Gone Is Gone Are More Than Just Your Regular Supergroup

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Gone Is Gone Are More Than Just Your Regular Supergroup

In a time of low album sales and short attention spans, it makes sense for already famous musicians to pool their star power. Unfortunately the resulting acts tend to lean on the low stakes and easy ticket sales their fame affords them, meaning that very few supergroups ever create music worthy of the superlative.

This is part of the reason that Gone is Gone, a band made up of members of Queens of the Stone Age, At the Drive In and Mastodon, have so strongly refused the designation. The other reason, to hear guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen tell it, is that the decision to form as a band couldn’t have been less calculating. “My friends Tony Hjarr and Mike Zarin were making a lot of soundscapes and instrumental stuff and they asked me to do a session. What came out of it was one of the songs on our EP called Praying from the Danger. It bloomed from there and whenever we’d have a break in our schedules we’d get together to make more music.”

Far from the sound of old mates jamming out, that EP and the band’s forthcoming album are comprised of richly textured rockscapes, reflecting the sound design background of Mike Zarin and the prog-rock pedigree of Van Leeuwen and Hjarr. “I wanted to take cues from Mike and Tony and do something that’s a little more visually driven, more than just a rock band per say. I wanted to bring more of a soundscape approach to my guitar playing and generally take an approach that we’re eventually going to put this to some type of picture or visual.”

Van Leeuwen has made a career out of collaborating widely, forming A Perfect Circle in 1999 and coming on board as Queen of the Stone Age’s guitarist in 2001. For this project, he said he wanted to hold off on the riffs to create something different. “I really wanted to keep the tracking to a minimum and have the main sound be a big noise, whether it’s the cavernous mock synth sound I’m trying to achieve or any type of flaring. I try to keep it minimal so the mix sounds more open.”

The group’s experimental approach is anchored firmly in the rock idiom by singer/bassist Troy Sanders, best known for his work with Mastodon. He might not seem like the obvious choice for a moody prog act like Gone is Gone, but Van Leeuwen says that reflects the ethos of the project. “We didn’t set out to make any type of music but I think we all had the idea of someone with a burly voice who can also be very melodic.”

Unfocused collaborations can make for unfocused albums, but the band’s debut Echolocation showcases a remarkably coherent sound. This is made more remarkable by the low fuss way it came together. “We got in a room and started playing. Everyone brought stuff to the table musically, each of us had an idea for certain things and at some point you let the band be what it is.” More than anything else, the band was bound together by a desire to do something new. “I’ve played in a lot of rock bands in the past so my aim was to try and do something different. We wanted to think about ways to bring people together rather than just putting out a record and doing what a rock band typically does, finding new avenues of delivery. It’s a weekly conversation for us.”

Does this mean we’re unlikely to see a tour? “Well a conventional tour is going to be tough but I know we’re going to try to do some shows and we’d love to get overseas. Everyone intends to get out and play.” In the meantime though it’s business as usual for Van Leeuwen. “We’re working on new Queens (of the Stone Age) stuff at the moment and hopefully we’ll put something together soon.”

Gone Is Gone’s debut Echolocation is out now via Black Dune Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia.

Written by Tiernan Morrison

Via Beat Magazine.