When I first heard Gulch's Uphill Both Ways I was first struck by how heavy the album is. Falling into a deep groove of classic rock beats and blazing riffs. Coated by the combative growls of a grizzly bear. Is fucking brilliant. The longer I listened it became obvious that there is so much more to Gulch than just riffs and growls. Their lyrics range from anger toredemption. Adding a touch of sadness to the brutality in some places. I got to have a chat with vocalist, lyricist and all around bad ass Duane Book. To pick his brain on the state of the music business, the future of album art. And the eternal struggle to balance art and family.
You've been the scene for a long time do you think that the changes in the music industry have changed metal for better or for worse?
It's all in how you look at it I suppose.The Internet has opened the entire world to you,but it's done the same for a million other bands as well...which is to say that the competition to get noticed is pretty damned intense.You'd better be able to deliver the goods.
Sadly there seems to come a point in most musical genres where things can get a bit repetitive. Do you find there is a lot of pressure to fit into the mold that's hot right now? How have you managed to keep from getting stuffed into those boxes?
To be truthful,I don't really pay attention to “what's hot”-hell, I rarely listen to very much new stuff at all.We just do what we do and hope that folks “get it”. We aren't out to reinvent the wheel or keep up with the Jones'-we just want to write good songs.
Does it ever become difficult to juggle being a working musician with family obligations?
Hell yes it's hard,but like the cliche goes “Anything Worth Having Is Worth Working For”-it holds true.Family is ALWAYS the first priority and we are all fortunate enough to have loved ones that support what we do.
With music becoming increasingly digital it seems like album art may become an extinct concept. Do think that visual art will be able to maintain its importance in music?
I sure hope so. I grew up buying records.The artwork was a big deal,then compact discs came around and the art just got smaller(a huge disappointment).Now we are at the point where we have a thumbnail image to represent the album...and people just accept it.What a joke!Paying the same money for less.I want something tangible.I want the booklet and the artwork please.
Do you think the wave of smaller and digital labels are more helpful to bands than the big labels are?
It's all about reach really.The smaller labels obviously have a harder time fiscally the the bigger labels do.However,the underdog comes out on top as well occasionally to don't they?
A big theme of Uphill Both Ways seems to be reconciling the past with the future. What kind of message were you trying to get out when writing the album?
It seemed for a while that we were in a constant uphill battle to get the record done.Between line-up changes,surgeries,babies,jobs,money etc.etc. It was always something.Fortunately we have great families and friends that helped make it all possible.
When you go into the writing process is it a group effort or is there one person that handles it?
Musically it's a collaborative effort with all of us,lyrically I (Dean) usually handle it.
Who have been some of your biggest influences in music?
Personally,my influences are quite varied.Kiss,Sabbath,Deep Purple,Grand Funk,Van Halen, Tommy Bolin...I could go on forever.Collectively we listen to everything from the Deftones to Mahavishnu Orchestra to the Melvins to Zappa.
What do you see in the future for Gulch?
We love what we do...if a label out there likes it cool.If not, that's fine as well.We will continue regardless.
Are there any plans to tour with this album?
Oh yeah definitely. It's just a matter of connecting the dots and getting the logistics straightened out to keep us from going bankrupt.
Anything you want to add before we wrap?
Thanks for the support and interest in Gulch.We don't take it for granted at all.Feel free to check us out at www.myspace.com/gulch and leave us some feedback.