Talks To Fanbase Music Magazine About New Single ‘Slow Dow’ And More

Intro

Garry McCluskey better known by his stage name GAZ is a UK born South African Singer Songwriter. The former frontman of the South African 90’s Rock Band CRUSH is no stranger to the studio or stage and has performed alongside some of South Africa’s greatest musical talents over the years as well as achieving chart status with his old 4 piece band. Garry took an extended break from the SA music scene but returned to his passion for writing and recording music in 2020. A fresh start was made under his new stage name ‘GAZ’ upon which he has relaunched his solo artist ambitions.

GAZ aims to release his solo album by the end of 2023 and return to the stage for live performances thereafter.

GAZ shares that “I was inspired to write a strong piece that would hopefully resonate with listeners about how we are all going about our lives currently. ‘Flat-out’ with no off-switch or end in sight. Slow Down asks to the listener to reflect on themselves and the pace of their lives, to step out of the noise, to switch off news and social media, and to get out of the trappings of our fast-paced lives before we burn out. Stop, refresh, rest and feel what being normal feels like again. A dreamy start is followed by some solid riffs and powerful passages that cut through the noise and drives the message home.

Slow Down was recorded at Mark Beling studio’s in Johannesburg on 31 May 2023. We started out softly as this is how the song had been originally conceived in my head and we never really intended for the track to become as powerful and grungy as it ended up being. But this track demanded it from us, so we did not stop, we just let it grow and grow until we looked at each other in some kind of shock and said…how on earth did we get here?…and had a good laugh. Mark and I work very well together, there is an unspoken understanding when we work together. We are never scared to explore and I hope that this comes through in this new release. We left nothing on the table with this track.”

Interview

 

Hi there GAZ and welcome to Fanbase Music Magazine, can you tell us your background, where you are from, and what got you into music?

Hi, There Fanbase Music Mag. Great to be chatting with you and thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed! I was born in the North East of England in the city of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Newcastle has a strong music history and music culture and is the birthplace of some very famous international musicians namely, Brian Johnson, Sting, Mark Knopfler, Cheryl Cole, and many more. Of course, I am nowhere close to the magnitude of those powerhouse performers but we “Geordies” will always celebrate and mention our local heroes when given a chance.

I moved to South Africa in my early youth living predominantly in the West of Johannesburg for some years and then moving to Swaziland for 5 years where I boarded at school in the natal midlands. My music journey started way back then as I took music as a school subject, toured with the school choir, and also auditioned for the Drakensberg Boys Choir.

In the mid 90’s I was the frontman and lead singer for a 4-piece South African Rock band called CRUSH. Our band comprised of my good friend of many years Darren Mulhearn (Drums), Carl van Wyngaardt (Lead Guitar), and Pieter Theron (Bass). Another friend Jason Kennedy managed our efforts at the time. We performed at all the prominent music venues around Johannesburg in those days namely the old Roxy Rhythm Bar and Randburg Waterfront. CRUSH managed to put out an EP and also had some chart success with our album which led to touring a few of the SA universities and music venues for live gigs.

Are you a solo musician or do you have a band you perform and record with?

Currently, I am a solo artist. I think once the solo album is finalized that would be the time to bring a band together for rehearsals, shows, and potentially a short tour here and there or perhaps even a festival performance if requested to do so.
Ideally, I would like the album completed by year-end and then get going in 2024. I do get to perform on the odd occasion to keep some stage time going, but this is usually in collaboration with another local muso from time to time at their gigs.

What instruments do you play and what is your preferred brand?

I’m afraid it’s just myself and a voice that is left after an accident that hurt my wrist and left me with no feeling in all fingers of my left hand.
With this, I had to put the guitar down some years ago.

How would you describe your sound and genre?

I would pretty much put myself in the Pop-Rock, Alt-Rock genre and love sounds that ache and drive a message home.
Some have said that vocally I have similarities to Dave Gahan, Ed Kowalczyk, and Eddie Vedder which I find an endearing compliment and reassuring.
I cannot get away from the fact that I grew up through the 80s and 90′ and that those times have had an effect on my style.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Live, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Depeche Mode

Let’s talk about the new single Slow Down, what is the song about?

