Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gathered Here.

I met Jonathan West through James Whitten when they were playing together in Structural Damage. I started seeing Jonathan around at a lot of the Plan It X type shows like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb and the Devil is Electric and a handful of hardcore shows. He started coming out more and more, and we became pretty good friends. After Gathered Here, Jonathan went on to start The Ghostwood with James. All three of us moved out to Oakland together after Hurricane Katrina, lived in the same building, and played together in Path of Daggers Crown of Swords. When we moved back to New Orleans, Jonathan played a few solo acoustic shows doing some unused Ghostwood songs and some other stuff he had written. Right now, he's not playing with anyone, but I think there's still hope.

After Structural Damage had broken up, I was doing a show at Cypress and Jonathan told me he was starting a new band with Greg Stein and Steven Roussell from Hatchback with this nutty kid Darin Acosta from Norco. Hatchback had been one of the greatest bands to come out of New Orleans, and Greg and Steven are incredible musicians, so I was pretty excited about seeing them in a new band. I knew Darin from his sister Megan and from my friend Steven Mudge. He also came out with us on the Eat a Bag of Dicks, so I think at this point, I was pretty familiar with his antics. After Gathered Here, Greg went on to play bass in the post Dear Diary band A Hunger Artist. He's not playing with anyone right now, but still occasionally records bands. Darin is now in an acoustic band called Sorority with Nathan Jesse (The City is the Tower), and sometimes Eric Martinez (Rougarou, PROMIS, Chopsley, etc.) and Emily Hilldore (local classical musician).

I remember when Jonathan was first talking to me about Gathered Here, I thought it was silly that he was going to just sing in the band when he sort of knew how to play bass. At that point, it seemed like good musicians were few and far between in New Orleans, so it just seemed like a waste to use someone who could be playing an instrument on vocal duties. What a fool I was! His vocals in Gathered Here were a huge leap forward from Structural Damage. He really blew me away when they started playing out. Really, the whole band did. Steven's drums had always had that sort of jazzy / clicky French emo sound to them, really fast with tons of fills, and Darin's guitar work really complimented that, seeming to draw an obvious influence from bands like Anomie and Fingerprint. On a whole they sounded like an amalgamation of the straightforward Refused hardcore songs, the start-stop / brevity of Kid Dynamite, and somehow the melody / noise dynamic of Fugazi. They were also a really tight live band, had a ton of energy, and kept their sets short and simple.

Gathered Here never toured, but I think they played some shows in Pensacola and maybe Athens. They were supposed to meet up with Dear Diary on our last tour, but ended up breaking up a few days before they were going to hit the road. We tried getting them to come out anyway with Steve Wiegand and/or Eric Martinez filling in on drums, but they didn't want to do it. I think Darin went to Mexico or something instead. I also tried to get them to play the last Dear Diary shows with Majority Rule, but their differences were irreconcilable, so it never happened. The Dear Diary / Gathered Here 7" that was supposed to come out on Deadtank was also scrapped after both bands broke up, but it might end up still seeing the light of day as a split 12" on One Eye.

Along with the Faeries, Gathered Here remains one of my favorite hardcore bands and one of the best bands to come out of New Orleans period. I wish these guys would get back together or start new bands with a similar sound. Here's everything they recorded:

2.5 Years
Good Intentions
Here Come My Friends
Killing Friends
They Say We're Not Alright