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.’
Gone Hazel’s Sport will be on Goldie’s Garage on Friday, March 20th at 9 PM/PST, Midnight EST. Goldie’s Garage is a program on Little Steven’s Underground Garage Radio that features unsigned bands.
Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio is on channel 21, SiriusXM radio & plays great rock and roll music that has slipped through the cracks over the years. Gone Hazel is thrilled to be featured on Goldie’s Garage. Thanks Genya!
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.
Gone Hazel’s history in video-making is tragic (a very loose meaning of the word). Let’s start at the beginning.
Learning to Crack Part 2
In 1998, while The Kids Are Bored was getting regular rotation on college campuses in the US northeast, a video was made for Learning to Crack Part 2. The idea was simple. Since videos at the time were already going crazy with jump cuts, Gone Hazel chose to film a video with one camera angle and in one take. The two minute and twenty second video was not of Gone Hazel singing along but baking a cake. The camera stayed still while a bag of flour was skateboarded in and thrown on the table. Following that, a carton of eggs was delivered – on roller blades – and also thrown on the table. As the skateboard and roller blades circled the table in real time, the ingredients flew through the air: a jug of milk, chocolate syrup, paint, turpentine, mustard…anything that could be crammed onto the table. Then, with the preparation table more or less prepared, the roller blades came off, the skateboard was ditched and all three Gone Hazel members assaulted the ingredients. By the end, the scene was something you’d never see on the Food Network.
And as it turned out, it was also something no one (not even the band) would see at all. The film was exposed to light during developing and ruined. This fun idea, all filmed in one take, with Gone Hazel dressed only in chef hats and aprons, was never to be seen. Except for this: one photo of the film shoot has survived.
To get an approximate effect of the video, listen to Learning to Crack Part 2 while staring at the photo.