The interview-turned-shitshoot we’d just wrapped up seemed like it contained far too many expletives to warrant the kind of contemplation I now found myself in. As the band warmed up and proceeded to kick out the most timelessly grassroots rock n’ roll jams I’d heard in years, it was hard not to be somewhat satisfied with myself. It ‘s pretty incredible that every sentiment which Gypsyhawk‘s new record Revelry & Resilience evoked in my fun-starved little mind was echoed almost verbatim by the guys in the band. Far from having to fish for generic agreeable comments about progress, I didn’t even have to ask for specifics; they leaped out at me. The guys were tired of what they saw as the commercialization of metal, or rather the social commodity it had become. The ethos was thus a return to rock and roll’s roots, embellished nicely with a crusty edge. Thankfully, the result is anything but the flat time-travel of our generation’s retro movements. On their sophomore outing, Gypsyhawk have left that common disconnect between a band’s aesthetic and the sounds that come out of their amplifiers completely in the dust. The spry performance you see on stage, complete with the fancy footwork of bassist and vocalist Eric Harris, is a direct representation of what they’ve set out to do; that is, to make sense of eclectic influences and never forget that having fun was always the point.
The set was as lively as any the Rat and Raven had seen. From “Overloaded” and “Hedgeking” all the way down to the Johnny Winter cover that is the exclamation point on their new record, the band sounded fresh. From the energy and sheer fire these axe-weilding heroes emit from the stage, you would never guess that they’ve seen almost three years of a touring schedule that’s as grueling as it is necessary. The guitarwork was intricate flawless as the recording but musturctures where much more basic as they focused on new material. Fact is, however, simplicity holds more hidden pitfalls than even the most complex progressive construct. If your prog band sucks, you can always take shelter in the thought that the unwashed rubes just don’t get it. Yet, we know that arming yourself with three chords doesn’t make you Bob Dylan. So, what’s the silver bullet? Bassist/frontdude Eric Harris and drummer Ian Brown where nice enough to take some time to enlighten yours truly and the sometimes Shreddernet laborer known as WUXTRY over a couple of beers.
How’s the tour treated you guys so far?
Eric: Tour’s been fuckin awesome so far
Ian: A lot of fun
You guys are new to Metal Blade. How do you feel about the new record? How’d studio time go?
Eric: Dude, I love the new album. However, when we finished recording I didn’t really know if it was done. So, I just went into it with the attitude of, “fuck it, this is what’s getting put out. If it sucks, then whatever”, which is funny because I went and listened to it pretty religiously after that, probably for two or three weeks straight..
So you guys listen to yourselves a lot?
Eric: Yeah but not in the way high school bands do like, “Yeah I’m the shit!”
(Laughs) of course.
Eric: I will listen to songs and recognize things like, “I could sing a totally cool hook there” and compare to other friends of ours who sing the same shit. Though I gotta see, ya know, toot toot. It’s pretty good (laughs).
Ian: Yeah its great. We all got a chance to listen to it a lot and critique ourselves. We knew there was a deadline and a time crunch but in the end it was no sweat.
I actually listened to your previous album quite a bit and it sounds like you guys are more focused in terms of songwriting on this one.
Just met him a little bit ago, actually.
Eric: Yeah, the addition of these two guys kind of helped solidify what we were doing. The first two guys we had were good but like the first guy for example was a good drummer but had no ambition or direction and we wanted him to contribute. Then after getting rid of the guitar player, we left all the jammy, proggy shit kind of by the wayside and I was just more on the path of any pop song really, more that direction. Not shit I hated but more about what the classics are made of.
WUXTRY: So, you mean more of a pop direction in terms of structure?
Eric: Yeah, in terms of structure and time and a lot of other factors that all are taken into consideration. There’s a lot of shit I consciously think of and lots that’s subconscious. Some of it happens when we are all just writing shit together. But yeah, “Rock n’ Roll Hoochie Coo” for instance, which we covered. When you listen to it you’re like, “what a simple, repetitive song”. Sometimes, that’s really all it takes and ultimately it’s just fun to do shit like that.
So in terms of the classics, when you listen to Revelry & Resilience, you hear a lot of classic records. Ya know, without even having to name drop. Was there something in particular that left its mark on this record?
Eric: Yeah, definitely.
And also, is there anything contemporary you guys are spinning now?
Eric: No, we’re not really hung up on the whole 70s aesthetic either. It’s just that I like a lot of shit. To start, a lot of old crust and hardcore shit, mostly for the tones of the guitars and the bass. Metal tones have gotten a lot better but I still like the crust bass sound. So like the coolest about what we do for me is when people get the modern ideas of metal and hardcore tones but playing rock n roll music. So it’s really heavy ass sounding rock n roll but we’re not playing anything that will make death metal dudes say “wow”.
Ian: We get a lot of influence from random stuff people listen to. Like Ron (aka Erik Kluber, guitar) listens to his Cinderella and Steel Panther
Eric: Yeah, Ron is our fuckin resident cockrocker.
