rock-n-roll troubadour, an intrepid journeyman whose sweat-drenched sound reminds one of the usual heartland heroes, Fogerty, Mellencamp and Seger chief among them...with his blue-collar ethic, and staunch determination, all faith Is warranted (RELIX Magazine)
There are really only two kinds of music. THE GARY DOUGLAS BAND does the second kind.
Music No. 1 aspires to be well crafted, with sophisticated lyrics, nice melodies, maybe some polished orchestral arrangements.
Then there’s rock ‘n’ roll, Music No. 2, which kicks that chair out from under you, cranks up the volume, slams out a beat like punches to the gut and dredges its message from the deepest passions singers and listeners can bear.
Sweeten it from the wells of Americana, country music and blues, and you get the music that drives GARY DOUGLAS. He drank it up in the streets of Brooklyn as a kid, where, in his words, “everybody knew everybody’s business. Everybody was hot-wired about whatever was on their minds.”
It became even more critical when his family moved with him to more placid surroundings on Long Island. There, he recalls, “It became a religion to me, profound and meaningful. Music gave me a way to channel my feelings, whether I understood them or not. I always found an outlet for feelings I couldn’t resolve, figure out or handle by playing music. It was indispensable.”
Nothing unusual there–for millions of kids around the world, rock ‘n’ roll is an essential rite of passage. But what happens when the passage is completed? Usually, they settle down, get a job … and start listening to Music No. 1 instead.
That’s not exactly what happened with DOUGLAS. He played in bands all the way through college and beyond. Then, in his words, “I had to make a living.” So he hung up his shingle and became a lawyer — a rock ‘n’ roll lawyer, actually.
“I’d walk into court with my suit on and my hair long below my shoulders,” he recalls. “I always fought for the little guy. Judges hated me because I hated authority. I was unorthodox and unconventional — and successful.”
And also, he adds, “completely unfulfilled. I kept telling myself, ‘I should be fucking happy but I’m not.’ Something was missing. It was always this.”
“This” was the rock ‘n’ roll, its whiff of danger and ability to mission past comfort zones toward extremes. “It’s that feeling you get when you’re listening to the lyrics of a really great Springsteen song and it’s like, ‘Fuck, yeah! Thank God somebody out there feels like I do.'”
See, DOUGLAS never let go of that music that gave meaning to his life. He never sank into the easy chair of Music No. 1. Maybe it’s because for all that he achieved as an “adult,” he remained a person governed as much by emotion as ideas. His peers sublimated those feelings or forgot they’d ever had them. Not DOUGLAS. He always kept a guitar in view at home, kind of like a talisman just waiting to be picked up.
Finally, one day, DOUGLAS did pick it up. And everything changed. His chops came back. His singing voice toughened to the point it could convey everything that he had to express — ecstasy, heartbreak and all points between — at full power and all night long.
Just as important, new songs started coming together. “Writing became my catharsis,” he says. “I might not even feel like I’m in the mood to write, but I’ll go to the piano or guitar and if I’m lucky I’ll channel something I can put into a song. Sometimes it’s a good feeling; more often it’s uncomfortable. But in the end I’ll feel better and I’ll have something I can share with the world.”
Backed by a ferocious new band, DOUGLAS took to the road. They opened on a 28-city “Guitar Gods” tour that featured Yngwie Malmsteen, Bumblefoot from Guns N’ Roses, Gary Hoey and other monster pickers. When back in New York, they tightened further through local club gigs. And there, DOUGLAS felt he had found again what he was looking for.
You can feel that magic on KEEPIN’ FAITH. Finished in the spring of 2015 and available now, the album taps into the energy that empowered Springsteen, Seger and other classic rockers. The urgency of “My Desire,” restless summons to seek a better life “Out on the Highway,” explosive anger of “Lord I Try,” screaming release of “Stop Bringing Me Down,” broken romance of “Goodbye Marie” — every shred of feeling throughout KEEPIN’ FAITH comes straight from the now liberated heart of GARY DOUGLAS.
Of course he had help on this mission, from the flawless support of THE GARY DOUGLAS BAND (guitarists Jeremy Goldsmith and Mark Marshall, keyboardist Scott Chasolen, bassist Dan Asher, drummer Stefano Baldasseroni, horn player Nick Biello and backup vocalists Yula Beeri and Clara Lofaro.
Producer Anthony Resta’s (Elton John, Needtobreathe, Collective Soul, Guster, Perry Farrell, Nuno Bettencourt, Shawn Mullins, Sarah Evans) creative input was also critical. “If I sing it some way but he knows I’m wrong, he has a great way of getting you to see the light,” DOUGLAS explains. “And I would go, Yeah! Got it!’ Next time I write a song, there’s not gonna be anything extraneous to it, thanks to what I’ve learned from working with Anthony.”
This is music that could tempt the sedate back into the fire of Music No. 2. The hooks, the blazing guitar solos, and muscle of the old-school Hammond organ, above all the redemptive power of GARY DOUGLAS, tell a story that won’t be denied.
Maybe it’ll change a few lives too. Just ask GARY.
“We played this club two nights ago in a small venue where the whole place was jumping. It was fucking awesome. I don’t need to be a superstar. I don’t need to play Madison Square Garden — although,” he adds, with a smile, “I wouldn’t turn it down. But when it’s right, when the place is packed and rocking, that’s it. That’s all I want.
I always feel best at these clubs where people the whole place is jumping. When we have those nights, that’s it. That’s what it’s about for me.”
Sometimes that’s all any of us need.
THE GARY DOUGLAS BAND
Gary Douglas (Guitar/Lead Vocals)
Jeremy Goldsmith (Electric Guitar)
Nicolas Biello (Reeds and Keys)
Dan Asher (Bass)
Tom Curiano (Drums)
Sebastien Ammann (Keys)
Jessica Antonette (Backing Vocals)