Power Trip Vocalist Riley Gale Dead at 34

Riley Gale, frontman of Power Trip, died this week at age 34.
Riley Gale, frontman of Power Trip, died this week at age 34. Mike Brooks
Riley Gale, the vocalist of Dallas thrash metal and hardcore punk vets Power Trip, died Monday night, the band confirmed in a statement Tuesday. He was 34.

“It is with the greatest of sadness we must announce that our lead singer and brother Riley Gale passed away last night,” the statement says. “Riley was a friend, a brother, a son. Riley was both a larger than life rock star and a humble and giving friend. He touched so many lives through his lyrics and through his huge heart. He treated everyone he met as a friend and he always took care of his friends. We will celebrate Riley’s life and never forget the great works of music, charity, and love that he left behind. You, the fans, meant so much to him, please know how special you are. If you have a memory of Riley please share it, no matter how small, as we remember him.”

The band ends the statement with a request to, “Please respect our wishes for privacy during this time,” and a donation link to Dallas Hope Charities. The cause of death has not been revealed.

Artists such as Hatebreed, Coheed and Cambria, Anthrax, Fucked Up, Best Coast and Ice-T paid tribute to Gale on Twitter Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. North Texas death metal band Creeping Death, one of Power Trip’s closest affiliates of late, tweeted, “Riley always put on for the home team, he and Power Trip helped open a lot of doors for us and many other bands out of the Texas hardcore scene over the years. The music world lost a huge star, Rest in Power Riley Gale.”

The local outpouring of grief continued as news spread of the singer's death.

“Riley was someone I met at a very young age and always inspired me,” says Jacob Duarte, vocalist of Houston-via-Dallas band Narrow Head. “He treated me like a peer and never like a dumb little kid. He’s been there for me since Day 1 and has always supported my music and was one of the few who believed in me. I love him so much [it] felt like he was a big brother to me.”

“This is not a band for white males to enjoy and be dumb rednecks to.” – Riley Gale

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“Riley and I had the most unlikely friendship,” says Dallas promoter Mike Ziemer of Third String Productions. “Early on when the hardcore scene hated everything about me, Riley saw the bigger picture and Power Trip agreed to play what turned out to be some of the craziest shows we’ve ever done. Whether it was at shows or randomly running into each other, some of the best nights of my life were with Riley and our mutual friends. His shoes in the metal and hardcore world will be impossible to fill.”

Southern Lord Recordings, Power Trip’s label since 2013, respectfully refused to comment any further, but cofounder Greg Anderson offered, “[I’m] in complete shock here and speechless” and “Rest in power Riley.”

When Gale formed Power Trip in 2008, the band cut its teeth playing shows at DIY venues such as 1919 Hemphill and clubs such as Club Dada. As the band’s profile grew, their live shows developed an expansive reputation for their unbridled chaos, which hinged on Gale’s humble yet larger-than-life stage presence.

This brought the band to greater heights over the years, landing it tour packages with metal juggernauts such as Lamb of God, Hatebreed, Napalm Death, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Exodus and Eyehategod. When the band reached its 10-year anniversary in 2018, they celebrated with the Evil Beat showcase at Canton Hall which, in addition to Power Trip, had performances from Ceremony, Cold World and Iron Age. The second installment of Evil Beat, which took place at South Side Ballroom in January, was an even bigger affair, as it was headlined by Deafheaven, Carcass, Razor and Vio-Lence.

Gale loved touring and playing live shows, which is why COVID-19 was especially difficult for him. Still, he managed to find freelance editing work in the interim and dropped a collaborative track with Ice-T’s band Body Count. A politically outspoken and often mischievous social media personality, Gale also made headlines when he beefed with nu-metal band Trapt and said to Revolver Magazine, “This is not a band for white males to enjoy and be dumb rednecks to.”

There are many other metal greats to sprout from DFW, but if there was a Mount Rushmore for Dallas metal, Power Trip would undoubtedly be up there along with Pantera and Rigor Mortis.
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Garrett Gravley was born and grew up in Dallas. He mostly writes about music, but veers into arts and culture, local news and politics. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has written for the Dallas Observer since October 2018.