In 2021, guitarist Blake Ibanez asked his friend, metal vocalist Seth Gilmore, if he wanted to mess around and sing songs by Ibanez’s old group, the beloved thrash-metal band Power Trip, for fun. But Gilmore demurred. “I just wasn’t in a place to take something on like that,” he says.

It was a heavy prospect to consider. In August 2020, Riley Gale, the esteemed frontman for Power Trip, had died from an accidental overdose at the age of 34. A fixture within the Dallas metal and hardcore scenes, Gale didn’t so much sing as emit a colossal bellow. His 12-year career in Power Trip (with guitarists Ibanez and Nick Stewart, drummer Chris Ulsh, and bass player Chris Whetzel) had galvanized metalheads in and outside diehard circles, and the band’s legendary shows were raucous affairs — a place where everyone was invited to rage in a welcoming mosh pit.

Gale’s death had left the community devastated and the band’s future uncertain. But in December 2023, Power Trip briefly reunited for an emotive show in Austin with a new lead singer in tow: Gilmore, who had finally decided to take Ibanez up on his offer. Now the band, with Gilmore as front man, is kicking off their first formal shows in four years with a string of dates this summer, including Goldenvoice’s inaugural No Values punk festival this weekend in Pomona, California, and ending with Queens’s Knockdown Center in August.

Part of the band’s approach this time stems from encountering newer Power Trip fans over the last four years. “I meet people at shows that just found out about us, like, ‘Aw I never got to see you guys. Please play,’” Ibanez says. “That’s what it’s really about at the end of the day. There’s some unfinished business for all of us.”

Blake, you initially asked Seth to mess around on a few Power Trip songs. How did these shows come about? 
Blake Ibanez (guitar): I had an idea to do some Power Trip songs at my band Fugitive’s show in Austin.

Nick Stewart (guitar): We had planned to play a couple of Power Trip songs after the Fugitive set. And then in the lead-up to that, we got asked to do the No Values festival. So we had already planned on doing the songs, and the fest offered us to play that.

Chris Ulsh (drums): We were just waiting for the right thing to come along. It’s not like we’re just going to play one show; it’s going to be a few across the country, and it’s going to be a lot of work. We didn’t want to just say “yes” to the first thing that came through.

B.I.: The cool thing about the Austin show was it was a low-pressure environment to see how it all went over. The reaction was really positive. It was like, Oh, okay, if there’s a good opportunity to do this formally, we’ll probably take it. We felt pretty confident we could pull this thing off and do it justice.

Were you concerned initially you weren’t going to pull it off?
B.I.: I mean, I wasn’t really concerned. Me and Seth have played together for a while now; he’s sung over material I’ve written. The other thing is he’s been fronting bands as long as we’ve been a band. I’m sure he wouldn’t have said “yes” if he didn’t feel like he could do it. It didn’t feel like we went out and found some guy that looked and sounded like Riley, which would have been the wrong decision. With Seth and all his history in our scene and with me, it was a no-brainer.

But if it bombed, then hey, we just were having fun at the Fugitive show, you know what I mean? But I didn’t feel like it was gonna bomb. We can play our instruments all right still. [Laughs.]

Seth, what was it like for you to step in as frontman at that moment?
Seth Gilmore (lead vocals): It didn’t feel real until it started happening … and it was pretty crazy. I really can’t put a word to how I actually felt about it.

Chris Whetzel (bass): There were moments where we were just laughing because it felt so wild to be up there. It was weird.

B.I.: We finished playing the Fugitive set, and I was kind of gassed. I’d put a lot into that. But then there was this rush of doing this again. I was battling to get more energy, but also getting hyped up. And, like, obviously, all the nerves of playing the songs again.

I noticed Seth gave the mic a couple of times to people in the crowd at the Austin show. I was moved by that — it felt like it was as much their show as yours. Is that something you intended to do?
S.G.: It definitely felt like the right thing to do. I mean, as soon as it started, it felt insane. But I realized, Oh, this isn’t about me. It’s about everybody in this room and the other four guys onstage with me. It was very cathartic, I believe, for everybody.

