Disclaimer: The following interview contains some words that we recognize will be offensive to some of our readers. However, we felt it was best for everyone involved to include the interview in its entirety. Thank you for your understanding in this regard.
A phone interview with Louis DeFabrizio, lead singer and guitarist of Gasoline Heart.
I’ve heard the story told three or four different times online at this point, but let’s hear it your way. What exactly happened that you got kicked off stage at Cornerstone?
It was really weird. We showed up, and the stage was running like an hour behind because they were having some technical difficulties or something. I was the last artist of the night. I think I was supposed to go on at 10:50, and it got pushed back by about an hour, which… No big deal. I didn’t give anyone any crap about it. I get it. Stuff happens.
So while the band was playing, I saw people were filtering into the tent, and they were like, “Hey did you already play? Are you playing? What’s going on?” So I told them, “I’m next. They’re just running behind.” So I went up to the sound guy, and I said, “When this band is done, can you just press play on my iPod. I want to have a playlist going on, that way people know that the last band of the night hasn’t happened yet.” He said, “Yeah, no problem.”
So I get my iPod, he presses play, we go on stage and we’re setting up our stuff, when all of a sudden the iPod goes off. I’m like, “What happened?” The sound guy was on stage and he said, “You told me to play that song.” I’m like, “No, play the whole playlist.” And he said, “Oh, I didn’t know.” But I just figured, “Alright, no big deal.” So I take the iPod from him, and I go down there while he’s setting up my stuff. And the lighting guy is over there, and ask him to plug the iPod back in. The guy plugs it in, presses play, and I go to raise the volume on the iPod. And this dude slaps my hand. And I’m like, “Yo, what are you doing?” He goes, “Don’t touch that.” “It’s my iPod,” I said. And then he says, “Well, you’re not even allowed to be up here.” So I’m just like, “Okaaaay.” And he says, “You could blow the sound system.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And he goes, “You’re drunk!”
And I’m not exaggerating at all. This is how it went down. So he says, “You’re drunk.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” He goes, “I’m running lights tonight, so expect your show to be in the dark.” And I looked at him, and I’m like, “Are you kidding me right now?” I was dumbfounded. Very rarely is there ever a time that I don’t have anything to say. I’m usually pretty quick on my feet. I was just dumbfounded, like, “What the hell is going on?” So I go up stage. We’re setting up. Everyone on stage is super cranky, but whatever, sound guys are always cranky.
Hang on. I just want to interrupt real quick. He accused you of being drunk. Had you had anything to drink?
No, I didn’t have anything to drink! We’re in a field. We’re at a festival. Where am I gonna drink? You see what I’m saying? It’s just ridiculous. And that’s the thing. Even if I was drunk, who cares? If I’m walking around with beer and stuff, where it’s obviously not allowed to be on the field, that’s one thing. But all those bands that are in buses, you don’t think that there’s beer in their buses? But anyway… So I’m on stage, and I play one song. And all of a sudden the bass player comes up to me—I was playing solo. I was doing six songs myself, and then I was going to do four or five with the band—and my bass player comes up to me, and he goes, “Hey, he just told me we only have twenty minutes left.” And I was like, “Fuck! Why? You gotta be kidding me.” And I guess that was caught on the mic. Whatever. And as a joke, and kind of being a smart ass, I said on the mic, “The sound guy just told me I only have 20 minutes to play. They can suck it. I’ll play as long as I want.”
All of a sudden, somebody taps me on the shoulder. He’s like, “Hey, come here.” I don’t know who this guy is, and I tell him, “I’m not going anywhere. Let me just play my songs.” And he keeps saying, “Come here. Come here.” But I just told him, “I don’t want to talk to you. I just want to play.” And all of a sudden I hear, “Cut it. It’s over.” And I’m thinking, “What is going on? You have to be kidding me.” And they cut my set.
