GUARDIAN + WHITECROSS REVIVAL: Avoiding Murder
I was walking down the street one day (ba-ba-baba, ba-ba-baba), phubbing everyone with my nose in my mobile screen, when I saw the announcement: Members of Guardian and Whitecross were joining forces to form a new band. Would this be the new Christian metal supergroup for the twenty-teens decade?
I fired off an email to bass player and old-dog music veteran David Bach to get the scoop. Turns out there were grand plans made, a crowd-funding campaign and then the usual musicians-can’t-live-together bickering began. But let’s start at the beginning.
Okay, tell me about this new album?
It has been great that people are even interested in this project. Truthfully, we had no plan or desire to make this album. Jamie Rowe and I have known Rex and Mike from Whitecross forever and Mike had filled in for Karl Ney at a Guardian show a few years ago….and we've always especially loved Mike--he even looks like a younger Robert Plant!
Last year Jamie Rowe and I had been listening to some of the new Southern Rock bands--such as Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers and really wanted to put a project together in that vein. Mike and Rex were our first choices for this project. We were all really excited about that and begin shooting song ideas back and forth. We wrote about 5 songs in a week! It was personally exciting for me because when Rex heard me play guitar on the demos--he immediately said "You need to play guitar in this band". I'm not much of a guitar player but my loose Keith Richards style meshed well with Rex's virtuosity. We even reached out to Tim Gaines to play bass. True story.
We definitely saw this as a mainstream project so we reach out to our old Manager X who had great mainstream ties. He loved the new concept but felt like we needed to mobilize the Guardian and Whitecross fan bases and suggested that we cut an EP of Guardian and Whitecross songs--with the attraction being hearing Jamie sing some Whitecross tunes and Rex shredding over some Guardian tunes. Manager X had good experiences with Pledge Music and encouraged us to do a quick EP before launching the southern rock project. We were not too keen on this idea but Manager X had usually been right in the past so I convinced the other guys to do it. Manager X had also just started a new booking agency and told us he would book a tour for this project.
So off we went...with a modest cash raise via Pledge Music--we huddled in Rex's Chicago studio and cut tracks bare-bones.
How was the songwriting process?
The writing process for the new band was great! We were all really excited. This EP contained no new material but we did do a cover of Spanish Castle Magic by Hendrix.
What were the dynamics like in joining forces with Rex and Mike?
Initially, everything was fantastic...
What was the tracking process like?
At first, it was great--but we soon realized that the project was pretty seriously underfunded. We also learned the hard way that long distance bands really don't work.
So, what's the real story behind the project?
The real story is that most musicians are stricken with unbridled optimism. We began this project with high hopes--like kids building a tree fort--but it fell apart due to lack of funds. It didn't help that Manager X did not book us any shows and somewhat disappeared from the frame. I also ended up having to personally fund the project with money that I really didn't have. To be fair, Rex worked his butt off down in his basement for no money. Sadly, alot of internal bickering developed. No one was really happy with the project except Mike--in whom Hope springs eternal. He's got a great spirit. We probably would have killed each other if it hadn't been for him. Fortunately I'm still on speaking terms with Jamie, Mike and Rex. 😉
What are your plans for this project now?
The good news is that we finished it and Pledge folks got their stuff. Its not a bad project. The artwork looks great--if I do say so myself. I will say that the Whitecross classic "Enough is Enough" came out great! It crushes any other version of this song. Sadly, it doesn't look like the tour is gonna happen. We are willing to play dates and honor the commitment we made to play live--But without a booking agent this project may be on the rocks. If you are a collector--there were only 1000 CD's and 300 vinyl pressed--and there won't be anymore! So grab one if you can find one online
I should be clear…Guardian + Whitecross Revival is a cool project for what it is--but it's too bad that the larger project is not going to happen with this lineup.
Okay, what have you guys been up to these past several years (Karl, Tony, Jamie, you, other folks).
I talk to Jamie all the time. We still throw around song ideas. I could see us working together in the near future. As far as Guardian...who knows? I've learned to let that bear hibernate and it will get up when it will. Tony is the main sound engineer for CCM artist Danny Gokey so he's out on the road alot. I cant speak for Karl--neither Jamie or I hear from him much.
| also recently had the good fortune of being asked by my old pal Luke Easter (Tourniquet) to play bass on his solo project. Stylistically--I’d call it Cali Power Pop. Its far cry from Tourniquet but I dug playing on it. I hope people will check out Luke’s record—its a whole different vibe and he’s written some great songs.
What’s it like growing old as a working musician?
I don't feel any different. My body is oxidizing and my hair farming days are over---but I'm playing and writing more than ever. There's still lots of uncharted waters for me outside of Guardian. I'm currently kicking around my hometown in a Jerry Garcia Tribute band called Cats Under The Stars. Its funny because I was never a big Grateful Dead guy but I'm learning that they are the most loyal fans in the world. We draw pretty well just based on the association. Its fun and I think its important to always keep playing live. Yon can noodle all you want at home but playing live is what keeps it real.
How do you feel about how the scene – with all of its support parts, like retail, radio, live venues – changing so much (or even disappearing pretty much?
It had to change in certain aspects cause it was such a corrupt business but those days were fun--especially when I worked as an A&R guy for EMI. This was pre-Napster. I had a big expense account and flew all over to see bands--sometimes by private jet. It was fun but I knew it would not last. Certain aspects have not changed at all. Most artists make money by playing live. Period. Its the way it's always been. Despite what you hear--live performance revenue is up.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I'm still grateful for the ride I had. If I could go back--I would savor the flavor more--instead of always looking to what's next. Fortunately, I still have a good memory. Ask me again in 10 years. 😉