I had the pleasure of seeing the guys grace the stage on Friday night at The Marquis, along with Samiam, Armchair Martian, and Hotel Bar. I even scored a few minutes of face time with three of the members: Chris Fogal (guitar/vocals), Forrest Bartosh (drums), and Johnny Wilson (bass/ backing vocals). I didn’t get a chance to chat with guitarist Michael Marti, but still got to see him shred onstage.
How does it feel to be back at the Marquis, a venue where you most certainly get a lot of love from fans?
CF: It feels good. Our last show was almost exactly a year ago, on St. Patty’s Day Weekend. So it was a big mess, but still awesome.
Since you all got back together in 2009, you’ve released 'Parts,' and also went on a worldwide tour, hitting up places in Europe. But more recently, what have you guys been up to?
CF: We go into hibernation, and then when we get asked to do fun stuff, we consider it and look at what’s going on in our lives, and then we go, “Okay! We can do that. That’s worth getting together and practicing for.”
At this point of the conversation, I couldn’t help but notice Chris super gluing Johnny’s fingernail.
What’s that about?
FB: “Oh yeah, this is a good one too. All of their fingernails get torn up.”
CF: “Yeah, we do a lot of down picking.”
JW: “Playing in The Gamits is not easy!”
CF: “Yeah, I’m about to do mine too. It turns into blood and then it starts to hurt. But it feels cool. It’s like having a little superman shield on your finger.”
The Gamits are obviously widely known, especially in the Denver area, and people clearly have mad love for you at your shows, going wild and all, but what’s a performance like for you guys?
CF: Well, a good one is like tonight. We’re stoked when people are singing along and going nuts. But it’s like any band, crowd reactions and things of that nature. Also, the older we get, we tend to play with older bands. But we stay pretty current; we like a lot of bands. Johnny runs For the Love of Punk; I run a recording studio (Black In Bluhm). So when we get to play with younger bands, it still feels awesome too. It feels like we’re doing the exact same shit we were doing in in ‘98, or generally around that time period.
Who are some of the younger “up and coming” bands you guys like?
CF: Hotel Bar- they’re killer, and just played first tonight. Also The Bombpops, Red City Radio, Russian Girlfriends, and Redbush. Just bands that have been doing exactly what we’ve been doing, working hard and playing good music. Some of the bands might end up more under the radar, or maybe huger.
Playing for such a long time, you know the ins and outs, and have established a more mature mindset when it comes to playing music. Some might even say you are “pros” at this. So how do you keep it interesting? How do you keep yourselves on your toes?
CF: We won’t play shows for months! And it’s never not interesting. There’s always something interesting going on- usually something out of our control.
What are some of the challenges you face now that you didn’t in your earlier years?
JW: Not practicing for a while. And if you don’t sing for a while, it takes a bit to get back to it. We’re not a slouch band in the vocal department.
CF: And I’m even a little sore from playing a show last night.
FB: Playing with bands like Bud Bronson & The Good Timers is a lot more mid-tempo, whereas The Gamits are at a turbo level. So when you haven’t done if for a while, it’s tough.
CF: You rip your fingernails off!
I also really like the lyrics in your songs, and that is something I’ve always liked about punk music: the poetic nature of the lyrics, paired with a heavier sound. Is that something you guys always like to incorporate into your music?
CF: Totally. Especially if you’re playing “pop punk,” which is the genre we usually get put into. Some of that is teenagery bubble gum lyrics, so I like to combine those with something a little more, as you put it, poetic. I like the combination.
It’s often said the topics musicians talk about in their music is a product of what’s happening in their own lives- is that true for The Gambits?
CF: Write about what you know. Otherwise, you might come across as a bullshitter.
So do The Gamits have any other other releases coming up in the near future?
CF: Nope, just playing shows and figuring out what the next thing is.
Also, I was asked to ask you guys if you have any plans to release your music besides 'Parts' on vinyl?
CF: Yeah, repressing in Canada has been talked about forever. And I’m sure if someone wanted to do it, it would be cool. I doubt that would happen though unless we came out with a new album.
Again, having been in Denver’s music scene for so long, exiting, and then coming back in, what kinds of things have you noticed? How has the scene changed?
CF: Well we’re always involved in the music scene; we’re never out. We’re always doing other shit in other bands besides The Gamits. So we’ve been able to be in the music scene here and watch it grow, and it’s totally different now. Obviously it’s a bigger city and people are moving here, but it’s also still landlocked, which it always will be, which is pretty cool.
So besides the size, what else do you think has changed? How else has it developed?
JW: I think there’s a resurgence to people looking back to older bands.
So you guys have played a number of bigger name venues, but I’d love to hear about your favorite underground houseparty-type show?
JW: Russia was hands-down my favorite place. We’re the only band I’ve ever heard that has done twelve days in Russia. We did the really depressed areas, and went into the thick of it. Most people do Saint Petersburg and Moscow, but we did some of the most insane places, like the early scene of punk rock.
FB: Yeah the kids were like, “What the hell you doing here?” And they’d be bouncing off the walls, man.
JW: They would pick me up and sing the songs, and I couldn’t even play. It was just the strangest thing.
Shortly after this, we split ways, and I watched the guys blow the roof off the joint, playing their hits, new and old, for a crowd of diehard fans.
It’s safe to say that The Gamits are a group of regular, genuine guys who just like to have fun and play good music. So if you have the rare chance to see them play, then peel yourself from your couch and do it!
All photos per Joel Rekiel of BLDGBLKS Music Company. All videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.