Fort Lauderdale's Gouge Away Announces New Album, Burnt Sugar

Gouge Away
Gouge Away
Photo by David Burns
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After months of being asked the same question over and over again, Christina Michelle and her bandmates are finally able to give a concise answer: September 28.

This past Monday, Gouge Away, the posthardcore group that hails from South Florida, dropped a bunch of new content and information, including an album-release date, within the span of a few hours. The news included:

  • A new single: “Only Friend,” is now streaming. The song cuts through topics like mental health with Michelle’s lead vocals discussing ongoing paranoia.
  • A music video: Primarily filmed inside a Days Inn hotel room, the music video for “Only Friend” premiered Monday on the Deathwish's, the band's record label, YouTube channel.
  • A release date: The quartet's album Burnt Sugar is set to be released September 28. The track list reveals 11 songs, with “Only Friend” as the opener.

It’s a barrel of secrets Michelle told New Times she couldn’t hide anymore.

“I’m excited that the release date is finally out,” she says. “I’m really bad at keeping secrets... It’s definitely overwhelming to have people always ask us for a tour and release information that we’re not allowed to share. It’s definitely a cool problem to have, though.”

Burnt Sugar is the band’s second full-length. The first, Dies, premiered in 2016 and catapulted the band into the mainstream hardcore scene. The new album is being released on vinyl, CD, and cassette.

“We worked really hard to create a record that we all love,” Michelle says. “It was superimportant to us to end up with something that we’re proud of, and after spending so much time, effort, and communication back and forth, we finally ended up with the record we’ve been wanting to write for ourselves.

“It’s weird now to realize that people are actually going to hear it.”

Forming in late 2012, Gouge Away — comprising Michelle, Tommy Cantwell on drums, guitarist Mick Ford, and Tyler Forsythe on bass — has completed multiple national tours and played large hardcore festivals such as Rain Fest and Sound and Fury. It’s something Michelle and her bandmates chalk up to the friends who've come out to all of Gouge Away's local shows.

“I think about the shows we used to play when we first started all the time. There were so many people who helped us out back then who still have our backs now. Sometimes I wonder why they used to like us when we were so bad,” Michelle says. “But all jokes aside, we wouldn’t be the band we are without them.”

By 2016, Gouge Away was asked to open for Touché Amoré — one of Michelle’s favorites. And this past March, she and company became label-mates with Touché Amoré when they signed with Deathwish, which also manages heavy-hitters such as Ceremony and Code Orange.

“Gouge Away carries with them a lightning-in-a-bottle urgency that imbues their sound,” Deathwish said in a statement. “This is a band that refuses to be ignored, let alone forgotten.”

The bond has remained strong. When the members couldn’t decide which song to release first, they left it in the hands of Touché Amoré vocalist Jeremy Bolm.

In April, Gouge Away recorded the album at the Atomic Garden, a prominent California studio that melds digital and analog recording, with critically acclaimed punk and metal producer Jack Shirley. He has worked with artists including Deafheaven and Jeff Rosenstock.

But four years and two full-length albums later, Michelle still attributes the band’s success to the small warehouse and house shows Gouge Away played in its infancy, when the bandmates gave away demos recorded on CDs scrawled in Sharpie marker.

“We’re all very shy people, and having that support and reassurance has built us up over the years,” she says. “We’re very lucky to have the opportunity to work with the people and bands that we look up to, and it would never have happened if it wasn’t for everyone at home.”

Burnt Sugar is available for presale via deathwishinc.com.

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