Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with The Garage Gods

Joining us today, on the red leather Ripple interview couch is our good friend, Gary Lalin, singer songwriter, multi-Instrumentalist of the extremely retro, definitively groovy, Garage Gods, whose debut single caused quite a stir through the garages and basements of our hallowed Ripple Office. When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Well like you I was deeply influenced by music growing up. When I was a kid I listened to this oldies radio station which played music well before my time mostly 50’s & 60’s & 70’s rock….of course much of it was lame bubble gun or early 1-4-5 chuck berry style ….I’ll never forget the first time I heard the Ventures “Walk Don’t Run” a really simple yet memorable surf instrumental which inspired me to buy their Play Guitar with the Ventures album that resulted in my learning to play guitar and eventually form my first surf band called the Tidal Waves so its amazing how one song can change your life.

I also equate pivotal points to my first exposure to British invasion bands which really influenced me a lot. The first time I heard the raw energy of The Kinks “All day and All of the Night” with Ray Davies rebellious snarl and Dave Davies tearing up the guitar….I couldn’t stop my leg from bouncing it was like a drug. Another pivotal song was hearing “House of the rising sun” by the Animals, I became enamored of the power and somberness of minor chords and of haunting of their Vox Organ…..that song made an indelible mark in my love the tone of the Vox organ and pretty much cemented my love of minor based music, a love which I carry into much of my songwriting today.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

I do most of my writing alone, late at night usually in the haze before going to sleep….when my mind drifts into the abstract. Most of the time I'll write around a “Concept” often inspired by some event or observation that impacted me emotionally. I then form a story around the concept and look for words that play nicely that forward the story all the while I’m looking for a rhythm that fits the feel of the overall energy.

Other times, I’ll get a melody idea first when plinking on the keyboard or guitar or bass and the melody evokes some kind of feeling …like a softer love song or a high energy screamer and based upon that feel I usually “free sing” kind of like free writing…just sing what ever comes into my head that’s inspired by the chords….until I find the chorus , that magic line that usually becomes the title of the song that fits rhythmically, where the phrase sums up the songs message and has an infectious nature. From the chorus I envision the songs story and develop the verse and any intermediary parts.

Creativity and inspiration ebb and flow so when I'm feeling creative I want to get ideas written down as they flow and often free-write onto a word processor and then visually scan the lines looking for lines that work well together…Kind of like a cross word puzzle and when I find things that I like I put them together or flip things around until they fit. Unfortunately there are more failures than successes and for every song I finish there are probably 20 are uncompleted.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Inspiration comes from all over but often the news or some emotional event or observation. I’m currently writing a song called 2012 about the end of times inspired by recent events like the lunar eclipse, the disappearance of bees, the H1N1 flu, sort of like a Zegar & Evans “in the year 2525” but updated for our current plagues and problems.

Another song I just wrote “Nothing Really Matters Anymore” I recently penned while horribly sick with flu after watching a TV special on war and it made me realize that part of the human condition is when you cross the threshold of your breaking point and let go from trying to control the outcome and just let things do what they will. Like you’re your so sick you finally make peace and are ready to die, or when a solder goes into battle knowing he probably won’t be coming back….. When “Nothing really matters anymore” is about being past the breaking point and freedom that comes with letting go.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

Well The Garage Gods very much fits the 60’s style rock but the songs vary within that genre from punk to psychedelic to folk we’ll leave it up to our fans to decide what label fits us best.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I can’t say I write with any specific message…like some groups are punk all the time or mellow all the time or political all the time…I'm not really consistent each song is its own work with its own message and my only intention is to write memorable songs that either make people think or tell a good story that are memorable and fun.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

Songwriting is a mix of the rational and emotional. I wouldn’t say my songs are particularly complex, but I like to think their well crafted. In some ways the song seeks out its own feel for complexity or time changes….in that you mess about framing its basic components IE: verse, b-section, instrumental breaks, stops, buildups etc. and then mess about with them until the order and tempos begin to fit. Its kind of like a cross word puzzle where you may need to switch some things around until they fit. There is no right or wrong formula because every song is different so you have to allow yourself the freedom to experiment and the song will eventually evolves taking on a life of its own.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

Brutal…yeah I think the overall music market has grown and become so much more accessible due to digital music in every computer or phone device. But there are also more bands than ever competing to get heard. That’s were social network sites like Myspace and Music Blogs like The Ripple Effect have had a huge impact on breaking Indy bands as well as letting people network to find new bands. As far as making money in music…Its almost impossible to make a living doing original music unless you luck into the right publishing deal or get picked up by a major label and even that is usually temporary. All the guys in the band have day jobs and we do this cause we’re music purists and love creating music we enjoy …What keeps us motivated….the joy of creating and the feedback we get when we hear back from fans that they enjoyed our stuff.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Sorry nothing really too wild…One show our lead guitarist Ben went Ape-shit and decided to jump off stage into the audience during a solo….he landed on his knees i thought we were gonna have to call a a doctor as bent his guitar but kept playing until his cable broke… he didn’t bring a spare axe so while he was fixing his guitar we told jokes for about 5 minutes which was a scream…he couldn’t walk for a few days after that and his guitar was trashed but it was a fun night. We’re still looking for those amps that go to 11.

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

Well since we do mostly 60’s garage in the year 2009 I guess we’ll be doing 70’s style in 2019 and putting out cassette tape releases. We work hard to stay well behind the times…LOL

What makes a great song?

I’ve always felt that great songs have something memorable about them….whether it’s a killer melody or an amazing chorus that gets stuck in your head or makes you think…or transports you to a different world…… If you can’t hum it or can’t sing along to the chorus then it won’t last the test of time. .

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

"Progression Regression" a song about the circle of life…a song that speaks about remembering the past but living in the now “you’ve got to stay in motion just to stay ahead if you don’t live for the moment in a moments time your dead…progression regression you’ve got to stay on top, remember your past but the future never stops”

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

My personal favorite is "Lost In Tyme." It’s a psych-pop song about all the outcasts the music geeks the hippies out of place in the modern world … we were born in the wrong generation and lost in time. I like it cause its got a great blend of clean pop and trippy psychedelia.

Who today, writes great songs? Why?

There are so many talented songwriters, I’m a big fan of Graham Day of Graham Day & the Gaolers he writes really rocking hooky music full of energy a real master and great musician. Also the Maharajas of Sweden … They write in English even though its their second language and are great lyricists who rock and also masters of the chorus.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

I still collect a lot of vinyl…I love albums with great art and getting hypnotized by watching the record spin on the turntable while listening to the music. But I must admit I love mp3’s for their convenience and portability.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

2nd Avenue Records , great store carry all kinds of retro garage and a nice selection of vinyl.

Thanks, man. And don't forget to check out the swingin' retro Garage Gods sounds at their myspace page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good article, gave me some great ideas on songwriting, band has a really authentic retro sound.

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