Posted On 05 Jun 2017
China Gate is a Memphis-based indie-rock outfit! They come fully equipped with catchy, sing-along choruses, that’ll wiggle their way right into your head as a pleasant little ear-worm. Their EP, Good Grief, released on May 19th, is the perfect example.
China Gate’s origins go back to the summer of 2013; vocalist and guitarist Tiger Adams began writing for a casual recording project and found some of the tunes developing into full-fledged songs. After moving back to Memphis that winter, he connected with friends Walt Phelan and Conner Booth for the recording Hunca Munca. The debut album was released on Nashville-based Pizza Tape Records in 2015. They began to play live at local shows and recruited brothers Harry and Kyle Neblett to play keys and drums; the group chemistry was an instant fit for their developing sound.
China Gate spent the next few years building its local fan-base and reputation in Memphis, playing regular shows around the city, while all members balanced band duties alongside work and college. They have opened for various bands including Pinegrove, Hoops and Diarrhea Planet, growing their name as an established Memphis band. Their EP Good Grief confronts issues from mental health to the search for positivity in the modern world. Recently, the band completed a regional tour, including an official 2017 SXSW show at Karma Lounge. Youthful and inspired, China Gate promises this is only the start of their career.
Connect with China Gate
Learn more about China Gate in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2016? What were some of the highlights for the band? What are you all most excited about for 2017?
Writing and waiting. Spent a lot of time writing and we had to wait a long time of the EP to be finished. Well 2017 is halfway over haha, but we are recording our next EP in July.
How did China Gate first form? How did you come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
China Gate just formed from me wanting to record my songs at home and then we made a live band which is now a group effort instead of me recording most to all of the instruments. The name is a reference to Sun Ra.
Let’s talk about your upcoming EP, “Good Grief” that is set to be released soon. What was it like putting this collection together? Where did the inspiration for these songs come from?
It was new for us since it was our first time recording with Harry and Kyle. It was also nice to only focus on 4 songs instead of a whole album. They came from personal experiences and I wrote less about relationships than other China Gate stuff.
How do you all go about putting a song together from beginning to end? How did your first single “Covered In Flames” get made?
I write the chords, melodies, lyrics and then pretty much have the rest of the band do their thing. That song was actually the fastest I’ve written a song at least chord wise. It usually takes me writing 3 or 4 songs and kind of compressing bits and pieces into one song. But Covered In Flames kind of came all at one time.
Why do you think that Pizza Tape Records is the right place for this group and your music right now? What first drew you to be part this label?
Noah from Pizza Tapes was my roommate while we did our last album and is Harry and Kyle’s roommate currently. I called him probably everyday while stressing out about these songs and recordings so I feel like he was just as much a part of the process as anyone else. Noah does most of our art and visual stuff so it feels nice to kind of have a singular feeling with it since Noah did pretty much everything outside of the music for us.
Where do you think you are all happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording or elsewhere?
I personally am happiest when writing, but playing is just as fun in a different way. Recording makes me very happy, but I probably feel happier doing the demos in my room instead of the studio. In my room the songs don’t feel real yet and feel like they can go any direction, but in the studio the songs are already pretty formed so its just about getting them recorded. it still feels great though in the studio and we still make a lot of decisions in the moment at the studio.
Who are you all listening to these days? What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Our favorite bands are probably Boyscott and Elf Rage. They’re our best friends and even though our music doesn’t sound too similar I know this new EP would sound different if we hadn’t become so close and been influenced by them.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I’m not really sure there is something specific, but maybe for the songs to be something that help them reflect or remember.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves and your music?
We’re also headed out to NYC next month, playing as part of a free, all-day “Rock N’Shop” showcase, as a part of Northside Festival. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/168783253650481