By Ward Hughey

A year ago while exiting a small music venue I was struck with the thought “I may have just witnessed the best hard rock band in North Florida.” A band that no one seemed to notice. A lot has changed in a year. Members rotated, songs written, miles traveled, and people taking notice. One thing that has not changed is how awesome the band GILT is.

The four members of GILT are all hard working musicians that stay pretty busy. Because of this I was counting my blessings to get a chance to talk with them recently. One thing I noticed pretty quickly about Tyler, Shelby, Tilley and Nicole is that they are obviously friends. There is a chemistry as they talk that one would expect from a band that has just spent 3 months in a van together, but I am getting ahead of myself.

GILT is a hard rock band, but in today’s music of too many subgenres such adjectives say little. GILT however is not a band with little to say. Tyler jokingly says “It’s like an onion” when Tilley describes the music as “having layers.” While writing songs full of dynamics and changing tempo may come naturally there is also clear process to what they create. The group writes with the goal of connecting with today’s youth and older audiences alike. They have this mature approach because while they are proudly an emo/punk band they realize “emo is dead” and they have no plans to die with it. This means being fully aware of walking the tightrope between artistic integrity and marketability. This balance is carried to their live set. The stage presence is full throttle with songs written for time and space to go off. At the same time Shelby speaks to the importance of not being so energetic that the sound is off. They perform this marriage of wild n’ out and sonically on point to give their fans what they want to receive back from the floor. “Be what you want to see in there,” Tyler states, and what GILT wants to see is an energetic and engaged audience.

More than mature work ethic and diy/punk sound, what I personally find most intriguing about GILT is the passion. “We are a queer punk band… merging hardcore with queer and body dysmorphia elements,” Tilley says. LGBTQ topics are very important to GILT. Even in their outspokenness they show maturity. They admit that while deciding to be a queer band there was concern of it being viewed as a token to garner attention. The fact this was a concern shows how serious this is to them. “It’s important also in the music scene to open the possibility and give platforms to people that generally don’t have the space,” says Nicole. Creating space is exactly what they are doing. “People come to the shows and they feel comfortable,” Shelby explains.

Fueled by focused approach to writing, passionate message for people and DIY punk attitude GILT recently accomplished a great feat for any band, much less one barely a year old. They went on a successful 3 month tour across America. Before this, 3 out of the 4 members had never even seen California. Now they have played the Golden State. There is not enough room for the stories shared and lessons learned. I think Shelby sums it up best; “I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

Now back home, I asked the group what comes next. Do punks ever rest? Nope. The list of what’s next for GILT is a loaded one that starts right now! They open for 2 of their major influences Against Me! and War On Women in September at Sing Out Loud Festival. Then play the infamous FEST in Gainesville this October. November finds them helping create a 3 day/3 city benefit for transgender youth. This is followed with plans to record an LP, and then another tour for 2019.

Everyone can follow GILT on the usual social media of facebook, Instagram, etc. Their EP ‘Currency’ and split with Shurwood can be heard most places you stream music. Most importantly, go see them live and experience what Tyler describes as a “safe place for everybody to get rowdy and make friends.”

See GILT live during the Sing Out Loud Festival, Front Porch at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, September 23, 2pm. Free.

dave kosciolek