Much like the Mediterranean peninsula bearing its name, Gibraltar the band stands strong against a sea of changing tides. Ignoring the musical flavors of the month, Seattle’s Gibraltar establishes its own rules. Angular guitars and piano push the beat forward over yearning vocal melodies, creating a dark, insistent sound cascading with memorable hooks.
Songs such as “Death Rays” from 2012’s debut EP, Storms, earned the band much praise with comparisons to Joy Division, Interpol, Savages, and an angry Built to Spill. KEXP radio tastemaker morning host, John Richards, calls Storms “one of the better local EP’s I’ve come across recently. The new Gibraltar EP is a mix of raw emotion and heart felt energy.” The Seattle Weekly continues the recognition declaring, “Their edgy, twanged-up power pop is one of the best local debuts of the year.”
Formed in 2011, guitarist and vocalist Aaron Starkey recruited drummer Ryan Burt and Mike Jochum on piano to explore the rhythmic and harmonic opportunities of guitar with piano. Tension, contrast, and drive dominate. Informed by the sonic approach of bands like Television and Lou Reed’s 1972 album Transformer, Gibraltar entered the studio and mixed Storms with famed producer Matt Bayles (Minus the Bear, The Sword, Mastodon, Cursive).
First, the band enlisted the engineering talents of Johnny Sangster (Mudhoney, The Briefs) and Gary Reynolds (Chaos Chaos) to record the songs. The result is a combined depth that Seismic-Sound calls “post punk, singable power pop with a hammer and a brain.”
Drummer Jeff Gall replaced Burt, and bassist Barb Hunter (cellist with Afghan Whigs and Visqueen) joined Gibraltar during tracking. Pianist Holly Houser then replaced Jochum.
Together, the band navigates the frenetic waters of rock music with cavalier confidence. Guitars growl and pounce over punching piano and drums. Starkey’s voice soars over the top. This is a band beaming with enthusiastic authenticity. “There is a moment at the start of a song where I can feel the band lift off,” says Starkey. “I’ve never flown a jet plane, but when the piano, bass, and drums come in at the top of our song ‘Coil,’ it’s pretty amazing to feel it behind you as you start to sing. It’s the sort of magic that I used to feel when I was learning to play guitar in bands.” Starkey pauses for a moment to reflect. “Don’t get me wrong. I still love to play guitar. But now I can re-experience that feeling as I explore the instrument of singing.”