It’s about slowing down our busy lives to a point where we feel normal and fulfilled as human beings again. Turn off the distractions of news, social media, and our fast-paced lives. Listen to more music.
Step out of the noise and fast pace of living to gain clarity and perspective and reconnect with oneself. Open up and listen to yourself and be honest about your existence as well as who and what you are meant to be.
Rediscover yourself, rest, and save yourself…from yourself.

The Legendary Mark Beling produced the track, how was it working with him?

Working with Mark is an absolute dream and is the consummate professional. The very second you walk into his studio (once you have navigated all the guitars and gear) you feel at home and very welcome. He is so calm, generous, and humble that one cannot feel anything other than relaxed around him. There is never any pressure to perform but you most certainly know who you are in the company of when it comes down to it.
Mark’s musical prowess as both an artist and producer precedes him will get the very best out of you. He has certainly taken me past what I ever believed I had within me and has pushed me to the point of dizzy spells quite a few times.

As an artist, you want to perform well when you are in Mark’s company and do your outright best.
Mark will gently guide you with what he requires from you but simultaneously squeeze every drop out of what you have until he ultimately gets what he needs.
Then he does the very same with himself and does not quit until he has perfected every note that he produces. Mark and I will soon be onto the album’s 9th track together. Mark Beling plays all the music and produces our material.
Darryl de Lange is integral to each song and applies his deft touches to the final mastering of each track. I love working with Mark and certainly look forward to our future encounters.What was the recording process like?
We had a fascinating session of around 7 hours of recording on the 31st of May 2023.
The song got started as it had originally been conceived. Soft, achy, and melodic through the first few verses and chorus. Then we got to the point where the song needed to lift and go somewhere.
 
Step in ‘Sir Beling’ with one of his collector’s guitars. I was sitting on the couch behind him and he literally blew me away with what came out next. Just off the planet. One of the best guitar riffs I have ever heard!
I remember dancing around the studio like a man possessed shouting “That’s it…Thats it…You ***** Beauty!”
Just when you think you are close to done Mark takes it to another level, and then another. It was bizarre to watch, I could not hear or conceive that the song’s sound could get any bigger. That’s a top producer for you!In fact, I felt the song had become so big musically I did not think I could, or should be the vocalist on the track. I just thought if I cannot pull this off and try to match what was going on that it would be a travesty.
I have never mentioned this before but I had bronchitis at the time of the recording and was taking a steroid to assist my chest and breathing. I believe that this actually adds to the huskiness and feint sound of fatigue in the vocals at the beginning of the song.Thankfully I managed to overcome my own doubts about delivery on the heavier parts of the track and it all turned out well in the end.

We used the initial first-take guide vocals in the final track

When is the track expected to be released?

Friday 28th July 2023

Will you be releasing an album soon, or is it just singles at the moment?

Yes, we are on course to complete a full album by the end of 2023. I expect that this will be 11 or 12 tracks.

When you write music do you come up with the music or lyrics first?

Luckily in my case, my writing generally always starts with an initial basic melody first which then drives the entire process. I usually sing the melody out loud to myself and it’s generally a mumble without any lyrics.
The underlying melody could be a bassline or other instrument in my head, but I use this foundation melody in most cases as a basis for adding my lyrics.
I drop these as voice notes to myself so as not to forget and so that I can revisit them when ready to write.

I then write the lyrics to the soundtrack playing in my head and am generally singing the words as I write but again, only in my head.

Counter to what many would suggest, I generally never actually verbalize the words or sing the song out loud before the first studio session.

Can you explain a live experience of one of your shows?

Afraid not yet as I am not gigging until the solo album is complete.

Can you give us your social media handles?

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GazMusicSA
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/garrymccluskey
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@garrymccluskey8467
Twitter https://twitter.com/GarryCluskey

Thank you for doing this interview with Fanbase Music Magazine 

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