For almost 20 years, The Goddamn Gallows has continued to reinvent itself both on record and onstage.
The group, formed in Lansing in 2004, continuously teeters between rockabilly, psychobilly, punk rock, bluegrass and metal — all while sounding like a tight, cohesive unit. It accents visceral vocals and grimy guitars with primal percussion and upright bass, then douses it with a rustic wave of washboard, accordion, mandolin and banjo. That menacing sound will return to its old stomping ground of Mac’s Bar for a St. Patrick’s Day show Friday (March 17).
Since its genesis, the always-hustling band has earned a cult following worldwide. And it’s a fanbase that’s still growing, thanks to an endless tour cycle that, early on, found the group spending nights in abandoned buildings, shifty squatter camps, storage units and shoebox apartments. But along the way, it never stopped recording, producing a stack of acclaimed albums. Some call it “hobo-core.” Some call it “Americana punk.” Regardless of labels, it’s really just hauntingly good songwriting that’s morphed into Lansing-made rock ‘n’ roll folklore.
Today, the members live in different parts of the country, but City Pulse caught up with Mikey Classic (guitar and vocals). Here’s what he had to say.
It looks like this is another busy year for The Goddamn Gallows, am I correct?
Mikey Classic: We’re recording and touring. Our new stuff sounds a lot like us in 2009 (laughs). But since our inception in 2004, we’ve constantly been evolving our sound, with each album blending more and more underground noise. We put some newly recorded stuff on our website (the 666 series) if anyone wants a sneak peek. We’re also hoping to have a new album by the end of the year, and we’ll plan one hell of a 20th-anniversary tour with it.
Who are you touring with this year?
We’re getting ready for a tour with Hank Williams’ great-grandson’s band, IV and the Strange Band. We hit the road with them right after our show at the new Mac’s Bar.
You’re living in Chicago nowadays. Do you have any remaining connections to Lansing?
My folks still live in town, so I visit every now and then. I do run into Mac’s Bar’s old bartender Anna Capps quite frequently in Chicago. Of course, The Goddamn Gallows’ drummer, Baby Genius, still lives in Lansing.
Is anything in particular inspiring you lyrically right now? I know “Let’s Join a Cult” is a newer single.
Road stories, struggling to get by and joining various cults. Everyone is in some kind of cult, whether it’s the church, a music scene, politics or Heaven’s Gate. There’s always something. Join the cult of The Goddamn Gallows! We’re taking auditions at Mac’s Bar on St. Patrick’s Day.
Since the band started, what would you say is your most memorable show?
Oof! Tough one. We’ve been road dogs, constantly on the road for almost 20 years. But if I were to pick a memory, I would have to pick playing at Resurrection Fest in Spain in 2016. Iron Maiden was the headliner — we were eating dinner with the Melvins and all looked up at each other when we heard Bruce Dickinson doing his vocal warmups backstage. That was a pretty epic moment.
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