Saturday 23 March 2013

20 Questons w/ GOZU

Gozu 2013
So I am sat on my boney ass, with the temperature near on freezing and like 3 inches of snow outside.  I know, the UK ceases to function in such conditions.  Its inherent in our DNA.  Anyway, enough BS, what better way to fill my day of hibernation than to bring you more shenanigans with my regular interview segment, 20 Questions.  
Anyway, as I typed this, I am current jamming the brilliant new record by Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man, so therein is a clue to the featured band today, have you guess yet?  Erm, Gozu! I just told you.  Here is what we had to say about the record a months back
In all their heaviness they are a tongue-in-cheek band. Just check out some of the song titles and you know what I mean: Signed, Epstein's Mom, Charles Brons Pinchot, Irish Dart Fight, Disco Related Injury, Traci Lords and Snake Plissken. The humour is so apparent throughout and works great in unison with their excellent music. In my opinion a band that release albums should do their very best and be serious about that, make sure studio work is as good as possible. On the other hand if a band takes itself too serious with everything they do become a parody and ultimately boring. Gozu clearly do their very best musically but they can definitely laugh at themselves as well amidst all their heaviness which in turn makes them such a breath of fresh air. And I just love it.  Words by Håkan Nyman

Their record really is brilliant and a must have, so sit back and enjoy this cool interview with Marc Gaffney AKA Gaff (vox/guitar).  Until next time, keep it heavy! 


Hey Guys, How are you?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us,    
Gaff. Our pleasure to speak with you fine people
Q) How are things in the Gozu camp?

G. Things are going well and getting busy. We have 2 shows this weekend and still have to record 3 songs for the vinyl in April.

Q) What are your immediate plans with potentially a full year of band promotion ahead of you?

G. We have some shows in March and April.  The CD release will be in May, we are doing 2 nights at radio and that should be a rather fun time. I know a few of the bands are really into yoga and belly dancing so some crazy shit might take off. Also, we have video coming out around the time of the CD release that we are very excited about.

Q) First of all, congratulations on your recent release The Fury of a Patient Man.  Hakan did a great job with the review, I felt.  Can you tell us about the record and the process of putting it together?

G. The process of making the album is fun, but also a shit ton of work. We set out to make a different sounding album than Locust and I think we did it. During the process of writing and recording, we will not put out anything unless all of us are very happy with it. In Gozu, you most definitely need to have a tough skin because we pretty much pick everything apart and have no problem letting each other know if something is pretty shitty sounding. The good thing is that no one takes it personally. We all understand that if it is going on the album it better be good. If not, it will not see the light of day.
The actual process of getting everything down can also have its ups and downs. Obviously way more ups but there are times when something just will not click. Then you come in the next day and usually it has worked itself out. We have been blessed to work with engineers that definitely push us and do not put up with our bullshit. You need someone to rein you in at times or it becomes us listening to something way too much and it definitely gets cloudy. A good engineer has no problem telling you to move on and stop being a fucking pussy. I of course am talking about the other guys in the band, not myself. When we listen to it now, all the craziness and little battles are totally worth it. 

The title of your new record could have been lifted from an old Kung Fu movie, ha-ha.  

G. The title is from a John Dryden book, Doug is the one that saw it and we knew that it fit perfectly with what the album was about.  

Q). I always apologise about this and after reading your interview the Obelisk, I’ll try not to duplicate questions,  but readers who may not have heard about you guys, could you tell us a little about the when Gozu first formed?

G.  We formed about 5 years ago. Barry and Doug were chatting about being in a group together. Then Doug called me. The 3 of us got together and the second time we played it really clicked. We wrote a bunch of tunes rather quickly and it took off from there.

Current band members? Barry, Doug, Joe Joe Grotto and Gaff. 
Q) This could be a short answer, but have you seen the awesome Japenese movie by Takeshi Miike of the same name?  Bonkers!!  Did you see his other movies, Ichi The Killer, Dead or Alive, Visitor Q.  Equally outrageous. 

G. We have watched all of these movies. I am waiting for them to come out on Disney.

Q). Sorry I digressed about my love for Japanese movies,  Which band or artist turned you guys onto music and specifically introduced you to Heavy Metal/Rock and wanting to form a band?

G.  Myself, I am really into the singer /songwriter genre. I enjoy Elliot Smith, Jeff Buckley, and also love soul music. I am into Al green, D’Angelo, Sly, Prince, etc. I love that shit and the other guys are also way into the soul tip.

