Power Trip was one of the most popular hardcore bands in North Texas, and when frontman Riley Gale died from a toxic dose of fentanyl in 2020, guitarist Blake Ibanez, who still isn’t ready to talk about his friend’s death, said he could only move forward.
And that’s exactly what he’s done.
After recruiting second guitarist Victor Gutierrez (Impalers), bassist Andy Messer (ANS, Stymie), and drummer Lincoln Mullins (Creeping Death), with Skourge’s Seth Gilmore on vocals, Ibanez created Fugitive, whose debut recording, the EP Maniac, came out on early last month.
“I was hanging out with [Gilmore] eating breakfast one day,” Ibanez recalled, “and said, ‘I feel like doing something musically to keep my creativity going,’ so I basically threw it out in the air [that I] wanted to play with some of the guys, and we were like ‘Sure,’ so I started jamming with [Mullins], and it was all that. Seeing how the songs were going, we started recording.”
Ibanez said that, for Fugitive, he returned to his musicmaking roots and that it was a great life decision to start the group focused on the same thing he’s always done: write music and jam out.
“Fugitive is a band that likes to play shows, write songs, and rip tunes like any other band,” he said.
Fugitive recently booked a gig at a national festival, Ibanez said, including a resort in Las Vegas. The venue “was sold out, and Vegas was great,” Ibanez said. “We had a good timeslot, and the room was full.”
The guys are finally getting a chance to take a breather after their run of shows in Vegas and performing live for the first time, at Wrecking Ball Metal Madness a few weeks ago in Dallas.
The five-song EP was produced by Ibanez and engineered and mixed by Rubio N. at Cloudland Recording Studios in Fort Worth. Mastering was done by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air in Massachusetts with drums engineered by Drew LeClair and additional drum production by Slade Williams.
The debut generated lots of buzz in the Texas metal scene. Songs like the opener “The Javelin” rage like a locomotive. While Fugitive is a mélange of its members’ assorted projects, Ibanez says Power Trip never really disbanded and that the formation of Fugitive wasn’t influenced by Gale’s death.
“I guess you could say Power Trip is on hiatus,” Ibanez said. “I wanted to play with a group and to have band practice with a handpicked [group of] guys that I liked. I was just bored and wanted to do something else, and I wanted it to be something like the early days, playing with bandmates to hang out with, and it’s been awesome.”
Ibanez said he and his bandmates are happy with the way Maniac turned out and said it feels like the formula for writing new music seems to be working.
“It’s cool to put something out and see what happens,” Ibanez said. “When [Gale] passed away, there was a lot of media out, and then being nominated for a Grammy helped a bit, and there was a lot of visibility with the power of the internet. It’s cool to see how far it goes and how many people give a shit about anything I do. I’m proud of that, and it’s really cool to see.”
Since some members are on tour with their other projects, Fugitive does not have any immediate shows booked. However, Ibanez is itching to get back to work.
“I want to get back in the studio in October to [strike while] the iron’s hot,” he said. “We need some more songs to play a longer set,” he added with a laugh.