I was just thinking, dude, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. I’ve been playing Cornerstone for years, and everyone is always so cool with me. They even joke with me. They’re like, “You’d better not curse tonight.” And I always play by the rules. I get what Cornerstone is. I get it’s a Christian festival. I get that you can’t bring booze onto the property. I get that you can’t curse from stage. Whatever. But it wasn’t like I was being obscene. It wasn’t like I was like, “All these people can fuck off” or something like that, all serious. You know what I mean? It was a joke—and I bet a lot of people didn’t even hear it. And them coming on stage just made a bigger scene than it actually was. And I was cut after a song and a half, and I kept thinking, this is the dumbest thing ever.
But it was so funny. It was just great, because the sound guy and the lighting guy who I’m pretty sure have nothing to do with Cornerstone other than being hired, like a hired sound team… They were at my hotel, and they’re all fucking drinking beers and getting trashed. I saw them and thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Some guy passing moral judgment on me, like, give me a break.” You know what I mean? This is the stupidest thing I ever heard.
So I just took my guitar out to a field. Well, actually somebody lent me their guitar, and I did a show in a field. And security showed up, and they’re telling me, “You can’t do this.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And the guy, while I was playing, just talked. Like he put his hand on the guitar, saying, “You can’t play.” So I said, “I’m in a fucking field. You have to be kidding me.” And he goes, “You can’t be cursing.” But I’m like, “I’m in a field! I can do whatever I want.” And he says again, “You can’t be playing.” But I just told him, “I’m going to play.” And I started playing and the security guard got in front of me and started screaming in my face like, “La la la la la la la.” And I’m thinking, “What is going on?” It was insane. I could not believe how it went down. And then eventually the guy left, and I just played anyway.
But it was just the weirdest thing, because I’ve always had such great experiences playing there. It’s always fun. Most of the bands I tour with and friends I have are like, “Why do you still play Cornerstone?” And I tell them, “I like it. I have friends there. There are people who show up. It’s cool.”
And it was just so weird. It was the weirdest thing. It was like one of those things where you’re driving, and there’s a cop behind you and you think that you’re speeding but you’re not speeding. But in your head you’re like, “Am I speeding? What am I doing wrong?” But you’re not doing anything wrong. So that video popped up on YouTube, and I saw it and I’m thinking, “Yeah, look at me. I do not look drunk. I’m not being rude. I’m not being obscene. I’m not doing anything.” It was just weird, man. Weirdest thing I ever experienced.
But don’t you think telling them to suck it could be seen as rude?
But it was a joke. I didn’t really mean anything by it. I mean, I say that to my friends all the time. I guess it’s one of those things where you have to know me to understand what I’m actually saying, where I’m just kind of being a smart ass to be funny.
Have you talked to the people at Cornerstone about it since then?
No. And here’s the thing, I don’t even know if they know about it. Who even knows? Everyone was like, “That guy who tried to talk to you was the dude from something or other,” and I’m like, “What’s that?” I don’t know who that is. I don’t know if they’re a band. I don’t know what they are. But I’m friends with so many people that put on Cornerstone, like the Witalla brothers from playing in my band, and some people from the Gallery Stage, which is where I usually play. And they didn’t even see the whole thing happen until it was done.
So I just made a reference, if like Bono, who Cornerstone holds Bono as the king of Christian music or whatever, if he said, “Fuck,” no one would give a shit. You know what I mean? Give me a break. I just thought they threw major attitude, and by them cutting me, what does it do? It doesn’t take back the word. It’s not a word I didn’t hear 50,000 times at that festival, all from people who were there. I just don’t get it. Like, I do get it, but I just don’t get it. I just thought it was so funny that the guy who accused me of being drunk was then getting drunk. I don’t care if you’re having beers, but why are you telling people I’m drunk? It’s so stupid. It was pretty embarrassing, to be honest. I was just so shocked about how rude they were.
So after they shut you down in the field, where did you go from there?
