The Gateway District’s Nate Gangelhoff on the band’s new album, sound, and more

gatway district
Minneapolis musician and writer Nate Gangelhoff has an impressive CV. He’s played in Off With Their Heads, Rivethead, and Banner Pilot, as well as a band that’s recently put out their third full-length, The Gateway District. The quartet’s remarkably well-known for a band that rarely plays outside of the Twin Cities area, but their pedigree is enough to interest anyone familiar with the current punk scene, with members of the Soviettes, Salteens, and Dear Landlord (to say nothing of Gangelhoff’s laundry list of bands).

Gangelhoff was kind enough to take time out of his rather busy schedule to do an e-mail interview with us about the new album, Old Wild Hearts, as well as his many other musical projects.

nate gangelhoffGiven that the Gateway District is — as you refer to it — “a three quarters project,” when does the band work together?

It’s a sporadic, on-and-off thing. In other words, it’s not like, “It’s noon on June 3rd, that means Gateway District season has begun!” or anything. It’s randomly throughout the year depending on who is in town, who has ideas to work on, etc.

Essentially, since it’s not strictly a side project nor anyone’s full-time band, how does it end up being so damned prolific? Three LPs are pretty amazing for a band that hardly ever plays outside of Minneapolis.

Yeah, that is pretty cool that we’ve already knocked out three albums. I hadn’t really thought about that. One advantage is having three distinct songwriters, I suppose. If each of them writes 4 songs over the course of a year, boom, you’ve got an album. So it’s a little less impressive when you think about it that way. Damn. I was all pumped up for a minute there.

Is there a band you feel gets the majority of your focus? Since Off With Their Heads mostly gets studio work from you, I would assume that it’s most likely Banner Pilot, but feel free to put me straight on this point.

Oh yeah, Banner Pilot for sure. I spend a lot of time on that band. Gateway District is just a nice, way more low key thing for me. Other than writing guitar leads and making minor suggestions on song structures, I don’t really have much to do with the songs in GWD, so it’s a fun, laid back deal. BP is obviously very fun too, it’s just a lot more work. Haven’t really done anything w/ OWTH since In Desolation.

cover - gwd old wild heartsThe Gateway District’s sound frequently has a bit of a “bounce” to it — like you should handclap along to most songs, or bop around the room, specifically on songs like the new album’s “Tell You Why” or Perfect’s Gonna Fail‘s “Run Away.” Where does this come from?

I think Carrie’s songs in particular bring that element. She’s just really good at writing bouncy, poppy songs that in some cases have a neat almost country-esque vibe to them.

What did you switching from bass to guitar lend the Gateway District, in terms of sound?

Well, probably nothing– I’m not exactly Yngwie Malstem over here. I mean, I’m pretty similar to him, but I’m not exactly him. Mostly though, it’s just that I enjoy playing guitar and it’s been nice to get to do that in a band. I mean, I play (lead) guitar on all the Banner Pilot records, but never live, so it’s fun to be able to do that w/ GWD

Did it do anything, really, since you played bass and guitar both on that first 7-inch, or was it more just the addition of Carrie Bleser, period?

Carrie definitely has a different style of playing bass than I do, and when you compare the 7″ to the albums, I think her style fits this kind of music a lot better. I think I would probably fall back on the really driving, Banner Pilot style bass parts that I don’t think would mesh as well with the rest of the music. So I think it’s worked out really well the way we’ve been doing it

triple rockI ask, because it seems that the Gateway District is different in terms of bands that people tend to associate with the current Minneapolis punk scene — Dillinger Four, Off With Their Heads, Banner Pilot, et al — which have this gruff, Tom Waits meets pop punk thing going on. Is there a conscious decision to differentiate yourselves, or is it just happenstance?

Well, I think some of it is due to the stuff I just mentioned. But yeah one thing I like about GWD is that we’re able to do (and hopefully pull off) things that would seem bizarre for a lot of other “midwest pop punk” style bands. Like, for some of the newer songs we’re working on we want to try cleaner guitars, different tempos, etc, that I think will sound pretty cool, but would sound weird on a Banner Pilot or Dear Landlord song.

Being as how you’ve been busy touring with Banner Pilot, recording with the Gateway District, and so on, have you had any time to write anything new?

Yeah, Banner Pilot has 11 new songs right now, and GWD has 4 or 5. I barely tour, really (3 to 4 weeks a year) so there’s plenty of time to write.

Anything in the works to promote Old Wild Hearts on a larger scale, other than the social media campaign and talking to people such as myself? Could we expect a few spring tour dates, maybe?

We’re going build buzz with a viral marketing campaign that involves leveraging and harnessing social media synergies to drive traffic. Put another way, we’re going to tack flyers onto buildings, and hope that people go to our shows after seeing them. Also, we’re heading out to Chicago for a show. Maybe more, but those are the main things for now.

The Gateway District’s new album, Old Wild Hearts, is due out March 26 from It’s Alive Records, who have released the band’s previous records. You can stream it exclusively on Punknews.