Halfway To Gone Rides Again: An Interview With Lou Gorra

It’s been eight (friggin’) years since New Jersey’s Halfway To Gone released their third, self-titled, album through Small Stone Records. In that time, guitarist Lee Stuart and drummer Danny Golin released an album with their own project, A Thousand Knives Of Fire, and bassist/vocalist Lou Gorra embarked on a side-career producing and recording other bands—but no Halfway. For a long time, it seemed like they were done.

But lo, a Brighton show lays on the horizon. And by “the horizon,” I mean this Saturday. Halfway To Gone—Gorra, Stuart and Golin—have played sporadic shows throughout the last couple years, but with this latest Brighton Bar gig, they announce a resurgence that will culminate in a long-awaited new album. We’ve got a while to go before we get there according to Gorra (interviewed below), but I for one have got my fingers crossed so hard they’re pretty much ready to fall off.

And when they do, instead of going to the hospital like any sensible human being might, I’ll be down at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch watching one of Jersey’s most underrated bands lay waste to whoever’s lucky enough to stand in their path. It’s gonna be awesome, and both as editor of this paper and as a fellow human being (allegedly), I highly recommend you get your ass there.

First things first. What brought the band back together?

What brought us back from the dead? We’ve always been close friends, and we’ve always played together here and there throughout the last 10 years. I recently got a new job that allows me to take time off if I want to, so that kind of pushed me into gear to actually get a record done and see what we might do, you know, touring-wise, in the future. I’m not ruling anything out.

I’ve been writing for the whole time that we haven’t really been playing much, so I have tons of material just waiting to go. Seems silly to just let it sit there and go to waste.

How did you finally decide, alright, it’s time to book a show?

We’ve been doing shows every year or so for the last three or four years, and really, this show that we’re doing in July came about because Greg [Macolino], the owner of the Brighton, called us and said that the other ex-members of Solarized had started another band, and they were playing, and did we want to do the show? I said of course. I thought that would be a really cool night.

It turns out that they’re ending up not playing for some reason. I’m not gonna get into why. I don’t know why (laughs), but apparently we got added to the bill and they couldn’t do it. I don’t know what the deal was, but at any rate, it’s gonna be The X-Men, instead of Reg and Jim [Hogan]’s other band, unfortunately. Not unfortunately for The X-Men, I love The X-Men, but I thought that would be a fun little reunion.

Since you’ve been writing this whole time, do you have a glut of material?

I wouldn’t call it a “glut” (laughs). We have a cache of parts (laughs). I don’t know how many completed songs we have yet, but we have tons and tons of material, it’s just not all really worked out into songs yet. We’ll definitely get there over the summer.

I own a studio, so we’ll probably be in there end of August. Start getting things going in there. We’re going to do one new song at the show, at least, so that should be fun.

And you’ll record yourselves, obviously.

This time. It’s the first time I will have done that, actually. I wasn’t up and running for the other albums. Obviously I had input, but…

It’s different though when you’re helming the process.

Sure. Yeah, it’s gonna be a lot different. I think it’ll be a little more relaxed, but by some measures a little crazier too, because I’ll be wearing more than one hat. But I’m definitely looking forward to it, because I’ve always had a vision of what I thought we should sound like, and I don’t know if we ever exactly got it. So maybe we will this time. I hope.

How do you mean?

I’m not sure. I don’t necessarily think that the Halfway records sound like we sound live, and I don’t know that I have the skills to do that either, but I’m gonna try for sure. I wanna strip it down, basically. I want to basically have on record what you hear live, is what I’d like to go.

We certainly try to emulate our records when we play, but it’s not always easy to do that when you have a million guitars and a million hours at your disposal.

Would you record live? Do you have any idea what the recording process will be yet? Have you started to think about that?

Sure. In my facility, as you well know, it’s too small to really do a full live recording. But we would definitely do the rhythm section all at once. I’m in my house. It’s considerably bigger [than the last location], but it’s still a residential house, so it’s hard to get everybody playing at once.

But we’ll build it with the rhythm section live, and then we’ll fill it out with overdubs and stuff. I still want to keep it really bare-bones, because those are the records that I’ve always loved. Back In Black and stuff like that. It’s simple. It’s guitars, a drum and a bass, and that’s it.

In terms of writing, is it weird to start putting songs together with Stu and Danny again, or is it satisfying to see these parts get put to use?

It’s both. It’s not weird at all. Those guys, I’ve been with them for so long. We tend to finish each other’s thoughts musically a lot. I’m super-excited that that’s the lineup we have right now. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.

We’re the original guys, and since we’re gonna do it on our own terms, that’s the guys who should be doing it, rather than hired guns or anything like that. I think it’s great that it’s the three of us.

Has the process changed at all for the time since the last record?

Definitely the writing process has changed, because we have so much more time. If you remember, we did a record and a million tours every single year when we were going strong there, and there’s just not that much time to write. I remember writing all the lyrics for the last album in the parking lot, or the driveway, of the house we were staying in in Detroit the night before I recorded them.

That’s obviously not gonna be the case on this record. It’s a double-edged sword though, because you have all this time, you try to polish stuff more than it needs to be polished. So it can hurt you, too. But I think the stuff is definitely gonna sound like us. There’s no way it’s not gonna.

What’s the new song you’re playing at the Brighton show?

As of yet untitled (laughs). If it gets a title before this goes to print, I’ll get back to you (laughs).

Once you get the record going, how much are you guys going to play out? Will you tour again?

I’d love to. I’d really like… the big black hole in my career is not having gone to Europe, so that’s really my real goal, is to get over there. I’d love to do the States again, we’ve just done it so many times that it’s—I don’t wanna say not as exciting, but it’s really not as exciting as something that we’ve never done before.

Going to Europe would definitely be a big goal of mine, to get that done. And if by doing that we either have to or are able to do another U.S. tour, that would be great too. I don’t know if that’s the feeling of the label or the rest of the band. Like I said, I’d love doing the States, but really, I would like to do things that we’ve never done before. I guess my priority would be trying to get Europe going for sure.

Will you put the record out through Small Stone?

Yes. They’ve been great to us, so no reason not to. They pretty much gave us eight years to think about what we wanted to do (laughs), and I called them up after eight years, and they said, “Yeah, let’s do it,” so absolutely no reason to look elsewhere. Scott [Hamilton, label owner]’s been great to us, and you know, I think we’ve been great to him too, so there’s no reason in the world to look somewhere else. We were booked more than three or four times [for Europe] and they just always feel apart for some reason. That’s the major regret in my career, that we haven’t been able to go there. Because I think there’s a lot of fans there that’ll really like it and that really want to see it. So we’ll see.

What do you think is the timeframe on the record being out if you’re going to start recording in August?

I think realistically, we would record till… I would say I’d be looking for a Christmastime release, or first of the year. That would give us the right amount of time to track and mix and get it off to master and stuff. I would say hopefully we’ll have a fourth quarter or first quarter release.

That seems awfully quick, but I guess it’s been eight years.

It has been eight years, and we’ve always done it quick. We really have always done it that fast. Barring any crazy setbacks, of course. Broken bones, or… (laughs). It always seems to happen with us. Once we actually get in the studio, it’ll go real quick, I’m sure.


Halfway To Gone will be at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch this Saturday, July 21. For more info, check out facebook.com/halfwayto.gone.