Local metal band Dawn Patrol formed in 2012 when brothers Kyle and Tommy Gonzales got bored with Guitar Hero and decided to pick up actual instruments. Kyle started on the guitar, but later put it down in favor of the drums. Since then, Tommy has gone on to get a professional guitar certification from Berklee College of Music, and Kyle secured a cymbal endorsement before getting the confirmation that he had been selected to study under Paul Bostaph from Slayer. Not bad for a 15 year old. With support from their family (their father manages the band and both parents chaperone on tour), Dawn Patrol seem to be rising up the ranks of the local metal scene. We sat down with Tommy to find out more about Dawn Patrol and their Police State EP, his time spent touring Europe, and what it's like to be in a heavy metal band with your brother.
Flyer: When did Dawn Patrol form and what were you and your brother doing before the band got together?
Tommy Gonzales: My brother and I started jamming in 2009, but it wasn't until about 2012 that we started doing shows with Dawn Patrol. I'm 19 and my brother is 15, so we didn't really have time to play in any other bands before this one. My brother originally started out playing guitar, so it wasn't until he picked up drums that we were able to jam together. Before the band started we were just practicing at our parent's house in Atoka, just coming up with song ideas and stuff like that.
How does your brother balance time between high school and the demands of playing in a band?
We pretty much only play on weekends, and if he has a school break we will use that time to get out of town. We use the time he has on summer break to really play a lot of shows and get out on tour. My parents go with us on tour. It's pretty much just something for all of us to do.
Is there a history of people playing music in your family or did you guys just kind of pick it up?
No, not really. It just kind of came out of nowhere honestly. We got Guitar Hero as a present one year and beat the game in a night. After that my brother and I were like, 'let's just get real guitars' and we ended up getting them for Christmas.
Last summer you went on tour playing guitar with Condition Critical, a metal band from New Jersey. How did that happen and what did you learn from that experience?
If you're into thrash, that's a band that you immediately recognize because they are up and coming. I almost brought them to Memphis for a show a few years back, and we've kept in contact since then. They needed a guitarist for a tour, so I hit them up and they flew me up for a tryout. They didn't have anyone else offer so they pretty much just chose me.
Where did that tour take you?
First, I flew up to New Jersey for two weeks to jam out with them and learn the songs. I can't remember all the countries off the top of my head but I know we covered all of Europe in the span of two months. We played two weeks of shows in Russia and played Italy, Austria, and Germany and a bunch of other countries before flying back. Everything just happened really fast.
So the first real tour you ever went on was in Europe? That had to have been a cool experience.
Yep, with Dawn Patrol we only do weekends and stuff like that right now. The whole experience just came out of nowhere honestly. I had to learn all their songs in a month, and then go play them in places I've never been before. It was really cool to see how different the metal scene is in Europe. People were so supportive. The metal and punk scene in Europe is much more divided, whereas here people will go see our shows even if they aren't into metal. We incorporate elements of hardcore and metal into our music, but you don't see a lot of crossover metal in Europe. They are very loyal to the metal scene.
You guys recorded your first EP at Ardent Studios with Alan Burcham. Do you plan on going back to Ardent for a full length?
We did our first demo with another guy, but we really liked the way our first EP came out with Alan recording it. We are going back to him to record our debut full length in March, and we hope to have it out by July. We are going to self-release it because we want it to come out in time for the tour we are going to go on this summer, and then we will probably shop it to labels after that.
Have any labels been interested in working with Dawn Patrol since Police State came out?
There have been some labels interested here and there. We've mostly been talking to distributors about selling our music online and stuff like that. We also do a lot of that type of stuff on our own. We sell a lot of CDs and T-shirts online through our own website, but we might try to get a better distributor once the album is finished. We also sell our stuff locally through places like Goner and Shangri-La.
What's next for Dawn Patrol?
We are recording the album I mentioned in March, then we will do a two-week U.S. tour in the summer. After that, we don't have any plans.