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GARY DRANOW

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN GARY DRANOW

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

Music has always been a form of emotional expression for me. From an early age, the power of melodies and lyrics captivated me, offering both an escape and a medium to tell my own stories. It felt like a calling, an undeniable passion that I couldn’t ignore. 

When I heard Cream’s (Eric Clapton) version of Crossroads on the radio I knew instantly that is what I had to do for the rest of my life. That was 1967 and I’m still rocking now, 62

Introduce us to the members and your musical history.

We are a trio: 

– **Chris** on Guitar, arranging and background vocals.

– **Jordan** on drums, a heavy rock enthusiast, he also sings, did all the vocals on The Cry of War.

– **Me, Gary* I write most of the songs and all the lyrics. Chris and I collaborate in arranging the songs and editing the lyrics to fit the song’s structure and melodies and harmonies. It usually takes two to three hours per song once I send the guitar ideas and progressions to Chris and then we jump on a Skype call and work through it together.

What was life like for you before music?

Before diving into music, I was studying visual arts, trying to express myself through different mediums. I was also an avid sportsman reaching professional; level in quite a few sports (Equestrian. Motocross, Ski Racing and coaching and Bicycle racing (I did Stage racing Criteriums and specialized in Time Trials). But it always felt like something was missing until I found music.

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

“Crossroads and Hey Joe” by Cream and Jimi Hendrix respectively. Its simplicity, yet profound emotional depth struck a chord within me.  It was right after hearing Crossroads on the radio with my Mom driving me on Ventura Blvd. that the song came on. I had her turn around right then and take me to Ernie Ball Guitars and I walked out with my first Strat, a 1966 White on Sunburst with a Rosewood Fret Board, and a Fender Vibro Champ. I still have the guitar.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

We believe we’re at a turning point, having gained traction with our last few singles. We’re not at the top, but we’re making genuine connections with fans globally. We have played local venues for about two years and now we are doing Artist Showcases every other Tuesday.  I’ve gained some popularity on Spotify. Currently, I have one of my new songs, The Cry of War playing on Ukraine Radio Stations.

What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?

Resilience. This industry is full of ups and downs, but the key is to stay true to oneself and keep pushing forward, no matter the hurdles. I’ve learned how to get my songs on Spotify and other platforms’ algorithms.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

– I once opened for Ed Sheeran in a secret gig.

– I have a 75 Guitar Collection.

– I sold my 1955 Stratocaster to Carlos Santana in 2021.

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

A collaboration with a major artist who aligns with our vision and sound.

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss…

Absolutely. The current climate is hyper-aware, and while it’s crucial for accountability, it also fosters a fear of genuine expression. We always strive to be authentic, but it’s a balance between honesty and sensitivity.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?

Not really. We prefer to focus on our music and the tangible things in life.

What was the worst experience on stage?

During a performance, there was a power outage mid-song. We decided to continue acoustically, but it was definitely a challenge!

Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.

Chris Zoupa, a Melbourne-based guitarist and teacher, brings over two decades of teaching experience to the table. Known for his unique “Zoupa Method”, Chris has taught students from various parts of the world, including England, Ireland, Scotland, the USA, Jordan, and Mozambique. Over the past 17 years, he’s performed with several notable bands and artists such as Tremedy, Giants Under The Sun, and Bellusira. Presently, Chris is a member of TERAMAZE, Australia’s premier progressive rock band, which has released five albums in the past five years, renowned for both quality and quantity.

Chris expanded his online footprint with the launch of his YouTube channel, Chris Zoupa/Learn That Solo, catering primarily to rock and heavy metal lead guitar enthusiasts. His contributions to UltimateGuitar.com and his six books under the Fundamental Changes Publishing house showcase his expertise in composition, advanced techniques, theory, modal application, and improvisation. His current mission is to offer straightforward lessons focusing on scale knowledge, practical application, and insightful guitar techniques for players of all levels.

Jason Jones, the founder of Magic Jones Music, has been an enduring music enthusiast, evidenced from the foundation of Art City Sound, a comprehensive recording studio. Located in Springville, Utah, Art City Sound is equipped with three purpose-built tracking rooms, catering to a range of recording needs from live to dry room recordings, including a dedicated vocal booth.

The studio uses world-class software tools such as Presonus Studio One, enhanced by top-tier plugins like Waves and Native Instruments, to ensure optimal mixing for any genre. Jason’s journey into the world of music began with rhythm; it was inevitable that he’d take up drumming. With over 20 years of drumming experience, Jason’s love for music has only grown, leading to the inception of Art City Sound. His commitment to the art is unwavering, as evidenced by his refusal to quit drumming despite any objections, even from his neighbors. For Jason, music is more than just a passion; it’s an intrinsic part of who he is.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

Our fusion of genres. We blend elements of indie rock with blues and alternate rock, creating a unique soundscape.

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

Our upcoming album Never Give Up is a double album with 24 songs that explores themes of self-discovery and resilience, drawing from personal experiences. It’s raw, and honest, and we believe our best work yet. Every creative endeavor presents its own set of challenges, and “Golden Child” was no exception.

During the writing phase, ensuring that the song’s narrative and emotions were conveyed authentically was a focal point. Balancing the song’s lyrical depth with its musical composition required introspection and patience. In the recording studio, achieving the desired sound and ambiance for “Golden Child” entailed meticulous attention to detail. There were moments of iteration, revisiting certain sections to ensure that the final product was in alignment with the initial vision. However, these challenges were all part and parcel of the creative process and ultimately contributed to the depth and richness of the final track.

What was the recording process like?

The boys have it down to a science. First, I came up with the progression and theme, wrote the lyrics. Then Chris and I do the arranging as Chris develops the song in Guitar Pro. We then send the guitar pro track to Jason to record the drum tracks, it goes back to Chris a sometimes me for the guitars, electric and acoustic, then on to our lead singer Caspar Aesthetic, then the tracks go back to Jason for mixing and mastering, then Voila!

A finished song. We have over fifty songs in different stages of development. Caspar has sung 20 songs so far and Joson did excellent vocals on The Cry of War.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

That’s a hard question to answer since I have been writing songs for over 50 years. I don’t remember how my first songs came together, and we were recorded in the early seventies.

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Every artist has moments of doubt, but we’re proud of what we’ve created. Maybe ask us again in a year!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Just a heartfelt thank you to our fans and supporters. We make music not just for ourselves but for you, and your support means everything.

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