In terms of heaviness, as a kid Led Zeppelin and Van Halen were it for me. The groove is what really got me interested. I am way into listening to the drums over anything else. Obviously I listen to vocals, but if there is no groove, I am all set. Also, Hendrix, the Band of Gypsies was such a wonderful mix of all that was happening. I read an article where the drums were described by Miles as Chicken Shack. He was talking about the groove and how it was a little behind the beat. How it made you feel funky and dirty at the same time. If your body doesn’t feel anything when that comes on, there is something wrong. You might wanna check downstairs.

When I got older, obviously Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Sleep and of Course Queens of the Stone Age.

When I moved to Boston, it was Scissorfight and Roadsaw.
Now, I love bands like Graveyard, Orange Goblin, Lo Pan, and Freedom Hawk. Christ, too many bands to name.

Q) As an aspiring guitarist in my youth, I also thought about forming a band, but never did.  What was your motivation to start the band? Did you all know each other before you formed Gozu?

G. I knew Doug because we played together in a band before Gozu. I had met Barry but did not know him at all. I mistook him for Ice T. The original bass player was a good friend of Barrys’. Ralph, who is a great guy and a great player. After him, it was Jay Canava, who was one of the first guys I actually met when I moved here. You will not find a better guy anywhere than J. He is truly one of the best people I know. Then Paul was in the band who is also a great player. Now Joe Grotto is manning the bass duties for us and is fitting in rather well. He is the young guy that puts the fire in our ass. Not to mention he has a wonderful beard that I have heard people say make him a heart throb.

Q) Since your inception, was your plan always to write and release your own music?

G. That was always the plan. We never even discussed playing any covers. I think we had all done that and wanted to play strictly our own music. However, on the vinyl there will be a few covers that have nothing to do with the genre of music on the rest of the album.

Q) In your experience, how easy/difficult was it for Gozu to get coverage and get gigs in the early days and how does that compare today? 

G. People were actually very nice to us in terms of getting gigs when we were first starting out. Now, we play a lot more out of town than we do in town.

Q) It might sound like stupid question, but is playing live important to Gozu because touring can depend upon work commitments etc?

G. I love playing live. It is a great relief from the nonsense that we all go through daily. It is such a relief to be able to have an outlet such as this. It actually keeps me sane, well sort of. Often touring is the main source of promoting your band.

We in terms of touring do not take off weeks from work because we cannot. With the internet and all other media outlets, it has made that a little easier. We sell music pretty much all over the world now. Years ago, that would have never happened unless you hit the road for a considerable amount of time.

Q) Based on your own experience, what do you think is the most important thing for a new band to do in order to promote themselves?

G. You need to play but also have good material. Also, be guys that people wanna hang out with. No one wants to hang out with dudes that think they are the Rolling Stones, when they are more like Pistol Dicks and the Employees.

Q) It seems that Small Stone Recordings has the midas touch of producing and supporting a rich and critically lauded succession of  bands/records.  (Watch out for Deville amongst others)  What is your experience of working with SS?  How much input does Scott have in terms of the bands music and artwork? Or is their approach to let the band have creative freedom?

G. Smallstone is the shit. It has been one of the best experiences I have had. Craig Riggs is the one that turned us on to Smallstone and we owe him huge for that. In terms of Scott Hamilton, you will not find a better guy out there... He knows what he likes and is very direct, which is great because you always know where you stand.

He listens to the music and definitely lets us know what he likes and does not. However, he does not say you better do this or else. He trusts the artist to put out a good calibre of music and if you listen to the bands on Smallstone, you will see that he does a great job of letting them do their thing.

I find he is 100 percent behind his bands and truly believes in what they do. He is a music lover first and foremost and that is why people love working with him. I personally would not work with anyone else and I know a ton of bands that truly feel the same way. He is as they say, one of the good guys in music.

Q) What are some of the difficulties/frustrations of being part of Gozu, because there are many other commitments such as family, work etc, that perhaps restrict the amount of time you can dedicate to the band?  Obviously loss of band members can disrupt the momentum of any band?

G. Truly there is not enough time in the day. It can be difficult at times to juggle everything. Between work, family life, playing, the amount of free time can dwindle. However, if you want to make it work, it will. If you want to make excuses and not do anything then that is what you will get out of it, nothing. There are frustrations in everything, this should be fun and a release from the nonsense that hits you in the nuts day to day. The frustration leaves when you hear that first note, first drum fill, first hum of the bass. The music is a grand elixir.

