Local Noise: West Gate

There are plenty of rock ‘n’ roll headstones in the Garden State bearing the genre ‘metal.’ Or at least ‘hard rock.’ New Jersey has a lot of growing boys influenced by all manner of aggressive music, and it’s no surprise that many of them could use a lot of work. A lot of work.

One group, however, that’s avoided imitating metalcore acts and have instead focused on solid songwriting is West Gate, a four-piece (though that’s up for discussion) out of South Orange. Featuring Pete Kelly on vocals, Kurt Andrews and Alex Goldenthal on guitars and George Roskos on drums, the band was conceived in the winter of 2006 but the act has started to see the benefits of their hard work in just the last year. Having sold a thousand copies of their debut EP, Selah, released in early 2008, West Gate released the full-length Daylight in July and went on a 14-date tour east of the Mississippi in support of it.

With adds in college radio throughout the Northeast and a touring schedule that would throw a band that’s still in college right out of college, the rockers have the business acumen and dedication as well as the music.

OK, I’ve got four members on your bio and five dudes in the press picture and six people in your liner notes. What gives?

During the release of Daylight we were in a bit of a transition between players. Our former guitarist Ken Abel, who mixed and co-produced the album as well as played half of the guitar parts (everything that Kurt didn’t play), decided to leave the band this past April. We were planning a tour for the summer and he didn’t want to pursue this as a career and didn’t want to live that lifestyle. On top of that, Ken always said he hated playing live, although he loved the studio work.

That said, we found a new guitarist, Alex Goldenthal, and have been playing with him since. The chemistry with him is great and he really has fit right in with the rest of the band. He came in while we were still working on artwork and liner notes for the album. So both Ken and Alex were listed as members of West Gate because one was on his way out while the other was on his way in.

We recently parted ways with our bassist Rob (shortly after the press photos). He had some other things in his life that he needed to attend to. So now we’re down to four. We actually toured this summer as a four-piece and have our bass backtracked through my MacBook Pro that gets routed into the bass amp. It’s a great solution for right now, but regardless we are still actively searching for a bassist. We got quite a few questions on tour about the bass set up, and surprisingly everyone was pretty receptive of the idea of our ‘invisible bassist’! You have to see it to believe it, for sure.

Has it been difficult to get a lineup solidified outside of the core members?

It hasn’t been too difficult. When Ken left, we surprisingly found Alex within two weeks of launching our search for a guitarist. He just fit right in with us. Alex is definitely a core member of West Gate now.

As for the bass situation, we’re very cautious of bringing a new guy in because we do want to mesh, the same way we meshed with Alex. We don’t want to dramatically change the dynamic so we’re just being patient to find the right guy for the job.