Saturday 6 October 2012

Interview with Al from Gypsy Chief Goliath

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing the frontman Al the Yeti Bones of brilliant Blues Tinged Stoner Metallers – Gypsy Chief Goliath.

Gypsy Chief Goliath really impressed me with their superb blend of Sludge, Stoner, NOLA and Blues Rock. Their new album – New Machines Of the NIght – is superb and and is a fucking great ride from start to finish.

The Yeti has kindly agreed an interview with me.

Q1 – Hi AL. Firstly, thanks for doing this and taking the time to talk to us at Sludgelord. We really appreciate it.

AL Bones: Brother, it's an absolute pleasure, I appreciate it more then you know! This is the first official interview in print online I'm doing in regards to the new album and we're quite excited about its release, I can't tell you enough. The idea behind doing a little bit of press before the album comes out, is important and I thank the team at Sludge Lord for taking the time and making this happen.

Q2 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc...

AL Bones: G.C.G (Gypsy Chief Goliath) formed back in 2009, after all our other bands came to a crashing halt. I used to front 2 other groups, one called The Mighty Nimbus, and the other, Georgian Skull. G.C.G started up right after Georgian disbanded. We were signed to Scarlet Records (Italy) and they sold half of their catalog to Entertainment One Records (EONE), and we were one of the lucky bands to be brought over to EONE for North American distro. The unfortunate thing about that was, we were not able to keep things together enough to stick with that band to reap any benefit from that particular deal. As the music industry is a real rough business as you already know I'm sure, and like I said, Georgian Skull just couldn't keep things together long enough to really benefit from the deal, so once that was done, I ended up writing a bunch of songs for a possible new Georgian Skull record, and the idea was to find new members and continue where we left off.

Once I found out, legally I wasn't able to take the name which I came up with, and begin a new crew and continue I jumped ship as well. I wrote and recorded a bunch of demos with some multiple friends of mine, who were all from other bands and lived hours away from me. Little did I know, they were all sort of going through a similar change of scenery as myself and the thought process began to turn into a positive future with a brand new idea.

I originally titled the demos "Georgian Skull", and the demo album name was going to be called Gypsy Chief Goliath. I decided to let go of the idea that there would be another formation of Georgian Skull, and started going with the name Gypsy Chief Goliath. The name came about, from three different ideas. 

1) I have an eastern european background, and i've always felt that gypsy tinge in my blood, from playing music, living on the road, sleeping on floors, etc...etc..., and 

2) I had always been the chief, head honcho or "leader" in my previous groups... and 

3) because my nickname is the Yeti, it formidable to use the word goliath when describing what a Yeti is... Out of pure necessity, the name of the band was born. A big part of the early demos was another fellow eastern european brother named Dave Ljubanovich. He played in a band that my old band used to do gigs with, and i recorded an album of theirs. He drove 4 hours (as did I) to get together and jam/write material together, then it became official. I had a writing partner that was in it for the long haul just like me. We knew this could work if we found the right members, so we started to hand pick and choose a few people we knew and didn't know, but through the music scene here in Canada, we were "Associates" with these people, and began bringing them into the mix. Our schedule was so busy that it just made sense to dedicate more and more time to the G.C.G in the initial stages. This became our main stay band. We knew we wanted to continue doing heavy, stoner fused stuff with classic rock elements, and we knew all along three guitar players was going to help us achieve a broader, wider, louder, bigger range then what we could have done as two guitars or heaven forbid, even one guitar. So, fast forward a few years later, we are still here, stronger then ever, just getting ready to hit our stride very very soon.

Q3 – How would yourselves describe your sound as you have a great vibe going on. 

AL Bones: Our sound is quite distinctive i believe because we know where we are at, and what we do. People say we sound like this band or that band.... But for the most part, I haven't listened to those bands in a very long time. I refuse to, because I choose to not do the things they do, yet still somehow our influences of yesterday keep pouring out into our music. So the best way to describe what it is we do is, heavy metal without the silly high gain distortion, blues that's much thicker then what you would expect natural blues to sound like, with a real classic rock Thin Lizzy vibe. 

