GEL: “This year is shaping up to be chaotic, but really cool. We really believe in this”

On blistering debut album Only Constant, New Jersey hardcore quintet GEL have announced themselves as one of the scene’s most exciting and progressive new voices. Guitarist Anthony Webster brings us up to speed, and explains how the whole world suddenly seems to be getting stuck on his band…

GEL: “This year is shaping up to be chaotic, but really cool. We really believe in this”
Jake Richardson
Michael Thorn

Hardcore isn’t, traditionally, one of rock’s more accessible subgenres. New Jersey mob GEL are out to change that. The quintet – vocalist Sami Kaiser, guitarists Anthony Webster and Maddi Nave, bassist Bobko and drummer Zach Miller – came through on diverse bills ranging from emo to powerviolence, as well as taking influence from progressive post-hardcore acts like Thursday. It’s no surprise they’re finding love far beyond hardcore’s usual frontiers.

“I don’t know if it was intentional, at least at first,” Anthony begins of GEL’s ability to stretch convention. “I think it was natural, because we’ve all been in powerviolence bands, but then we’re into emo, screamo and grindcore, too. Doing all the basement and DIY shows, we played with all kinds of bands. We’d often be the opener when screamo bands came through town, even if we didn’t sound like them. It’s more been a case that it’s become the intention over time, and we’ve become influenced by the people who were coming to shows and the kind of fans who are now getting involved in hardcore.”

The fresh approach to which Anthony speaks is present throughout GEL’s 5K-rated debut album, Only Constant. As expected there are some proper hardcore ragers – opening track and recent single Honed Blade, for instance, is guaranteed to incite chaos in the pit – but so too do GEL use their LP to try out different ideas. Closing song Composure is their take on a hardcore epic, which slowly rides its groove out to a gloriously distorted conclusion, but the most interesting moment comes sixth on the tracklist, where the band take a step back and allow fans to share their grievances on Calling Card. The results are fascinating.

“I was bored one day and thought it’d be cool to set up a number and have people leave us messages,” Anthony remembers of how it all came about. “Then, when we were making the record, we thought we’d put it together. When we heard it, we all instantly agreed that we couldn’t imagine the record without it. The whole thing felt special and the messages really resonated with us – particularly those who were speaking passionately about their problems with, and love of, the hardcore scene.”

With Only Constant out in the world to rave reviews, attentions in the GEL camp are now turning to a packed schedule for the remainder of the year. A tour of the U.S. with Drain and Drug Church is booked, as are a number of festival slots, including Outbreak on these shores. For Anthony, things feel pretty great. And getting back out on the road is only going to make GEL even more determined to keep changing hardcore for the better.

“We’ve hit so many accomplishments this year already, and the remainder is shaping up to be chaotic, but really cool. Honestly, we’ll just be happy to continue touring this thing as much as we can and keep doing what we’re doing, because we really believe in this.”

Only Constant is out now via Convulse. GEL play Outbreak Fest this month. This article originally appeared in the summer issue of the magazine.

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