GEL Guitarist Anthony Webster on Their New Label, Expanding Their Sound & Touring Full Time

GEL @ 89 North Music Venue, Patchogue, New York, 2022. (Photo: Matt Viel)

Late last month, GEL announced the forthcoming release of Persona, the follow-up to their 2023 debut LP, Only Constant. The New Jersey hardcore quintet also dropped a track called "Mirage" to whet the appetite. 

Produced/engineered by Jon Markson (Drug Church, Jivebomb), Persona will mark GEL's maiden release on Blue Grape Music, a new label that also signed Code Orange and Spiritual Cramp to their roster. Blue Grape Music was cofounded by Dave Rath, a music industry veteran who worked with such bands as Slipknot, Turnstile, and Gojira during his 21 years at Roadrunner Records.

I reached out to GEL guitarst Anthony Webster to get his thoughts on the band's new label home, their evolving sound, and how he's handling their heavy touring schedule.

Why did Blue Grape Music feel like the right fit for the band? 

We really had no desire to sign to a label at all initially. Dave started coming out to see us all the time in 2022 and always wanted to make plans to chat. We brushed him off for so long, but a few months after Only Constant came out, we were like, “okay, this record is doing okay, maybe there’s something worth discussing let’s hear him out.” 

After we met, it just felt right. They just genuinely care about the music more than anything and travel to come see us when we’re on tour, and also came out to writing and recording sessions to hang out. 

Since you’re on a new label, did you look at the material on Persona as a way to expand GEL’s sound a bit? “Mirage” doesn’t sound far-removed from your previous work, but there’s a certain catchiness to parts of it that feels good. Maybe that’s more of a production kind of thing as opposed to song composition?

I think it’s a bit of both. After the last record, we just didn’t wanna do the same thing again. We recorded Only Constant in 3 days, for this EP we did it with about 2 weeks. So the extra time and care definitely helped us explore a bit more.

While writing, I started pulling from the non-punk or hardcore music I enjoy. There’s parts of these songs where I was inspired by Obituary, and there’s some parts inspired by Swervedriver. We all have different tastes in music, so we’re gonna explore those things more and more as we start to feel more confident.

Photo; Alexis Gross

It’s not difficult to see how hard GEL has worked in the past few years. You always seem to be either on an extensive tour, or weekend runs and fest appearances. How much of a toll has that been on your life outside of the band? 

After a while it started to get really rough. We took some time off that almost immediately made the itch come back, and that turned to an even longer time off due to stuff outside of our control. But we were able to finish writing and recording the new EP in that time.

Now we’re getting back into the swing of touring full time feeling more excited than ever. It’s not easy, but whether you’re playing to 10 people or 1000, it’s the most rewarding thing in the world. Not touring was never even an option for us.

GEL @ TV Eye, Ridgewood, NY, 2023. (Photo: Matt Viel

On the same subject, how tough is it balancing out interesting live opportunities (tours or otherwise) with the more underground, truly DIY offers? Do you find yourselves saying no to more things lately?

Luckily, we still get to work with promoters who I would book with when I was still booking tours myself sometimes, and we get to play cool DIY spots with cool bands as a result. But sometimes we can’t, and I miss it.

We try to fill off days and do aftershows when we can, but we also have to take our health into account too, and we need to get rest. It’s a balance that we just take day by day. 

We probably say no to like 90% of things we get asked to do, and it’s not because we don’t want to, it’s because we simply can’t do it all. We’ve had to say no to shows and tours that me 10 years ago (or two years ago) would scream in my face for turning down. But there’s just not enough days in the year. 

What are some of the newer bands GEL has shared bills with that have impressed you as of late?

We haven’t toured at all this year, so I’ll have to think back to last year. Obviously, we love the bands we tour with; Initiate, Glare, Pardoner, Fraud, Truth Cult (RIP), Cold Brats, Big Laugh, En Love, etc.

But some we got to play a show or two with:

  • Sign Language
  • No Model
  • Innervision 
  • Pucker Up
  • Destiny Bond
  • Stunner
  • Waydown
  • Crime Light

Persona will be out on August 16th via Blue Grape Music (pre-order).

GEL tour dates:
5/9 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw +
5/10 – Richmond, VA – The Warehouse ~
5/12 – Daytona Beach, FL – Welcome to Rockville
5/13 – Savannah, GA – Lodge of Sorrows @
5/14 – Asheville, NC – Eulogy @
5/16 – Indiannapolis, IN – Black Circle Brewery @
5/17 – Columbus, OH – Sonic Temple
5/18 – Pittsburgh, PA – Bottlerocket Social Hall #
5/19 – Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall $
5/31 – Barcelona, ES – Primavera Sound
6/2 – Southampton, UK – The Joiners
6/3 – Oxford, UK – The Bullingdon
6/4 – Exeter, UK – Cavern
6/5 – Guildford, UK – Boileroom
6/8 – Porto, PT – Primavera Sound Porto
6/10 – Lyon, FR – Warmaudio
6/12 – Manchester, UK – The Star & Garter
6/13 – Glasgow, UK – Nice n Sleazy
6/14 – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
6/15 – Donnington, UK – Download Festival
6/17 – London, UK – The Garage
6/18 – Brighton, UK – Green Door Store
6/19 – Bristol, UK – Exchange
6/21 – Dessel, BE – Graspop Metal Meeting
6/22 – Gräfenhainichen, DE – Full Force
6/24 – Bologna, IT – Pontelungo
6/25 – Düdingen, CH – Bad Bonn
6/27 – Ysselstey, NL – Jera on Air
6/28 – Munster, DE – Vainstream Rockfest
6/30 – Clisson, FR – Hellfest
7/2 – Wiesbaden, DE – Kesselhaus
7/3 – Hamburg, DE – headCRASH
7/4 – Roskilde, DK – Rosklide Festival
7/6 – Belfort, FR – Eurockeennes
7/7 – Ypres, BE – Ieperfest
7/20 – Boston, MA – Roadrunner %
7/26 – Norwalk, CT – District Music Hall ^
7/27 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer ^
7/29 – Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall ^
7/31 – Nashville, TN – The Basement East ^
8/1 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West ^
8/2 – Louisville, KY – Porto ^
9/27 – Louisville, KY – Louder than Life
10/10 – Sacramento, CA- Aftershock

+ supporting Orchid
~ with Spy
@ with Militarie Gun
# with Korine
$ with Korine, OLTH, No Model
% supporting Have Heart
^ supporting Fiddlehead

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