got GABRIEL GAMBINO going in a recent phone conversation when I described the sound of his new band MANHIGH as QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE on peyote. The man knows me well enough to know that such a comparison from me comes from the heart. For the past seven years, I've come to know GAMBINO as the front man of the alt-rock band THROW THE TEMPLE and have seen the band's evolution from demo makers into a serious touring band (one of the few out of Albuquerque these days) with an LP (ANYWAY BUT DOWN from 2015) that had the potential to go the distance. This was a band that seemed determined to break out of the Duke City and make a dent in the world of active rock sharing the touring stage with bands like ACIDIC. Mysteriously, the band ceased operations and despite my prying GAMBINO has been tight-lipped as to the reasons for the demise. But why dwell on the past when his new band MANHIGH is making more engaging music? Sure, THROW THE TEMPLE has some active rock smarts that could've earned the guys airplay in whatever active rock market is left in this country, but the music of MANHIGH takes GAMBINO's ingrained rock sensibility all the way to the edge with band's promising singles - the haunting LOVE LETTERS FROM SPACE which combines the SPACE ODDITY narrative with RADIOHEAD's PABLO HONEY-era angst is one hell of an introduction. On the heels of LOVE LETTERS... is the thundering menace of ANTARCTICA. Things are progressing at a brisk pace for the new band. Aside from releasing two singles, the three piece band has just completed a 22-date tour of the West Coast with the Brazilian band SPACE TIME RIPPLE. Our bets were high that THROW THE TEMPLE was going to make folks realize that there is music coming out of Albuquerque. But with MANHIGH we are confident that the band's artistry and drive is going to put Albuquerque on the map and make it famous for something other than TV shows about a meth making operation and a likeable scumbag lawyer.https://www.facebook.com/manhighmusic/
ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with GABRIEL GAMBINO of MANHIGH regarding the band's recent 22-date tour and the roll out for their new music. Here is how the interview went.
In all the years that I've been interviewing bands, I can't think of instance where a brand new band such as yours hits the road with a 22-date tour almost instantly.
It's crazy! We're a new band yet we've just come off the road doing 22 shows in a month. There are bands that have been around for five years who never do that. We were in the right place at the right time.
of those 22 dates, which one was the most memorable for you?
I would have to say BOB'S JAVA JIVE in Tacoma Washington. NIRVANA used to play there and the night we played there we did a lot of reflecting - and drugs. I'm just kidding about the drug part.
CHECK OUT MANHIGH'S NEW SiNGLE ANTARCTiCA!!!
You better be kidding about the drug part. You're family man. I've seen you put everything into your former band THROW THE TEMPLE and seeing this new band with a new sound is totally surprising. What led to the demise of THROW THE TEMPLE?
People grow apart. Mommy and daddy didn't love each other anymore so I started a new band with a hot chick. With THROW THE TEMPLE, I found myself in the same band playing the same songs for too long. I wanted to do something on my own that I could call my own. My wife (GABRIELLE GAMBINO) plays bass in the band and she is phenomenal. She's never played an instrument before. The one thing that we heard a lot on this tour was that people couldn't believe that she's never played an instrument before. I just felt like I could be more efficient in coming up with these song ideas on my own rather than in a group setting. It's been more efficient and more satisfying.
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What is inspiring the MANHIGH songs?
One of the songs is about making the decision to try something new with my life and one of the songs grew out of me not being entirely sure of where all of this was going to end up, feeling scared and alienating yourself from what you're used to. This was my chance to do something important for me, even if it's not popular or what's going on at the moment. Luckily, the music has been well received . It's been a worthwhile endeavor but there is always fear in the back of your mind of not being sure that you can top what you've done before. Some of the other themes in this music have to do with getting married and falling in love. A song like ANTARCTICA is about being pulled into something that isn't good for you and feeling like an idiot.
MANHIGH is also a smaller set up this time. Just three people.
It's me, GABRIELLE on the bass and our drummer is RAY GUTIERREZ. I worked with him in THROW THE TEMPLE when he was our stage manger. He made sure that we had all of the shit we needed and made it so we could talk to people after a show instead of having to pack up . He still does that in this band too. He decided to start playing drums again. After I left THROW THE TEMPLE, he and I got together and started working on the riffs that would become MANHIGH songs. At the same time GABRIELLE was learning the bass. The timing was perfect. She got all of the songs after one practice . It was like "We're on to something!"
That is really something going from not playing an instrument to being a bass player and then hitting the road.
When I started writing songs in January I set some pretty lofty goals and GABRIELLE picking up the bass surpassed them. Our friends from the band SPACE TIME RIPPLE out of Brazil called me up and asked if my band would like to do some dates a tour that they were going to do. They thought that I was still with THROW THE TEMPLE and they also wanted to me to help set up some gig for them. They didn't know about MANHIGH and that at that time we only had one song. So I said "hell yeah!" I even offered to play the whole tour with them. This was four months before the tour so I had a bunch of songs to write. We have this motto in the band which is "say yes first."
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And what will the roll out for MANHIGH's music look like? Is there an album on the way?
At the moment, we're sticking with releasing singles because it's more affordable since we're doing this whole thing by ourselves. We're coming up with ideas, doing research and putting a lot of songs out there so there is something for people to listen to. Our stuff is everywhere online on things like iTUNES and SPOTIFY. We're doing that to keep fresh music rolling out. We've got a third single coming out soon but it's still in the mixing process. Before we went on tour we recorded two more songs. I think touring has helped in solidifying our music. There is no way that you can't get better playing five shows in a week.
And talk about the reaction that you've been getting from these shows?
I'm happier with the reaction than I thought I could've been. I was worried because of my old band that people would expect that kind of thins. I'm proud of what I did with THROW THE TEMPLE but I'm happy because people have taken to MANHIGH as well. One of the things we heard on tour was "We had a band from New Mexico play here once an they were terrible." When people heard thirty seconds of our first song we could see them going "Oh shit! This is great!" People were excited to hear that we were from Albuquerque. No one knows that much about music in Albuquerque. Getting that reaction was really amazing. It let us know that we were onthe right path.
How soon will you guys be hitting the road again?
We're working with another band from Indiana in putting together a little run. I've come to a different understanding about playing locally. It's not as important as it was in the past for me. It more about putting miles in an playing more often. When I came up with MANHIGH I came up with a plan to follow. There are great bands here in Albuquerque but playing every six to eight weeks here doesn't do much for you. That was the thing with THROW THE TEMPLE We'd play ever couple of months locally and not do much else. When we hit the road, things started happening. With MANHIGH I felt it was important to start that way. In Albuquerque there is this mindset that you have to be really big to go on tour and that is so far from the truth. You don't have to be famous to do some shows on the road.
Given how trippy some of the new material is are there any plans for a music video?
We'll take a camera and squirt some acid on it. We're actually kicking ideas around for a music video. The singer from SPACE TIME RIPPLE works in video editing. We're going to be working with BOLDER ROGUE DIGITAL her in Albuquerque so there is definitely something in the works. Another way to get out there is to have a cool music video. It might take a while and a lot of effort. There is a lot of stuff in the works right now. I can't believe we've managed to do this tour. We've just got off of this tour and we haven't been home for a week yet and right now we're writing and promoting the music that we do have now. There is hours of live footage for us to scour through and figure out what we want to put online.
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