Gypsyhawk are a four-piece rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California, in 2008, and presently have two albums to their name. Their first release, Patience And Perseverance, was released in 2010 on the Creator-Destructor label, and their last record, Revelry And Resilience, came out in 2012 on Metal Blade Records.
The band has a new album coming out through Metal Blade in the near future called Fortunate Favor. I recently spoke with bassist/vocalist Eric Harris about Revelry And Resilience, his influences, touring and more. You can see Gypsyhawk on June 13 with Black Pussy and Mothership at Slake in NYC on June 13. The transcription of our conversation is below:
“Overloaded” opens the Revelry And Resilience album with a very late ’70s/early ’80s NWOBHM feel. Can you speak about your musical influences growing up as well as what they are now?
That song in particular was written by our other guitar player, Erik Kluiber. He is heavily into a lot of early ’80s, for a lack of a better term, “cock rock” stuff. That is definitely an influence on his part.
As for me, growing up I used to listen to a lot of early American, Swedish and Japanese hardcore. It was pretty much punk and hardcore from around the globe. From there I started getting into heavy metal and extreme metal. I believe At The Gates was the first one that I heard that was super heavy. After I went through that whole phase, I started getting into Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and stuff like that. My influences are really everywhere. On the Revelry And Resilience album, there are influences that include certain songs from Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper.
“Frostwyrm” is the most upbeat and, I think, catchy track on Revelry And Resilience. Do you remember how that song came together?
I just had that main riff in my head and remember playing it on piano and I was like, “Yeah, this is what’s up.” It just came together because I wanted to write something sounding like bubblegum pop but at the same time have the lyrics be totally ridiculous and tragic. That’s how that whole song came together. That is one of the songs where Cyndi Lauper was an influence (laughs).
In the song “The Red Wedding,” you sing the lines, “Keep your eyes open in a sea of treachery.” Was this based on a true life situation you lived through, or from a story you are fond of?
The Red Wedding is about the story A Song Of Ice And Fire, which is better known by the masses as Game Of Thrones, the HBO series. I’ve been a big fan of George R. R. Martin’s book series A Song Of Ice And Fire for quite some time, well before the series developed.
The song is specifically about the Red Wedding. There is war going on in this kingdom between several different houses. One of the houses is seeking to bind their house to another house through marriage. However, what they didn’t know is that the house that they sought to marry into was in league with their enemies. When they had the wedding ceremony, it seemed like everything was all right, but it seemed weird because the music sounded off; like, the musicians didn’t know how to play that well. It turned out the musicians were archers and they slayed as many guards from the family as they could and then killed the rest of them. “Keep your eyes open in a sea of treachery” is taken from that story.
What serves as the greatest fuel for you composing lyrics?
Books for me, definitely. A Song Of Ice And Fire, the book Dune by Frank R. Herbert, is another source of inspiration. I am reading a new series that my friend in the band Visigoth turned me onto called Malazan Book Of The Fallen. Rarely do I write songs that are about real life experiences and if they are, they are written to the point where no one would really know what I am talking about anyway.
You had Bonded By Blood singer Mauro Gonzalez as a roadie for you guys on your last tour. How often do you see musicians on the West Coast really going out of their way to help out their friends for the good of the scene?
Well, Mauro was a special case. On that particular tour, we were on tour with Halestorm, and Mauro was getting off his tour with Bonded By Blood; I think they were on tour with Warbringer or something, and it ended in Canada. He had worked it out with Halestorm that he was going to be their roadie until he got back to the States and it ended in Texas. We ran into him and said, “We are going to California. If you want to ride with us, you can ride with us for a few days.” He did and it was fucking awesome. He always goes out of his way to keep a positive attitude on things. Rarely does that happen where a band member is doing work for other bands.
Gypsyhawk had a split with Pilgrim released last year. What does it mean as a signed musician to have one of your songs put onto a split?
It’s a lot more work to get yourself on a split with another band than you would think. You have to ask the label if they can do it because of all the licensing that they have going on. I think it’s something special that you share with another band. It’s always something that you will have, kind of like a bond.
Can you talk about some of the aspects of licensing?
As far as I know, a band is going to release something, you are going to do a split with them, and they are on another label. Your label needs to talk to their label and figure out the rate cuts that they are going to get out of this thing for doing it. How much is it actually going to cost them to put it out, produce it, and where is it going to be sold? There is so much corporate shit with keeping numbers. Is it going to be sold in stores? Is it going to be sold as a promo item for your band when it’s on tour?
How much new music is there on the horizon for your fans?
Right now there are nine songs that are fully written and we are just trying to do the final touches as we are on this tour with Black Pussy. We ultimately did this tour with Scattered Hamlet to bring out some new material since we have been touring on Revelry And Resilience for almost two years now. We got a new guitar player, Bryant Throckmorton, just inducted into the band. We are going to be writing a bunch of new stuff with his writing style as well. We want to start playing newer things to the audience.
What types of steps, as well as sacrifices, need to be made to transition from a regional band playing the SoCal area to a national touring band?
(Laughs) God dude, so many sacrifices. I mean, if you are a family person, you can just count out ever touring on a national level, or even an international level. I have probably missed every single one of my siblings’ graduations and birthdays. My parents missed all that shit. There have been times where family members have been hospitalized, and you just can’t go because you are on the road. In addition to that, with relationships at home, unless you have a strong relationship with someone and you have a solid trust built up, it’s really hard to have a boyfriend or girlfriend and be on tour. You are gone for so long. I have heard that attraction is 80 percent proximity, so it kind of loses its allure with all those problems. You are sacrificing so much.
The music industry has decayed to such a degree that only a select few bands are making money. Bigger bands that go on tour to play House Of Blues have like, $20,000 contracts that they are getting paid per night, so they are all getting taken care of. Granted they have a bunch of overhead to pay off, but they are still sitting pretty at the end of the day. Then the bands that they bring out get $150 a night and that is called paying your dues. I feel like there should be a time for change. That is such a radical jump from $20,000 to $150. It’s calculated to say to bands if you eat enough shit for like, 20 years, you might be able to jump up to a level where you are getting paid $500 a show.
Any Final Words?
Be on the lookout for our new album, Fortunate Favor, coming out Metal Blade Records. I don’t have a release date yet exactly. Be cool and stay high.
Gypsyhawk will play at Slake in NYC on June 13. For more information, go to facebook.com/gypsyhawkusa.