Interview: Christina Michelle – Gouge Away
Posted: by The Editor
Florida based group, Gouge Away, specializes in scorching, gushing hardcore music. Their debut record, ,Dies, could very well fall under metal; but their follow up record, Burnt Sugar, demonstrated mastery and progression. With more nebulous, symbolic songwriting, they found success in dipping their toes into adjacent, more refined grunge sounds. It’s still brash, but there are underlying instrumentation patterns that provide a semblance of melody. I spoke with vocalist, Christina Michelle, about how music can used to direct attention to issues people might not be mindful of like the hardships of touring and animal cruelty.
How did you get your start in music?
My mom listened to a lot of grunge. She manages clubs now. When she started out, she would work the door in more goth-style night clubs. She would get access to top 40 music before it aired on the radio, so I would pick the best songs and make CDs and cassettes for my friends to listen to on the bus. My dad was into classic rock and always had live band shows or tour documentaries blaring on the tv. He started playing guitar when he was in diapers. There were always at least 5 guitars in the house.
What sparked your desire to start making music?
I don’t know exactly what got me into wanting to make music. I wanted to be a Spice Girl when I was in elementary school. I adored Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. I started going to shows in 8th grade because a friend invited me to see his brother’s band. I was instantly hooked and started going to every show I could. I started booking local shows as well as booking touring bands.
I would book shows, or turn already-booked shows into bake sales, to raise money and awareness for different problems I thought were important – like homelessness, sweatshops, and overall injustice. But often, I felt like I was a weirdo for caring. People would donate pennies or mock the effort.
I felt like I didn’t have a place in the scene anymore until I found Paint it Black – whose lyrics and live speeches made me feel like someone else actually cared like I did. They were everything I wanted: aggressive and thought-provoking. They made me want to start writing lyrics and yelling in my own band.
I read your zine on touring with Culture Abuse. It provided a lot of insight on how difficult it can be, but also on some of the more enjoyable aspects. What made you decide to put this zine together?
I think it’s hard to learn about a band nowadays outside of their internet persona because typically, you’re only going to see the best aspects. But there is so much more involved. During tours, people are sick, injured, or maybe a loved one has something going on at home. Sometimes we’re nervous as hell to play a particular show, or even nervous before every single show. People don’t see the 16 hour drives we have to trek through in 24 hours, or consider that we didn’t get to sleep for 3 days. The bad days make the great moments that much better.
We might play some packed-out festival with some of the best bands ever, but our favorite show from tour could be the one we played on the floor of a barber shop to 35 people. It seems like in smaller cities, people feel that they have to apologize to us. But they don’t necessarily have to because it can still be a sick show. We’ll play a backyard in January, or your graduation party, or your garage, so please keep making that happen and never apologize for it.
I also wanted to show what a special band Culture Abuse is. Sometimes, you go on tour with a band who stays in their separate green room. But when you go out with Culture Abuse, they want to stay in the same hotels as you. They make sure you’re fed – and drunk, if you want to be. We never parted ways after a show without them making sure we felt okay. That’s not only amazing, but should be the standard with your fellow human beings. I hope maybe it makes someone consider that perhaps, the people you see on stage are actually human beings who are just trying to share something they love.
Animal cruelty is mentioned in your music a lot, particularly on ,Dies. Why is it such an important issue to you?
It’s such a normal part of our culture to think that we need meat and dairy to be healthy or that we need to torture animals for scientific progress, but there are many misconceptions and straight up lies. It’s unfair, manipulative and sadistic. Animals don’t really have a voice to speak up for themselves, so I think it’s our responsibility as human beings to speak up about it. Maybe, if someone hears a song about it, they’ll take the initiative to look into it and start making changes.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Anything with chocolate in it!
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Bineet Kaur //@HelloBineet