Also included in the interview are two Gone Hazel songs – Instant Therapy and Sport. Sport will finally see a re-release very soon while you can get Instant Therapy as part of the EP, Noise on Bandcamp.
2016 is Gone Hazel’s 20th Anniversary. To celebrate, we are re-releasing early Gone Hazel music along with previously unavailable recordings.
First up is the Gone Hazel compilation, NOISE, which is available on Bandcamp. It contains 5 songs originally released on The Kids Are Bored. When you download the EP you also get a pdf booklet with liner notes and lyrics.
1. Instant Therapy
2. Circle Jerk
3. Learning to Crack Part 2
4. If I Could Rule the World from a Small Town
5. The Kids Are Bored
Here is an excerpt from the liner notes, written by Yeppo:
It was the summer of ‘96 and loads of guitar-driven bands were high and low. Nirvana was done but Oasis still stood at the top of the mountain. Also adding their sound and fury to the mix were Dodgy, Sloan, Fastball, Blur, Presidents of the USA, Weezer and Green Day (to name a bunch). Gone Hazel began with all this great music swirling around them.
In the beginning, Chicagoan Bob Cellini (bass, vocals) hooked up with Torontonians Roberto LiVolsi (guitar, vocals) and Tim Woodger (drums). Early rehearsals were in Tim’s basement, early songs consisted of Roberto and Bob’s back catalogue and early gigs took place as much as possible.
The boys were united in three ways: songwriting talent, love of a variety of music and a sense of humour. The humour came out in their first independent release, The Gigging of Gets, which was released for the purpose of getting gigs. Those gigs came quickly as did signing with a booking agency in Chicago.
It’s amusing to hear comparisons of your own music. What I notice is that any comparisons drawn are almost always connected to what the listener has stored in their preferred music box. “Oh, you sound like Television,” or “Your music reminds me of The Caulfields.” On a first listen that is bound to happen. We all do it. But there is so much more going on to create and produce music, especially in a band setting where influences and inspiration are bouncing off the walls.
For Gone Hazel, we’ve been doing it for so long that the influences are buried deep and what may be thought of as direct influences are actually sonic similarities. Simply put, a performance on an acoustic guitar brings across a very different listening experience than a full band plugged in. Our electric sound in the studio was characterized mainly by two features: overdubbed guitars and harmonies. From 1996 to 1999, Bob and I sang together whenever we could because we agreed it was too easy (& lazy) just to have the songwriter sing their own song. Harmonizing added a layer that we and our audience enjoyed.
The harmonizing began when Bob and I wrote our first song together called Uh Was a Hound. Since Bob had written most of the music, he sang lead. I suggested a harmony on top for the verses, like the Everly Brothers. Then Bob sang solo on the middle section and it was complete. A lightening creation.
But that’s not all that’s going on. Bob often lamented that there were hardly any cool guitar-riffs in rock music at the time so for Uh Was a Hound he also wrote a riff. The problem was, at least for Bob, I didn’t play it exactly the way he played it. The notes in the original riff were even eights while I added a pull-off. So the riff and the way I played the riff was another feature of the song.
Then there’s the bridge. We came up with that music in Tim Woodger’s basement. It probably took ten minutes. One of us suggested a 6/8 rhythm to distinguish itself from the Joe Jackson/Elvis Costello new waviness circa 1978. That 6/8 rhythm is one of my favourite parts of the song. And Uh Was a Hound has a lot of parts, all squeezed in under two minutes. Squeeze might also be an influence. Anyway, forget all those influences – already we were becoming Gone Hazel. Plus, being the only guitarist in the band, I couldn’t pile on the layers in a live performance like I did later on in the studio where the song really took off.
Although there’s more going on (like the lyrics) I’ll stop with the analysis now. You can make your own mind up by listening to the full studio recording and an acoustic rehearsal of Uh Was a Hound. Is it bits of inspiration that I shared above or the combination of other unconscious elements when Gone Hazel first put the song together? Does it really sound like Television or the Caulfields or Taylor Swift because that’s what you’ve been listening to?
It doesn’t matter. We just want you to like it. And hopfully one day people will say to a new band, ‘You know, you remind me of Gone Hazel.’
Finally, a Gone Hazel video before you. No acting, no miming, just an animated companion to one of our best songs: Alternative This. A joy to make, it’s been sitting, waiting since 2013 but enough’s enough. Gone Hazel, formed in 1996, broke down in 1999, did a few things in 2004/5 and coming back to life in 2013, unleashes it’s first official video in 2015. Alternative This.
You can read about the complete dramatic story of Gone Hazel video-making here.