Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
The Gunshy, the musical appendage of Matt Arbogast, has always been a telling example of one man's stab at chronicling all of the succor and rottenness that come from days that fall with the buttered side up or the buttered side down, when you've got to make a choice to placate your glass half empty side or brush off the dirt and grime and just keep smiling and eating your bread. There are always better days and there are always worse days to have to deal with and Arbogast recognizes that simple thought, but he also knows that rarely does one totally eclipse the other.
They have equal shines, similar devilish smiles and dimples to boot. There's nothing much like a loved one turning out to be someone not worth loving or incapable of returning the favor. There's nothing worse than uncertain times and flurries - fleets of ghost ships carrying lost times and passing through the ethers with transparent waves and no expressions to figure out. The littlest things can become hauntings that follow us like ducklings or kite string. Arbogast took inspiration for his latest album from some discovered wartime letters that his grandfather wrote to the girl that would become his wife in the early-to-mid 40s while he was fighting and getting wounded during battles of World War II. He died a young man and his widow never remarried. Arbogast came upon the letters and connected with the lonesomeness and the gruesome inhuman conflictions that his grandfather had to endure while he was in the service and being confronted with grave danger and graver reality every day. One of the songs that Arbogast chose to record for his session with us is a description and reaction to a letter that was written July 3, 1944, in which his grandfather recounts his killing of a man. It's striking in its honesty - where killing other people is not only appropriate, but encouraged - and the letter raises another piece of awareness about how letters and time-stamping could serve as the eeriest reminder of what just happened or what happened forever ago. The precise date of the day that you killed a man could be disconcerting. It could ripple through your core some years later if you were to pull that letter out of its rubber-banded hive. That's the day when you stopped being just a guy with a name and some past experiences - maybe a game winning catch, the sensation of the first breast you touched, the way the catfish you caught yourself tasted better than anything you'd ever tasted before that one summer in the cabin, your wedding day, the death of your wife - and turned into a guy with darkness in the closets. The day to forget - and maybe there turn out to be plenty more of them during a war - becomes a day that can be traced and replayed. An old calendar from 1944 can be found and it can be discovered that July 3 - a day before Independence Day no less - was a Tuesday that year. You killed a man on a Tuesday. Not all of Arbogast's songs - nor the ones on There's No Love In This War are quite so devastating and specific, but they do all have the qualities of vivid recollection and a need to move through him and out into the open air by way of a gruff voice that waltzes like ragtag brogue. He hurts and it hurts - that voice - but he makes claims to live the hell out of this life and he lets the ever graceful powers of cheap whiskey work their wonders.
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