Wilmington’s Gozer released its second EP in February
Standing on the small stage of Home Grown Café in Newark in a tie-dyed t-shirt and strumming an unplugged bass guitar is Brian Bruce, known to most people as Octie, for some unexplained reason. He gives a thumbs up to a group of people standing around the bar, and three of them join him onstage.
To Bruce’s right is Erin Silva, to his left Kyle Stawicki, both on guitar. Behind him is Jillian Willis on drums. They all adjust their equipment, give a few sound checks, look around at the people in the restaurant, many of whom are friends, and smile. Together they form the Wilmington band Gozer.
“Hi, we’re Gozer and we’re sorry to anyone about to eat dinner because this is not going to be an enjoyable experience,” laughs Bruce to the crowd, adding, “also, we’re really not a band that enjoys playing to people that are sitting down, so if you could all come up here and fill in this area in front of us that’d be great.”
Heeding the warning, a few diners rise from their seats and walk out the door. Other guests comply with Bruce’s request, moving to the area in front of the stage as sharp chords from Silva and Stawicki blast through the amps, and the aggressive percussion work of Willis vibrates through the bar. Then Bruce’s deep, raspy voice roars through the microphone and the abrasive sound of the band becomes clear. You wouldn’t want to take your grandmother to dinner where Gozer is playing.
That was on Feb. 4, but the band started long before that. Gozer first took form in 2013 at a house show in Wilmington as part of the combined efforts of Willis and Bruce. It wasn’t until last year that Silva and Stawicki joined and helped form Gozer into the four-piece made-at-home machine it is today.
The band still enjoys playing house and garage shows, but not exclusively. Each member is quick to tell you that he or she likes to play bars if the vibe of the place meshes with their style of music. Their tunes are in-your-face, and it’s unlikely they’ll be asked to play on the dance-club-like stages of Deer Park or The Chesapeake Inn any time soon. Your best bet to catch a show would be to check in on their favorite venues, like Home Grown Café, 1984, or Oddity Bar in Wilmington.
“Home Grown is great because we know Joanna (James-Parks, bartender at Home Grown) and she hooks it up with the booking there and I work at Oddity so it’s easy for me to set up shows there,” says Bruce. “We like playing at places that we’ve formed friendships with; we’re loud and sweaty and most people who’re into that stuff really enjoy it.”
Gozer is a loud band, and each show is like being punched in the face and falling in love at the same time. Their sound is the bi-product of a group whose members play in multiple bands, including local groups Fiancé and Tracey Chapstick. Each member brings something different to the table, which helps to form a sound that Bruce describes as “garage or alternative rock,” and Willis jokingly calls “dream rock.”
With members that spend so much time with other bands, one would think the overlapping of sounds and ideas would be a problem, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“I feel like I write guitar parts for this band to mold to the songs that he (Bruce) writes,” says Stawicki. “He writes in certain keys and certain styles of progressions that I couldn’t do with my other projects.”
Says Bruce: “I play drums in all of my other bands. So, this is kind of like my song-writing project. It’s not much like anything else that I do.”
Gozer’s uniqueness seems to be paying off. In 2016 they released their first EP, Gozer, and just a year later they’re excited to release their second, Sick Of Waking Up, on an unconventional format—cassette tape.
“Yeah we’re releasing it on tape under our buddy Rick’s (Martel) label, Euth Group,” says Stawicki. “I feel like tape is more of a possession and it doesn’t come with the overhead of putting out a vinyl. It’s a bit cheaper and it’s something you can hold and have.”
It’s also on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, ITunes, and Pandora for those who want to show support but don’t own a cassette player.
Sick Of Waking Up has been a family project for the band. Each member put in his or her fair share of the work and they all have a huge amount of love for the five songs.
“I think they’re all good,” laughs Bruce.
“Yeah, they all have their own little special bit to me, ya’ know?” says Stawicki with a modest smirk.
Aside from their songs, unique sound and loud, sweaty shows, what is most enjoyable about the band is that the members simply love being Gozer. The good time they have on stage is contagious, and as Willis puts it, “I think we have a lot of fun when we play, and people like that.”
The new EP Sick Of Waking Up is available now. Check out the Gozer Facebook page to give it a listen and for the dates and times of upcoming shows.