No, I stayed there. The security guard finally left. It was just so dumb. There physically should have been a fight. The dude’s putting his hands on me and on my guitar. It’s like, “Get off of me.” You know? “You kicked me off the stage, isn’t that enough?” I mean, in hindsight, it ended up being pretty memorable.
I mean, that’s what I remember happening. That’s what people told me. And then I watched that video on YouTube, and it pretty much was like that, so… I just think they had a power trip, to cut my set to twenty minutes and then pull me. Like, how was I supposed to know that guy has some kind of authority? I’m sorry I don’t recognize every face from years ago. My bad. I don’t know who you are. So it was just weird. There wasn’t much to it. The kids in the crowd were starting to get pretty hostile to the people, and I’m like, “Just chill out. Who cares?” I don’t know. When I’m watching the video, I’m like, “I am not being a dick. I’m being cool. I’m not being unruly. I’m saying sorry.” But I guess the stage manager wanted something bigger. I don’t know. Whatev. Not a big deal.
Do you think you’ll go back next year?
I don’t know. I mean, we would have to be invited to go back. But if I did, I would think about it. I probably wouldn’t, which is a shame. I probably wouldn’t go back. And it just sucks because I’m friends with a lot of those people. But it’s just really funny because whenever I’m there, they just joke with me. And it’s just so funny, because they joke with me and say, “You’re drunk.” I’m like, “I’m not drunk.” And they say, “We can tell.” So I just say, “No you can’t. When I’m drunk, I’m totally quiet.” And I’ll joke back and say, “Not my fault that all the people on your campground are sneaking in booze and trying to get me drinks.” Plus, I’m 240 pounds now. It would take like 12 drinks to get me drunk.
So while I’ve got you here, let me ask, are you guys recording again?
Yeah. We just recorded two new songs. And we’re trying to figure out how to finish the record. I think that we’re going to finish it in September. It’s supposed to be August, but I think it’s going to be September. So one thing I’m pretty excited about is that the guy that engineered our last album, and I think he produced the new Norma Jean album—not that we sound anything like Norma Jean—but it’s cool, he used to live in Atlanta and just opened up a studio in New York. So I’m pretty excited. How have you been? How’s IVM going?
It’s going pretty well.
It’s going well? You guys are getting ready to do another summer sampler?
Yeah, well it’s been a little slow lately because I just got married and Josh, one of the other writers, just got married.
Congratulations. Are you excited?
I just got engaged.
Thanks man. I did it at an Eddie Veder concert. How funny is that? It’s very 90s.
Yes it is. Like you got up on stage, or what?
No, I didn’t do it on stage. I did it during the last song. It’s funny, cause my friend Neil who used to work for MxPx now works for Pearl Jam, so he got me into the show.
Nice. When is the date?
Oh, no, that’s one of the things I have to do. That’s why I had to move up the interview, because I have a meeting with the caterer.
Oh okay. So the record that’s going to be finished in September, when is that going to be released?
I’m still trying to figure it out. P Is For Panda is no more. That’s our old label. And we just seem to be a kiss of death for record labels, so if I owned a record label, I wouldn’t sign us. [Laughs] So we may just put it out on our own, but the two new songs that we recorded, they ended up getting into some TV shows. Somehow we got into that whole circuit of being on TV shows and stuff, so that’s kind of cool where you can actually, as a musician, make some money that way. So I don’t know who we’re going to put the record out with. I have a couple of ideas of who I’d like to put the record out with, but I sent them the songs, and they never wrote me back, so maybe they think they suck. I don’t know. But the songs are pretty cool. I like them. They’re a little more punk than the last record, which is weird. We’re like the only band that gets harder. Every other band gets softer.
Now, I know John was talking about leaving. Did that happen?
