Tuesday 11 February 2014

Interview time with Gypsy Chief Goliath

I feel bad for anyone who has yet to hear the brilliance that is Gypsy Chief Goliath. With a fusion of blues, doom, stoner and classic rock these guys create a warm tingly feeling throughout my entire body. Their latest release 'New Machines of the Night' is less than 6 months old yet it has already achieved so much. With rave reviews across the board  and from us, plus a debut entry of #20 in the North American CMJ loud rock charts (now in the top 10) Gypsy Chief Goliath show no sign of slowing down, in fact things are just getting started as the band is sure to hit the next level. Not too shabby for a little act coming from Windsor and Toronto, Ontario!

Throughout all of this Al the Yeti Bones still managed to find time to sit with us and discuss a little bit of everything, it is a great read for fans of the band and the stoner rock scene as a whole. Check it out below!

Before you jump into the interview, give this a listen. 'St Covens Tavern' as recommended by Al the Yeti Bones.

1. Let's start with the basics shall we, care to introduce the band?

AL The Yeti Bones: Sure. The band is called Gypsy Chief Goliath, we're signed to Pitch Black Records out of Cyprus in Europe. We are a 5 piece wrecking crew of hard rockin' blues metal. We like to call it Stoner Metal actually, but it seems the term "stoner" is frowned upon these days, and bands of that genre don't quite like to be referred to as such. I'm most definitely fine with the moniker myself, as even though I'm not much of a stoner these days, the term still lends itself to the music pretty well. Rock? Stone?  Rocker=Stoner...Rocked=Stoned.  I mean, the terms are quite similar. But I dig it. As for members in G.C.G, there's me, I sing and play guitar, Gypsy Dave is on lead guitar (but we're both playing a bit of leads here and there these days), Adam Saitti on drums, Darren Brush on bass, and the ever so handsome Rev. Brodie Stevenson plays the harmonica.  

2. How long have you guys been making music and how was Gypsy Chief Goliath formed?

AL The Yeti Bones: We formed G.C.G in 2009, we all knew each other from previous bands. When the time was right and all our former bands went tits up, we got into a rehearsal room in Toronto and said, fuck it.. let's form a new band together, and go as far as we can with this thing. That's the basic version of it. We take it pretty serious, and dedicated a lot of our life to this, so anyone that was unable to do the same just wasn't going to work out.  Thank god it's the way it is, because I love all these guys.

3. Gypsy Chief Goliath is a rather unique name, one that conjures many images. What is the story behind the name?

AL The Yeti Bones: This may sound crazy or stupid, or whatever...But, it was important to me to have a name that's very identifiable.  If our name was a basic term like FUCK, or maybe we were named after an appliance or something, you'd never find us on the internet, in search engines because SEO wouldn't pick up on us specifically.  But a name like Gypsy Chief Goliath, by the time you write Gypsy C it comes up right away. Make the name as obscure as possible and you're the only one on the internet with that name.  That's basically it.. I wanted a name that made people think of a bunch of stuff too. I was a fan of two word band names. Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd and so on.  But when I started hammering out names for the band, for some reason the three words Gypsy-Chief-Goliath just had a really good flow to it. I realize at first, it's probably a mouthful, but once you see the logo, or the acronym of G.C.G, it's very hard to forget. To be honest, I don't quite remember the first time I suggested this title to the guys, but judging from the fact that we're still called that 4 years later, it must have went over pretty smoothly. I wish there was more to the story then that, but there really isn't. It was three words that went well together, and exemplified who we are as people. 

4. Having formed Georgian Skull and being the lead singer for the Mighty Nimbus is Gypsy Chief Goliath an evolved improvement upon the two? 

AL The Mighty Nimbus: I've learned a lot in my 15 years of playing in serious bands. And I can say without hesitation that Gypsy Chief Goliath is the band I'll be doing until I die. I love where I come from, and all the people I've played with in the past, but this is where I want to be. And yea, I do see this band as an evolution of my own personal growth, from all the previous groups I've been in.  I've incorporated pieces of me from each of those previous bands into G.C.G.  And I think the other guys have too.

5. The sound of Gypsy Chief Goliath has elements from various styles of music, does it bother you when someone lumps you within one specific genre?

