Known as Minnesota’s favorite Americana band of the 99%, The Gated Community celebrates the release of their highly anticipated new album The Honor and Glory of The Gated Community. Showcasing beautiful harmonies, multiple lead singers and virtuosic soloists, this 5th album from the folk/country cult favorites shows the band stepping out of their
Known as Minnesota’s favorite Americana band of the 99%, The Gated Community celebrates the release of their highly anticipated new album The Honor and Glory of The Gated Community. Showcasing beautiful harmonies, multiple lead singers and virtuosic soloists, this 5th album from the folk/country cult favorites shows the band stepping out of their Marxist bluegrass band box to create poignant songs of personal and collective loss – many of which were written just a few blocks from where Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct station was burned and abandoned following the murder of George Floyd.
Living just a few blocks from the 3rd Precinct, frontman Sumanth Gopinath (vocals, guitar) and his partner Beth Hartman (vocals, percussion) were filled with a particular anxiety and dread. “We went through a lot during the uprising itself, but we also feared repeat occurrences of violence at various points – like the November 2020 election, January 6, the inauguration and the Chauvin trial,” Gopinath says. “Moreover, family and friends died or nearly died from COVID-19. My retired colleague David Bernstein passed in March 2020, my aunt died in June 2020, and my uncle was in the hospital for months.”
Although The Gated Community started tracking some of the album in 2019 and early 2020, an electrical failure (caused by the 2020 unrest) fried the studio’s primary and backup hard drives. Left with only a few tracks and a whole new whirlwind of emotions stirred up by the pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, subsequent protests and the rise of fascism in America, the band reworked old songs and arranged new ones written by Gopinath during the pandemic. “Not being able to make music with the other five band members during 2020, I began composing classical music again for the first time in 25 years,” Gopinath says. “I also continued to write songs for the band until we were finally able to do some very distanced outdoor rehearsals in fall of that year.”
With various health concerns among band members, they worked safely and slowly, rehearsing and recording the new tracks with John Miller at Future Condo Studio in Minneapolis. Mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering, the album was finally done in 2022. Their most ambitious yet, it includes 13 originals with powerful lyrics and thoughtful arrangements. Although still marked by the playfulness that have won them such a loyal following, these songs have less punk urgency and more of the laid-back folk and country vibes of some of their songwriting heroes – from the Ralph Stanley-inspired a capella song “To the Sea Once More” (written for Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a young man of color on the autism spectrum who had just been murdered by police in Brooklyn Center, MN on Aug. 31, 2019) to the Terry Allen-esque “Mariia” (about the alleged Russian spy and current politician Maria Butina) to the Townes Van Zandt-sounding “Another Fire” (written following the nightly fires that erupted in South Minneapolis after George Floyd’s murder) to the beautiful simplicity of Gillian Welch exhibited in “The Life from My Eyes” (about domestic violence towards women). The album also features the heartfelt playing of recently retired fiddler Teresa Gowan.
Once thought of as a niche novelty outfit, The Gated Community show their evolution into a sophisticated band that mixes social commentary with emotionally rich songwriting. They are incredibly proud to bring this album into the world after the collective traumas of the past three years and are finding solace in playing together once more.