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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Concert Mon Nov 23 2009

Last Chance to See Galactic Inmate Tear it Up

arman.jpgGalactic Inmate is a rowdy, slighty twangy, metal/rock band from Chicago with a loyal following. The three members-- Keith Herzik on guitar, Brett Whitacre on drums, and Arman Mabry on bass, started playing together in 2004. Now, they don't play live very often, but when they do, it's loud as hell. I saw them at Quenchers the night before Halloween (they were dressed up as ZZ Top) and was blown away by their awesomeness-- they kicked ass even with Herzik's yarn beard perpetually tangled in his guitar strings-- so I set up an interview. I met Mabry at The Green Eye on a rainy November night. He jovially sipped PBR and whiskey, the diet of champions.

How do you all know each other?

Keith and I are both from Austin. I knew of him when I lived there but I never met him. It just so happened that when I moved up here with my old band, The Hamicks, I met him. Because eventually, in Chicago, you meet all the Texas people. We didn't really play together initially but we were down the hall from each other at a practice space. One day he and I started messing around, playing old Austin band songs like Scratch Acid and Ed Hall. We were having a great time doing that, so he said "Hey, man, our drummer Bret would like to play..." and that's how it happened.

Where did your band name come from?

A friend of mine from Austin named Sean Powell-- he's the drummer for The Fuckemos-- he has "Galactic Inmate" tattooed on his hands.

How are the songs written?

That's hard to say. Some of the songs were taken from an old band I was in in Austin called Thigh Master. Some of the songs are covers, some borrow certain riffs from old hard rock songs and build on them. We don't have a defined style for writing. A lot of times one of us brings in a song and the rest of us just learn our parts.

How many albums are out and how can people buy them?

There's a 7-inch. I don't know if it's still in print, I don't know what happened to it. Maybe Reckless has some copies or can get some because the girl who put it out works for them.

Are the songs on Galactic Inmates Myspace page on that 7-inch?

No, those are from the WHPK live show.

You play in Rabid Rabbit now, do the other guys play in other bands?

Keith sticks to his art, he's really busy with that. Brett is really busy with The Legendary Shack Shakers and they tour worldwide, but during the winter he's usually free. The rest of that band is in Nashville. And he also makes art.

How do you prepare for live shows?

We usually practice at least once. We've only added two songs since we started. So if we can't play those songs by now...

Do you have a favorite Galactic Inmate Song?

I like "Matewan." The name is taken from the movie about the striking coalminers in the early 1900's. People love "Beltbuckle of Power," too.

What is it that you like about "Matewan?"

It's darker and heavier than the others. The lyrics are from Merle Travis' song, "Nine Pound Hammer."

Is there a live show that sticks out in your memory as a particularly good one?

The last one at Cal's was awesome. (Check out a video of it here.) It was in mid-September with The Nones. That was our first show in two years, and the energy was there.

What's your favorite place to play in Chicago?



Because it's Cal's! Even if you have a bad show, you can't have a bad show at Cal's.

That's true! Well put. What's your favorite Chicago band?

Oh God. Indian. Lord Mantis. Headache City.

What makes a band good?

The drummer, and after that, everything falls into place. If we didn't have Brett playing drums, this band wouldn't be anywhere. People keep on coming back to see us even though we play the same set over and over again. And they're coming to see Brett, I think... and Keith spazzing out.

Would you say that the band has a philosphy?

[laughs] No. [southern accent] Tearin it up, man!

That's kind of what it seems like. Does anyone ever get hurt at the shows?

Oh shoot! I guess this should be one of my favorite shows as well. We played a free show at The Bottle a couple years ago, and there was this guy spazzin out in front of us, and he made his way to the floor, and someone had broken a bottle or a glass there and this guy shoved both his hands in the glass and beat his hands on the floor. There was blood everywhere.

Have you ever seen that guy again?

I never have. We were wanting to know who he was and if he knew how to play guitar.

Galactic Inmates next show is at Cal's on November 25, and that'll be their last show for two years. I wouldn't miss it if I were you. Cal's is located at 400 S. Wells. $5 donation at the door. 21+.


photo of Galactic Inmate live by Rob Karlick

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
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Cubby Bear
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Elbo Room
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Honky Tonk BBQ
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Kingston Mines
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Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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