Ten... nine... eight... seven... seven... seven... the countdown is underway and it’s close enough you can taste it. 7&7 Is almost here, and if you’ve been paying attention over the last few weeks, you’ll already know why that matters.
And if you haven’t... where have you been?
Pause for slowcoaches to catch up.
Gathering Grey are Marco Rossi (guitar, vocals) and Tom Hughes (keyboards), and reading the biography that they have pasted to their Facebook page, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to believe anything they say. Unless Marco really was raised by wolves and made his first guitar from the jawbone of an arse (the English version of an "ass," but not really), and Tom truly does possess a head the size of a pistachio.
The Weymouth, England, based duo also served up a stupendous version of “Postcard” on the Fruits de Mer Hollies tribute a few years back, and “Trust” on the SF Sorrow revisit, so we should already have a firm grasp on things.
However, they do seem to enjoy a bit of Moby Grape (don’t we all), so when the fingers of fate selected them as worthy contributors to a box filled with seven West Coast tribute singles (oh please pay attention), they knew exactly where to look for inspiration.
Hughes goes even further. “We love Moby Grape and feel that they were not only one of the best west coast groups of the period, but also the most underrated.” As for why they selected to delve into the band’s third album for the first of their contributions, “I Am Not Willing,” well...
“I chose I am not Willing because I've always heard backwards cymbals on it in my head, and thought this'd be a good opportunity to share my head-contents.” Some of them, anyway. He readily confesses that “some of my head contents should probably never go any further than my head,” and fans of Mariah Carey’s soldering iron (I told you... read the Facebook thing) will doubtless agree.
He continues, “one of the special unique ingredients we've used is probably slidey things; and there are a LOT of slidey things on ‘I am Not Willing’.” Which is great, because flip the single over to “Sitting by the Window,” and there’s lots of bugs as well, crickets and cicadas to be precise.
“Yep,” Hughes confirms. “Insects and slidey things. 'Little Joe was blowing on the slide trombone'. ...What was big Joe doing? Is there a non-slide trombone that only Big Joe knows about? I think Marco's answers are probably better than mine....”
Let’s find out.
“Apart from the fact that we dearly love both of these songs to an unwholesome degree, we also felt we’d be able to rummage around with them, and that they wouldn’t mind being rummaged with.
“When we came to do this, the first Moby Grape song that popped into my head was ‘Hoochie’, of all things: a one-chord 12-bar with a typically heroic Bob Mosley vocal... but it was hard to imagine what we could do to it, other than shoveling mounds of dirt into its lovely face.
“With each of the songs, we essentially teased out their psychedelic heart, and certain elements suggested themselves as we progressed. For example, the solemn, gloopy trudge of ‘I Am Not Willing’ suggested monks toiling on a Martian monastery, so we added the bell and the chant (‘Ego sum non voluntarius’ –‘I Am Not Willing’ in Latin). And ‘Sitting By The Window’ felt as though it was dripping with LA humidity....”
So you had to have cicadas?
“So we had to have cicadas.”
Well, that’s all very clear, then. Thank you.