Music News

The Gamits CD-release show Saturday at the Gothic Theatre

In the late '90s, the Gamits were part of a relatively small but thriving punk scene that included artists like Pinhead Circus, the Fairlanes and Four. Unlike most groups of that era, the Gamits survived beyond the first couple of years of the new century and, with numerous national and international tours under its belt, became one of the most successful acts of the bunch.

Sole original member and singer/guitarist Chris Fogal was born into a military family in Meridian, Mississippi, but lived in Omaha, Nebraska, until around age nine, when his family moved again, first to Niwot, Colorado and then to Broomfield.

"I still remember coming over the big hill on Highway 36 as you come into Boulder, having never seen the mountains, and being like, 'Oh, my God! What is this place?'" recalls Fogal. "It's a vivid memory."

Fogal and his friend Matt Vanleuven had been into the classic speed-metal bands of the '80s in high school, and their first forays into playing music were along those lines. But in the early '90s, Nirvana kicked the doors of the mainstream down for punk rock, introducing a new generation of kids, including Fogal and his friends, to wider musical possibilities.

By the mid-'90s, Fogal and Vanleuven had started the Gamits and quickly became part of a wave of punk that didn't tend to differentiate its various strains too much. The Gamits fit right into this milieu with their brand of melodic punk rock with hooks and ultra-catchy choruses. In 2004, eight years in and numerous lineup changes later, Fogal pulled the plug on the band, shortly after its release of the critically acclaimed album Antidote. "I don't know why we had to make such a big deal out of it," Fogal muses. "I was frustrated, and I just wanted to be done and let everybody know."

Six years later, Fogal and his bandmates had a change of heart. "When enough time passed," he says, "we thought it sounded like it would be fun again."

Releasing their first album in six years, Parts, the Gamits make a strong case for how they were never merely a typical punk band with pop sensibilities. For example, "Love Suicidal" eloquently explores inner turmoil from an unexpected perspective. "It's a lesbian song," reveals Fogal. "I couldn't think of anything to write about myself, so I thought I'd crawl inside of someone going through something like that and see if anything came out."

The whole album explores, in various forms, questions of identity and the choices we make in life. "The Still and the Lost" represents best the duality of the new Gamits sound, combining the gritty with the sublime. As Fogal explains, "To make a happy melody, unless you want it to be all pennywhistles and moon pies, you have to make it a little evil somehow and darken it up a little bit."

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.