Q) Don’t think about this too much, but if someone was unfamiliar with your band, what words immediately spring to mind when you think about your sound?
G. The sound I feel is a nice mesh of influences that we all have. I truly believe we all bring a nice touch to the goods or it would not sound the way it does. I think that groove is truly what drives us. If you cannot bob your head or your snake, then why listen. I think the nice thing is that people have their own things that they dig about the music and they pick out little nuances here and there. Some are stuff that we never even thought of which makes it fun. I think it has soul, heaviness, harmonies and a nice touch of just the tip, just to see how it feels.

Q) You called one of your tracks Snake Plissken who in my eyes is an iconic character from one of my favourite movies.  (For info the movie is Escape from New York) Tell us some of your influences/heroes both musically and artistically, both metal and non-metal?  John Carpenter perhaps?

G.  I musically love the vocal stylings of Levin Helm and Richard Manuel. Those guys to me covered so much emotional ground. From never ending heartbreak to mans fear of the unknown, their voices told so many stories of struggle and the quest for everyday life. I thought a lot about Richard Manus’ life when I was writing the lyrics to this album. I truly think the Band are one of the most important group of musicians to ever come together. Talk about taking a melting pot of influences and making some life changing tunes. Goddam.

In terms of heavy guitars, we were on a huge High on Fire kick. Matt Pike is an absolute fucking beast of a player. His guitar tones I read scared a group of PTA moms in Tacoma.

John Carpenter (Director of Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York, in case you didnt know) is a bad motherfucker in his own right. Also, a very talented musician.  I feel influences come from so many places. The people you meet, family, even some ass clown you cannot fucking stand can rear their uneven heads in a tune. They all play a part in the process and the process itself can be a bit of a nightmare at times.
Q)  It might sound like a stupid question but, how important is the band’s chemistry when writing and performing??

G.  If there is no chemistry, forget it. If you cannot vibe with the guys you are in the studio with, it will show. Obviously there can be tension, which can really be a driving force, but if I can’t hang with the guy playing next to me, fuck it. I need to feel a brotherhood when playing, a group of guys that can laugh, joke and truly understand one another. People I believe can tell when you are enjoying it or not. It is much like a relationship when you are in a band. It takes time and it is work. But when it comes together, it is all worth it.

Q) What were your aims for The Fury Of A Patient Man and how do you feel about it now that it has been in the public domain?
G. We wanted to make a great sounding album. We set out to write very honest music. If you listen to these lyrics they are rather different than the ones on Locust Season. Also, groove wise it is a bit different. I believe we threw more influences into the pot and a nice musical stew was made.

People seem to dig it for the most part which is rather rewarding. However, you cannot please everyone so if we feel good about it, then we did the trick. Guys that live in their parents’ basement and have an obsession for World of Warcraft and Funions seem to have issues with it. But they seem to have issues with a lot of things. They promptly can take a d sandwich.

Q) I’m assuming all musician like to talk about the gear they use, so with that in mind what do you use in terms of guitars, amps and why?

G) I am not a gear Guy, or rather should I say if it wasn’t for a few guys I call all the time, I would be fucked. I pretty much talk to Ian Ross, J Canava, Brian Fristoe and Scott Hamilton about gear. I play Gibson guitars, Kneel cabs, so does Doug. The Kneel cabs are made in Boston and they are the best cabs I have ever played. Neal Johnson simply knows what he is doing and makes one unbelievable sounding cabinet.

In terms of pedals, I am pretty simple, I use a delay, roto vibe and I just got a great fucking pedal from Creepy Fingers, the  doomidrive. Brad from Fu Manchu makes these fuckers. They are built like tanks. If you are into fuzz, call him and get a creepy fingers pedal stat. In terms of heads, I have a Marshall Plexi and a Rob Lohr Custom amp which I will be running now in stereo .

Joe is an Ampeg man. He runs an SVT thru the Ampeg 8x10. Barry plays some drums that he made in shop class at Stoughton High.

Also what tuning do you use? We tune in C.

Q) How important is support from your peers and how do you feel your band has generally been received and does it still surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

G. Support is a great thing. Also, it is fun to play with bands that you generally get along with. It makes the time go by quick, which can be a great thing.

When people pick up merch, it is wonderful. To know that someone digs your music and wants it with them is a nice thing.

I still love to buy CD’s. I enjoy reading the inside, who played on what. Brings you back to when you were a kid and saved up enough money to buy an album. That for me was such a great feeling.


