The City Gates: immersed in sound
Hailing from Montreal, Canada, The City Gates are “an indie rock band inspired by the 80’s & 90’s shoegaze, post-punk and dream pop scene. The four-piece creates haunting guitars, eclectic and ethereal sound.”
The band’s line-up is:
Max - Vocals, Guitar
Frank - Guitars, Keys, Vocals
John - Bass, Vocals
Their musical work to date is:
Collapse, LP, April 2, 2013
Checkpoint Charlie, EP, October 14, 2017
Forever Orbiter, LP, April 27, 2018The City Gates
What is your music about?
I would guess that our music is about melancholy and nostalgia. It has something to do with the postindustrial and the cold war eras.
Tell us about the artists you have worked with.
We worked with several artists through the years, which is something that we like do. You can hear Krissy Vanderwoude from Whimsical on backing vocals on our song Echo Radio, taken from our latest album Forbiter Orbiter. She is also taking part of our Slowdive cover Catch the Breeze that we did for The Blog that Celebrates Itself Records. Krissy is a really talented and nice artist. We actually had the chance to meet her while Francois and I went to see this year Kalamashoegazer festival. Great times!! You can also hear sound engineer Chris Cline (who has worked with And you Will Know Us by the Trail of Death and The Foreign Resort) on keys on our song Dead Calm. Our dear friend DJ Dre, who was actually the lead singer of our guitar and bass player’ 90’s band called Dorchester, on our Lush cover that we also did for The Blog that Celebrates Itself Records
Finally, we also had our good old friend, producer and sound engineer Gautier on a few tracks on Forever Orbiter. We like this dude so much that he is now a full member of the band!
Tell us about some other bands you’ve liked or would recommend?
We met many great bands on tour through the years. I always like to play with the Danish darkwave/post-punkThe Foreign Resort. They sound really well and are great guys! We had a blast also with veteran shoegazers The Veldt. We had great time with the darkwave New Yorkers Blood Blush. Taiwanese band Manic Sheep were great people too! Likewise, I would add to the list Nothing, Heaters, Funeral Advantage and Haiku Salut.
That being said, Montreal has a great alternative music scene. I would recommend to give a shout to the 80’s-90’s darkwave/new wave Handful of Snowdrops. They are definitely in my top ten favorite bands list. I would also suggest Murmure, Calomine, Sarajevo & Moi, Wake Island, Room Control, Silver Dapple, Traces, Femme Accident, Videoville and La Mécanique. Non-Lieu and Morte Psiquica. They sound amazing! Our guitar player and I actually work on a “non-profit” compilation that will be featuring several bands from that list. We intend to release it somewhere in early 2019. Stay tuned for more details!
What are your goals as an artist artistically/commercially?
Playing live shows, creating obscure music and to get hear much as we can, but that’s it!
Who would you want as a dream producer, and why?
We pretty like to get our things done by ourselves. Meanwhile, there are numerous great producers. I would say Butch Vig whose work involved Siamese Dream from The Smashing Pumkins and Dirty from Sonic Youth. I would also say Chris Hufford who has worked with Slowdive and Chapterhouse. Add to this list co-founder of Creation Records Joe Foster and, of course, Kevin Shields.
What are you trying to avoid as a band?
Doing interviews hah!
Explain your song writing process.
Most of our songs come up from live jams that we record at our rehearsal place. I think that the chemistry between each band members has something to do with our songwriting process.
For instance, if our guitarist François Marsan start a riff on the guitar, I see clearly how he wants to build the whole song and what I should do on my guitar parts. Rehearsals and creating new songs are things that I like a lot. Moreover, I cannot thank enough Jean-Sebastien for writing such great lyrics. It definitely makes a whole sense of what we create on the instrumental parts.
In 2017 there is no new or old music to a 17-year-old with internet access. Discuss.
There is way too many great music that has been made and it is now accessible since the arrival of the Internet. I remember my teenager years while we were spending our whole days in local record stores or shows trying to discover new bands, new sound and to discuss about music.
In the 90’s, there was also an amazing Montreal alternative TV show called Nu Musik with VJ Claude Rajotte. That is how I got heard about bands like Lush, Belly, JMC, Handful of Snowdrops and many more. Great souvenirs! That was kind of an art and much more fun to do that surfing through the Internet.
Why do you make the music you make?
We always loved 80s and 90s music. There are so many bands that has inspired us as musicians s in the like of My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, Xsmall Deutschland, New Order, Joy Division, Pixies, Neil Young, Killing Joke, Trisomie 21.
Describe your palette of sound.
Bret Miller from Somewherecold magazine genuinely described our palette of sound: “The City Gates present a gorgeous mix of melancholy and euphoria as heard on the Joy Division-inspired “Echo Radio”, complete with Max Wingender’s throaty Ian Curtis-like delivery, “Checkpoint Charlie”’s impending storm of distant vocals and textured guitars, and the upbeat tempo of “Sad Sad Surf” that builds slowly, drawing you in until the shimmering guitars blast away the grey clouds to reveal a warm sunny day.”
By using guitars with lots of fuzz, reverb, and delay pedals, The City Gates can be described as a modern answer to Phil Spector’s infamous “Wall Of Sound”: intense, powerful, melodic, moody, textured, and raw.
We definitely have a crush on 80’s and 90’s alternative music such as post-punk, shoegaze, darkwave, cold wave and noise pop.
Which of your albums are you the most proud of? Why?
Forever Orbiter reveals the mixture or the sound that we like to create. It might be half post-punk, half shoegaze… who knows. But sure thing, it is alternative music. It was also nice to produce since few songs have been recorded live to had more “human” feeling to the sound we were looking for.
You are from Montreal. Extreme climate. How does it affect your music?
Indeed, our winters are pretty cold. Like now! It surely has an effect on our music. Maybe that is why we are into obscure music. Good point!