Gold Tides Strike It Rich

Fun-loving band keeps things light while writing serious hooks

You wouldn’t expect surf rock this fine to come from the high desert, but Santa Fe’s Gold Tides hit all the right spots on their debut EP, Fever Water. No, I’m not talking about the velvety harmonies of The Beach Boys or the Pasadena-loving melodies of Jan & Dean, but a broader nationwide scene that has taken off over the last decade with elements of shoegaze and dream pop in the vein of Beach Fossils and DIIV.

Fever Water is as brisk as a sea breeze with five songs full of sing-along choruses and sometimes darker lyrical content beneath a delicious wall of chorus-heavy guitar. Gold Tide’s new songs are so catchy, I’ve found myself constantly humming various melodies for the past few weeks only to realize each is from Fever Water.

My most consistently-hummed would be “3 am,” a number that finds singer Gabe Kohler singing the refrain of “3 am and you’re not around/Oh why, oh why did I go downtown?” It’s one of many moments throughout the release wherein Kohler occupies the same hallowed space as Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner—elevating songs with genuine presence and swagger. Meanwhile, once the shimmering first notes of ear-worm opener “Danger” hit, I felt something ecstatic within, so after a full weekend spent spinning Fever Water, I reached out to the band to learn more about their story. They were kind enough to invite me for a meal at Yamas Greek Rotisserie, which acts as a de facto HQ around the corner from their rehearsal space.

Formed by drummer Jeremy Brownstone and guitarist Lorenzo Aragon, Gold Tides started as an after-hours creative outlet and break from their jobs at a local plumbing supply store. Soon after, Aragon’s brother Rick found himself a part of early jam sessions before joining the band outright and trading guitar for bass. Still in need of a singer, the group mined Craigslist, through which they connected with Kohler. Brownstone and Aragon recall the energy on his demo freaked them out.

“I was just looking for an outlet for pent-up aggression,” Kohler says.

After auditions with other singers went nowhere, Gold Tides’ founding members recognized Kohler had the secret sauce and brought him on full time.

And it’s a good thing they did. The band’s hook-laden formula works so well due, in part, to Lorenzo and Brownstone’s songwriting relationship, but also Kohler’s presence. Since the band’s inception, they’ve written steadily, amassing quite the collection of songs; Lorenzo also records riffs constantly, a few bars at a time, and sends them to Brownstone, who experiments with the beat before bringing a more fully-realized song to the rest of the group.

“We don’t throw away anything,” Brownstone explains. “We either keep the best songs or send the others to the recycling bin and come back to them later.”

In fact, he says, most songs on Fever Water spent time in the in flux, tightening or even changing genres entirely during the writing process. It’s finally finding those songs’ best versions that makes the COVID-19 lockdowns so heartbreaking for the band. Gold Tides was playing shows regularly and gaining a bit of momentum early last year, but the pandemic soon halted their ability to write and rehearse in-person. The group spent months apart, without practice, but things changed when they gained the attention of local scene staple Augustine Ortiz, owner of The Decibel Foundry and Enteledon Records, and a celebrated local metal icon with bands like Dysphotic and Carrion Kind. After inviting Gold Tides to perform in his studio for a mid-pandemic streaming series, the band tapped Ortiz to produce and engineer Fever Water.

One might question a bonafide metalhead like Ortiz working on a poppy surf rock record, but having recorded with other locals like hardcore punk act The Illegal Aliens and proggy post-punkers The Blackout Pictures, his talent and diversity are impossible to miss on Fever Water. Ortiz captures the band in lush live mode, rather than the track-by-track breakdowns of most mainstream records. His expertise and prowess are most noticeable on “Whales,” which puts the listener behind Brownstone’s drum set as Aragon’s guitar hooks hover above Kohler’s vocals with just the right amount of reverb.

And this is only the beginning. Since recording Fever Water, Gold Tides has added Hubba/Thieves & Gypsies guitarist and lyricist Jared Garcia to the lineup, who recalls Brownstone approaching him to ask, “Hey, aren’t you that famous guy?”

With Thieves & Gypsies recently calling it quits after more than a decade, Garcia’s addition to the fray can only add an emotional indie edge to Gold Tides’ stuff. He’s been known to write with vulnerability, and he’s one of the best hook-smiths to ever call Santa Fe home.

“Our music sounds so much different with Jared,” Brownstone says, though what that means exactly will have to wait.

While preparing to record their full-length debut, opportunities abound for Gold Tides, including a tour through Colorado and Wyoming next year. Still, given the shakeups and lockdowns, singer searches and personnel additions, this band seems to have finally found its spark.

“We’re really excited for this spring,” says Kohler. “We’re making the live set more interactive and will have some high-energy outdoor shows that fit the new material.”

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