After disbanding his punky noise-pop four-piece Sweet Bulbs last year, guitarist Mike Sheffield dove right into assembling his new Brooklyn band Heaven's Gate by having them open a show he'd already booked for touring friends. "The beginnings of Heaven's Gate were just a mad dash for one deadline," says guitarist Alex Cvetovich. "The general tone of the band has always been nervous excitement. Nervous if we would pull off the 10 songs we learned in a week. Excited to be playing in a band again."
It's a fitting description for the distortion-heavy dynamic dream pop that makes up their debut EP, High Riser, released in November. Heaven's Gate also includes former Weed Hounds drummer Patrick Stankard — who plays with Sheffield in experimental noise band Alan Watts as well.
"When we wrote the High Riser EP, we were super green," says Heaven's Gate singer Jess Paps, whose vocal inspirations range from Babes in Toyland and Bikini Kill to Hole and Crass. "It was summer. I was pretty happy. It's very influenced by seaweed and dancing. The 12 songs we wrote for the new LP represented a natural progression for us as a band that I think had a lot to do with environmental factors like winter and depression. It's just a lot darker and heavier. . . . By the time we started writing the LP I felt more comfortable exploring lower vocal ranges, singing baritone, yelling, being angry and ugly."
Last month, when Heaven's Gate played the Phoenix's CMJ show in Brooklyn, their aggressive live energy brought their punk roots to light, under their vocalist's moody, melodic vox. Although the band doesn't have any touring plans at the moment, they seem to play nearly every weekend in Brooklyn at various DIY venues and warehouses — the sorts of shows that are totally worth the Chinatown bus fare.
LISTEN TO HEAVEN'S GATE TRACKS "POGO" AND "WEAKNESS WORMS" ON WFNX.COM
: Music Features
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