ROCKWiRED NOTES: THE LONELY ONES
"Everything has changed," exclaimed MARTY McCOY when I had mentioned the fact that the last time I had spoken to him was in October of 2017 when his then-band BOBAFLEX had just released their album ELOQUENT DEMONS. From where I stood, it seemed as if the West Virginian hard rock band reknowned for their bombastic live shows and their maudlin brand of active rock that spoke to the lows and the manic highs of life and love (if we can call it that) seemed to have reached a creative and commercial zenith with the release of what would become the band's final album. The first release off of that album, LONG TIME COMING, seemed to suggest that the band was due for a step up after standing out by a mile from other less worthy rock n roll fare. With sold out shows and reasonable returns from their album's release, it was indeed strange when the band had announced last year that co-founder SHAUN McCOY was stepping away from the band and that BOBAFLEX would now be known as THE LONELY ONES. All of those months ago when branding was considered important, one could easily question the wisdom of changing a name of such a beloved institution as BOBAFLEX. Unfortunately we are now in the grips of a worldwide pandemic and folks can overlook such a silly detail and get lost in some music that seems to fit and transcend our current dystopia. After all, what else are you going to do? Go to the store?
With the departure of SHAUN McCOY, the remaining line up that served as the blood and guts of BOBAFLEX is now THE LONELY ONES with MARTY McCOY stepping into the role of front man and guitarist JAKE EARLEY and bassist JYMMY TOLLAND emerging as co-songwriters. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the band released the brooding single ETERNAL SADNESS and the song couldn't have been more timely in an age marked by fear, masks, Karens, death and civil unrest. With more despair than a MARGARET ATWOOD dystopia unfolding around us, it is no wonder that the band made the decision to cover QUEEN's seemingly inimitiable cinematic rocker FLASH/THE HERO from their 1980 soundtrack of the MICHAEL HODGES film FLASH GORDON. From the tom toms all the way up to the vocal harmonies that made their former band a standout, THE LONELY ONES' meticulous interpretation of the QUEEN classic is the rock anthem we all need in a dire situation like the one we're in now and in the face of such a global crisis, THE LONELY ONES have proven that they are here for the long haul.
ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with MARTY McCOY of THE LONLEY ONES regarding their new music. Here is how the interview went.
Bring me back to what was going through your head when THE LONELY ONES released ETERNAL SADNESS in the midst of what was going to turn into a global pandemic? Was there a moment of panic?
I saw it as this new band's first hurdle. When you're in a band like this there are a lot of ups and downs. It is never a straight path and when things get rocky, you have to learn to adapt to the changes. So when COVID-19 hit, it was our first hurdle as THE LONELY ONES and it was major hurdle because for years we were a band that made almost all of our money from touring and doing live shows and now with all of the social distancing and no one able to go anywhere, we can't even do that. I tell you it was really strange when this whole thing hit. We had everything ready to go and we had our first couple of music video ready and then the pandemic takes it all out of you. I don't want to say that the whole thing has been discouraging, but it has definitely been something that we have to work around as a new band.
And what about sales from the singles that you guys have released? Has that helped at all?
It's helped a little bit. With the pandemic our fans and our audience are in the same situation as we are. They've got nothing to do and can't go any where except for making a run to the grocery store. Being in lockdown essentially is just making everybody insane and our fans have taken to our music as a kind of release from all of the insanity that is out there.
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR ETERNAL SADNESS!!!
What kind of reaction have you been able to gauge from the release of the new band's first couple of singles?
The reaction was pretty incredible. It was devastating for us when BOBAFLEX had to fold and it was scary not quite knowing what our next move was going to be. We had no idea how this new band was going to be received by all of the old BOBAFLEX fans so we put out the single and shot this amazing music video for the song with our friend KEITH WILLIAMS. As soon as we put the single out I was not expecting what immediately followed. The fans were there and were excited by the new material and I felt truly humbled. It ws a really cool feeling. It wasn't like we had gone back to square one or anything. For us, this is more like square three or square four. Forming THE LONELY ONES was a chance to try something new. Sure there is a lot of fear that goes long with doing something new, but the fans' reaction to the ETERNAL SADNESS helped to lessen the fear for us. We've got the best fans in the world.
With this new band what do you think is different? How is this experience different from the BOBAFLEX experience?
The writing is definitely different. This time JAKE and JYMMY are more more central to the writing process within the band and their ideas have really come alive in this band. That isn't to say that we tried to stifle them or anything. It's just that with BOBAFLEX a lot of the writing came from me and SHAUN. With JAKE and JIMMY as songwriters now it has pushed this new band into a different direction and a different sound. It all feels new and fresh. It's just different.
What has inspired the music that THE LONELY ONES is putting out? Where do these songs come from?
