INTERVIEWS 900 POUND GORILLA
HYPERACTIVEBands don't come together as easily as the members of 900 POUND GORILLA have. Judging by the sound of their self-titled CD you'd assume that these progenitors of punk-metal have known each other and played together forever. And according to JOHN BAKER, the band's guitarist and vocalist, that assumption would be correct. "Me and DONNIE (DONAT KAZARINOFF) probably had about two or three bands that we played in while in high school doing tours of all of the schools." says BAKER. "We both ended up going to USD together for two years and I transfered out to the BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC in Boston and when I got back we put together a number of bands in LA. Then JEFF came along, and that's where we are now."
JOHN BAKER OF 900 POUND GORILLA
TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT
THEIR LATEST CD
PLANS FOR A NEW ONE
AND HOW TO GET REVIEWERS TO RAVE ABOUT A 10 SECOND TRACK
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
900 POUND GORILLA is the offspring of RANDY RHOADS guitar riffs and punk rock fury provided by JEFF EDWARDS on drums and DONAT 'DONNIE" KARARINOFF on bass. This is a mixture that could only come about in Southern California. While 900 POUND GORILLA aren't exactly the sound of something new, it's definitely a sound that will have you coming back for more. "We have a good collection of tunes. The songs are really fast and agressive. It's gonna be a really big album. Really energetic." exclaims BAKER. "We're really excited."
This CD is a testament to the band's edge,wit and workmanship (if you don't believe us about the 'workmanship', just check out the snappy, orange uniforms the band sports for live shows!). Other's in the press have already taken note:
"They are a power trio in the truest sense, and they don't place themselves in one musical corner. 900 Pound Gorilla do delve into their pop tendencies, and they do it well" - THE RUN OFF GROOVE
"900 Pound Gorilla is so tight and accomplished musically that you would have debate whether the band is parodying the metal musings of Van Halen, Poison, and the string of 80's guitar-based hair rock. The opening track, "Gutterball", is right out of Eddie's handbook as the tune depends on the single melodic rhythm crunch guitar with original guitar break ala "I'm the One" from VH's first album." -EARBUZZED.COM
ROCKWIRED spoke with JOHN BAKER over the phone. Here is how it went.
How long has the CD been out now?
We played a CD release party on October 30th of last year and since then we've just been trying to do everything ourselves. We've got it on CDBABY, and we've got our own website with all of these different links to all of these different pages that are out there now. We're also starting to play more shows now.
What works and what doesn't in terms of getting the music out there on your own? What are the drawbacks, if any?
We've got a lot of friends and a good solid fanbase. We didn't even have a MYSPACE when we first released this CD. Things are really starting to pick up right now. We're working on some movie licensing for a couple of the songs and
our drummer has just moved a little closer. He was in San Diego so that was a little rough for us, but the word has been getting around and just recently we were featured in NO COVER MAGAZINE. We've been hard at work putting together a professional studio with a 24 track analog and a 48 channel mixer. I do post production for a living, so I've got connections through that. We've got 20 - 25 songs right now, and we're getting ready for a second album and we're hoping to have a good amount of songs to choose from. We've both played in bands where we've played tons of shows. DONNIE and I have been playing in bands since high school and JEFF played in a punk band called DEAD LAZLO's PLACE. We've played side by side for a while and then started this band.
It sounds like getting this band together was an easy thing to do.
Yeah. We're true friends and we've known each other forever. Really good guys.
It doesn't always seem like thats the case with a lot of bands.
We went through a phase where we tried auditioning just about every singer in LA. Just crazy people . I had one guy come in and he auditioned for us and asked us if we'd like to see the rest of his hair. He opened up this suitcase that was full of his hair. In situations like that, you get real wackos. I'm the one doing most of the singing on this album. I think DONNIE's going to sing a little more on the next album.
Who did your logo?
That's my next door neighbor VINCE RODRIGUEZ. He's an artist who is trying to launch his own thing of dolls. He's a great artist and he's done about six or seven gorillas for us so we have all different kinds of things for the CD and the website. He's a good guy.
Are you working on the new CD right now or are you just waiting for the studio to get set up?
