In the Making of Ignore What’s Missing, GILT Grew Together in Grief

Ignore What’s Missing, the debut full-length by Florida post-hardcore band GILT, is an album three years in the making. In 2017, vocalist/guitarist Tyler Fieldhouse wrote what would become the band’s first song, “Numbers”–a track with the seeds of GILT’s style in its heavy, visceral melodicism and a lyrical voice that Fieldhouse would continue to hone into something incisive and poetic. At the time, though, they were playing with another band that wasn’t receptive to the sound.

“It was a big departure, and they weren’t into it, so I just decided to start my own project,” Fieldhouse says. Hence, GILT. “Somehow I knew that some of the tracks just weren’t ready, or that maybe I wasn’t ready?”

Now, three years later, is a different story. In that time, GILT has formed and reformed with differing lineups, and they’ve toured the U.S. extensively. Though the band has released several singles, splits, and an EP, Fieldhouse says they knew which songs to hold back until they were ready for the album–songs that continued to shapeshift until it was time to take them into the studio.

“We had a lot of band members come and go, and their personal musical imprints all became this big color palette of ideas that the songs got filtered through. Eventually, we just knew they were done. I think, really, it was a personal growing thing as much as musical. My ability to compose music hasn’t changed that much, but my understanding of the world has changed wildly over the process of touring, and that was the secret ingredient.”

Many of their bandmates, past and present, went through a similar journey. “So many contributors to GILT came out during their tenure, or got radicalized into new politics, or became confident in speaking about their ethnic background,” says Fieldhouse. And for most of GILT’s current incarnation, the one that recorded the album–featuring drummer Ash Locke, bassist Nico Bacigalupo, and guitarist Tristan Komorny–it was a process marked by personal loss, an unfortunate synchronicity that Fieldhouse calls “uncanny and very sobering.”

“My grandmother, who helped raise me, passed while we were first starting to tour, when I was writing the formative songs for the album like ‘What Color’ and ‘Shelf,’” they say. “Although it wasn’t formal, my extended family who were largely absent for the last decade of her life held a memorial and I was shamed for being on the road instead of in attendance, although my grandmother was always telling me to keep going out.”

On top of that, Komorny lost their grandfather and Bacigalupo lost their childhood dog (“which bears significant impact since Nico’s family cares for dogs as a vocation”), soon after each of them moved to Jacksonville for the sake of the band. On one of GILT’s longer touring legs, Locke received the news that their father had been diagnosed with stage four cancer.

“His passing has been a huge weight interpersonally, and to the Jacksonville community, where his influence as an artist cannot be understated,” says Fieldhouse. And the losses weren’t limited to family. “While we were on tour, we had the pleasure of seeing Lisa, our longtime friend and former temporary bandmate, whose picture graces the split we put out just before our LP. She had moved up north to try to get a clean start from drugs and was the only person who came to an impromptu show we threw. Three days later, we found out she was gone.”

Life on the road, hundreds of miles from home, alone with your bandmates, is stressful enough on a good day; for most, the long stretches of travel and the performance take a physical toll, and the social isolation can be an emotional struggle. For GILT, the loss compounded that pressure, but it also served to re-center them.

“I think the recurring theme is the choice to leave, and deciding if it’s shameful or if it’s what our loved ones wanted for us,” says Fieldhouse. “It’s always tempting to stay in your hometown, stay with your family, stay with whatever traditions and values you’re raised with, and not rock the boat. But we’ve held one another up, and we’ve been able to reconcile that for each of us, this was the right path.”

The proof is in what they’ve been able to accomplish and in the relationships they’ve built with fellow musicians and showgoers (before COVID-19 put their live shows on hold).

“A lot of bands tell us we’re ‘the hardest working band they know,’ or do ‘unimaginably large tours,’ etc., for the lack of resources we have, but really I think we’re all just aware of what we stand to lose, and are trying to make this moment in our lives worth it,” says Fieldhouse. “And when we’re on the road, we do act as a therapy service for people experiencing similar things. People open up to us because we open up to them. Many people have hugged me and cried. Hopefully we’ve spared some of them the grief we’ve felt.”

Knowing what it took to produce also serves to highlight the achievement of Ignore What’s Missing, a record that arcs and crackles with the dynamism of four performers giving their all. Even without live performances, it’s exposed GILT to new audiences. As they noted in a recent interview, their Spotify listenership has already tripled since the release. On a more personal level, it serves to encapsulate the three years that went into its recording.

“It’s invigorating to be able to have spent so much time, sweat and tears curating what we currently have, and being genuinely proud of it,” says Bacigalupo. “Being able to share that with others is one of my biggest accomplishments.”

Komorny agrees: “It feels like i’m letting out the biggest breath I’ve ever held, and I’m proud to share what me and my bandmates have experienced together.” 

As much as it was born of past experience, it’s also an album that represents a motion towards the future of GILT and each of its members’ own next phase. “Recording this album felt like a new beginning for me, and to have it come out now means that I can look at the past year and feel like I got through the hard parts,” says Locke. 

As Fieldhouse puts it, “It sort of feels like a validation of all the experiences that created it. Like it was all such a storm of emotions and circumstances, but the album puts a picture frame around it and articulates it in a way that allows me to recognize everything for what it was. We grew up, and that’s what the album is about–growth.”

Ignore What’s Missing is available digitally and as a cassette via Knifepunch Records.

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