New Jersey band Gates takes over Mr. Smalls

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The last time Gates came to play a show in Pittsburgh, things didn't go so well for the New Jersey-based band.

They were booked at the Smiling Moose on the South Side with two other bands -- Vasudeva and Take One Car -- on Aug. 18, 2012, the last stop on a tour of more than three weeks.

"We actually drove to the show and they wouldn't let us play because our drummer at the time was under 21," said guitarist Ethan Koozer. "And we couldn't go on without him. We need a drummer."

"None of the bands could play because we all had under-age members," said singer and song-writer Kevin Dye.

"So, seeing how our home was just five and a half, six hours away, as soon as we found out that we weren't playing, we said, 'We're so close to home, let's just leave.'"

There shouldn't be any such problem on this trip to Pittsburgh, a two-night gig with The Gaslight Anthem and The Sidekicks at Mr. Smalls in Millvale.

Gates' drummer Dan Crapanzano turned 21 a couple of months ago, and he and the guys are eager to prove they belong.

But seriously. How does a guy who bangs drums and hangs out in rock 'n' roll clubs not have a fake ID?

"He's a good boy," said Mr. Koozer. "A stand-up gentleman."

The other members of Gates -- Mr. Koozer, Mr. Dye, Mike Maroney and Dan King -- are all in their mid-20s. They formed the group in 2010.

While Mr. Crapanzano, Mr. Maroney and Mr. King are native New Jersey men, Mr. Koozer is from Nebraska and Mr. Dye hails from Michigan.

"We all met in New Jersey and we're all currently living in New Jersey, so I guess we're a New Jersey band," Mr. Koozer said.

"We're definitely proud of being from New Jersey. But I don't think it so much plays into our sound. I mean, yeah, we're a rock 'n' roll band, but I think that with Bruce Springsteen and the Jersey Shore and that whole music terrain of a working-man's band -- we're proud of that background, but it isn't playing much into our music."

"Part of what's so cool about our band, at least to me, is we're from all over," Mr. Dye said.

"With influences from the Midwest, Michigan and the other three guys from New Jersey, I think that kind of gives us something unique. Three distinct parts of the country to form a band.

"I'm a more vague lyricist, I think, than some of those other bands. There's a lot less direct references to places and things in New Jersey."

Gates is using the current tour to tout the re-release of their EP, "You Are All You Have Left To Fear," coming out next month.

Originally self-released in the spring, the recording was a do-it-yourself project that preceded Gates' signing with a California-based record label.

The label wanted to "fine-tune" it.

"We always felt that it didn't necessarily get the release that it deserved, and we weren't able to really do a lot with it having released it on our own," Mr. Koozer said."And we knew the re-release could help us broaden the audience."

So the group hooked up with some musical masters at Voodoo Studios in Long Island and added a bonus track called "Skyline."

"I never was totally happy with the way it came out originally," Mr. Dye said.

"Some things you don't want to go back and mess with. This was something that we all thought would be cool to have it the way we always wanted it."

"In general, it sounds clearer and a little more punchy," Mr. Koozer said

"And with the bonus track, it's something that even people who have the original release might want to pick up."

If you missed the Thursday night show at Mr. Smalls, you can catch Gates again tonight at 8 p.m. Cover is $30.

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