Having tested their mettle on the underground circuit, Florida's Gouge Away are ready for the big leagues. The post-hardcore outfit, fronted by charismatic vocalist Christina Michelle, recently returned from the studio with engineer Jack Shirley, and the fruits of their labor is Burnt Sugar, an 11-track effort due September 28th via Deathwish. (Scroll down to check out the cover art.) The quartet shows its roots on the album — their second full-length — nodding to influences ranging from the mid-Nineties Dischord roster to grungy alt-rock to plain old ripping hardcore. Their latest single "Only Friend" is full of feedback-soaked Amphetamine Reptile-isms and stomping punk rock. Its accompanying music video, which makes it's debut here today, reminds us of the work of director Gregg Araki, leaning on oversaturated, washed-out color to create a dreamy, surreal vibe. It's a beautiful clip, one that accentuates the greatness of the song. Below, Stijy talks about her band's process, chemistry and why Burnt Sugar is their definitive statement thus far.
BURNT SUGAR SOUNDS GREAT. HOW LONG HAVE THESE SONGS BEEN BREWING PRIOR TO RECORDING?
CHRISTINA MICHELLE The oldest song, "Dissociation," was written about a year ago. And then the newest ones were finished up in the studio. We had a nice amount of time to play some of the older songs live, like "Only Friend," "Ghost" and "Fed Up," while some of the others came alive closer to recording time.
IS YOUR COLLECTIVE STYLE TO HAVE EVERYTHING METICULOUSLY DONE BEFORE ENTERING THE STUDIO OR DO YOU PREFER TO DO SOME THINGS UNDER THE PRESSURE OF A DEADLINE?
Mick [Ford, guitar] has a more relaxed vibe about writing. He understands that stuff will change in the studio so he's OK with some songs or ideas being unfinished. I absolutely prefer to have ideas totally ironed out. I like to sit on lyrics for a long time so I can be sure that they're something I want to have recorded forever. I love the idea of every song having a chance to be played live first, because I feel like that's when the true vibe really comes out. I can see the pressure of the due date being useful at times. I'm guilty of over-thinking everything, to the point that it's no longer productive. Having less time to second-guess yourself comes in handy for sure.
BEING THAT THIS IS YOUR FIRST MAJOR LP, WHAT SORT OF IDEAS DID YOU HAVE FOR IT VERSUS YOUR PREVIOUS, SHORTER RELEASES?
The biggest element we had in mind was dynamics. With this record, we didn't want to turn ideas away because they were "too weird" or wouldn't have fit on past releases. We just wanted to put out songs that we like. I think that was a major key in achieving the dynamics we sought out. It's also what we kept in mind while making the track list. On [Gouge Away's 2016 debut album] , Dies people jumped to the conclusion that we were a powerviolence band because of the 30-second opener on that record and it's almost like they didn't get to side B. We very deliberately tried to avoid that this time around.
HOW MUCH DO YOU PLAN TO TOUR OFF OF THIS RELEASE?
We are so antsy. Once it comes out, we're planning to be extremely busy with touring.
THE NEW RECORD IS HEAVY ON PUNK AND POST-HARDCORE INFLUENCE. WHERE DID THOSE INFLUENCES COME FROM AS OF LATE?
We all have pretty different influences, which we try to bring together. Collectively, we are influenced by the Jesus Lizard. There's some Fugazi, Unwound, the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Paint It Black, and obviously Nirvana and Foo Fighters. The recording process was also heavily influenced by Jack Shirley's work and his involvement in Comadre and Everybody Row.
CHEMISTRY IS KEY WITHIN ANY BAND. HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR BAND'S INTERNAL CHEMISTRY PLAYS INTO YOUR RECORDS?
I definitely agree that chemistry is important, so we've been trying to find what that means for us along the way. Sometimes it calls for member changes, and sometimes it calls for us to reflect on how to better communicate and work as a team. To be honest, we aren't stoked on the first record we put out because we were only beginning to figure out who we are. We understand that it was a necessary step, but it was far from the end result. The  Swallow b/w Sweat 7-inch was when we started to find the personality of the band, and I think Burnt Sugar is the real introduction to what Gouge Away is.