In one of New Jersey’s best kept secrets, New Brunswick, home to Rutgers University, is a hotbed of musical talent. In particular, it’s a certain brand of post-rock bands. Gates, a post-rock five-piece is one of the best examples of the talent coming out of New Brunswick. The band is composed of Kevin Dye (vocals/guitars), Dan King (guitars), Mike Maroney (bass), Ethan Koozer (guitars), and Daniel Crapanzano (drums).
After opening for huge artists like Taking Back Sunday and Thrice, they’ve departed on their first headlining tour with support from Vasudeva and Head North. Before their show at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, we had the chance to sit down with Dan, Kevin, and Ethan for a brief interview.
Tell us a bit about your hometown in New Jersey. What was it like growing up and what was the music scene like?
Dan: That’s actually funny because these two guys are from the Midwest. So yeah, we’re actually from all over the place. I’m from central New Jersey, same with our drummer Dan Crapanzano and Mike Maroney, our bass player.
We grew up playing in the New Jersey scene. There’s a lot of great bands and a cool narrative of really inspirational bands coming from here, like Lifetime, Thursday, Saves the Day, Bouncing Souls, etc. We met up around the different towns in New Jersey and started playing. We came across these dudes, these Midwesterners, and the rest is history.
Would you say the addition of the Midwestern assets have changed your sound at all?
Dan: Absolutely. All three of us right here play guitar, and we’re all from different states, and I think that factors into our styles because our influences are different. It’s cool for me because I grew up with all New Jersey guitar players my whole life and it’s been interesting as a musician to team up with people from different states.
What was your first album purchased?
Kevin: I can’t remember the first album I bought. I do remember the first two albums I ever had were Sound Garden’s Super Unknown and Green Day’s Dookie. My parents got me those for my birthday, I believe.
Ethan: I think it was the same time frame for me. I would say Nirvana’s Nevermind and Offspring’s Smash. I remember specifically buying Stabbing Westward, and I remember my mom sitting me down and interrogating me, saying, “Are you sure this is really what you want to spend your allowance on?”
Dan: Mine probably aren’t as cool as what they said. I think it was Goo Goo Dolls or something, maybe Dizzy Up The Girl.
Were you all always involved in music, or what did you do before you were?
Everyone: I’ve always been.
Dan: We all started pretty early actually. Guitar lessons is how I got my start.
Kevin: All through high school, I played in bands and stuff. I put on shows, all the way up until now. I’ve been playing for a long time.
You guys have been together as a band since 2010. What’s one weird thing you learned about each other while touring?
Ethan: I can’t narrow it down to one.
Dan: Everyone has their own little quirks.
Ethan: We’ve all adapted to the point that I don’t think we even notice anymore.
Dan: It’s definitely a well-oiled machine at this point.
Ethan: It’s so weird because when you bring other people into our group they’re like, “Oh my gosh.”
Kevin: Nothing seems weird anymore.
Kevin: Ethan’s girlfriend and Mike’s girlfriend were talking the other day and they’re discussing going to see a movie. Megan [Ethan’s girlfriend] said, “Oh, Ethan would fall asleep in a movie,” and Victoria [Mike’s girlfriend] said, “Mike won’t want to see it because he has a very particular taste in movies.” I thought to myself, “That’s exactly right,” and thought for a brief moment, maybe we’re all dating each other too, in a weird way.
On tour, do you guys have a favorite city to play?
Dan: I think early on our favorite city to play has been Chicago. Every time we go, it’s just such a great music city. People have been really supportive ever since the first time we went out there. In terms of other cities that are cool… We started out in New Jersey, but New York has been kind of a home base for us as well. That’s definitely on the list.
Kevin: Austin’s always cool. We pretty much have something we think is really cool in every city. I look forward to something unique every place we go.
Ethan: We’ve been lucky enough to make enough rounds that we have spots we like to go to. The gyro spot in Pittsburgh specifically… We’ve all got our favorite coffee shops. Boston and Chicago were our first recognized great cities. We latched onto those two cities.
In 2016 you guys went on tour with Thrice and then opened up a show for Taking Back Sunday. What was that experience like? Any good stories you can share from the tour?
Dan: It was kind of surreal because when we were coming up, these guys were the biggest bands. They’re playing Warped Tour. It was so funny meeting them in person. I’ll never forget. We were playing the first show with Thrice and Teppei [Teranishi] their guitar player, who we’re all nerds about his guitar playing, comes up and introduces himself casually, “Hey guys! I’m Teppei!” and we all just freaked, thinking “We know!”
Seeing them play up close was incredible. Great bands. Taking Back Sunday is made of great guys. That was a holiday show and it was so fun and good vibes.
Ethan: They do the holiday show every year, so it was an honor for them to ask us. That was cool. It was cool playing for Thrice because we’ve all listened to them for a very long time. The same show Dan is talking about, I remember Ed coming up and saying, “Man, I’m real nervous for the show tonight,” and I’m like, “Shit, me too.”
Kevin: It was an awesome experience. I tried to absorb as much of the experience as I could.
Dan: I think one of the coolest things that happened for us was the last show of the Thrice tour, Kevin got to go up and sing a song with them. It was incredible. I was so stoked because I always knew Kevin was a huge Thrice fan. That was really cool to see.
Do you have any advice for young bands trying to come up in the scene?
Ethan: Take your time.
Kevin: Work on your craft.
Dan: Work on the music. No one is going to care about the band more than you. You have to put the work in. Focus on the music. There’s s0 many distractions now in the music industry. A lot of bands actually overlook the music, but at the end of the day, that’s the only lasting thing about being in a band: your music.
Kevin: I produce records as well. It’s disheartening sometimes to have these bands ask us about specific songs or topics, but they don’t care enough about the album they’re making. That is what we cared most about – really the only thing we cared about. Everything else, you have to do it.
The art, music, and live show coming together is our band. That’s what people connect to at the end of the day. Work on that until you think it’s something worth sharing with people and then the rest kind of comes naturally after that.
Plans for new music in 2017?
Dan: Yeah, we’ve been jamming more than we have in a while. We finished Parallel Lives, and we did some touring. Right now, we set up a studio space in our basement, and we’re demoing out new ideas. Bringing it all back to basics and having fun with each other. Nerding out on gear and ideas that we have.
Kevin: The three of us always have to go into the van to do vocal warm-ups. I used to do them by myself, then they started doing them with me. I wouldn’t say it’s a ritual, but it’s kind of nice that we get to go into the van and get away from everything else. It’s a half hour of peace.
Ethan: There’s no real ritual, but I definitely enjoy quiet before going on.
Dan: Figure out who’s driving. After we’re all packed up, we figure out who’s sober to drive us home.
Kevin: Mike, our bass player, really knows how to pack the trailer. That’s definitely a ritual. We load out in a specific order and pack it in like Tetris.
Any closing statements?
Dan: We’re on tour with two great bands right now: Vasudeva and Head North. They’re good friends from day one. They both put out incredible DIY records on their own.
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