Chris Fogal – vocals / guitar
(position open) – bass guitar
Forrest Bartosh – drums
These days many of us have experienced the dismay at hearing the washed down, corporate punk shlock on the radio when we are so blown away by bands in our own backyard who’ve been playing longer, harder, and have more talent in their little converse than most mainstream commercial clones have in their entire tour bus. And these are the bands who are still struggling to make a name for themselves, and thankfully, are not showing any signs of slowing down.
That’s the feeling that many a punk and indie rocker has in the state of Colorado when they think of the Gamits.
The Gamits have been at the core of the Colorado punk scene since the two high school buddies, Chris Fogal and Matt Vanleuven, started the band in 1995. With Chris on lead guitar and vocals and Matt on drums, they brought in another punk pal, Tinez on bass, to complete the trio. But after a bit, they thought it best to play a little game of musical chairs, moving Matt to bass and bringing in Forrest Bartosh to rip the drums while Tinez took an exit, stage left. From there, they worked as a team to continually refine their brand of melodic punk, pop, and supercharged sound to a fine science, where their stage performance played hand-in-hand with their audiences enthusiasm and unbridled energy.
As with any band that is serious about their music, they did a lot of local tours, then grew to travel regionally and beyond, working with other bands like Teen Idols and The Nobodys who took them on their first US tour. During this time, they were also writing and releasing new material including EPs This Is My Boomstick and A Small Price To Pay engineered by Matt himself from his own recording studio, Eight Houses. The Gamits also were picked up by local indie label, Suburban Home Records, for their last EP and Wynona Records in support of an Italian release.
Matt continued to grow a name for himself and his recording studio, but grew weary touring and trying to be part of The Gamits as well. So he parted from the group and Lukas Mathers, formally of Doctor Strange recording artists, Man Dingo, filled in on bass and had been with the group up until August of this year.
After returning from a thorough tour of Europe in the Spring, they’ve been resting up and writing new material, while also looking for a new bass player once again AND preparing for another tour, this time to Japan.
KB: You were on tour in Europe quite a while before we ran into each other at the Weezer show. How has that impacted the growth of your fan base overseas?
CHRIS: That tour helped us immensely over there. Before that tour it was difficult for people to hear our music in Europe. We played some great shows and now kids can go into almost all the independent record stores over there and find our stuff.
KB:The Gamits ended up playing with a number of European punk and ska bands during this tour. What bands would you most recommend and why, and do you plan to play with them again?
CHRIS: The bands I would recommend would be The Stinking Polecats, The Manges, and the Retarted. They are all great bands and amazing people. There are of course many other bands, smaller and bigger that were great too but these guys rule Italy!
KB: Besides driving long hours and drinking strong beer, are there any tour stories that really stand out above the rest?
CHRIS:There is no way I could put in to print the goings on over there. The Italian guys are all nuts and the stories are all very offensive. They are very funny too! You’ll just have to ask me next time I run into you at a show or something.
Since many of you may not be able to run into Chris at a show on a regular basis, here’s a few tidbits from their tour diary where they regularly posted to www.thegamits.com, “The punk shows here are interesting. Few things I noticed; instead of back patches, people wear these ripped up scarf-like things around their neck. Maybe that is their way of being emo, I don’t know. Also, at the end of every show here, the club plays a bunch of music and the kids break into a dance party. Much nicer than being thrown out right after the show is done.”
Okay, so no bar brawls. But Chris does have a bit more to say.
CHRIS: They’re really into pop punk out there, and since we seem to fall into the category, it’s a lot easier for a band like ours. Older people in their twenties on up show up for shows. It’s weird to see a 50 year old woman dancing in front of you. Then there was is old Italian who I talked to for like an hour. Our bus driver had to translate, and the conversation basically ended with this [man] just wanting to tell me how stupid Americans are, he just took a really long time to say it. We were kinda worried about us being Americans and playing in these different countries. But it was fine. People pretty much knew WE were not responsible for what’s being done by our government. They really hate Bush over there. And that’s cool with me.
KB:You’re also getting ready to jet off to Japan in the near future, but with a temporary bass player. Why did you last bass player leave? How many member changes have has the Gamits had? What are you looking for in a permanent replacement?
CHRIS: Yes we are leaving for Japan on Sep 11th!!! The best day to fly! We have our friend Scott [Weigel], from the Fairlanes, filling in for a local show on Sep 6th [in Colorado] and the Japan tour. Our last bass player left because it just didn’t work out. He was a good guy and all but we just didn’t know him well enough. We were in a bind and we took a chance with him and the shoe just didn’t fit. We have had two other people on bass in the past. Loovin, who will play with us again sometimes in the future, and Tinez who was the original bass player. We are looking for the right guy, or gal, who can be in this band for as long as this band will exist. It’s really hard to find the right person so we are taking our time. We don’t want to have to do this again, ever.
KB: Have you toured Japan before? If so, how were you received and how do the fans differ from America or Europe?
CHRIS: This is our first time there.
KB: Speaking of touring, another first for you guys was getting a few dates on the Warped Tour. How was that for you and would you do it again if you had the chance?
CHRIS: The Warped tour was O.K. but it’s really hard to do if you don’t have a nightliner, tour bus or an R.V. The tour drives all night and bakes in the sun all day. If you are smaller band in your van, or whatever, you don’t really get a chance to rest and the heat beats you down fast. It’s cool to have that many bands in one spot but it also sucks really bad because there is so much bad music out there. You really notice it when it’s blaring at you from all angles. It was nice to see some friends’ bands and hang out with them. I don’t know if we would do it again. It all depends.
KB: When you finally get home from these tours, what is your favorite thing about being home again, besides the company of your cat and sleeping in your own bed?
CHRIS: My favorite things when I get home are my bed, my toilet, my shower, my cats, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, my friends and my girl. Not at all in that order.
KB: Unless I’m mistaken, the last few releases you have had have been EPs. What
are your plans for a full-length, and what new material is in the works?
CHRIS: Our last one was an EP but the one before that was a full length. We are working on songs for a new full length right now. The goal is to have it done by Jan. ’03.
KB: And the crystal ball question – what do you most desire for the Gamits in the next year?
CHRIS: My biggest desire is to put out our best record yet. As long as that happens I will be happy. If we can get on bigger tours and more people can hear that record then that would be the icing on the cake.
So once they get over the hump of getting into a long term three way relationship, The Gamits should be good to go to create new music and grow their fan base even more. With all the touring they’ve been doing not just in their own back yard, but in running onto trains, planes and automobiles to spread their sound out to foreign audiences, the Gamits should be ripe to take on the worlds they’ve discovered.
To check out the rest of their tour diary, music releases, and photos of The Gamits, you can go to www.thegamits.com.