Lead vocalist Matthew Tillwick and guitarist Noah Kohll hailed from Omaha, Nebraska before landing in Brooklyn, New York, where they formed Navy Gangs with Wilson Keithline on bass, and Eric Carney on drums. This year, the four-piece are set to release their debut full-length, Poach, on Modern Sky USA. Mixed and mastered by Delicate Steve, an early champion of the band, the band’s first offering exists in the in-between spaces and places that make up your life.
Hear First is Talkhouse’s series of album premieres. Along with streams of upcoming albums—today’s is Navy Gangs’ Poach—we publish statements from artists and their peers about the mindsets and impressions that go into, or come out of reflection on, a record. Here, Jordan Corso (Cotillon) shares his admiration for both the band and their latest album, which you can listen to right here as you read his thoughts.
—Annie Fell, associate editor, Talkhouse
Natives of Omaha Nebraska, Noah Kohll and Matthew Tillwick arrived in New York City in the mid 2010s to find a culture in transition. Record labels were pervasive; rave and zine cultures were thriving; The heroin subculture was replaced by the millennial side hustle. Musical heroes spent their days in Bushwick coffee shops selling adderall and reading Kafka. Language was visual, and guitar noise wore the burdening words, “Come to my show.”
Where does Navy Gangs fit into all of this? They simply don’t. In the art world, we have to believe in perseverance. We have to believe that what we love matters. We have to stay on the road at all costs.
Fast forward to the summer of 2018. The day before their first US tour, Kohll visits me at Modern Sky HQ to pick up their vinyl. Predictably, he complains about parking. Together, we carefully unpack their debut Poach.
Kohll is wise above his years, and he shines in argument. He was the first member I met (we initially bonded over a bottle of poppers during an early morning in Paris a few years back) and is a true believer in the church of rock and roll.
His counterpart, Tillwick, is a shy and lovable guy on and off stage. His charm stems from his proverbial brevity. A candid lyricist, tortured by his own self-awareness. The chorus in track two’s “Dark Days” sums him up perfectly: “Wait, am I, am I that guy?”
Bassist Wilson Keithline is a craftsman who commutes to the city daily at sunrise via motorcycle. Keithline spent his youth in Providence, Rhode Island dealing with what it was to be the youngest of several older brothers before making his way south. He brings toughness to the band.
This is the core group, sitting in a van somewhere now, blissfully unaware of what they are up against. The 14 songs that make up Poach are a fresh and honest take on the reality of a 20-something who had the courage to move to New York on loose change. And all that really matters is that they feel good about it.