Now I should clarify one thing though, when I say our sound is distinctive but maybe not the most distinctive on the block, while that may be correct, one thing people who know us and like us, know for sure is.... the moment you hear us somewhere, you know it's us. There is no denying that. We do have our own sound. And we're proud of that. All i mean to say is, there are a lot more bands out there "copy catting" the bands we get compared to. The nice thing is, and I appreciate this very much by the way, is when someone says we sound like Down, or Clutch or we're doing a Sabbath thing or a Thin Lizzy thing, I know they have good intentions, but bands like that don't have to be relevant at all, for us to be doing what we do. This is just the type of music we write. 

We don't need those bands to base our sound off of, it just comes out...Why? Because I've been listening to Down and Clutch since I was 15. I'm 32 now. It's just imprinted in my D.N.A. Someone raised on Black Sabbath records isn't expected to go out and make an album 20 years later, that sounds like Earth Wind & Fire. (although it's important to note, that Earth Wind & Fire are awesome!) I think to spice shit up, the next record is either going to really sound like Gil Scott Herron, or maybe Entombed. Or maybe both!!! Just to something different to show people how wide our range actually is. 

We can do anything, we just choose to do this, because we love it. Look at the Black Keys... I heard they were trying to sue some commercial for using a song that was written in the "vein" of The Black Keys. Someone should sue them for ripping off Howling Wolf and the other blues guys that they based their entire band off of. That's a band that cannot just go out tomorrow and release an album that doesn't sound like what they are doing now. They will have to ride this one out until they die. And for some reason, no one is picking up on what they're doing? They just keep selling more and more songs to movies, t.v and commercials until kids of today are going to actually start believing that they created the blues.

Q4 – Which bands influence you on your music.

AL Bones: in terms of bands what influenced us, I can't speak for everyone, but me personally i would have to say, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, C.O.C, the Nola record by Down, Clutch, Guns N' Roses and probably the greatest songwriter in my opinion of all time: Alice Cooper. But my favorite band in the world is, Thin Lizzy. 

Q5 – Is the band a full time project or do you have full time jobs/bands to contend with.

AL Bones: used to run a management company with my good friend Mia Tyler (Steven Tyler of Aerosmith's daughter) but the stress level of managing other bands was too much so I got a recording gig and a computer (photoshop design) gig as a 9-5 job... we all have other jobs outside of G.C.G but this is our main focus when it comes to music. 

It's incredibly difficult to grind through the shit of the music industry when mainstream monopolizes the path we all sort of want to be on. It's not because we are not good enough, it's because the entire underground community writes songs that are too mature for mainstream to accept. I'm sorry that our songs aren't about chicks we wanna bang, and cars we want real bad if we had the money to buy them, or fuckin fireworks or baby baby baby... I mean if we wanted to, I'm sure we could write some shit up like that.... The thing that always bothered me about mainstream music was, none of them write their own songs... 

They all have "professional songwriters" to do that for them. They call some guy who write vomit for Britney Spears a professional? Professional what? I know... A professional hit-maker. I get it. I do... But it's funny, these guys are pros because they write tunes that go like this:

(I think this one is by Des'ree i believe)

"I don't want to see a ghost
It's the sight that I fear most
I'd rather have a piece of toast"

I mean this is total fucking garbage. But that's how mainstream wants it. The guy who wrote that was probably taking a shit eating a piece of toast when he thought of that. I don't know who's dumber, the guy for actually writing it down, or the bitch who sang it. Whatever happened to lyrics like "do wah ditty, ditty dumb ditty do." I mean, those are some great fuckin lyrics right there! hahhahaha....

Q6 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.

AL Bones: Our song writing process goes a little bit in different directions... Sometimes I'll write three albums worth of material on my own, and present it to the guys and we'll think up click tracks for where the pressure of the rhythm is going to be. And sometimes we're just in a jam space somewhere in Ontario (because we all live in different cities) and an idea will get sparked from there. usually its nothing at the time, but one of us (Dave, Hamilton or myself) will go home thinking of that shit and bring it to life somehow with a little bit of attention. 

