The Goddamn Gallows knows you, Houston. But, they don't really know you.
They would be pleased to truly make your acquaintance. If the feeling is mutual, they invite you to come fraternize while they throw down their own brand of "gutterbilly" punk rock Thursday night at Walters.
"Well, we have never had a lot of luck in Houston 'til lately," says Fishgutzzz, the band's bassist and vocalist. "I think we have only played three different venues, about a dozen shows, and never really played to many people except when we played the House of Blues the last time we came through.
"I remember playing this new venue that was massive and in very poor condition, not quite ready," he continues. "It was summer and their air-conditioning was broken and the stage was huge with maybe a dozen people. And, if I recall correctly, the toilet was a hole in the ground with a tire on it."
Not that there's anything wrong with that, as far as The Gallows are concerned. The band formed in 2004 and has played its share of squats, basements and dives. Over the years, they've built a following on incessant touring, insanely energetic live shows and a half-dozen albums. The latest, The Maker, is slated for release April 16. Fishgutzzz said the new record "says who we are more than any other album," and therefore is the one they're most proud of.
Our town's venerable punk venue should prove rather accommodating for Fishgutzzz and his bandmates: Joe Perreze, Mikey Classic, Baby Genius and TV's Avery. It certainly won't be the sketchiest place the Gallows have ever played.
"We were supposed to play a biker-type bar in Nashville, but the owner freaked out because it was packed and there was an issue with a couple of the guys fighting," Fishgutzzz says. "So instead of not playing, one of the local one-percent motorcycle clubs took us to their clubhouse and we played a show there, behind the locked gate.
"It was a great fuckin' show," he adds. "There was a couple sketchy shows back in our L.A. days with huge Mexican gangs squaring off outside the house we was playing. We saw a couple kids get stabbed back then. We saw a lot of really fucked up things out there."
There is some fucked up stuff out there and any band that tours as much as the Goddamn Gallows is bound to come across it. It's the sort of world that leads a band to write a song like, "Y'all Motherfuckers Need Jesus," from the band's 2011 effort, 7 Devils.
"We've been doing the non-stop touring schedule since 2007 now, playing eight to ten months out of the year," says Fishgutzzz. "Around a half a million miles of travel gave us 19 major breakdowns, and we are on our fourteenth vehicle. We even went as far as to take [out] a loan and buy a Sprinter, and that even died! It's simply our curse and we live with it. Breakdowns and lost vans don't even faze us anymore."
Recording the latest album has kept the band off the road longer than they're used to, so Fishgutzzz says everyone has been eager to make tracks, and listed the things the band is looking forward to on this current run in order.
"To play the old and new songs live," he begins. "This is the hour that makes all the driving, waiting, fighting, sickness, van breakdowns, loneliness, shitty food and assholes worth it. And, to find more fans. It's an incredible feeling to meet people on the road that have just heard you and have them tell you that yer music changed their life. It's satisfying!
"Also, to fulfill a primal urge for nomadic wandering," Fishgutzzz adds. "This was the reason I wanted to be a traveling musician. It's exciting hitchhiking, hopping trains and wandering, but it's easy to lose yourself in the debauchery of that lifestyle without having a purpose. A few of us would definitely be dead or in jail if it wasn't for this band."
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As survivors, the Goddamn Gallows are also part of a wave of folk-punk bands beginning to gain some mainstream notoriety. I asked Fishgutzzz why he thought the genre is gaining more recognition.
"Ya know, I couldn't really say," he puzzles. "It seems like a natural progression from kids that love punk rock but maybe missed the heyday and are disappointed with the bands that punk spawns now. It's just simple, raw honest music that people can relate to and feel."
"I was just thinking last night that I'm not surprised by who comes to our shows," he continues. "There was an old bald dude, probably in his sixties, sporting a vest with Gallows patches. Clean-cut rockabilly chicks all done up, crusty traveling kids with dogs, young-ass kids seeing one of their first shows, moms, weathermen from TV, drunk roughneck dudes. It's just all over the map. It's cool as hell to see all these different people and lifestyles."
They know there are some of you out there, Houston. Moms and roughneck dudes and others they'd like to meet, but don't truly know yet. I told them we have a strong underground D.I.Y. scene, the kind they evolved from.
"Unfortunately, we never got to see that side of Houston," Fishgutzzz says. "We came from that kind of mentality, going to house shows, playing them, setting them up for touring bands. It made us who we are and taught us we didn't need labels, agents and all that, [but] to just rely in ourselves and like-minded people."
Fishgutzzz didn't forgot you fans who have seen previous Gallows shows here. The ones that were sparsely attended and might have featured a makeshift tire toilet.
"We just want to say to our friends and fans that have stood by us through everything and supported us through the lies, bullshit, fights, negativity, breakdowns, jail and court cases - thank you. Y'all give us a reason to drive to the next town and are a constant inspiration to our lives and music."
With Come See My Dead Person, 8 p.m. Thursday, April 10 at Walters, 1120 Naylor.
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