Q) Taking a more general view of the changes in the music industry as a whole, what with illegal download and perhaps more pressure on mags to feature ‘scene’ bands or bigger artists.  How valuable are blogs such as the Sludgelord to bands and artists covering your music? Does all forms of media coverage translate to people buying merch?

G.  What you guys do is truly great. First of all, you understand the music for what it is. There is honesty in reviews and interviews that people can relate too in blogs. It is people that dig music chatting about music that they get off on. It definitely gets the name of any band out there, which is key. It translates in people coming to shows, and I do think it helps in terms of people purchasing our stuff.

Q) Quick fire question, what’s your preference?  Cassette, CD, Digital Download or Vinyl? And why?

G. Vinyl, the warmth and the feeling it gives you is much nicer than the before mentioned. I loved listening to my parents albums as a kid. CSNY, Spiral Staircase, Queen, etc..

Q) Reviewing records within sub genres of metal such as sludge/doom/stoner etc, you can often listen to a lot of stuff which is quite similar. What sets you apart from your peers and what are your thoughts about being part of any scene?

G. We just try and write good songs that hopefully people will enjoy.  I think you just let it flow and see what will come out. Fortunately, I am pretty blessed to be playing with three unbelievable musicians.

In terms of being part of a scene I am fine with it. I do not think too much about it because of my day to day life. Being a dad and husband is probably the biggest scene I am in.

Q) Getting back to your new record, it comes 3 years after you released your debut LP ‘Locust Season’  Did you learn anything about the band from the recording and touring of your last record, that you wanted to change or incorporate in your new record? Your sense of humour is retained in the songs titles though.

G.  I think you are constantly learning not only about the band but really in what you as an individual do. I think that as a musician it is nice to get out of your comfort zone and take a few chances. It either translates or not. I hope this translated into a good piece of art and people can relate to what is going on musically and lyrically.

The titles as one can tell after a listen have nothing to do with the songs themselves. I am glad you enjoy the sir.

Q) Did you have an agenda when you began writing the new record? Like more of the crunch, less of psychedelic type approach or just get together and jam?

G. In terms of writing lyrics, I had surgery so I was laid up for a few weeks. I wrote a majority of the lyrics during that time. I was reading a ton and was going crazy just sitting around, so I felt that I should try and write a few tunes. I ended up writing 8 tunes during that time. They are about people I know and do not know personally. It is more about the stories that people seem to go through and how they come out of it on the other side.

Musically we kind of let it hang out a little. They tunes are similar and yet different. As discussed before, it has to groove, without that, it is boring. We wanted to have tunes that told stories, lyrically and musically. Also, I feel there is more interaction in this album the Locust.

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with or bands you’d like to share the stage with?

G.  Texas is always a fun time. Playing with the other bands on Smallstone is great. Some bands we only see once a year and some we speak to all the time and see a few times a year.  There a ton of stories but they will be coming out in my book, so you will have to wait.

In terms of sharing the stage, most bands we have played with bring something that is rather great to the gig. Whether it be musically, personality wise, or just their beings, makes it an interesting hang.

Q). Reflecting upon your time together as a band, what have been some of the high and low point in your career.  Are you a stronger unit now, than when you first started.

G.  The more you play, the stronger you get. In terms of high and low points, all points are good. We are not Coldplay so nothing drastic has happened. Sure people are in and out of the band, but we are still great friends with those guys and always will be. I just hope we are able to enjoy ourselves, meet some great people, play some huge shows and get a vans sponsorship.

Q). In terms of the band, what are your plans for the rest of the year?  Can we expect new music or big tours ahead?

G. The CD release is in May and the video will be out in April. We have some great shows in NYC and Virginia booked and are looking into a weeklong tour with a few of our buds over the summer.

Things just kind of pop up so you have to be willing to make it happen. My hope is that the CD does well and we have fun playing. As long as things are enjoyable to all, everything else is icing on the cake. If it is not fun, I will pick up fencing.

Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?

G. I would like to say thanks to everyone that has supported the band and keeps supporting the band. There are some people that have really helped us from the start and they know who they are and how we truly respect and care for them.
Please come out to shows and enjoy yourselves.

Hopefully we see a ton of fuckers at the CD release in May and it is a great time for the bands and fans.

Thanks for the interview my man.

Eat a peach,


As always show your support to the band. You can buy the CD and DD here. Thanks to Gaff for being gratious enough with this time to hook us up with this interview.  Cheer Buddy.  Check the links below for all your Gozu needs and you can read our review here