If you stumbled upon this post expecting to read about a classical Dutch choir ensemble, then you may want to continue reading. As it turns out, there are other musically gifted Gents with a knack for harmony and they’re from right here in Mood Media’s backyard, Austin Texas. These four “d00ds” calling themselves The Gents have fashioned a sound that is universally fun and irresistibly catchy. Going on two years of writing and performing together, The Gents are quickly gaining traction in the indie folk rock scene here in Austin. With a backbone of three-piece harmonies and country tinted guitar, each song is as crisp as it is heartfelt.
There is no question about how much fun these guys have playing together. From the first note, it’s big smiles and knowing glances the entire set. Matty Blissard got things started with “My Days,” the first song from their recently released self-titled EP and energy filled an already sweaty crowd at Cheer Up Charlies. The band instantly found its groove, feeding off sharp drumming of Martin McCain while Kevin Manship’s sliding guitar licks keep the mood light throughout. It is easy find yourself singing along with the harmonies, even if it’s your first time hearing the songs, and I suspect everyone in attendance was still humming the tunes the next afternoon. The Gents share vocal leads, which gives each song with a distinctive voice and depth. Most of the time, bass player Tyler Jordan sings an inspiring ballad titled “Rachel Winkler What Were You Thinking” about the tough junction of addiction and friendship while Matty leads the foot-stomping, upbeat tunes that instantly bring a smile to your face. After playing every song on their new EP (plus a few more …and then just one more), The Gents returned to sipping Lonestar’s and avoiding the topless chick who tried to steal their show. Whether it was the warm spring night or energy of The Gents performance that made her shirt unbearable to wear, we will never know.
After the show, I sat down with the band for an interview. Read on…
Hayden Bernstein: How did The Gents come to be? What was the turning point when y’all decided to start performing and recording?
Matty Blissard: The Gents came to be sometime in the end of 2011/beginning of 2012. I moved to Austin, TX around then to room with my former high school classmate Kevin Manship (guitar/vocals) with the intention of starting a band. I met Tyler Jordan (bass/guitar/vocals) through my initial housing situation and the three of us begun sharing our own songs with each other and backing each other up on them. We eventually found a drummer, Joey Bellos, who has since left the band. We picked up our current drummer, Martin McCain, in mid-2012 after his band from Montana had gone their separate ways.
HB: On first listen, your style falls somewhere between folk, country and rock, but there is a lot more there. How would you classify your sound?
MB: I think it’s hard to classify our sound mainly because we have three songwriters who all bring their own songs to the table. Nobody is considered the “lead” for an entire set. I personally consider my songs heavily bluegrass and folk influenced. Kevin’s songs almost always have a classic rock sort of feel. And Tyler is all over the place in terms of his musical choices, but I will say that most of the songs we play of his were written years ago by himself and meant to be performed solo.
That being said, I think we’ve found a medium between the three of our styles. It lands somewhere in the folk-rock range for sure.
HB: You guys share singing responsibilities throughout the EP. Do you sing what you write? Does everyone share the songwriting as well?
MB: Yep, we all sing the “lead” for the songs we write ourselves. That’s not to say someone will bring their song to the table and demand “This is how it’s going to be performed, end of story.” We’re always open to each others’ suggestions. But at the end of the day if it’s your song, you make the call on how you want it performed. That being said, it never hurts to have more ears listening and giving you ideas you probably wouldn’t have thought of yourself.
HB: How did the process go of recording the new EP? Any surprises during the experience?
MB: I can definitely say for all of us that recording the EP was pretty fantastic experience. We had all recorded in our separate projects at one point or another, but it’s always a different story depending on the people in the studio. And it definitely helped that our friend Kent Arnold was behind the board.
Honestly, the only surprises in the studio were good ones. We learned a lot about how we sounded as a live band and were able to tailor our sound a bunch to improve our live performance sound. Tonality, timing, harmonies, the works. It was a rad discovery for sure.
HB: I find that I keep coming back to “Rachel Weinkler What Were You Thinking.” Can you speak about the themes in this song and where the inspiration came from?
MB: “Rachel…” is Tyler’s song, here’s what he says about it:
“I had just moved to Austin and I was talking to a friend who was back home. I was homesick and I didn’t know anyone here yet. My friend was hanging out with the wrong people, and getting into some trouble, and I felt really helpless to do anything about it. It was mostly about my friend, but I think I was really tapping into my own uncertainty about the future and feelings of loneliness. But I think it’s a really relatable feeling, because everyone has someone in their life that obviously needs to stop doing whatever they’re doing that’s leading them on some path to self ruin. A lot of times that person is yourself. Or maybe I was just listening to too much Bright Eyes at the time. Who knows.”
HB: What is happening with the band moving forward in the next few months? Any shows that you are particularly excited about?
MB: Welp, we’re about to announce our official EP release show at Scoot Inn in early May. That’s gonna be pretty killer.
After that we’ll be playing with Whiskey Shivers and Hello Wheels at the Parish on Friday May 24th. That’s probably the coolest thing I can imagine cause when I first moved to Austin I saw those two bands play the 3rd night I was here and I was like “Man, I would love to play with those guys someday.” AND IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING NOW. You can imagine how my little heart went all aflutter when I found out about that show haha.
Beyond that, nothing is too solidly planned right now. We’ll be losing our beloved bassist/vocalist/songwriter Tyler for a few months to Guatemala and we’re upset but we want to continue to play. He should be back by the end of the year so we may have a short hiatus, but who knows? We’ll figure it out, we always do.
– Submitted by Hayden Bernstein, Client Satisfaction