He didn’t just talk about it. He did it. That was a major bummer for me. He quit the day I found out I was moving to New York, so that was the only thing that made it okay. It made me feel like I was supposed to move. I got a phone call from my girlfriend that she got a job promotion. She said, “Do you want to move to New York?” And I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And then I found out that John was going to leave the band. I thought, “Wow, that’s a weird twist of fate.” But since then we did a couple shows in Florida, and he played bass. But the last year, I’ve really just been touring by myself. I did that tour with The Atari’s for a couple of months, and I toured with Mike from MxPx. So I’ve just been doing a lot of solo touring, but all Gasoline Heart stuff.
So have you found a replacement yet for John?
Uh, yeah, we actually have this guy Kirk playing bass who lives in Brooklyn. He actually works for Homeland Security, but he’s a music nut. He was in Marah with Adam and Dave. Have you heard of that band before? Bruce Springsteen sang on their old album, and they were an awesome band that, they did really well, but they would always fall apart right when they were about to do really well. So basically it’s Adam and Dave, and Kirk from that band Marah, and me, so it’s all these guys. But Adam and Dave have been with me for the last two or three years, so… What else is new? Got engaged, making a new record, got kicked out of Cornerstone… the usual. So what did you hear? What story did you hear?
The way you told it was pretty close. I didn’t hear much different. I heard you got kicked off, and then you played in a field, and then had to move somewhere else. So, not quite it, but pretty close. Not bad for the internet.
Yeah, not bad. I just think it’s ridiculous. It’s not like I was falling over on stage drinking a bottle of rum or something retarded like that. I’m 34 years old; I’m not some idiot. I know the rules of Cornerstone. I’ve been playing there before. But I cursed, I get it, you can’t curse. But I felt like they were pissed at me from the beginning. And the lighting guy, after it all happened, apologized to me. He came up to me and said, “That shouldn’t have went down like that. I am sorry.” It was probably a snowball effect. And it’s like, anyone that meets me, I feel like I’m fairly cool. I’m not some weird, pretentious dude. I’m just a normal guy. Like, we hung out years ago at that solo show, right? You and your girlfriend?
Is that the girl that you ended up marrying?
Yes it is.
Oh, yeah! She was cute. Good job on that.
But was I a dick, or was I pretty cool? …Well, that’s a leading question, but I don’t know. I just felt like they treated me like the only… I’m not some crazy rebellious person. But what are you gonna do? Not a big deal. At least they didn’t cancel my check. I was worried about that. You know, cause I make millions of dollars playing there. [Laughs] It sucks, because I really do like playing Cornerstone because I feel like I have a good perspective, like a different perspective than a lot of those bands. It’s just different, and I think it’s valid. I don’t think it’s weird that I play there. I think the records, and the lyrics and everything is something that I wish, when I was a kid, I knew about it. But there were no artists in the Christian arena that were normal. They all either seemed like they were super Christians or bands on Christian labels that didn’t actually give a shit. So whatev. What are you gonna do? I was pretty bummed though. Pretty bummed.
How long have you been in Brooklyn now?
Almost a year and a half.
How’s that going?
I love it. I started a moving company that’s pretty awesome. The lead singer of Jonezetta, actually he just moved, but he lived down the street from me. I didn’t even know it. And we started this moving company together. It’s great. Just like being in a band. We have our van and trailer. We show up, load stuff upstairs, get paid, and that’s it. Really fun. I like it. How’s Pennsylvania?
I love it.
Yeah, I love Pennsylvania too. Why don’t you come to any of our Philadelphia shows? What the heck?
Well I just graduated in May, so I’m back in Reading now.
Oh, what did you graduate from?
La Salle University. It’s up in Northwest Philly. I wanted to go to that show with Mike from MxPx at the North Star, but I had night class.
That show and tour was awesome. It was so fun. It was really really good. We had like a hundred to two hundred people a night, and it was great hearing all those MxPx and Tumbledown songs acoustic. A lot of fun. I think we’re going to go back on tour in fall, me and Mike.
Yeah. Well I gotta go. Thanks for everything, man.
Thanks, man. Take care.