I caught up with Elliot Morrow, the frontman of California’s Gulch, last week on the day of the premiere of their new full-length, Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress. Go from listening to the singer deliver you a plate full of hell to hearing him speak on various podcasts and you’ll be reminded of the notorious Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Dig in below to find out what Elliot had to say about various bullshit I was curious about.
Please introduce yourself to the readers.
What’s good, G? The name is Elliot and I’m the vocalist for Gulch.
How did Gulch come about, and where does the band name come from?
Gulch came about when Cole and I moved to Scott’s Valley (Santa Cruz County) and met the dudes in Drain. Great dudes and musicians. So, Cole hit 'em up to see if they wanted to just jam and make music for fun and that’s pretty much it. Had no plans to do shit with it really besides local shows but here we are.
The name came from a street by that house we lived at...it was called "something" Gulch I can’t remember but that word just stuck out. Simple.
What other bands do you/have you played in?
I’ve been in a few bands in the bay over the years: Spinebreaker, Subtle Violence, Counter Culture, True Hearted, Focused Aggression, and Recluse (RIP after one show). I know I’m missing one for sure. Just always kept it local and never had intentions of doing much with it. I love the San Jose/Bay Area scene too much to care for anything else at the time.
Please describe the Santa Cruz/San Jose scene and how you feel about it.
The scene is crackin’....hella good bands and good people. Those two scenes have had a long history but as of lately it’s been extremely united. Both scenes ride stupid hard for each other and it’s good to see. San Jose is a wild place, especially in the hardcore scene, so it really made me the way I am.
I can’t knock it, but if you can’t hang with the violence and lifestyle in the Bay Area, then you can’t hang in the San Jose scene, that’s for sure.
Both Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress and Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath are pretty poetic or thought-provoking titles.
Both those titles came from the main themes of the songs, honestly. They're mostly about my struggles, history, and mental issues. "Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress" just means I’m as closed off as Fort Knox, really. Putting myself in a mental cell and keeping everyone out and how it’s made me the way I am. Private, angry at the world kind of bullshit.
"Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath" is exactly what you think it means, wanting to not be alive anymore and all the feelings and thought processes that come along with that idea.
What is your lyric writing process like?
My lyric writing process is wait until the last minute when Cole is breathing down my neck and get it done mostly on the spot [laughs]. The pressure helps me get it done. Sink or swim. I usually go in with song titles and themes and that’s about it.
When did the shirtless/black jeans situation come about?
The shirtless black jeans thing is kinda just us. Always wear black jeans for the most part and we played a stupid hot show in Fresno and just took off the shirts cause I hate the heat anyways. Fools made it into a running joke so we just kept it going.
Do you have any education as far as psychology/philosophy goes? What I mean is, how often do you drop acid?
Nah, the most education I have is some community college which I dropped out of. It was fasho not in Philosophy, I’ll tell you that. I just enjoy writing honestly, but not in an educational environment that shit sucks. Never done acid, honestly.
Would you describe yourself as a sadist in real life, or do you just write about it?
No comment [laughs]. But for real, most of those songs that are about sadistic things are because of things in my past that made me the way I am now. Addictions of that sort, abuse, shit that stays in the mind for a long long time.
Tell me the craziest story about touring you’ve experienced.
We don’t have too many crazy tour stories, honestly, cause we haven’t toured enough. Just being all around shit heads drinking throwing shit yelling screaming passing out and waking up feeling disgusting in the van hella hungover. I guess gangbanging on cops and sorority girls was the stupidest thing I’ve done on tour...in North Carolina. Cole hates me for that one.
What do you think about North Carolina?
I loved North Carolina. Great show at a great spot. Thought it was legit a union hall until we got there. A wild night for me as I already explained in that last question [laughs].
How many juice boxes do you drink before performing/recording? I'm alluding to your amazingly disgusting vocals.
My vocals have just slowly progressed into what they are now and I have no idea how. I’m no trained vocalist by any means. I just scream until it hurts, honestly.
How are things going in California with the whole nazi/fascist state/police brutality situation?
All the police brutality in the Bay is really big right now in Oakland and San Jose. San Francisco has been so gentrified it’s just a bunch of complacent white liberals who really don’t actually give a fuck. Protests here were wild for a bit but it really cracked off in San Jose and Oakland. Those are two cities still full of goons and I love it.
It’s always been ACAB in the Bay, no doubt, and Nazis always get taken care of here, that’s a fact. They know they ain’t welcome or they’ll catch a bad one. True skinheads in the Bay have kept out racists and Nazis for years and years.
What are your hobbies outside of hardcore/punk?
As of lately my hobbies are just getting outside like I used to. I camped a lot of years ago, so it’s nice to get back at it. Besides that, I really just work my ass off, ride my bike, kick it with the homies, post up, nothing crazy.
Tell me about the album art. I’m obsessed with Bonne Naka's work.
Boone Naka is one of the craziest artists. Cole just came across him somehow and we all agreed it would be sick to hit him up and have a lil something out of the ordinary for our artwork. We just hate doing the same shit over and over like other bands. No diss, just not what we wanted to do.
What is the plan for the future?
We have a few things cookin’ but as of right now we’re just chillin', writing more, and waiting for things to go back to normal again so we can get out and just have a good time. What we’re really here for everything else just comes along and we take it as we want.
Impenetrable Cerebral Fortress is out now via Closed Casket Activities.
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