John McCoy Interview by Martin Popoff, www.martinpopoff.com

GMT - Gillan Mates Bash One Out


Ask me and about five other really smart people, one of the great unheralded metal bands of all time is Gillan, a six record act from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, fronted by Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, for which guitarist Bernie Torme and bassist John McCoy were major writers. Those two are back with a rumbling, spontaneous, rock ‘n' rollsy metal album called Bitter & Twisted, under the guise of GMT, the 'G' being drummer Robin Guy.

McCoy - also of Samson, Mammoth and Zzebra fame, and a participant on over 50 albums - articulates the source of the record's snarly, combative sound.

'Really, it's a traditional heavy rock three-piece, which is something that Bernie Torme and I have always been fond of – that raw edge you get with a three-piece. We first met back in the 1970s, and we were in a three-piece band then, and I guess it's nice to revisit your roots, get back to basics. Basically, the album is just the three of us in a studio playing. There are very few overdubs. One critic has just sent me a review of the album, and he described it as melodic Motorhead. It's just what comes out of those three people, and it gives Bernie a chance to shine for a change; he's very underrated as a guitar player. And we just work remarkably easy together. There is no trauma involved in writing the songs and rehearsing and playing the gigs - we're just really enjoying it. Which, I think, comes across on the album and the live shows. We've both done quite a lot over the years, and you get a little bit jaded, but this is something where we just want to get out and play.'

'I guess I'm pretty' yeah, violent, I suppose,' laughs big John, confronted with the fact that his trundling, buzzing, blustery bass trademark is all over this punk-tinged record. 'I just love the sound of the old bass grinding out through Marshall speakers - it's just the way I've grown up. I've grown up playing like that, and you know, Lemmy is brilliant. I love his playing. Bass players who have influenced me over the years are people like Tim Bogert, Felix Pappalardi, Jack Bruce' you know that kind of style.'

Pressed for a few song details, John says that 'The favourite tracks at the moment seem to be ‘Canonball' and ‘Rocky Road', which are the first two songs in the album, coincidentally. Personally, I really like one of the slower songs, ‘Down To Here'. And one of the kind of funny songs, which always gives me a smile, is called ‘Vincenzo'. There are softer moments and there are funnier moments, but it's starting to get some really good reviews.'

Two additional projects for McCoy come to mind when asked about his busy schedule. 'An album has just come out, which my friend Paul Sampson' unfortunately he died of cancer, and he left me his tapes, and asked me to finish his last album. That is out right now. Paul was a great friend and a massively underrated player. And he did this album under difficult circumstances, because obviously he knew he was dying. And I was very, very pleased that he asked me to do it. And it was difficult for me to get my head around mixing the album and repairing guitar parts and putting bass on, because obviously he was a close friend and it was a very sad thing to handle. It took me a couple of years to actually be able to do it. But at the moment, I'm just finishing off an anthology of my own work, from the first track - 1969, unbelievably - through to the present day, with a GMT track. It's a double CD - that's coming out February of next year. It's a tenth anniversary release for Angel Air (McCOY 'Unreal' 2CD set SJPCD195.'

If you're in the UK, check out GMT live - they'll likely hit you with frenetic Gillan classic ‘Secret Of The Dance' as well as Gillan retro pieces ‘New Orleans' and ‘Trouble'. Bernie's explosive ‘Wild West' is also part of the set, as well as loads of new GMT material. See www.gmtrocks.com for more, and www.angelair.co.uk for info on the aforementioned new McCoy-related projects.


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Martin Popoff, PO Box 65208, 358 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON M4K 2Z2


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