We're actually working on it. We've got an eight hour practice on Sunday. We're getting closer. In three weeks we'll have to studio together. For a band like us, it will be a good thing. We have a good collection of tunes. The songs are really fast and agressive. It's gonna be a really big album. Really energetic. We're really excited.
Besides your respective instruments, what do you feel that each of you brings to the table that makes the project work for you?
With DON, he was a mixing engineer and producer over at FOURTH STREET RECORDING and worked on albums with INCUBUS and ALIEN ANT FARM. He's got that experience. I myself am an audio mixer and I do a lot work with TV. The company I work for does spots for FOX and WARNER BROTHERS and DREAMWORKS. JEFF has toured a bunch. DONNIE and I have toured Greenland together in bands and have played up and down the coast. JEFF was the warehouse manager of SCHECTER GUITARS for about five or six years and he's got some connections through that. Musically he's a great drummer and brings a lot of energy. We try to sound a little bigger than a three piece.
You do sound bigger than a three-piece. You'd think that there was another guitar player there.
We've played around with that idea. It's just a matter of seeing if we want to get out there and do auditions again. We're not closing ourselves up. I think having another guitar player may help at some point. Sometimes you've just got to see what kind of a person they are. They could be a great instrumentalist and a great player but you can't stand to be in the same room with them
How does a song come together for you guys and then get recorded in the studio? How does that process work?
I write songs and JEFF writes songs and the drummer writes guitar riffs and I ussually come up with melody and words over that. I've been writing a bunch and DONNIE and I have started collaborating more. We wrote CAUGHT RED-HANDED off of the last album. Hopefully I'll continue writing with DONNIE in the future. We're hoping that after this album we can open things up a bit.
What got you into wanting to pick up the guitar and do this thing?
I've been playing forever. I was really into RANDY RHOADS from OZZY OSBOURNE. That was a good place to start for me. My dad played guitar and that influenced me to play. I played in bands all throughout high school. Me and DONNIE probably had about two or three bands that we played in while in high school doing tours of all of the schools. We both ended up going to USD together for two years and I transfered out to the BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC in Boston and when I got back we put together a number of bands in LA. Then JEFF came along, and that's where we are now.
Of all the cuts that are on the CD are there any that stand out for you as favorites?
People tend to like MONDAY PROMISES alot. GUTTERBALL is another one; the song that opens up with the intro by our friend FERNANDO ESCANDON. BIG FAT LIMO has also gotten a lot of good responses.One press guy wrote that his two favorites were KISS COFFIN and AARRGGHH!!! . I think that's funny because one of those songs is only ten seconds long.
He's probably just reading the tracklisting. It happens.
My kid likes KISS COFFIN. He goes around saying it all of the time.
On stage do you guys wear those orange uniforms?
Yeah. We're just the normal guys. The workers. The guys that pick up the garbage.
I was thinking more along the lines of DEVO.
We don't have the hats though.
It's strange listening to 900 POUND GORILLA and then finding out that you were into RANDY RHOADS growing up.
We're definitely a good combination of both punk and metal. JEFF brings a real punk sensibility to the band. He's played shows with bands like NOFX so he comes from a real punk background. I've played in all sorts of bands and DONNIE has played in punk bands. With this band we've got more of the metal sound and with the next album I think it will be more metal with the speed and the fire of punk. We are punk-metal rock. It goes in and out of favor but thats where we're at.
Thinking about a video at all?
We definitely need to make a video. I work at a post production place so it's not like there's a shortage of resources there. We hope to be doing a number of videos pretty soon
And the orange uniforms look really iconic
I really appreciate that BRIAN. DONNIE is a real animated guy and I think that should help us.
What do you want someone to walk away with after hearing the music?
There 's a bunch of different viewpoints on the album. Each little song has it's viewpoint. We are a fun and eneregetic band. We are positive. I love the Seattle bands and there is this big Emo scene now and that sort of stuff but I'd say that we're a little more positive. We're not shoegazer music. We're not gonna mope around in our lyrics. We feel frustration and anger and all that stuff too but we'd like for people to have a good time.