Can you tell me more about how you came to be part of the band?
S.G.: Blake was like, “Hey, would you be interested in this?” At the time, I was like, “Ah, I don’t know if I could do that right now.” About a year later, we had just finished a Fugitive show Nick had played in San Antonio. I think within that week, Blake had come over and asked again. And I was like, “Yes, absolutely.”

B.I.: We’d been playing as Fugitive for a couple years. And I feel like Seth had gotten a different level of confidence from playing bigger shows … and just playing alongside me. I think people that are fans of Power Trip that listen to my band, they know who he is now. It’s not like, Who the fuck is this guy? 

N.S.: It feels really organic. I mean, I don’t even know how long I’ve known you, Seth. Like, over ten years?

S.G.: Probably close to 15.

B.I.: Seth used to beat Nick’s ass at basketball back in the day.

N.S.: Maybe. We don’t have to talk about that. [Laughs.]

S.G.: For the record, I didn’t beat his ass. It was a pretty close game.

Gilmore singing with Power Trip.
Photo: Samantha Tellez

Seth, why did you say “no” at first? Did you feel like you weren’t ready to take something like this on? 
S.G.: It was obviously a huge undertaking. And at the time, I don’t think I really had the confidence to do it. It was just a little too soon. And then I got more confidence playing shows, doing something on a bigger scale, like Fugitive. Also, the job I had at the time, I was traveling all over the U.S., just doing crazy shit.

What kind of job?
S.G.: I was working for a company that worked alongside insurance. So I was basically storm chasing. I’d go to areas that were damaged from storms, and I’d have to go and climb really high roofs and dangle from a rope. I was completely overwhelmed at the time.

B.I.: He was risking his life then. Then he’s like, Well, I could just do this now and risk my life that way, you know?

Seth, how do you approach keeping Riley and the band’s legacy going but doing it in your own way? Has there been anything that’s been helpful for you in that process?
S.G.: I’ve just tried to make it not about me. It’s about the legacy of the band. I could never replace Riley. He was a one-of-a-kind guy, and it’s really just trying to pay tribute. You know, he was a huge influence on my life. He was a titan. So as long as I can make it not about myself, that’s been the biggest key.

I wanted to ask about Brandon Gale, Riley’s father, and the statement he made about the Power Trip show in Austin and how he was caught “by surprise” — which he’s since clarified and apologized for. Has the dust settled with that? Has he reached out to you guys with these shows coming up?
B.I.: I think everything’s cool. It seems like he’s happy that the band’s playing and going to spread the gospel and honor Riley’s legacy. I think that’s what everybody wants. I can’t say we’re talking all the time. But I think everybody’s on the same page and happy that we’re getting to shine a light on what Riley did — what we did — and celebrate it, and keep it relevant.

N.S: I think it’s important for us to remember, like, when we did the Fugitive show, we played those couple of songs and just the reaction from the crowd, and the fans and the friends and everybody being there, it was such a fun night. That stuff just fueled us to be motivated to continue to want to play more shows.

Do you have any plans after the last show in August, or are you going to do these shows and then reassess? 
B.I.: I think we’re just vibing it out, seeing how the shows go and letting that simmer. We’ll take it one step at a time. It’s all unknown at this point, but we’re really excited for the shows. Hopefully we don’t fuck them up.

N.S.: We leave it all out there. And we feel it after the show for sure.

B.I.: I feel it after the shows more than I used to. So I’m not looking forward to that.

N.S.: A lot of neck exercises are going to be in the future, for sure.

C.W.: Once we started getting back together and figuring this shit out, I was like, I gotta be at the gym. Like, I have to be physically in shape in order to pull this off.

B.I.: We’re all doing extra stuff right now for sure to not pass out onstage.

I noticed that the date that you guys are playing New York happens to be the four-year anniversary of Riley’s passing. Was that a coincidence?
B.I.: Yeah, it was a total coincidence.

N.S.: I think we were originally supposed to play earlier that month, and the date didn’t work out. We were shocked when we found out like, Oh, wow, that is the same date. We had no idea.

C.W.: It’s a nice way to memorialize Riley and his legacy. On that day it’ll be emotional for fans — and for us as well.

B.I.: What better way to shed light on that day and do something than at a big, huge show in New York?

Brandon also filed a civil suit against Power Trip in 2021, claiming that the band owed the Riley Gale estate royalties. It has since been settled.

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