Latest release: Echolocation (Rise)Website: goneisgoneofficial.com
What does it sound like when you gather together members of At the Drive-in, Queens of the Stone Age and Mastodon? Nothing like any of those bands, according to Gone is Gone’s brainchild Mike Zarin. With the release of their full length album Echolocation imminent, Loud caught up with Zarin to discuss the origins and future of this exciting new project.
Can you tell us about how Gone is Gone first came together?
The whole concept of Gone is Gone came about when Tony (Hajjar) and I were writing some trailer music and music for video games, and we stumbled upon this sound that we thought would be pretty cool if we used it with a band using the techniques we used for film trailers, the film approach. I was playing a style that was kind of reminiscent of Troy van Leeuwen, and Tony happened to be friends with him so we called him up and played him some of the stuff, pitched him some ideas about what we thought an interesting band would be and he was into doing it. Then I thought of a list of singers that I had always wanted to work with, and the first one on my list was Troy Sanders. Troy van Leeuwen and he happened to be friends already and were discussing the idea of starting a band at some point, so it was almost meant to be in that respect.
You must feel incredibly lucky that you’ve been able to have these guys work with you on this.
I’m very humbled by the situation and I respect all three of the guys immensely. I’m a fan of all their projects: Mastodon has been one of my favourite bands for a very long time, I’ve played in bands that were inspired by At the Drive-in and I can’t say enough about Troy van Leeuwen’s resume with A Perfect Circle and of course QOTSA. So it’s pretty good. I love it a lot!
How did everyone find time to get together to work on material?
Well Troy van Leeuwen and I live very close to each other and Tony as well. When we started, Tony and I lived about a mile away from each other and he lived about a mile away from Troy, so it was easy for them to pop on over to my studio and hash ideas out. Then every month or so, Troy Sanders would fly out and make time whenever he had a window and work on songs.
Obviously it’s too early to gauge much reaction from fans and critics, but what are your own thoughts on Echolocation?
I’m really proud to be part of it. I’m really proud of Echolocation and I’m happy to put it out in the world. It definitely took a long time from concept to releasing it. Worth the wait is an understatement. We’re just really, really excited to get it out there and start doing things with this music.
When you and Tony approached Troy and Troy with the music you had, what were their thoughts?
Oh they dug it. It all came together so fluidly. We played the trailer music to Troy van Leeuwen and, he and I have a very similar tone so I was doing things on the keyboard that he would do on the guitar, or he would do a guitar part that was similar to what I would do. One of Tony and I’s first collaborations was on the Conan the Barbarian trailer, and that track never made it on the trailer, but Troy played something almost exactly like what I would have played, but just so much better and more tasteful. Tony and I have had such a great musical partnership, since 2008, that it was all so natural. And then when we reached out to Troy Sanders, he said that he was such a huge fan of Troy van Leeuwen that he was very, very open to the music. We had written all the music for the EP and while we were mixing the music we sent the rough mixes to Troy Sanders and he was into it just as hard as we were into it and he made sure time was available so we could all work together.
How much input did Troy van Leeuwen and Troy Sanders have in the songs?
The first EP, musically it was Troy van Leeuwen, Tony and myself and on the vocals it was mostly Troy Sanders, Tony and me collaborating because Queens was actually maxing their last record while we were recording that, so Troy van Leeuwen was taken away from us while that was happening. But prior to that, it was just Tony and I doing trailer music.
Given that everybody has other big bands they’re also a part of, how likely is it that Gone is Gone will continue beyond this album?
Whenever we get a window, we get together, and by the time we get together we have so many ideas built up from the time we were apart that it all comes out pretty easily, so this is not something that’s going away anytime soon. I can’t tell you when the third album will come out, but we definitely have music written and ideas already in the pipeline.
When you pull together a group of musicians like the one you have, people begin to get expectations about what they will sound like together. What do you say to anyone who thinks that Gone is Gone is going to be a clone of one of the members’ other bands?
Well I’ll start by apologising to all those people, because they’re going to be disappointed. Echolocation does not sound like any of those bands. Troy has Queens to write Queens records with, Troy Sanders has Mastodon to write Mastodon records with, Tony has At the Drive-in and Sparta to write those records with. We are not writing those records with Gone is Gone. Gone is Gone is an outlet for each of us to let different sides of us out. I think what people fail to realise, and I think I’m guilty of this too, is that we’re all different and we all have different tastes and we all like to do different things. We become typecast in a way. Troy Sanders has become typecast as Mr Wizard Mastodon, and there were times in the studio when he and I would spend hours together trying to be the complete opposite of what people would expect from him. When it was my turn to produce them for a vocal session, I would pull them in a way and in a direction so that I didn’t even want their voice to be recognisable. There are parts on the album where it sounds like me singing, but it’s actually Troy. We purposely did that to be creative. So I apologise to everyone who is expecting this to be another Mastodon or a Queens record, but it’s not.