Tile write and perform music that falls somewhere between the noise rock of the hallowed AmRep label roster of the '90s and '80s hardcore. It's not the kind of stuff you put on in your car during a drive to the beach, well, unless you're a lunatic. Since their sound falls into several different stylistic buckets, I asked Tile bassist/vocalist Ray Gurz if he and his fellow band mates found that to be a blessing or a hindrance. "It's been a blessing as putting us into different show lineups we sometimes don't always fit," said Ray. "We have never worried about marketing in that sense. We make songs we enjoy. There is no crazy formula.
"Some days we want to take a drive in the countryside. Some days I want to drive full speed into traffic and not even touch the brake."
When he's not worsening his tinnitus manning bass and vocal duties for Tile, Ray is a pro skateboarder, riding for Lost Soul Skateboards, a company he started. I was curious to see what other bands featuring pro skaters he backed. "Riley Hawk, son of Tony, has a band called Petyrfiles. The Faction were very rad back in the day. JFA is also a solid one too. I am down for anyone who skates and makes music. Pro or not." Does Tile make good music to skate to? "People find inspiration in all styles of music. If someone said that they skated, had us on and it made them have a rad time. Awesome. Maybe some of the repetitive jams can put you in a trance like they do me. I will hum a riff, even if it's one of ours, to lock it in my head so the next practice we can work on it. I zone out on stuff when I am filming tricks and usually get a song stuck in my head and just leave it on repeat."
But enough about skating, I chatted with Ray in honor of the upcoming release of Come on Home, Stranger, Tile's sophomore album. Recorded in the Winter of 2017, the record follows 2013's You Had a Friend In Pennsylvania full-length. Today, I'm sharing a track called "Landmines" from the album that while short and sweet, does a bang-up job of showcasing the trio's sonic assault.
Ray gave me some background on the song's lyrics, and the story behind "Landmines" is worth telling: "I was driving with my friend Cliff. This other guy stopped in the middle of the road and blocked me. I had to back up, go around him and then as we passed he called me an asshole. So, I drove through the light. Turned around. Drove back to him and asked him why he called me an asshole. As he is going off on me, I listened. When he was done talking, I just asked him to stand there. He looked confused. I said '' I need to study you, because one day, you will see me again.'' Some people just think they are invincible. You can never judge what's in the package by what it looks like on the outside. You don't know what they are going through. How bad of a day they had? I am a landmine."
The press materials for Come on Home, Stranger mentions the "Lehigh Valley DIY underground scene," so I quizzed Ray about it. "As every scene in your local town, it changes after so many years. Boom, then there is another new venue and the spark hits hard. The community of people going and producing bands always goes hot and cold. Tile started at Jeff the Pigeon, which was a noise space / show space in Allentown 12 years ago. I like it here, that's why I have never moved. RIP Jeff the Pigeon, Muscle Beach, Globe Cafe, The Pirate's Cove, The Secret Artspace..."
Tile collaborated with photographer Tim Wynarczuk on the album art for Come on Home, Stranger. If that name is familiar, it's because used to be a member of Pissed Jeans "First off, Tim was in Tile for quite some time after his stint with Pissed Jeans. Years. It's unfortunate he couldn't play with us anymore. It became a physical hindrance in the last year and he couldn't do it. Like, he couldn't play drums. Crazy! We are writing this record, going through 40 some never used riffs/jams, and then one day, he can't do it anymore. It's heartbreaking to hear your friend tell you, 'I don't know what's up. I’ve seen so many doctors, I still have this neck pain. I can't play.' So, we asked my friend Mikey if he could try to fill his shoes, Tim gave his blessing and away we went. January till December fine tuning the record and writing.
"As our last record cover, Tim shot that photo 4 years ago. We asked two friends to step in and the magic happened. With Come on Home, Stranger, I wanted to use the same actors and add a new one. Tim is a great photographer with eye for detail so it's a no-brainer to have him shoot it. Just because he isn't in the band anymore, doesn't mean we can't still have him part of the project. So, I remember pitching the idea to both Mike's, Tim, and our friends, and they all said let's do it. I really wanted a record cover to catch your eyes. Make you stop, look at it, and ask what's up with this shit."
Tile tour dates:
8/17/2018 St. Bernard's - Bethlehem, PA *tour kickoff w/ LA Fastlife, Maersk [info]
8/18/2018 Photo City - Rochester, NY w/ Pengo
8/19/2018 Plough And Stars - Cambridge, MA w/ Death Pesos, Nice Guys
8/20/2018 Three Sheets - New Haven, CT w/ Sperm Donor, Videodome [info]
8/21/2018 Camp Clarke - Pittsburgh, PA w/ Secret Tombs, Living World
8/22/2018 TBA - Ohio
8/23/2018 Cellarman's - Hazel Park, MI w/ Cockhorse, How I Quit Christ
8/24/2018 TBA - Chicago, IL
8/25/2018 Franks - Milwaukee, WI @ Triple Eye Industries Fest