Any interaction with former Charlotte Mayor, former North Carolina Governor, current radio host and longtime shithead Pat McCrory is bound to have negative effects on someone, but a seemingly benign run-in with the disgraced Republican has resulted in a kickass song from local art punk rockers Gasp more than 10 years later.
The Rock Hill-based band just released the creepy, Twin Peaks-themed video for their single “The Foe” in the lead-up to the release of their second full-length album. The song gallops on herky-jerky post-punk drums through switchbacks of squalling guitar, then plunges abruptly into a creepy interlude, a freefall through a cloud layer of pulsating feedback. After a snippet of ghostly saxophone, it snaps back to slightly more unhinged headbanging.
Front man Josiah Blevins says he wrote the song about taking refuge in a bomb shelter to avoid even the most innocuous social interactions. Blevins often suffers from an overwhelming anxiety over being seen, known or thought about that he describes as being “adjacent to being agoraphobic.”
“The Foe” was inspired by a time in 2008 when Blevins was stopped at a red light while riding his bike through Uptown and felt the gaze of a man in a nearby car, only to turn and see McCrory staring at him. In that moment, Blevins felt a visceral judgment being passed.
“I had never crossed paths with the mayor, but feeling judged by him in an instant led me to feel like we were natural enemies,” Blevins recalls. “The light turned green and I rode away, but I always remembered that feeling of crossing paths with someone powerful and their disdain.”
Blevins used to have a studio in a former Cold War bomb shelter, where the physical surroundings made him feel safe from his anxiety. He remembers sitting in the studio one night and writing, “Even God can’t see us here,” in his notebook. The statement would later become the chorus for “The Foe.”
“That exhilarating feeling of being in a secret place outside of the reach of authority runs through the song,” Blevins says.
The video depicts of an outdoor search over the grounds of a spooky house by blindfolded members of the band and others, before the interlude comes, during which the video crosses the veil into a world with blatant tie-ins to the Black Lodge from the popular TV show Twin Peaks.
The chilling and mysterious visuals are the perfect lead-up to a few Halloween-themed shows that Gasp will play in, beginning with a show alongside Gardeners and Sgt. Peeple’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (which includes Gasp members) at The Courtroom in Rock Hill, during which Gasp will be covering Talking Heads’ 1980 album Remain in Light.
The three bands will follow that up with a similar gig — Gasp as Talking Heads, Gardeners as Radiohead and Sgt. Peeple’s as The Beatles — at Snug Harbor on Oct. 29. They’ll be back at Snug two nights later as special guests during the Slay Halloween show on Halloween night.
Gasp plays a mix of krautrock, grunge, glam and twee pop, which rumbles all the more with two drummers and two baritone guitars. The band was formed literally by chance at an event called Band From a Hat, during which Blevins and two other original members were assigned to form a band together at random. The trio shared a love for “weird, complicated rock,” and released their first album, A Violet Maze of Dreams, in April 2018.
Since then they have added a bass player, a second drummer, and written and recorded their second record, Can’t Buy a Vibe, which Blevins says is entering its final phase. It’s expected to drop in early 2020. “The Foe” will be streaming everywhere on Halloween.