Hardcore Road Warriors Gel’s “Only Constant” is Raw Energy (Interview)
Gel are a hardcore band out of New Jersey that have grown in popularity in recent years, all leading up to their debut album Only Constant. It's out March 31 on Convulse Records. Meanwhile check out the singles -- including "Dicey" which was released today -- at the end of this post.
Having a 2022 that featured an opening slot for a recent tour with Early Moods, Municipal Waste, and High on Fire as well as a legendary hardcore extravaganza at a local Sonic Drive-In, there is no size of an audience that Gel don’t plan on decimating with mass intensity. Emphasizing that they are more of a stage dive type of band rather than a horseshoe, the band invite as many fans to the front line to be up close and personal as humanly possible.
I spoke to guitarist Anthony Webster about Gel’s contemporaries, their sound, and what being from New Jersey does for a bands’ sound, as well as what playing a lot of shows can do for a band who haven’t released a ton of music to the public. We also touched on their DIY aesthetic, their work ethic, and future plans for this fervent five-piece.
Based on their tour schedule for 2023, they certainly aren’t going to be sitting still; getting to take this show on the road to Europe and play with legendary act Gorilla Biscuits has set the bar even higher for a band continuing to make a name for themselves in the heavy music sphere. Their shows also include two nights of release shows in NYC in April.
What sets Gel apart from their hardcore contemporaries?
Honestly, I think we just pull from different things. I’m influenced just as much by goth, post-punk, and power pop as I am by ‘80’s punk and hardcore. We’re just playing what we want to play, and I think the same can be said about all of our contemporaries. It’s why I feel like there’s a lot of different sounds, and it all feels genuine in hardcore right now. Everybody seems to just be doing their own thing while holding on to the foundation that was built in the ‘80s.
What are the major tenets in your sound?
We won’t want to overthink. All of the classic punk and hardcore songs are two riffs. We try to live by that same logic. Simplicity is powerful.
Does being from New Jersey make a difference in your sound? If so, what specifically is it?
I think being from New Jersey influenced my tastes as a kid. I loved Senses Fail, Thursday, Saves The Day, My Chemical Romance, You And I, etc. I feel like most of those bands started with a strong DIY work ethic and mentality that heavily rubbed off on me. Yeah sure, maybe you can’t stay DIY forever, but you can put in the same amount of work still. As for sound, I think we could’ve pulled from anywhere to get where we are now.
What have been some of your favorite shows to play? How about that Sonic show?
The Sonic show was definitely really fun and funny. I loved the chaos and stress of the whole night. It made it feel so rewarding. Some of the best shows we’ve played just keep happening, one-upping themselves. Most recently; Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Orlando, Richmond, Kansas City, just to name a few.
I detect a good amount of classic hardcore and ripping punk rock amongst the riffs and energy; how have the fans been during the shows?
It’s been awesome. More stage dives and less horseshoe. Like, we’re not a horseshoe band. We don’t have any riffs hard enough for that big pit to make sense. I’d rather see kids crawl over each other. It’s been really showing recently; I’m happy our shows move the way they do.
How did you gain such a large following considering the general lack of material available to the general public?
We honestly just play a lot of shows. I don’t know how or why it happened. We just play a city, have fun, and then come back a couple months later, and there’s double the kids. This band is something I put a lot of energy into, so every day I’m doing something to keep it moving, whether it be working on merch ideas, scheming up a tour, or just interacting with people. It’s probably a little bit of all of that with a generous helping of time and place. Hardcore is in a weird and really cool moment right now, and we just happen to exist at the same time.
How did that tour with Municipal Waste and High on Fire come about?
We just got asked if we could do it, and then did it! We played a show with Dave Witte’s other band Under Attack last summer; maybe that’s how they caught wind of us. Municipal Waste are awesome people, an awesome band. I hope we get to do more with them.
What should fans expect when it comes to your debut LP, Only Constant?
Some fast, some stompy, some weird. I don’t think we really changed our sound in any way; I like to think of it as just being the fully realized version of what we’ve wanted to do from the start. It’s like a more grown up, more cohesive version of Violent Closure.
What will the rest of 2023 bring for the five of you?
Lots of shows, lots of touring. A lot of bucket list stuff.
Any other plans or announcements to be made at this time?
Announcing two cool tours in the coming months; it’s going to be a fun year.
Listen to the new singles:
Preorder the album here.