I recently got the chance to touch base with Christina, the vocalist for the south Florida based band Gouge Away. After catching their set at the Paint It Black show in Philly, it's easy to tell that Gouge Away are here to stay. With a year full of touring ahead of them, (they're playing FEST this year!) be sure to catch them when they come through your city.

Q: Since Gouge Away have played FEST in the past, how have both years differed in terms of the over all experience?

A: They were actually both pretty similar! We were exactly as nervous as the first time. I'm not sure if we'll ever stop getting nervous.

We also had so much support both times. The awesome thing about FEST is that we have friends from all over the world who are playing or just there to have fun. It's such an amazing feeling to have your friend from Philly stand next to your friend from Tallahassee, singing along.

I suppose the only thing that differed the second time around was that we dressed up. I really bugged them the first year to do a costume and it didn't happen so I was excited that we dressed as the cast of Stranger Things.

 I used to attend FEST previous to playing because some of my favorite bands would be on the bill. Nowadays, it feels like a family reunion because of all of my amazing and talented musician friends. Last year I cried during an embarrassing number of sets because I was so overwhelmed with joy.

Q: What message do you hope that people take away from your live shows?

A: I often make it a point to discuss sexual abuse and depression at our shows. It's extremely rare that I don't bring up both topics. I think I do it as an introduction to our band for anyone who hasn't seen us before.

I get heated when we find out that the wrong people are into our band. I feel like lots of men see a girl on stage and that's all they see. So instead of hoping they read and correctly interpret the lyrics, I just let everyone know what we're about to save us both the trouble.

More importantly, both topics are also extremely relevant at all times. If I'm not personally going through something at that moment, someone close to me is. Usually what I say on stage leads to conversations with strangers after the set.

I don't know if I can make a difference for anyone who is struggling but I do hope that people take the time to consider what others around them might be going through.

Q: Do you feel that Gouge Away gets pigeon holed into a "female fronted band" category and if so, do you find it beneficial or detrimental?

A: I'm not entirely sure if we get pigeon holed. I'd say that we definitely come across different opportunities than other bands of a similar genre do.

For example, when we first started touring, I made it a point to hide the fact that I am a woman. We didn't have our names or photos of ourselves on the internet. Back then, I'm pretty sure we only played with 2 female musicians... out of an entire tour! Now that it's kind of hard to hide our identity (I think I embrace it more now, too) we play with so many different people of all races and genders everywhere we go.

Now the shows where I'm the only woman are the ones that stand out like a sore thumb. I'm sure there are some weird politics involved that are out of our control but I also know that we work hard and aim to work exclusively with people and bands we like.

Q: With the release of "Swallow", how do you see your musical style developing in the future?

A: Ooooooh we are so excited about writing! I feel like during the writing process of , Dies we had a lot of pressure to be what people wanted us to be. At least that's how I feel about my contribution.

I'm happy that with everything we've endured, we've come out stronger and as a solid team. I don't think we care so much about writing a hardcore song as we do about writing anything that makes us feel good.

I anticipate that the lyrics are going to come out in a way that's more natural to me. I'm not sure how to explain what I mean but it's different!

From top to bottom: 

-Gouge Away | FEST 14 | Gainesville, FL

-Gouge Away | DRKMTTR | Nashville, TN

-Gouge Away | FEST 15 | Gainesville, FL

Photos: Nick Zimmer Photography