“WE’RE VERY BAD AT STAYING IDLE”
Opening for a headliner has always been a great way to expose your music. New Jersey’s post rock outfit Gates caught my attention when they opened up for Thrice in NYC recently. I linked up with singer/guitarist Kevin Dye during his first day off after finishing up their tour where we discussed their new album Parallel Lives, and his appreciation for the life he gets to lead which is an experience that most people don’t get to have.
PARALLEL LIVES || INTERVIEW
SONIC HIGHLARK: I caught you guys over at Playstation Theater, that was an awesome show!
KEVIN DYE (GATES): Thanks man, yeah we had a blast!
SONIC: I’ll start with a tour question, what’s it like touring with Thrice and La Dispute? Are there any interactions besides the shows?
KEVIN: We hung out with La Dispute more than Thrice on this run, just because of the timing of everything. We did 5 days with just La Dispute so we got to know them on that leg. There wasn’t too much time to hang since they had buses and we had our van. When we did get to hang out it was great, they’re all great dudes. The last night was especially great because we had a shared greenroom so everyone was in the same place. It was really cool and a great way to end the tour.
SONIC: I really like the artwork for your new record Parallel Lives. Is there a specific artist you guys go to? It definitely feels thematically consistent with the artwork for your previous albums.
KEVIN: Cool thanks, actually our guitarist (Dan King) and bassist (Mike Maroney) do all our artwork so they continued to do it for this one. Mike’s a photographer so he took a bunch of photos and made a collage, and King is a graphic artist so he put it together. I think it turned out amazing I think it’s my favorite so far.
SONIC: Besides music, what are some hobbies you guys have?
KEVIN: Besides music? It’s funny this is a common question all of a sudden that people like to ask us, it’s like being a musician isn’t interesting anymore so they want to know what else we like.
SONIC: Haha, yeah I guess the musician question get’s repetitive after a while, so people (including me) try to ask about other things.
KEVIN: I totally get it, but truth be told I work at a bar and I’m an audio engineer so the band was my other interest and hobby that I did on my free time and in some ways it still is a hobby. I’m working on music for work and writing music on my free time so this is what I do and I don’t really do anything else.
SONIC: I read that’s sort of how you met the band, you were trying to record them or something?
KEVIN: Yeah, I was more or less trying to get the job recording the band. I remember saying to them that even if I don’t get the singing job I’d still love to record the band. I ended up being in the band and then getting the recording job as well. I’ve co-produced the last 2 albums with Mike Watts and had a hand in the recording process.
SONIC: I used to play in a band and worked at a bar so I totally get it. I’m still involved in music but now I’m on the media side which I never though I’d be in. Funny how things work sometimes.
KEVIN: Yeah, totally.
SONIC: Are you a vinyl guy?
KEVIN: I do have some, I wouldn’t say I’m a vinyl guy.. I don’t collect variants or anything like that. If it’s there I don’t care what color it is or anything but I do like owning physical records. I also have a very large CD collection. I’m sure a lot of people got rid of theirs but my car doesn’t have an aux input so that’s the only way I can listen to music. I like looking at the records, reading the liner notes and interacting with it you know?
SONIC: For sure. The general public has a single song to song kind of listening habit now where they can just pick a few songs they like from an album. I also like the physical albums where there’s a theme for the record and even a style that’s not the same as another album done by the same band.
KEVIN: That’s how we think as writers too. You’re right, this is kind of a world where it’s moving into the streaming services, single downloads and everything it’s very single driven. I think a lot of artists even make songs that are just meant to be heard once and then move on to the next thing. Our records are specifically made to be an entire piece and have a theme throughout to reflect the place and time we’re at. Why make a record to just throw 10 songs on it? But yeah, an album is a rock music staple where you try to make every song count as opposed to having a few good songs and having fillers.
SONIC: There are a lot of cool bands from New Jersey and in the East Brunswick area, I don’t want to call it a scene but is there a community type of thing?
KEVIN: I’m from Michigan originally and then I moved to Brooklyn and now in Jersey so I came into this a little awestruck almost. There really wasn’t a scene in Michigan or at least I wasn’t part of one, and I remember seeing all these great bands that were just starting out around the same time we were and expecting them to be huge. Also it was just by chance I guess there were great bands within our sound and none of us knew each other but we all ended up crossing paths. You got Vasudeva, I just did their last record and they have new one coming out soon. Owel, I engineered and mixed their new record and they’re great so I think it’s interesting that this type of sound was prevalent in the area. I’m just proud and happy to be a part of it and be able to call these guys my friends.
SONIC: When you moved out to Brooklyn did you have something lined up or did you just make a move?
KEVIN: I sort of just made the move. I had an internship in upstate New York which lasted about 8-9 months then I ran out of money. I graduated college in 2008, which was probably the worst time to do so, no jobs at all. I worked at Target and lived in my parents basement for two years and eventually I kind of had a mental breakdown and I said I have to do something so I quit the job. Few weeks later my aunt hooked me up with this internship in kind of a roundabout way and sent me on this path. Luckily she did that, and I was able to get into music. I still don’t make a living off of it and not sure I ever will but I’m just happy to be able to do it day in and day out…. not just work with my band but other great bands in the area and record and produce their records. I’ve also met so many great people and a lot of them are people that I’ve looked up to – touring with bands like La Dispute and Thrice and to be able to call them peers it’s just incredible.
SONIC: It’s important that you’re already doing what you love to do.
KEVIN: For sure man. It’s a lot of work but it’s what I want to do. You have to take this as an experience, and it’s one not many people get to have.
SONIC: I know so many people who may have more money but are completely miserable, so which is really worse?
KEVIN: Exactly, I envy people that own a house and are married and have kids but then they envy me in a way, so you have to be just thankful for what you have. This tour was beyond anything I could have ever imagined and anything we do has been really really great. A large part of that is due to all these bands getting behind us and asking us to tour with them specifically and supporting what we do. That to me is the number one thing that keeps me going, to know that these people that make music just like me and are in it with me respect each other.
SONIC: Last thing, what’s in the near future for you guys?
KEVIN: We just got off this tour, so we’re going to chill at this lake today. We’re in Lincoln Nebraska which is Ethan’s (Ethan Koozer – Guitarist) hometown. We’re at his parents’ house so we’re going to relax. I woke up with a cold though today, probably because we got maybe a total of 8 hours of sleep in 3 days from all the driving and we had a show last night here in Lincoln so I think my body is just giving up. At least the tour is over and I made it all the way through, so I’m pretty stoked on that. I’m really glad I didn’t get it on the last day of the show. We have some touring plans coming up for the rest of the year as well, we’re just going to keep promoting this record and we have some ideas for video content we want to make. We’re very bad at staying idle so even when we’re home we’re going to be making things and writing new material, it’s just what we do you know?
SONIC: Yeah man, that sounds awesome! I love the new record and hopefully you’ll be coming back around to New York for the next tour.
KEVIN: Yeah, we’ll definitely be doing that. Hopefully we’ll do a NYC headline record release show so that’ll be finalized soon probably. Make sure you come out to that and hangout!
SONIC: Will do for sure!
KEVIN: Sorry I missed your call earlier but my phone was dying and I needed to find a charger. I lost all my chargers on tour so.. (laughing)
SONIC: It’s all good man, you’re probably in some awkward position leaning against the wall because the cord isn’t long enough or something.
KEVIN: That’s exactly what I’m doing.
SONIC: Haha, well enjoy your day at the lake and I hope you feel better man!
KEVIN: Thank you so much!
Live Photos © Sonic Highlark. All Rights Reserved.