Good day all,
This post originally ran at METAL BUZZ and can be found here: http://metalbuzz.net/site/interview-with-gypsyhawk/
This past Saturday (November 17, 2012) I was fortunate to have tickets to the sold out The Sword/Eagle Claw/ Gypsyhawk show at the Rock and Roll Hotel in N.E. DC. As was appropriate The Sword was the headliner for this night with Eagle Claw taking the second spot and the excellent Gypsyhawk opening and setting the tone for the evening. For as much as I wanted to just enjoy the shows by the different bands this evening I had a job to do in trying to get some time with Gypsyhawk and pick their brains on the tour, their music, life on the road and their new relationship with their label Metal Blade. Gypsyhawk opening the show was a benefit to me as I was able to enjoy their set before the interview and what a set it was. These guys can put on a show! With their straight up musical ability and stage presence and their “kick your ass with our music” attitude the other two bands on this bill were hard pressed to match the energy and fun that Gypsyhawk exuded throughout their short but tight set. After their performance all four of the guys (Eric Harris –Bass/vocals, Andrew Packer – Guitar, Ian Brown – Drums, and Eric “Ron Houser” Kluiber – Guitar) of Gypsyhawk were generous enough to give me a few minutes of their time for a quick interview.
The new album is awesome, between this album and your first album there seems to be more cohesion and the band sounds tighter, am I right?
Eric Harris: Its more focused, I think its because after the first album, we were playing with some other dudes and during that time I was going for this idea but I still liked to smoke a lot of weed and thought “maybe we could just jam for a while?” So a lot of what is on the first album is a product of me being stoned most of the time and saying lets just have an awesome seventies jam session, so the songs became really progy. This album we got Ron, and his style was the exact style like I’ve always wanted to play in a band with. The guitar style is like all these catchy riffs like that and so for this album I want to write songs that are under five minutes long. I want to write hooks that will catch people and not spend time just fucking getting lost or bored in a jam session.
I have heard I think it was you (directed to Eric), you say that you don’t want to play “Fucking Metal!”
Eric: Yeah I said that
You want to jam, and I have heard people describe you guys and your style as a California backyard BBQ jam band reminiscent of the seventies. When and/or how did you decide that this was where you were going to take your music and your sound?
Eric: I think that was an unconscious decision, in my head I am always like dude I want to try this and these guys are always like “yeah, why don’t we try that” and on this one I was like, “I think I want it to be like this” and luckily we were all on the same page. We want to make music that is timeless and memorable, I want people to leave one of our shows singing one of our songs, or like a hook for one of our songs, and if you can’t do that then I don’t think it’s worth it, you know? I have been to a ton of shows where you may like a song or two but you can leave and your like “what was that melody?” it’s all about the hooks man.
It is funny you say that because I have literally been singing your songs for six months straight and after seeing the show tonight I know I am not the only one.
Speaking of tonight’s set, why did you choose Black Betty when Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo is part of the album?
Eric: Because we’ve been doing Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo for about a year now, which is alright I mean it’s a fun song it’s still rad but since it was already recorded Andrew brought up playing Black Betty and I was like “Eh, I don’t know that songs weird” but then the more we listened to it on the road Ron was like “yeah we should cover this song” and its funny because no one remembers the words but everybody knows “woo Black Betty bam-a-lam” that’s like if you watch the audience man it is one of those timeless things that they are trying to hold on to. That and Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo people are like “I don’t know who that is but I know that song”. Black Betty is a really simple song to do and it gets people moving.
Being with Metal Blade now has it made life on the road any easier?
Eric: For sure, it’s maybe not easier but it’s opened a lot more doors of opportunity.
Ron: We’re taken more seriously
I have to be honest, I was surprised when I heard that you guys signed with Metal Blade, it seemed to me at the time they were still heavy into signing the more metalcore and extreme bands, so I was a little surprised when it happened, don’t get me wrong I am happy for you but surprised.
Eric: No, I was very surprised as well really shocked! I had heard that Metal Blade heard us and they were like “Eh” and our friend Jordan who works at Metal Blade was like “dudes you need to check this band Gypsyhawk out” and I think it was partly due to him and other people we met around the country touring and they were getting in touch with Metal Blade and telling them they needed to check us out. Then finally Mike Faley decides “fuck it what have I got to lose?” So he comes out and checks out our show in Silver Lake [CA] and he checked it out and immediately when we got done playing he talked to me a bit, bought the record and then gave me his business card. Maybe a week after that we were in talks with them and signing our business deal. It was fucking rad man but it was a bit of a surprise, especially because their reputation, they just picked up like in the past ten years they just picked up, I don’t know…
Andrew: I think what it was there was the whole MySpace phenomenon and so bands were getting noticed and getting signed from [MySpace] but it wound up being guys who never left their bedroom. Sure, they were great musicians and could write great songs but they weren’t willing to tour, nor could they stand out on stage and look like they are having fun, so Metal Blade saw us live, saw we knew how to put on a live show and knew we were doing the hardest thing in the fucking world there is for a band to do and that’s book your own tours and eat shit and be in the red the whole time and willing to go the next step and tour and not be well it’s not the right time, or I have a kid, or I got a job and it’s just not the right time for me to tour, like a lot of bands who were getting signed were saying. We are like the real deal, we are going to go out and fucking do and they can count on it and I think that says volumes to them about us.
Eric: Yeah, labels want a band that’s going to tour and that is what we told them, that we were going to be on tour no matter what.
I can see that, you guys just got off the road didn’t you?
Eric: Yeah we were home for like three weeks
The way you guys put your songs together is tight, and you really do some interesting stuff with your songs, with tight riffs and solos and the talent really comes across in the music, how do you guys keep it fresh?
Andrew: You know I think a lot of people want to lump us into the whole retro-metal thing because our type of music is coming out, in other words not extreme metal while the whole extreme metal thing is going on, but we would be making this same type of music no matter what was happening out there and it’s because we are a bunch of guys who like to play technical music but not just for the technicality, the music comes first.
I am glad you brought up the retro-metal thing because I have an issue with that but then I think I am a little older than you guys and when people say retro I feel old; regardless I think what you guys are doing is rock and roll plain and simple just focused rock and roll
Eric: I think our main mantra for that is just because you can doesn’t mean you should, you know, I think a lot of people miss the mark on that.
Andrew: Right and we are not using old analog recording equipment or old Marshall Plexies, or whatever, we don’t care about sounding like seventies rock and roll but it’s just an influence and so is eighties punk and nineties metal, you know none of that shit matters at the end of the day its rock and roll and you can’t put rock and roll in a box.
Eric: Nobody puts rock and roll in a box
Or baby in a corner.
So to me your influences whether Deep Purple, Black Sabbath doesn’t matter if it is rock or metal it is all is just home to me.
Eric: That is what we are going for man, we just want everyone to feel accepted, I don’t care what walk of life your from if you want to have a good time then let’s have a good time.
Thanks again to Gypsyhawk for allowing me to steal a little bit of their down time this past Saturday. One thing I can tell you about this band from talking with them is that they are serious about their music but they are also serious about having a good time and putting on a great show for their fans. If you have the opportunity do not miss seeing Gypsyhawk live, as far as I am concerned bands like Gypsyhawk are the reasons we go and see live shows in the first place.
Until Later, Peace!