demos and changes over the process of writing to recording. Everything for this record was written between November 2021 and February 2022, all while touring and playing shows. So we were definitely in a groove and felt much more creativity just flow out of us. The previous EP/tracks were all written at the beginning and end of the pandemic, so we weren't consistently playing all together.
“Composure” is the longest song you’ve ever written, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. Is this the beginning of longer songs from Gel?
I don't think so. The song is long just because I really liked the idea of repeating the outro over and over again. When we were writing it just felt natural to keep it going and we could've made it longer but that might've been annoying. I don't think I could consistently write songs over 2 minutes long.
At the end of “Out of Mind”, someone says “yeah, we’re fucked”. What was going on in the studio at this time?
I just thought the clip was funny, it's a clip of Stavros Halkias during his standup special we watched the day earlier. But also, yeah, we're all fucked.
Your song “Calling Card” features voicemails from your fans where they talk about their lives and their relationship with hardcore punk. How did the idea to build a song around fans’ voicemails come about? How did you choose which ones to use?
We just made the voicemail line a few months prior thinking "Hey, maybe this will be cool?" When we were finishing up the record we were just having fun listening to them and thought it would be cool to bridge the record together with them. There were probably 150 of them, but a lot were a little too unhinged. It was awesome. I liked the idea of the first one being somebody's displeasure with hardcore, and the last one being somebody more stoked about hardcore.
How would you describe your relationship with hardcore punk? How did you get into punk music?
I got into 'punk' through stuff like Senses Fail, AFI, Thursday, etc in 2006 when I was 12. A few years later, once I started playing guitar, I fell heavily in love with stuff like Ceremony, Trash Talk, Punch, and so on. All I wanted to do was play loud, stupid, bursts of noise. I got into powerviolence and screamo after high school and that taught me a lot about DIY shows and touring and shaped how I do things from that point on. Even though we're not "100% DIY" anymore, I still do just as much work and put in just as much effort as I've always done.
Why do you think hardcore punk in particular unites so many people?
Messed-up people are attracted to the noise and the chaos.
You’ve mentioned how important it is for you to welcome younger people into the scene and encourage them to express themselves. How do you make sure people feel welcome at your shows? Do you feel like the scene is more welcoming now than it used to be?
I think we do it just by existing. Maybe it's two members of our band being openly non-binary, encouraging people to move up, stage dive, and jump around. I'm not sure, but we're glad it's happening. And yes, it's definitely more welcoming.
What advice would you give to someone who is going to their first hardcore show?
Don't overdo it. You can stand to the side, don't get too overzealous and hurt yourself or get people mad at you. Or just catch the stagedivers or something. All you need to do is show up.
You’ve described Gel as a “vehicle for chaos to unfold”. What helps you tap into the chaotic energy?
Listening to ABBA.
What is the most chaotic show you’ve ever played?
The Sonic show was probably the most chaotic overall.
You have some festival appearances coming up this year as well as headlining shows. What is the biggest difference between playing festivals and playing shows? Do you have a preference?
We've never actually played any big non-hardcore festival yet, Adjacent Fest will be our first one. Honestly, HC fests are awesome, but I'd rather play a 250-cap room with a tiny stage any day.
You are currently on your first European tour with Cold Brats, who you released a split with in 2022. What has this experience been like? What is the biggest difference between playing in Europe and playing in the US?
Europe really takes care of artists. They make sure you have a bed to sleep in, a hot meal, and more snacks than you know what to do with. Everybody is super kind. We didn't expect to play to more than 30-50 a night on this tour, yet here we are with 10 out of 12 shows being sold out in rooms as big as 350-cap. It's truly mind-blowing, none of us have ever been overseas before.
How did you and Cold Brats meet?
I randomly found their EP on Bandcamp one day in 2020 and just hyped it to no end. I started talking to Volo on Instagram here and there and fast forward a year later and we decided to do a split together. They’re an awesome band and awesome people.
During your shows you sometimes play a piano interlude. What inspired this? What song is it?
We just found it online and thought it sounded cool. We don't generally talk or preach anything between songs, so we just wanted to fill the silence while we caught our breath and sipped some water.
What are you listening to now?
Currently I'm listening to the new MSPAINT record while typing this. Also loving the new Alice Phoebe Lou single, Nuovo Testamento LP, and Narrow Head LP.
What’s next for Gel?
A lot of touring. Maybe we'll write another record one day too.
|4/21||TV Eye||Ridgewood, NY||w/End It, Faze, Exhibition, Phantom|
|4/22||St. Vitus||Brooklyn, NY||w/Peace Test, Taking Meds, Dogbreath|
|4.29||Atlantic City, NJ||Anchor Rock Club||w/Gorilla Biscuits|
|4.30||Providence, RI||The Met||w/Gorilla Biscuits|
|5.6||Melbourne, FL||Punk In The Park|
|6.3-4||Detroit, MI||Tied Down Fest|