“I'm sure every person has their own affair with night time. There is no time I feel more myself, simultaneously alive and dead. There is no other title for this record; simple, to the point. Written by, about and for a woman alone with her own thoughts, reflections and deepest fears,” says Heaven's Gate singer Jess Paps when describing the New York band's new LP Woman At Night. Heaven's Gate have existed in industrial Bushwick practice spaces, dive bars and DIY venues since 2012. During that time they've toured, written, worked jobs, quit jobs, practiced; having grown stronger as a band and more bonded as friends. While always characterized by their own gloomy approach to dark punk, Heaven's Gate have become the band they have always meant to be since their inception. Woman At Night is their welcome party.
She goes on: ”Ever since I was a little girl, I remember being incredibly scared at night. I was a kid in the 80's and 90's when there were a few high profile kidnapping cases. It hit me hard at a young age and I remember following my mother around everywhere as soon as it got dark out. She used to joke and call me her shadow. As I grew older, it turned more existential and dissociative; I remember looking in the mirror at age 10 and feeling like I didn't recognize myself or know myself anymore. As I became an adolescent and teen in the 90's my favorite time was locked up in my bedroom at night, listening to records, pouring over lyrics, playing guitar, writing poems, having secrets. And that is still my favorite thing, my favorite place.”
Amanada Berry is a dark, noire-style song about the kidnapping and imprisonment of three women in Cleveland by Ariel Castro. “I still have complicated feelings about this song and titling it after a survivor but ultimately felt that it was a story that should be told again.” Paps takes the chorus from Berry's famous 911 call from Castro's neighbor's phone, repeating 'I'm alive, I'm Amanda Berry'. The refrain is truly one of the rawest and most haunting moments on Woman At Night. “Sally Says is about a million things,” explains Paps. “I conceptualized it as a play on the VELVET UNDERGROUND song Candy Says, really just a poem for the moon, a lover, and a drug dealer”.
"Yeah yr right, yr always right / imagine pictures from the backside”
Paps' poetic and dark lyricism is by her own admission largely influenced by Patti Smith. Like Smith, Paps' voice hinges heavily on her own emotions, with a range that spans from soft and melancholic to barked-out wrath. Sonically however, Woman At Night finds Heaven's Gate revering a different era of punk. The music is brutal, heavy and tormented, and at times indebted to the ugly rawness of BABES IN TOYLAND and THE GERMS, bands that funneled powerful emotion through hostility and scorn. Woman At Night takes the listener back to those lonely moments alone, as a child, seemingly safe in one's own room, pondering the cruel world that lies beyond.
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