AL The Yeti Bones: No not really. I would rather be in a sub-genre of a bigger genre, then just be lumped into a genre that is so vast with millions of bands that, it would be impossible to find us from the rest. This way you can google Stoner Metal, and Gypsy Chief Goliath is easily found. It doesn't bother me at all. But i agree, we do have a shit tonne of different elements in our music, and on one hand I hear people say that it's a disservice to us to be lumped into a single category because we just aren't so one directional. But, on the other hand, I wouldn't want to get lost in the shuffle by being just another "rock and roll" band.  Or worse yet, "heavy metal."

6. What would the best classification be for Gypsy Chief Goliath?

AL The Yeti Bones: personally, I see it as hard rock, when we're talking to the industry reps, stoner metal when we're with the kids and the underground enthusiasts. Blues metal with the older folk, and all around heavy metal when we play with metal bands. I think we are what we are to anyone that wants to put us in some category because people tend to do that regardless, because like you mentioned, we do cover a wide variety of styles, and I think we can play with any band in the world and still be able to cater to specific genre's.  Plus people really like categorizing things for some reason. I don't know what it is, but I find that people in general just really have a strong love affair with columns, groupings, and categories and I have no idea why that is.

7. With many styles, comes many influences and role models. Could you name a few?

AL The Yeti Bones: I'm huge into soul, classic rock, and old blues... But I love my heavy metal, grunge and southern sludge too. My influences specifically are Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, both Pepper Keenan and Woody of C.O.C, Dan Soren from Sixty Watt Shaman, Phil from Down/Pantera, Clutch, loved Dimebag growing up, Slash & Axl both, Gill Scott Herron and Leon Russell.

8. Your second full length came out late last year, 'New Machines of the Night' and it achieved lots of critical acclaim. Was this your expectation or are you constantly being surprised by the results?

AL The Yeti Bones: Definitely a bit of both. Of course I'd hoped we could get this thing to the next level. And I believe we did. Which is great!  Did I think it would happen with this album? No. I thought (As I always do) that this new album would put us in a position where the NEXT record will be able to do far greater things, so long as we keep moving in the right direction.  And I feel we are right on track with that belief. I still believe that the next record will do much more damage then this one did. And I think as long as we keep getting better result the next time out, we're on the right path.

Purchase: http://gypsychiefgoliath.com/albums/
9. This album was recorded straight to analog, can you explain why you chose to do so and how it compares to a digital recording?

AL The Yeti Bones: All my favourite albums were recorded analog, and I figured for this type of music that definitely tries to preserve an old fashioned influence combined with the new heavy sound, it was appropriate to at least try doing it analog.  As for the differences between that and digital, there is one definitive difference I find.  The weight.  The physical weight of our recording is heavier then a digital recording.  You hear our record, and you know something is different about the tone and sound.  You can hear the physical weight of the album creaking the steps where it stands.  Any other differences are the obvious, we don't get a million chances to make it right and if we're recording it all at once, we don't get a million chances to edit this part or edit that part... We have to know our shit, go in there and just do it.  Whereas digital recordings you don't even need a set of drums anymore.  You can just pat the beats on your lap, and as long as there are mic's, you can assign a drum from a digital sound bank to each track.  But analog is still alive and well in our music and I feel lucky that we have such a great engineer and producer in Mark Plancke here in Windsor who did our album.  He really is the man.

10. How has the evolution and writing process been between the first and second album, any changes?

AL The Yeti Bones: I'd say the writing has always been the same, it's just a different headspace I'm personally in.  I can't speak for the other guys, but when I'm writing lyrics or riffs I'm always trying to continue where I left off.  But with the understanding that certain things need to get better, or change for the best.  Evolution as we said earlier, it's an potent part of what I'm personally trying to do.  I have the next three albums already somewhat mapped out in my head.  Dave and I have tapes upon tapes of demos that we wrote, and go back and revisit.  But I do a lot of writing on my own too.  I'll write a shit load of stuff that may not work for G.C.G in particular but when the other guys get their hands on it, it ends up feeling more and more like a G.C.G song after all.  I can say that the different between the first and second album were the cohesiveness in the songwriting, production obviously and a better idea of the direction we took.  We are writing with a bit more maturity in mind now, and I think the next one, is going to be far better then this last one.  I'm always looking forward.  I try not to sit on this one for too long. Just want to get on with the writing/recording of the next album now.

