Friday, July 26, 2013

Grey Skies Fallen Interview

Grey Skies Fallen are unsung heroes of the New York metal scene, having been around in some form since 1997. I finally got a chance to see them in May, when they shared a bill with Gwynbleidd. Since overlooked, criminally under-rated bands are this blog's raison d'être, I sent vocalist/guitarist Rick Habeeb some questions which he was kind enough to answer.

Dreams of Consciousness: If you had to choose 5 words to describe the music of Grey Skies Fallen, what would they be?

Doom Black Death But Not

DoC: If you had to choose 5 words to describe the members of Grey Skies Fallen, what would they be?

Hilarious Handsome Rugged Yet Sensitive

DoC: What has GSF been up to since your last album Two Way Mirror?

We recorded Two Way Mirror in early 2005. It wasn’t until almost a year later that we were able to release it on CD. As of now, that’s been our last physical release. Right after Two Way Mirror, we recorded a single called The Visionary, which was well received online. We played some shows in 2006 and 2007, but that was a period of time in which we were going through bass players.  Not much progress was made the next few years. We would get together and write once in a while, but nothing from this period wound up making it onto the next 2 EPs.

It was early 2010 when we finally started getting our shit together. Along Came Life came together rather quickly, with Craig, Joe D’angelo and myself writing a lot of the material over email instead of in person. We recorded that EP during the summer and released it right before the new year.  Paul LaPlaca, (formerly of October Thorns) filled in on bass for us on the recording, and since we had no live bassist, we didn’t play any shows supporting the EP.

Unfortunately, Joe soon moved far away to a distant land and was no longer able to continue with the band. He had appeared on every GSF release. So now we had no bassist or guitarist and we have always been a two-guitar band. Fortunately, what we did have was material. We went into the GSF vault of riffs, some going back to the late 90’s, and put together Introspective as a three-piece. We recruited Dave Case of Helmet to help us out on bass, and he did an amazing job. We once again released the new EP digitally.

Early this year, two new members joined the band. Joe “Side Dish” Sanci on guitars, and Tom Anderer on bass. This past May, we did a mini-tour with Swarm of Eyes to break in the new lineup. That was a lot of fun. We are now writing our next EP, The Many Sides of Truth.

DoC: Keyboardist Craig Rossi has been in the band since the beginning. How integral to GSF are the keyboards? At what point in the songwriting process do the keyboard parts come in?

Keys are very important to what we do. Craig is a big songwriter in the band. 3 of the 4 songs on the EP Along Came Life spawned from Craig's piano riffs. He is also a newly-bald man, and as such writes melancholic melodies which we enjoy. Keys can be the basis for which a song is written. Craig will come up with a part and we will build off it. A lot of our songs are created this way.

DoC: I just watched The Making of Two Way Mirror documentary that Craig shot/edited. How often do you guys have arguments about tempo?

We haven’t had a good tempo fight in a few years now! Jimmy, our old bass player leaving contributed to the downfall in tempo fights. Personally I’ve mellowed out over the years. I was pretty tightly wound back in the day, and sometimes rehearsal would turn into a battle royal. We all get along swimmingly these days though!

DoC: GSF has a varied, and sometimes eclectic sound. Is it fair to say you draw from a lot of influences from outside of metal? If so, what would those be?

Craig and I are huge Pink Floyd fans, so they're up there. I like a lot of 70's prog bands like Camel and Caravan, and I think some of their influence has also rubbed off, even though we don't sound like a 70's English prog band. I'm also big into Radiohead, Mew, The Electric Soft Parade, Nick Drake, Mogwai, Anathema, etc. All of the other guys love non-metal stuff as well, obviously. Tom, our new bassist recently introduced me to Sun Kil Moon, which is pretty great.

DoC: The title track from your last EP Introspective is over 20 minutes long, making it the longest song in your discography. What are the difficulties in writing songs of this length? Are there more ultra long songs in the future?

This song was written over the course of 13 years. In 1999, we came up with one riff that found its way onto the song, but the bulk of the first half of the song was written in 2002. Listening back to rehearsals from that period, you will hear a totally different song though. Some riffs were dropped, new ones were added. This song was like a puzzle that we pieced together over the course of time. I don’t know if we’ll do another 20-minute song, but we’ve already written a new one that’s around 12 minutes long. We’re comfortable writing long songs, I guess.

Come to think of it, with Joe Sanci now in the band, I can almost guarantee we will write more 20-minute songs!

DoC: The entire discography is available on your website for free download. What are you, some kind of socialists?

We’ve been doing this since January 2007. We do it for the simple reason being: no one buys our shit when it’s for sale anyway, so we might as well give it away for free so that people can at least be introduced to it. It’s worked out pretty well for us, as quite a few people have downloaded the albums.

DoC: What were your goals when you formed this band? How close/far are you from those goals right now?

We never really had goals at the beginning, and maybe that’s been part of our problem. I mean, when we were younger of course we wanted to sign with a great metal label, tour and see the world.

Around 7 years ago we decided that we would mainly concentrate on recording. Even that looked iffy for a few years, but we’ve managed to pull it together the last couple of years and release EPs. These days, we have a full band for the first time in years so the new goal is simply to record music on a consistent basis and play some quality shows.

DoC: What's next for GSF?

In less than 2 months we are heading back to the studio to record the new EP. This time, we are going in as a full band and the results will reflect this. Taking nothing away from Introspective, I love that EP, but we were basically a 3-piece at the time in the middle of band turmoil and we cranked out something decent. This time, we are pretty much out for blood.

We also have an Indiegogo campaign going right now, to help fund the recording and pressing of CDs and vinyl, but it’s not going too well. We will have the new EP out by the end of the year regardless of how well it goes. After the new album is out, we will hopefully be playing some quality shows in New York as well as out of state.


You can help fund the next Grey Skies Fallen release here.

More Grey Skies Fallen:

Grey Skies Fallen on Facebook

Grey Skies Fallen Blog

Grey Skies Fallen full discography on Bandcamp

Dreams of Consciousness is on Facebook, where it can't make up its mind whether 118 bpm sounds better than 120.