Because of the digital age, it's easy for us to send song ideas over facebook, or email and we take the idea and add to it, and throw something else in there, and send it back... kind of like the game "Telephone". the word could have been "clock" and by the time it comes back to you the new word is, "bacteria splash" all of the sudden. That's similar to how we do it, since we don't all live near each other. We do get together a lot, and we do write but a lot of it is on our own until we get together and start piecing things for a new album or whatever...

But I consider myself a writer at heart, it's what i do, so, I tend to write everyday. I'm doing a solo project right now called "The Electric Yeti Company" just because I tend to move at a different speed then most. I have so much material on the back burner that needs to be released, that it's just not physically possible to release it all with one band. If everything I wrote went straight to G.C.G, we'd be dead before the shit I wrote last week ever saw the light of day. It's just because you write one album, you shop that, find a label, tour for it, and then release another, shop that, tour for that one, and so on.... We are a little backed up like shit dumpster with the amount of material we actually DO have. There is a lot.

Q7 – What has been the reception like to your live gigs. Has it all been good responses. Any major live highlights so far.

AL Bones: Yea I mean, the reception is always good. We've been through the worst of it, and the best of it. We played once, and someone walked out on us, and gave me the finger, so I dropped the mic in mid song and ran after him and started a fight in the middle of the street. The bouncer and one of our guitar players had to come out and see what was up... it was a crazy night in London. Let me tell yah! But highlights, I don't know.... there's so many. 

We played a bunch of shows with KITTIE and NOVEMBER'S DOOM for a few memorial shows for a good friend of mine, Dave Gold who was doing the doom/black metal band WOODS OF YPRES. He tragically passed away last year, and his aura, and soul became the centre of my universe. Well when we did those couple of shows with headliner's Kittie and November's Doom, he made sure NO ONE in the entire clubs or cities left that show without knowing who the fuck we were. Same thing happened when we played with Kill Devil Hill. I just told myself before going up on stage, that "it's now or never... show these people who we are. Or go back to your van, and drive home you fuckin pussy!"

Q8 – Do you get many gigs in your home town. Or do you have to travel around a lot.

AL Bones: We play all over. We don't exactly have a "home town" as we all live hours away from each other. We still manage to practice and we still get booked all the time.. Because there are 6 of us, the beauty of this is, i like to think we have 6 home towns for the band. And on the other side of the coin I like to say we are "citizens of nowhere." If i had to ever write a memoir, that would be the title. "Citizen Of Nowhere." Fitting I think. We do travel a lot. All the time. My wife immunity to it now, at first it was a very rough time in our relationship because of all the travel. But we've been together for 12 years so she's an old hand at all this now. She just realizes when the "bat signal" is in the air, it's time for me to go.

Q9 – Are your family and friend supportive of your music.

AL Bones: It was never like this before in the early years. We have a bit of momentum in Canada under us now, and i've always felt like the ball could really start rolling at any time in the past... but until now I realized back then, there was no chance. Now? Fuck yea... We have a chance at doing something really special here. I'm not a cocky guy at all, I just know what i've been through and hardships... And if life chooses to kick some more shit on me, and the rest of the guys in G.C.G, I know there is a reason for it. But our families are our support. They are our brace. Without them i wouldn't have legs to stand on. Supportive indeed.

Q10 – Your looking for a record label for your brilliant new album. Any takers yet or you still shopping it around. Cheers for letting me review it. Really appreciate that.

AL Bones: As for right now, we've heard back from a few awesome labels. We're in negotiations... I really wish I could reveal the names, as I'm super excited about the next chapter of our lives, but the problem with this shit is, loose lips, sink ships and if I was to say something here about it all, (which in the past, I TOTALLY would have) i would be getting a nasty email by each and every one of those labels, saying something like, "i heard it through the grapevine you think you're getting signed bitch??"

So none of that today... I'm really working hard on busting ass for this album and the timely release of this beast. We're proud as fuckin all hell for this album. Pure 100% analog recording, and it's all us on that thing. What you hear is what you get. Minimal overdubs, and minimal everything else. No crazy effects added, no stupid tricks. Just us. and our engineer, Mark Plancke from Sharktank Recordings who made what we do come to life onto tape. God bless him.