11. For someone who has never listened to a Gypsy Chief Goliath song before, what is a great starting track?

AL The Yeti Bones: Black Samurai or Elephant In The Rom both off our first album.  And St. Covens Tavern off the new album.  Definitely something there for everybody.

12. How is it being part of Cyprus Pitch Black Records, I'm not very knowledgeable on these matters but why not choose a label closer to home?

AL The Yeti Bones: Having a European label is great. They do an awesome job exposing us to a wider audience then we ever could here. Our album is available worldwide, including all of North America as well. Having a Euro label backing us helps us get to Europe faster, and that to me is one of the end goals. It wasn't on purpose though, out of the labels that were interested, Pitch Black Records presented us with the best deal. So we went with them.

13.Speaking of home, we are practically neighbors. How would you rate the local Toronto, or even Ontario metal scene?

AL The Yeti Bones: I think a lot of people learn to play an instrument these days, just to play in a band.  Some even have the name and members all planned out before they know how to play guitar. When I was younger, like 22 years ago, I learned how to play guitar because I wanted to be like Angus Young from AC/DC. I never ever thought I'd be in a band until a buddy of mine from highschool suggested we play together sometime. Up until then I honestly never even thought about it. But as for the scene itself, I think the scene is strong. I'm going to be putting together a festival this summer here in Windsor. I'm going to invite all the bands we've played with over the past year or so, and have them all come down and perform in Windsor, and network with one another. The idea behind this, is everyone to  exchange contact info so that a band from London can now hook up shows with a band from Montreal, or a band from Ottawa can swap shows with a band from Toronto, or Quebec City, or Windsor, or Hamilton...etc..  I get asked a lot to help bands book shows, so this is going to be a way that they can learn how to do it themselves, and be a bit more proactive in the scene.  I know a lot of guys who develop strong relations with one or two bands from out of town, and they just keep bringing those bands into Windsor.  But I rarely hear of the Windsor band being brought up to their city.  Not sure if that's deliberate on who's part, or is it just not feasible.  At any rate, I'm looking to have a networking festival weekend where it's all about bands from all over getting to meet each other in person with the same goal in mind.  Which is to help each other hook up shows in their respective cities.

14. Do you know any other local bands that you believe deserve additional exposure?

AL The Yeti Bones: Too many to name.  But some that come to mind off the top of my head are our friends in, Biblical (Toronto), Electric Magma (Toronto), Ol Time Moonshine (Toronto), Tandem Eagle (London), Gigantusk (Hamilton), The HORNED (Toronto), Teethmarks (Toronto), Chagall (Toronto), Cellos (Windsor), The Line Drawn (Windsor), NeanderTHRALL (Windsor), Sirenphase (Windsor), Sophist (Windsor), Laid To Rest (Hamilton), Wretched Pain (Niagara Falls), My Hollow (Toronto), Death Valley Driver (P.E.I), Iron Giant (Moncton), Trainwreck Architect (montreal), The River Of Ghosts (Kitchener), Alex Robshaw (Montreal) and a bunch more. We're friends with a lot of bands, and I'm telling ya to put together a festival so all these bands can get linked in with each other, would be a great thing.

15. 2014 is off to a great start so far, what does the rest of the year hold in store for Gypsy Chief Goliath, do you have any secrets you can share?

AL The Yeti Bones: Well now that the Junos are out of the way and we didn't get a nomination this year, we can finally move onto a bunch of other stuff.  We have a video that is going to be premiering on Much Music soon, we're as of today #15 on the CMJ Loud Rock Charts for North America and we're #6 on the Earshot Loud Charts for Canada. In terms of what else we're expecting, let's just say it's a new bag every day, I'm constantly getting a tonne of stuff being passed over, a lot of great opportunities, we'll be touring this summer, and we of course have a few more surprises in store soon, and a few big, a few small... But as for something I can give away right now, we'll be performing at CMW this year, and we'll also have a song in a T.V show by the end of this year, but I can't mention more then that!

Sounds like 2014 is going to be a great year for Al and the rest of Gypsy Chief Goliath! I thought 'New Machines of the Night' kicked so much ass, its hard to imagine the next one being better but I believe in these guys and will be patiently waiting for it.


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