Ian: and when you mention contemporary music, I grew up liking Abe Cunningham (Deftones) and Josh Freeze (A Perfect Circle, The Vandals, Devo, ex- Nine Inch Nails) is a great drummer. So, I’d be lying if I said parts of those motherfuckers didn’t come out in certain shit that I do.
Eric: Honestly, there’s shit on this album where I was influenced by Pat Benatar, err, not Pat Benatar but Cindy Lauper.
Eric: Yeah! I’ll just hear something and think it’s really rad and then analyze why or how they did that so I can try my hand at it.
I know a couple of you guys were involved in more traditional heavy metal projects like Holy Grail and Skeletonwitch.
Eric: Yeah I played with Holy Grail before they were called Holy Grail and were called Sorceror. Then I also played in Skeletonwitch and also recently got out of my friend’s band Huntress.
Yeah, I did the last record (Spell Eater) with them.
Yeah, thanks. So, while I was doing that, Ron was in White Wizzard. After Skeletonwitch I wanted to stop doing the metal stuff. I was playing with Holy Grail when I first got to LA but I was just like, “I wanna quit doing this metal shit”. It seems to me that metal’s become very corporate and very at the heart of pop culture. Ya know, everyone knows what black metal is. You see fucking frat dudes dressed up like King Diamond.
Or wearing Dimmu Borgir shirts (laughs).
Yeah, and you’re like what the fuck, man? So, I’m like, “ok, I get it. Our time has passed”, and at the same time people are like, “you don’t know what metal is to me. It’s a real thing!”. People just take themselves way too seriously so I wanted to be in a band where it’s gonna be fuckin fun but still cool. I think we got the fun part locked down but cool, I dunno.
Well, the new record seems like it’s being received really well.
Yeah, it’s been fuckin nuts. From previous experiences with reviews, I just thought, “ok , here it comes. Bring on the shitstorm”, because we’re not metal, in my opinion. Though we may get grouped into that, it’s not our deal. Either way it doesn’t matter but my point is that, in he metal world, the second a review is up, there will be at least five comments all like, “band of faggots. Hope they fucking die, suck each other’s dicks in hell”.
Eric: and you’re like, “Jesus. Fuck, man”. So, everyday I would think, “ok, we’re gonna get a bad one today” but every time the label sent one over we were like, “what’s this? It’s actually real nice”. It’s been great.
You guys ever been to the Northwest before?
Eric: Yeah, dude. This is our sixth tour that we’ve done ourselves in just past two and half years. we come up we do Portland and Seattle. We also do them with Adam Superfan. He’s always done all our shows in this area. Actually, on our first album. Andrew (Packer, guitars) co-write a song with me called “rebellion of the Western shore” which was about the West Coast, north and south, just breaking from the US and seceding to be like, “Hey let’s get high all day and not do anything, maybe?”
Eric: like the stuff people try to impose anything on the rest of us
Essentially, what the West Coast is about.
Ian: Yeah totally. That’s what I’m saying. West Coast!
WUXTRY: Too high too secede already.
Anything you want to leave us with?
Eric: Sure, man. I would just say, stay high, be cool…
Ian: …avoid tomatoes
Eric: That’s not true. He hates tomatoes….and buy our new record or at least give it a shot.
Ian: Check out the new music video (for “Hedgeking”)!
Right! So I watched that today. Sorry, I know were ending this but that’s one thing I forgot. You guys wrote that song about HBO’s Game of Thrones?
Eric: Yeah, I got into those books from the drummer in Skeletonwitch who in maybe 2003 was like, “If you’re bored, read these books”. I was like, “eh, stupid books”. I read the first chapter and was hooked. Read everything after thatand gave them to Andrew, already a big book fan, and said, “have you ever read this Ice and Fire series?”. He read them and was hooked immediately. Once you get past the first chapter you’re like, “This is fucking awesome”. There’s titties, beheadings, monsters, crazy shit, armor
Zombies…all the bases.
Eric: Yeah, so we actually write a lot of songs based off of that series. That song and “The Red Wedding” is another one. “Hedgeking” specifically was an idea that Andrew had where, if you’ve read the books or are familiar with the show, King Robert Baratheon shows that he hates ruling and is like, “man, if I fucking didn’t have these kids I’d throw this away”.
Heavy is the head, right?
Eric: Exactly and Andrew, philosophically –since we’re getting all deep and shit—said that a lot of people will probably relate to that and the pressure of being in a position of power, not wanting it and just wanting to be human. So, the song is a fuckin fictional tale of Robert Baratheon going off one day and just doing whatever he wanted: fighting as a hedge knight for other lords and shit, doing a bunch of cool shit, fucking chicks, eating a bunch.
Doesn’t sound like a very hard life to me.
Eric: That’s what I’m saying, man! You just got live while you can. That’s why you move to the West.
Thanks, guys. Appreciate your time.
Eric: Thank you!
Buy Revelry & Resilience on Metal Blade’s website or anywhere almost. Just get it. Your ears will thank you.