The new music on this new album is inspired by some really crazy things such as the band folding and personal things that each of us was going through. The new songs completely reflect that. It's kind of why we came up with the idea to include our cover of QUEEN's FLASH/THE HERO on the album. The subject matter of the album is pretty dark and we needed to include something that was just fun to kind of even out the album. So it was personal things that informed a lot of the songwriting and if you ask me, those are the best kind of songs. If it's happening to you it is happening to a million other people. I've had experiences with depression and loneliness. It kind of comes with the territory of being a band that makes its living on the road. You're never at home and there is a lot of loneliness in that. When you get off the stage you get into a van and you head off tom motel room where you end up being alone. That was what inspired the name of the band.
FLASH GORDON was one of my favorites films as a kid and it was probably my first time becoming acquainted with QUEEN. What was your first memory of the film and song?
Yeah my brother and I went to see the movie when we were kids. We were like huge comic book fans and FLASH GORDON was a comic book film. In those days there weren't as many comic book films getting released as there are now and FLASH GORDON had that grandiosity to it that STAR WARS did and you had that amazing theme song by QUEEN. It was actually JYMMY who came up with the idea for us to do the song. He thought since we were this new band that we needed to get out there and challenge ourselves. I was the one had my doubts. This is FLASH by QUEEN of all bands. There is no way in hell we're going to do a song like that justice. So we argued about it and I kept saying no. After about two hours later he had finally talked me into it. That song is about as grandiose as the movie and FLASH GORDON is a movie I love and doing the song ended up being a real challenge for the band. When we released it I had figured the song wouldn't do much. I thought the movie was a niche kind of thing but I found out that so many people love that song and love the movie.
I always felt at STAR WARS should've had a similar sounding score.
Hey, STAR WARS had an amazing score too. Scoring films is something I've kind of always wanted to do. I'd love to give it a shot one day. Not saying I'm this great musical genius like JOHN WILLIAMS.
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC VIDEO FOR THE LONELY ONE!!!
That's not surprising. All of you music up this point has always been very visual.
Yeah that was a major part of BOBAFLEX's sound. There was a really visual feel to our old music. The lyrics really painted a picture and that is something that I would like to keep doing with THE LONELY ONES.
However it is surprising to hear that you were apprehensive about covering FLASH/THE HERO.
I was afraid that if we messed it up that no one was ever going to forget it, but it ended up working out. The music to it is crazy. There are musical and tempo changes all over the place and the vocals are insane. However, we figured out the vocals very quickly. As a band we had always done vocal harmonies. We really sat down and analyzed the song and in two minutes we worked out the vocals in an accapella. It just took us two minutes. We could really feel that song when we sang it in an acappella.
So bring me back to when you guys realized that your brother SHAUN was no longer interested in the rock n roll life and that you guys couldn't continue as BOBAFLEX.
We could actually see it coming. Being in this band was SHAUN's favorite thing in the world but after a while he also loved being at home and being a dad. Over time his attitude started to change and instead of going from town to town doing shows he wanted to be a father to his little girl and go to volleyball games and piano recitals. Pretty soon home was where he was happiest and it was very easy to see that the rock n roll life wasn't enough for him. It's a different story for me and the other guys because we have no children. We had given BOBAFLEX everything we had and we worked our way up to a good place where we were selling out venues and none of us wanted to let that go. SHAUN co-created the band and eventually he knew he had to step away. We as aband kneow that we couldn't stay together. There would be no BOBAFLEX without SHAUN and it would've felt wrong to carry on that way. It was a very scary thing to try to move forward but we knew we had to do so we decided to change the name and do something new.
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR FLASH/THE HERO!!!
With COVID-19 making touring impossible, have there been any opportunities to bring the music to a live stage?
We did our first show about a week ago. It was a benefit show that we did for the DESERT KNIGHT COMBAT VETERANS and it ended up being a great show. Everyone who showed up wore a mask and were socially distanced. We're not doing another show until Ocotber and I can't wait because with this last show it was just really great to see everyone wearing their masks having their drinks and just being responsible.
With all of the social distancing that had to take place did you find the atmosphere a little stifling at that show?
Not at all. Yeah I was concerned about the circumstances being weird and everyone being masked but it was huge building and with a 20% capacity limit and what was really exciting was thatthese guys knew the songs already.
And what about your setlist. Does any of the BOBAFLEX material get played?
It's all new stuff. I changing our name we thought it was really important to start acting like a new band and that is how we are going to be moving forward. As a new band.
What do you want people to come away with after they hear the music of THE LONELY ONES? What is the big idea?
A personal connection. I have had experiences with alcoholism and depression and it informed a song like ETERNAL SADNESS. When we released the song and the video I was getting all of personal messages from people who had experienced things like that in their lives. It affected a lot of people and I have to give credit to my girlfirend who had suggested putting the number for the crisis hotline at the conclusion of the video. It's an idea that I wish I could take credit for but it was her's. Connecting with people on that level is the concept behind the band. We are THE LONELY ONES and the fans that come out to see are lonley ones as well but when we come together for a show or when a fan hears the music, they are no longer lonely. They belong. It's a sense of belonging in people that we want to create with our music.
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