The kids are alright. For all the casual talk of “entitled” and “lazy” millennials, young folk are actually working overtime to clean up the world they’ll soon be inheriting. But they’re doing it their way (deal with it), and they’re having fun in the process.
St. Augustine emo collective GILT carries on a utopian tradition of musical expression rooted in values of respect and compassion. What's more, they interview collectively.
“[GILT] definitely takes DIY punk ethics to heart in terms of seriousness," the entity says. "Our themes tackle mental health issues, trauma, dysphoria and LGBT+ struggles, and we are very actively involved in community support and charity work for people experiencing those issues, as well as the normal promotion of shows. We definitely are just as much of a grassroots advocacy group as we are entertainment.”
The band itself is a big tent, welcoming new members fairly regularly. Since forming in early 2017, there have been no fewer than 10 rotating players.
“GILT has really been a big, experimental process,” explains the band. “It’s been more about finding people we like and want to support versus the closest available musicians.”
GILT’s current iteration is anchored by guitarist Tilley, drummer Ash, bassist Nico and vocalist Tyler, who is, in fact, the only St. Augustinian in the ranks. The bulk of the band hail from—and even sometimes reside—elsewhere, in Connecticut and South Florida.
Though most members have relocated at least semi-permanently to St. Augustine, the geographic spread is part of GILT’s DNA—and it’s also as good a pretext as any to take the show on the road: “The decentralization of the band is a big part of why we focused on touring so hard from the get-go.”
They’ve been around, too. In less than two years, GILT has performed dozens of shows across the nation. They even have the haunted relics to prove it.
“So far,” GILT laughs, “we have a skull ring given to us at a club in Austin, a skull knife found in the San Francisco Bay and an ancient chalice found in the Colorado River.”
Other tour souvenirs are less tangible but more rewarding. Among their favorite experiences: Band members have literally climbed mountains together. They also recently launched Snipfest, a statewide weekend festival fundraiser benefitting low-income transgender youth. Not only did they organize the thing, but GILT themselves performed in each participating city (St. Augustine, Orlando and Miami) over the course of the three-day event.
Making St. Augustine their home base has been nurturing. The Ancient City has its safe creative havens, places like Nobby’s and Sarbez. And, if there’s a only small audience for alternative music, that dearth has only encouraged like-minded musicians to find and support each other regardless of genre: “The DIY scene has become a wide-open playing field where you’re going to see punk bands, noise acts and rappers on the same bill.”
So GILT has found community here, but there remains a whole lot to be emo about in Northeast Florida.
“While New Jersey emo has a lot of ‘grey skies and lonely in suburbia’ imagery,” GILT explains, “we find ourselves with, ‘it’s nice weather but I came out to my parents and they told me I couldn’t live here anymore.’ There’s plenty to be upset about no matter where you’re from, but we do find an additional sense of purpose trying to reach kids in towns where the overwhelming elderly population has set the noise ordinance at 8:30 p.m., there are no basements to house shows, and certain venues openly allow the meeting of white supremacists.”
GILT are already making the world they want to live in, one show at a time. Their plans for the New Year include more of the same, only bigger and better. They plan to tour more. (They logged only three full months on the road in 2018.) They hope to break Canada and find a record label “that shares our values.” They’re going to expand Snipfest to more cities and increase community involvement.
And, Tyler adds, in the interview’s only rogue answer, “We’re also going to try to learn how to skate.”