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Power Trip’s Riley Gale: “Who cares about trying to make history? Just live your life the way you want to”

(Image credit: Will Ireland)

Riley Gale was one of modern thrash’s great frontmen. Cool, politically plugged-in and a staunch defender of the metal scene, the Power Trip frontman was unafraid to speak his mind. His death at the tragically young age of 34 has robbed the world of a massive talent.

In 2018, Riley spoke to Metal Hammer for our regular Life Lessons feature. This is what he had to say.

Metal is smarter than many people think

“[There’s a common misconception] that there isn’t something to be learned from it, that it’s not a genre taken seriously – it’s just a lot of theatrics and showing off or being ‘scary’. The masses view it as a novelty, they think there isn’t any added value to society at large, and I disagree with that. There’s material there to write intense metal songs but still say something bigger about humanity or modern topics. There’s ways to present stuff that is catchy, but then for the people who wanna think deeper about it, there’s substance there to be dug up. I think that’s entirely impossible to do things that way.”

Bands need to be themselves

“It’s hard to be a successful band and not have to commit yourself to some kind of image or gimmick, and that’s what we try to do to. I would say our brothers in Turnstile inspire us in that way. They just have this energy that is so accepting and so loving, which I think is something that the world desperately lacks right now. They have such a positive way of approaching music and their fanbase, and they are very inclusive, you know? I don’t think that there’s mystique around the band, they’re very much themselves, so I really look up to that. I am proud of us for trying to do the same thing, but I see them as a band that’s done that as well. They’ve maintained their individuality, and that’s something I admire.”

Great art does come from struggle

“It allows you to look at things a certain way. When you suffer, you’re allowed to start to understand that other people suffer too, and I think it makes you less judgemental. That way you can express yourself in a way that, hopefully, connects with other people. Ultimately, I think that most artists would say they wanna connect with people. Even artists that try and do ‘anti-art’ or really nihilistic stuff, no matter what, they’re still looking for people to see that and connect with it. Whether we’re talking about physical or sculpture or painting or music or visual… whatever you put out into the world, you’re looking for people to connect with it.”

(Image credit: Press)

America’s gun issue is a big problem

“I think it’s really simple. Just taking a better look at who is buying our guns. A right to own a gun is a really dangerous amendment to have in a constitution. I don’t think that people with violent history [should] have a right to own a gun. I don’t think people use our fourth amendment the way our forefathers intended. I don’t think they anticipated us having weapons that are as sophisticated as we do. It’s as simple as saying, ‘There’s a limit to what you can have’, you know? And it’s easy to do a background check. It’s easier to get a gun as an ex-felon than it is to get a job!”

‘Left’ and ‘right’ is a stupid way to look at politics

“It’s just making things black and white, and that’s not the way the world operates. It’s not even black, white and grey. It’s hard for people to grasp that it’s a whole spectrum of colours – and that’s not some hippie fucking energy bullshit! People only wanna see it one way or the other, or some people are able to say, ‘Ah, it’s in between’, but really, it’s a million different things, a million perspectives. Reality as someone sees it, and how the masses perceive it and all this stuff, it’s all a very rich tapestry of what people have gone through in their lives to reach that viewpoint and to do all these things, so I think calling it ‘left’ and ‘right’ is so simplistic. I mean, you’re basically saying that our political spectrum should be easier than a standardised test that has four options, right? Like, really? Everything about our political system is just a true or false answer? ‘The left is true, the right is false’? It’s just really simple-minded to me. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

It’s OK to punch Nazis… sometimes

“If what that person is saying means that, ultimately, somewhere down the line, some kind of political violence is going to be implemented upon another person, a marginalised person, then fuck yeah, you can punch them. It’s a pre-emptive strike. If people on the right wanna get all pissy about that, well, we did that to fucking Iraq when it came to 9/11. We put a pre-emptive strike on a country that hadn’t provoked us, and we sat there and said, ‘We did this to look out for a greater threat that was coming.’ Well, you know what? I see white nationalism as that threat. So if you’ve got someone sitting there saying, ‘It makes perfect sense to separate children from their families because we think they’re in some grand conspiracy to undermine and destabilise the country’… get the fuck out of here. Punch that motherfucker. Because what they’re ultimately saying is that these people should be separated, they should be manhandled, they should have their rights stripped away. That ultimately leads to some kind of physical violence happening to somebody.”

Hearing your own music on a WWE show is cool

“I think WWE is a great thing. It brings a lot of different people from different cultures together. It has a very wide demographic, a wide range of people who are into it. It’s something that, now that you have all this connectivity with the internet, all these communities are starting to pop up. It’s cool! It’s fascinating to watch, and I think it mirrors a lot of what’s going on in music now. These guys are artists in themselves. I respect it as an art, so getting asked to be used [in an NXT show], that was cool.”

There's no point being sad about death

“Death doesn’t hit me very hard. I internalise it a lot. I sort of think it’s a relief. I think that when you die, you die. You have your borrowed time, and no amount of grieving is gonna bring anyone back. I believe the burden of life being taken off somebody is nice. Whatever is happening, even if it’s nothing at all, is better than life, I guess. That’s really negative-sounding, but it’s not negative; it’s actually very freeing to think about! You got this life, go for whatever you wanna go for. Go for your biggest dreams, and if you fail, become a fucking drunk. Be a bum in the street and piss yourself, because who cares? There’s so many people in this world, and everything moves so fast, who cares about trying to make history anyway? You might as well just live your life the way you want to.”

The news is nuts

“I pick CNN and Fox News, and I see truth coming out on the ‘left’ side, but the way they present it is just so over the top. They act like anything is some huge bombshell, and it’s like, ‘No, OK, this is another breadcrumb that we add to another trail.’ Everything is so exasperated and overblown, and on the right it’s the same thing. I feel like there’s a lot less truth presented there, and that is my ‘left-leaning’ bias, but I think both sides are victimising, and it’s so ridiculous.”

Society needs to get its priorities straight

“No one is arguing deep economics. We’re arguing social issues all the time. That is insane. All this racism and homophobia, and arguing over genders… who gives a goddamn fuck? Someone being themselves, being who they wanna be, isn’t a violent thing, unless that person wants to inflict violence on other people. But when it comes to their sex, whether they’re a man or woman, how they wanna present themselves, it really doesn’t make a fuck to me. It don’t make a fuck!”

I don't think of myself as a confident frontman

“I just try to have fun and be myself, and when it’s to bigger crowds and I can have fun with them, I’ll say sillier stuff. I like a good gag. When I’m in places where I feel like I have a lot more friends in the room, it can be a relaxing thing. So it’s not confidence, it’s comfort!” 

Power Trip have asked that fans send donations to Dallas Hope Charities in lieu of flowers.