Q11 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner Metal/Sludge/Doom/Drone.

AL Bones: Again, I can only speak for myself but right now I'm listening to a lot of weird and different stuff. I am also a producer so I listen to a lot of the stuff I record as well. I am seriously into the last REPETITIONS album its raw dirty and powerful. Energy that cannot be fabricated. I'm listening to a lot of stuff I did for an 86 year old blind opera singer named Lou Webb. Amazing shit. umm... 

I'm really digging the Sheepdogs right now, they are a band from Canada that won the "cover of the Rolling Stone" contest of best unsigned band in the world. I'm always listening to anything that phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy did.. But in terms of really modern stuff..... I don't know... not really listening to much else other then what i mentioned. I am very busy, and am quite preoccupied with my own stuff at the moment. I have a guitar endorsement with Vintage/Fret King, I have a television show called The Fret House (Set to air at the end of this year in Windsor ONtario Canada), I still manage a few bands, I am absolutely consumed with G.C.G and my first official solo project, that I just don't listen to new things. 

Q12 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

AL Bones: the most rewarding aspect is, the free beer. :) The least rewarding aspect is, that all we get pretty much for our effort is, free beer. :(

Q13 – What advice or words of wisdom would you give to upcoming bands and musicians who are about to start a Sludge/Doom/Stoner Rock Band.

AL Bones: Quit. PLEASE QUIT NOW. You will retain your sanity and relationships. And if you are really determined, turn around and get into "professional songwriting for pop stars!" Fuck doom, fuck stoner, fuck sludge. Be a pop writer. Just kidding... Listen, all i have to say is, "long live the middle class" hard work and remember, the moment you've given up, is the moment you've failed. Stick to what you do best, and do it all the way. The genre we love, Stoner, this needs a new Kyuss, or a new Fu ManChu.. Or shit, even a new Wino. Point is, if it stops with them, and doesn't continue, it's like the human race man... keep fucking and keep having kids, so apply that to the music we love and support. Just keep doing it.

Q14 – What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines? Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?

AL Bones: I've been in Decibel, Terrorizer, Hit Parader, Metal Hammer, with my old bands. The one thing i can say for certain is, while reading those magazine as a fan is kind of cool cause it entertains the idea that these genre's we love exist, no matter what!!!!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!! the only thing that really opens your eyes to what is out there... are the blogs and zines man. Like Sludge Lord. If it wasn't for guys like you, this genre would be swallowed up by pretenders and assholes that never got the kind of music we loved.

Q15 – Who came up with the album cover on New Machines Of The Night. Very original and a cover that gives you a feel on what to expect.

AL Bones: I honestly can't remember who or what exactly sparked it, but an artist and a brother of mine from Michigan did it up, his name is Dave Lonteen. A badass mother fucker, you honestly wouldn't want to run into, in an alley way..

Q16 – Any plans to tour the UK or Europe as you guys would go down a storm here.

AL Bones: MY LIFE'S GOAL IS TO TOUR EUROPE. WE MAY GET THERE NEXT YEAR FINALLY AS WE HAVE A FEW THINGS IN PLACE, WITH PROMOTERS, AGENTS AND VENUES. We were actually asked to take part of a very big festival there next year, and if all goes well and we do the proper arrangements on our end, we are there my friend!!! We will be there!!!

Q17 – Finally do you have anything to say to your fans.

AL Bones: Nothing really out of the ordinary, I just wanna say please buy the record when it comes out, and help us out with letting us sleep on your floor when we hit your city. That would be much appreciated. We've slept in parking lots on the street and on park benches before, and none of that really helps us morally. Give us a floor to sleep on, and we'll show you a good time!

Well AL thanks for answering these questions. All the best from all of us at Sludgelord. Hope you do manage to get New Machines Of The Night released physically. As I want my own copy now!!!.

AL Bones: We plan on it brother. No truer words have been said my friend. Before my last breath I promise this album will see the light of day, either on a really good fuckin label, or i will put it out myself!!!

cheers brother.


There you go folks. A brilliant interview with the legend that is Al the Yeti Bones. One of Stoner Rock's true pioneers in my honest opinion.

Check This Great Band Below.