Anyone who grew up loving semi-sappy pop-punk confessionals about ill-fated relationships might find a kindred spirit in Fort Worth punk troubadour Jesse Gage. The former drummer for Movie the Band recently released an EP that hits the feels with all of the sensitive pinings and sarcastic takedowns that Bill Stevenson of the Descendents supplied in his most iconic musings.
“I think I try to convey emotion more than thoughts or ideas,” Gage said via email while bedridden with the flu. “I would much rather make someone feel something than convince them to believe whatever bullshit opinion I have.”
Somewhere amid the flurry of local Dreamy Life Records’ spate of year-end releases, Gage’s Loose Morals in Vintage Florals was issued on cassette. The six tracks are hooky pop songs that possess the requisite Ramones’ sing-along quality and are delivered with Gage’s laidback monotone, which smacks more than a bit of a young Mike Ness. The tunes are simple and straightforward punky fare, but they’re also deceptively introspective and mature. He’s self-deprecating at times, but there’s sarcasm and a sense of humor about the masochism that smoothes the edges of some of his rougher insecurities.
“I say really personal things, and I try to convey very real emotions,” Gage said. “I also deal with life through humor. I am confident about my insecurities, and I am certain that I know nothing.”
Fittingly, even his own elevator pitch is colored by his jocose wit.
“I like calling [my music] ‘sad boy pop-punk,’ ” he said. “I would describe it poorly is what I’m saying.”
Loose Morals was recorded at Cloudland Recording Studio with local production mainstay Britt Robisheaux (Jandek, Pinkish Black, B.J. Thomas) running the board in the late summer/early fall of 2016. The 28-year-old Gage tracked every sound on the recording, laying the guitar down first and then layering in the successive instruments one at a time. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, and Elliott Smith, making a record essentially by yourself can be a grueling endeavor –– a large reason why he tried to limit the length of the sessions.
“No one else played on the record,” Gage said. “That’s why I usually worked in half days. I’d usually do two songs in a few hours. I start to get tunnel vision if I’d go any longer.”
Songs titles like “High in Vancouver” and “Atom Bombs and Shitty Songs” may be mistaken for the sort of brain-dead, bratty punk shenanigan soundtracks purveyed by the likes of the Circle Jerks and The Dead Milkmen, but there’s a bit more substance to what Gage is trying to say.
“I told my friend recently that I want to write songs that fuck up someone’s morning,” Gage said. “Because every once in a while, I come across a song so good that it messes up my whole day in the best way possible. I try to do that to people when I write.”
Live, Gage has been playing solo with just a guitar and a mic for the last several months. But to perform the songs on Loose Morals in their rightful fist-pumping way, he’s put together a band he’s calling Robot Therapy. The group, which will feature Georgia Brown on drums and bassist Amanda Whitlow, has their first show together on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Dreamy Life Records and Music.
“It’ll pretty much be a lot of my solo stuff but also a few new songs,” Gage said about the band and upcoming show. “I’m pretty pumped to not be just a guy with a guitar anymore.”
Robot Therapy debut show
Tue, Jan 16, at 7pm w/Two Houses (Chicago), Kira Jari, and Echo Spring at Dreamy Life Records and Music, 1310 W Allen Av, FW. 817-733-5463.