There are so many questions I want to ask these guys and get more familiar with their backstory. For instance, why does a band split up after having success with their debut album? And why after twenty-five years do they decide to join back up, albeit many miles apart? Thankfully, all my questions were answered and so much more. As always, sit bat, relax and pop a top and enjoy getting to know Gaillion.
IAATM - Thanks for doing this interview guys. Like I said in the intro, I have so many questions. I usually ask how long you have been playing music together, but since your story is a little different, I thought we would start somewhere else. You self-funded an album back in the late eighties and according to your bio, had some success with it. Now, twenty-five years later, you're working on your second album. What happened after the first album that prevented you from continuing to work together?
Gaillion (Don) - I graduated high school just as we were finishing the recording and we began playing as many shows as we could in the southern New England area. By the time mastering and duplication on the CD was complete (things worked at a considerably slower pace back then before EVERYTHING was computerized/automated), we were ready to debut the finished product in December of 1989. A number of shows followed into the new year and then things began to fray - interests and motivations were divided, so we split amicably as so many bands do after the push to make a record. There’s so much excitement and drive while the creative activities of writing and recording are occurring that the suddenly daunting feeling of looking at boxes of 1000 CDs in one’s garage can make anyone ask the question, “Well, what happens now??”
So, we broke up.
IAATM - So it ended shortly after starting? That's a shame, but I guess I can understand where you're coming from. Did you guys still stay in touch or remain friends after the split?
IAATM - Ha! I think you guys would have produced a different kind of sound if that were to happen. So, in the past twenty-five years, has anyone in the group pursued music? Whose idea was it to get together and start recording music again?
Gaillion (Don) - Indeed. None of us ever actually stopped playing music. As the band was going our separate ways, I began pursuing recording with the intention of never having to be disappointed in the sound of my own music again (the original sound of “Admit One” was never something I liked, thus my remixing it 25 years later…) and that became my career. Todd and I continued to write together, sometimes in a great flood of new ideas and songs, sometimes very sporadically. James continued playing as well.
Writing again as a three-piece happened almost without our thinking about it. We had come together at my studio in Seattle in 2009 at James’ insistence that we celebrate the 20-year anniversary of “Admit One”; this was purely for ourselves to enjoy a weekend together with old friends, to try and remember how to play those songs, and with no other intention or goal. Following that, and purely because we had such a good time, we started getting together once a year and writing new material, again without really having any intention of doing something with it. Once I began putting the 25th anniversary mix of the album together (again, at James’ insistence - he’s the main motivator for us to make all this happen!) and certainly after we released it and got a far greater response and reaction to it than we could have ever hoped for, we started to think more seriously about releasing something new.
IAATM - I would imagine there is quite a different perspective now than there was back then.
IAATM - Very cool! I must tell you, "Letters From the Skipper" has some sort of subliminal aspect to it. Anytime I see any body of water, I immediately think of this song. As a matter of fact, crossing the Mississippi River today the first thought to pop in my head was your song. Very clever and creative marketing of the song. When can we expect the next song?
Gaillion (Don) - I’m not sure we intentionally tried to be sneakily subliminal with the “…Skipper” lyrics. Or did we…?? :-) Our next song, “Backslide”, will be released on August 6. It will have a broadcast premiere on ProgManRob’s radio show at http://metalworldradio.com two days prior to that on August 4 at 8PM EST.
IAATM - Great! I will have to make sure I tune in at that time. I think it's cool you guys kept your sound after your hiatus of twenty-five years. Music has gone through some big changes in that twenty-five years. I'm personally not happy with the stuff you hear on the radio these days. In fact, most of what I listen to are Indie Artists. What are your thoughts on the current mainstream music?
Gaillion - (Don) - I’m really a terrible person to ask about current “mainstream” music. I don’t listen to the radio aside from NPR. Here in Seattle there is an excellent public radio station, kexp.org, that does play a ton of new, independent music. That can be a good resource for discovering things I haven’t heard before if I happen to turn it on in the car. My tastes run to finding new music based on recommendations from friends/other musicians and searching for unknown electronic music or any music that challenges me as a listener. My Twitter stream is a great place for me to hear things that people are recommending, but otherwise, since I work on music full-time as an engineer and producer, it can be difficult to have the brain space to constantly seek out new things, but I do my best.
