music morsels indie music August 2006 

INDIE BAND SPOTLIGHT - Gabe Ausiello of Karate High School
by Mark E. Waterbury

Gabe Ausiello

ARTIST NAME: Gabe Ausiello - guitarist of Karate High School
MUSICAL GENRE: Post Hardcore Rock/Punk
BIRTH PLACE: San Francisco, CA
FAN BASE: Several thousand

MM: When Karate High School first formed, did you feel this was a band that could really do something?

GA: I would have to say yes to that. It was only for fun at first, and me and Paul (McGuire - vocals) are best friends and have been playing together for a while. Paul had previously done a lot of songwriting, and we started to believe even before the band formed that we could really go places as artists and create music no one else was doing. The pieces fell together with the rest of the guys. We discovered that we also all get along really well and have a great camaraderie amongst ourselves. This helps us especially with touring and our live performances.

MM: Does everyone have input on the songwriting?

GA: Paul does most of the song writing and structuring of the songs. Then we all add our own flavors in after he brings the basic structure to us. We also listen to a lot of different music styles and have diverse influences. We can’t really listen to the stereo when we are all in the van, because someone will want to hear something different. (Laughs) We all come from different musical backgrounds; from heavy metal to light rock to hip’s a bit crazy.

MM: Do you feel this makes you create music that is unique and defies being pigeonholed with a typical style label?

GA: Well, it seems like every band has to deal with the common question, “What do you sound like?” When people ask me that, I can say we sound like punk, we sound like metal, we sound like regular rock and roll...anything. We named our first album “Arcade Rock,” and in a way we are trying to create our own genre. We don’t fit entirely into any specific genre. We are a little lighter than punk, but not heavy enough to be metal or hard core. I do think it is radio friendly rock and I tell people, “When you listen to it, you be the judge.”

MM: You have an indie label supporting you, a booking agent and publicist. Beyond that, what does the band do to help promote the music?

GA: It is a lot of phone calls and promoting, even in our local area. Even now we still go to other shows and pass out flyers anywhere we can and hang up posters. On our off time, we are constantly promoting, and online is one of our largest resources, especially with Myspace. Working the internet has really helped us promote the CD, get more CD sales and more general exposure.

MM: Is the San Francisco area a tough area to get exposure in?

Karate High School
Karate High School

GA: That is a matter of opinion, but I do feel it is pretty tough. San Francisco is a very diverse area. There is so many different things to do, diverse people, many different styles of music. It is really tough for a band to tower among the other ones, no matter what style of music you are doing. In some ways, it helps that we are all from such diverse backgrounds, because this is such a diverse area.

MM: Most bands have to perform live frequently in their local and regional areas to start building their fan base. Although you guys did that, you also got to tour the nation with Tubring and Dog Fashion Disco pretty early in the band’s history. How did that all come together?

GA: We were the opening act, and we jumped on that tour about a quarter of the way through it when it came through San Francisco. Ray connected with someone in Tubring who managed to get us on the bill.

MM: You were obviously the least known of the three bands on that bill. How did the crowds, mostly made up of Tubring and DFD fans react to you?

GA: It was really cool. The three bands sound somewhat differently, but also have some similarities. I think we made a lot of new fans, and we had a lot of great compliments and we met some new people. We did manage to get some fans out for us, primarily those who had heard from us through our internet marketing. And we did everything we could to put on the best show we could.

MM: You probably can give testimony that the first time a new band hits the road for a tour you don’t get paid a lot. Do you think this is still important to get your name out there, and how do you feel you can build on that?

GA: Yes, I agree with that. The music that a band creates and getting along with all the band members are the most important, but getting out and performing is also very important. Yes, we did not make much money this time around and were lucky to get gas money at some shows. We did get some tour support from the label that did help. But we made new fans, and when you go back to a town the next time, you have to hope they bring new fans, then the money can start getting better. In fact, we are going out on two more tours starting in August. The first one is going to be just West Coast, and the second one will be nationwide again. We need to stay nationwide from this point on.

MM: You also recently performed at the VAN's Warped Tour stop in San Francisco. How did that go?

GA: We had really good crowd response. I thought we put on a great show and the crowd got into it and it was a lot of fun.

MM: What do the fans like the most about Karate High School?

GA: With the music, they think it sounds a bit poppy, but not too trendy. They also like the live shows we put on. We always recommend that if people don’t want to buy the CD yet, then come check us out live. We try to put on a super strong show every show with a lot of energy on stage. We get most of our positive comments about our live shows.

MM: Beyond the efforts of your label and other professionals helping you, what do you feel Karate High School has to do to achieve greater success?

GA: As long as all of us stick with what we are doing, I think we can be successful. All of us are on the same wavelength and know that we have to keep connecting with people via phone and internet. We have to keep playing shows and having fun. As long as we are having fun doing this, it comes across in our music and our personalities, and hopefully people will take to it.

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