Everyone in Philly knows South Street as store after tattoo parlor after thrift shop after restaurant of never ending entertainment and lights. There’s always the guarantee that there will be noise, there will be food and there will be traffic—no matter what!
Our beloved South Street didn’t let up its insane personality, not even for a second as Campus Philly chatted outside the TLA with melodic hardcore band Gwen Stacy after their successful opening performance for Unearth and Protest the Hero.
It didn’t seem to faze bassist Brent Schindler, drummer T.J. Sego and guitarist Chris Suter as they discussed the origin of the band name, their new record, touring, their faith and why Philly is better than New York City.
Campus Philly: How did you guys feel about the show tonight?
Brent Schindler: I thought it was awesome. For being on tour with Unearth and a bunch of metal, really heavy bands, that really isn’t our genre, I thought it was awesome. Our fans came out and supported. I saw a lot people singing along and dancing.
CP: How did you get on this bill?
BS: I really don’t know. I think Unearth had something to do with it. Our management had a lot to do with it [also]. There’s a lot of history between the dudes in Unearth and our management.
CP: You guys are from Indianapolis, Indiana. What’s the music scene like out there? Do you guys represent it pretty well?
BS: No, actually. It’s kind of a big punk/hardcore scene right now. There‘s definitely some metalcore bands, some straight up metal bands and some melodic bands. It’s pretty versatile from what I’ve seen from when we’re home, which isn’t much. But it’s a pretty punk and hardcore scene. But people are into a lot of stuff.
CP: So you guys tour a lot then?
BS: Yeah, we toured from Jan. 10 to June 13 at the beginning of this year. Then we had some time off in July. We toured in August. And we had most of September off, but we were writing. Then we’re doing this all month [October]. Then we’re gonna finish writing, learn the rest of the record in November. We’re going out with Stick to Your Guns and My Children, My Bride in December. And a headlining tour in January. Then to the studio.
CP: Your current CD out is…?
BS: The Life I Know came out Feb. 5.
CP: You were talking about going into the studio for your next album. Do you have a title for that?
BS: We have a working title. But I’m not going to tell you what it is. I think we’re going into the studio late February early March and hopefully the record will be out early summer.
CP: What are some of the reoccurring themes you find popping up on your album?
BS: Well, the main reason that we titled it the The Life I Know, [is] basically [because] it was about the last year in the life of Gwen Stacy. There’s stuff on there about trials and stressful things we had to go through with old members; our faith, because we are a Christian band. It’s basically just time in the life of Gwen Stacy. So we thought that was a pretty appropriate title. It was actually a lyric. One day we were practicing and we [said] we should just call this “the life I know”. It’s kind of cliché, but whatever. It fit what we were doing. With all the ups and downs and the different things we do on our record, we thought it fit really well.
CP: So you had other band members?
BS: Since our start in December of 2004, we’ve been through three guitar players, two singers and we’re actually on our third singer who was a guitar player. It’s really confusing. We’re going for the whole Zao thing; the whole twenty members in ten years thing. Actually, Chris here is an original member. He was our original singer, back in 2004. He was in the band for 6 months. He left to go to school. He graduated college and now he’s back in the band playing guitar.
Chris Suter: This is my sixth show, that’s why I‘m not saying too much. I really don’t know what’s going on.
CP: What did you go to school for?
CS: Sociology and religious studies.
BS: So we have three original members again, so it’s cool.
CP: And they are?
BS: Me, T.J. the drummer and Chris. But Patrick our other guitar player, we kinda consider him an original member, because when Chris left [Patrick] joined the band. Because Chris used to play the guitar and sing that’s when we got our old singer and Patrick. We were a band for six months before he joined. So Patrick’s an original member, too. Our singer is the youngest member in the band if you’re talking about time spent in the band; but he’s awesome and we love him. So much!
CP: So explain the name to me? What does it mean?
BS: Gwen Stacy was actually Spiderman’s first girlfriend in the Adventures of the Amazing Spiderman; it’s from the Spiderman comics. We were actually sitting around in Bartonsville, Indiana, where we originated, and we were thinking about comic book names and Gwen Stacy sounded way cooler than Professor X. We thought it was a cool name, but kind of unknown. [And] we found out a year and a half, two years, in the band that she is kind of well known.
CS: The comic book dudes know what’s going on with Gwen Stacy.
BS: We had the name before the movie came out. Two years before. HEY! There’s our drummer.
T.J. Sego: Wooo!
CS: We’re already taking care of it.
TS: Oh, good.
BS: Jump in here dawg.
CP: You’re just in time for the influences question. Who are your music influences?
TS: Poison the Well.
BS: I listed this off yesterday. Well, not yesterday, a couple days ago. I would say: Poison the Well, Beloved, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Slipknot and Thrice. Those would be the top five influences of this band. Just wait ‘til the next album. You’ll hear the Slipknot.
CP: So are you guys enjoying the tour so far. What day is this, day two? I’m always catching bands on day two! That’s no fun. No cool stories?
BS: Well, there are some cool stories. We toured with Whitechapel in May. So we got to the venue yesterday and we didn’t know anybody besides them and they didn’t know anybody besides us. So we like huddled together like “Hey dudes, we know you. We’re friends.” The Unearth guys that we’ve talked to have been really nice.
TS: I met some of the dudes in Protest the Hero today; they’re awesome. That was really cool.
BS: But it’s going really good so far. Especially for it not being our crowd or genre.
CP: So what do you consider your genre then?
BS: Like melodic hardcore. I mean we have breakdowns, we scream a lot but we sing some too. Bands like Poison the Well. They’re a melodic post hardcore band; Life in Your Way and Beloved.
CP: Did you guys get a chance to hang out in Philly yet?
BS: Yeah, a little bit. Chris and I ate at that vegetarian place down the way.
CS: We went to get a che
ese steak and they only take cash!
BS: There’s ATMs all over the place.
TS: Mayo’s has awesome falafel. If you’re vegetarian or vegan go there.
BS: Which he is.
TS: I am vegan.
CP: Your Favorite place on this strip [South Street]?
BS: I’d probably have to say the Fillmore at the TLA because I really don’t know much more about this strip. Although we did go to Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo today. Our friend, who’s on tour with us, is a tattoo artist, and he was freaking out about it. I guess [Eddie’s] is really famous. He got a tattoo there. It was like this tiny heart on his leg. It was like 50 bucks. This is the second time we’ve played here.
TS: Boyz II Men are from here.
BS: Motown Philly!
TS: *singing* We’re back again….doing a little east coast swang!
CS: Philly is awesome. My friends [and I] were here on spring break last year for three days and it was just awesome. We went here and New York and I love Philly way more than I like New York.
CP: Why? Please tell me.
CS: New York is just insane. I’m a small town [boy], small city boy, and this is overwhelming but not as…New York is just crazy.
BS: Will Smiths from here too. DUH!
You can catch Gwen Stacy on tour now through the end of October with Unearth, Protest the Hero, The Acacia Strain and Whitechapel.
The Life I Know is out now on Ferret Records.
You can contact Davonne R Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org