Gaillion (Don) - I think it would depend if I was trying to explain our sound back when we did “Admit One” or where we are today. In 1989, obviously, we had individually and collectively been playing music for much less time, so our influences were VERY apparent in the music. There certainly were elements of Rush, The Police, The Fixx in our sound - we were "progressive" with a strong 1980’s melodic influence.
Our music today has twenty-five more years of influences, practicing, and, hell, just living to make it what it is. There are still “proggy” elements because we like challenging ourselves and it’s just damn fun to play. We definitely have some heavier elements, still plenty of riffs and still tons of melody and harmony in the vocals (Todd’s genius gift!). I guess it’s difficult to describe without getting too wordy, although to me, we’re a “rock band” and all the stuff we wrap into that simple description is what we sound like.
IAATM - I would say that is a good summary of your sound. This leads to my next question. I've always been fascinated by the sounds different bands have. When you hear Van Halen, you know it's Van Halen, when you hear Def Leppard, you know it's Def Leppard. Basically, every band has their own sound. Where does this come from? I'm absolutely fascinated people are still able to come up with an original sound with the thousands of bands and millions of songs out there.
Gaillion - (Don) - I think many musicians start out wanting to play the songs that inspire them, or learn parts that their favorite musicians have played. These things may then influence the budding musician as he/she begins writing music, leading to early songs that sound very much like their influences. With time, more experience, a ton more writing, many more influences being tossed in the pot, there’s a distillation process that occurs where those influences become tiny molecules in a musician’s writing. There’s a hint of it in there, but now the musician has formed what has become his own sound. Multiply that by a number of band members who have each gone through the same thing and you begin to have the origin of a unique sound.
IAATM - That's one of the best ways I've heard it explained. Speaking of your band members, I saw an earlier photo of you guys and you had some killer mullets. I, as well, am a former mulletier (new word). Why does the mullet get such a bad rap? It really was a great hair style!
Gaillion (Don) - I can’t say I’m missing my mullet! Too much effort to maintain and I’m losing hair faster than I can grow it these days. That’s a young man’s game!
Gaillion (Don) - We can shop for some mullet wigs should a show arise! Funnily enough, you’re not the first person to ask if we might plan some shows in the future. Getting together to rehearse long enough is the biggest obstacle at the moment. I’d hate to accept an invitation for a gig only to show up unprepared.
Secondly, I’m not sure where our audience would be. A festival situation like RosFest would be ideal as there’s an audience there for a particular kind of music that we loosely fit, so there’d be less of a chance of our playing to crickets or just the back wall if the crickets bail on us. I can speak for the other two and say with 100% certainty that we would welcome the chance to play live again.
IAATM - The wigs would be great! LOL! What is Rosfest?
Gaillion (Don) - RosFest is the Rite of Spring Festival in Bethlehem PA http://home.rosfest.com. It’s a yearly prog-tacular spectacle that I’m told has quite a following.
IAATM - It sounds like you need to get signed up for 2016. If you guys do it....I am there! Have you had a chance to check out some of the other artists we feature. If so, who is your favorite?
Gaillion (Don) - I have had a chance to read many of the artist articles on the site, but I haven’t heard any yet. As I’m working with music all day, every day, when I’m not working it can sometimes be a struggle to actually want to hear other music. That said, I’m intrigued enough by the breadth of artists you have featured to want to go back and hear a number of them - something to look forward to!
IAATM - Understandable. Last question, who do you have, The Beatles or The Monkees?
Gaillion (Don) - Ha! Well, I grew up watching The Monkees’ TV show, but never listened to the music beyond that. I heard LOTS of The Beatles from my parents, but didn’t learn to really appreciate them until I was an adult. Todd, on the other hand, is encyclopedic in his Beatles love and knowledge, so on behalf of him, I’m allowing what would be his answer to be the collective one of the band’s. The Beatles FTW!
I would like to thank Gaillion for doing the interview. Every interview we conduct on here is an education and once again, I learned a lot. Thanks to Don for being so informative and for some great responses. Also thanks to James Vasquenza for the friendship on Twitter, and I am looking forward to the release of their next song on ProgManRob’s radio show at http://metalworldradio.com two days prior to that on August 4 at 8PM EST. Be sure to tune in and continue to support Indie Music!
By Maxim Daniels