Interview with Gary Noon (Walking with Giants)
Once again, EMURG brings you another artist who is sure to catch your attention. A relatively unknown to the world of hard rock, lead vocalist and guitarist, Gary Noon, has assembled a collection of songs that make up the mighty force known as Walking With Giants. Along with hard hitting songs, Walking with Giants also has a few familiar musicians such as Sevendust’s Clint Lowery and Creed/Projected/Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips to round out the powerhouse of a band, but who is Gary Noon? In an EMURG exclusive, we find out what Walking with Giants is all about and how Gary Noon is the next generation of hard rock enthusiasts to hopefully ignite the flame of hard rock once more…
EMURG: Can you give our viewers a little background about yourself as a musician for those who are not familiar with your work?
Gary Noon: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 18 – in 1989 – when I first heard Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. I’d never heard anything like it before and the feeling it gave me, well, I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. In the mid 90s I took a break from the guitar for about 10 years. I used to play every day but during that period of my life, I played it maybe once every two or three months and I had no confidence in my ability to play at all. I got hooked on the band ‘Disturbed’ right around 2008 and started playing their covers on YouTube. I’ve seen a lot of guys play covers on YouTube I didn’t really think they were too accurate so I felt like I needed to jump on there and have my say. Little by little people begin to take notice of my covers, start commenting and subscribing to my page and I got hooked on doing it. As my confidence built I moved onto bands like Alter Bridge and Sevendust, which are my two favorite bands – hands down.
EMURG: Who is Gary Noon?
GN: Gary Noon is a hard-working, single father who loves to read, watch movies, and play guitar. I don’t care much about impressing people with my guitar skills, it’s more about helping myself and those who listen to feel something.
EMURG: Why should people take notice of you and your music?
GN: I think listeners will take notice of my music because of one very important factor: my music is authentic. You listen to a lot of bands nowadays and they sound very much alike. It used to be that in the pop music and the hip-hop industry there so many artists out there that were trying hard to sound like the most popular thing going – it was hard to tell who was who. Unfortunately, I think that’s begun to creep into the Rock/Modern Rock/Metal genre as well. The music sounds good and sells lots of records, but it doesn’t stand out. That’s why you hear hip-hop artists announce their name when being a guest on someone else’s song. It’s because you don’t know who the artist is unless they tell you.
I write music that makes me think, that makes me feel and I believe listeners will pick up on that. The music is me.
EMURG: How did collaborating with Clint Lowery (Sevendust) and Scott Phillips (Alter Bridge and Creed) come about on your debut EP?
GN: I’ve known Flip since 2009, and Clint since 2010 and ever since that time I was always telling them – and anyone else who’d listen – that I wanted to make a record. I think every time I saw Clint I would say that – probably twice each time =), ha ha. I’d email and I’d text both of them messages about it. I’d send Clint covers of Sevendust stuff and Flip my Alter Bridge covers on YouTube to get their opinions. Clint kept saying ‘you should be in a band, man.’ I just figured he was being kind.
EMURG: How does a new artist get the chance to work with two of the biggest names in the music industry?
GN: I think a main reason I got the chance to work with these two guys is because of trust. I’d known both for a while, but I rarely, if ever asked them for anything. I’d buy tickets to a Sevendust show and Clint would say ‘don’t buy tickets man – I got you.” Flip would tell me the same thing, but I was coming to the shows for music and friendship – I wasn’t trying to get something from them.
In 2010, I started a project called White Knuckles, which was a cover band that I hoped would someday write original material, and I played various shows with a few good musicians, but it never panned out. Schedules, life – something always seemed to get in the way.
So, in November 2012, I closed up the White Knuckles shop. In December 2012 – it was the 27th, I believe – an idea popped into my head. Why not do a record myself? Why wait for everyone’s schedules, interest and commitments to line up? That may never happen. So, I texted Clint and asked if he would produce an EP for me – and he agreed! I got up the guts to ask Flip shortly afterwards – I figured, ‘he’s a good friend. The worst that could happen is he’ll say no.’ But, he didn’t. He told me he’d do it. So, in then space of two days, I’d hired friends of mine from my two favorite bands in the world. I mean, Wow – you know?
EMURG: What made you decide to strike out on your own as a musician?
GN: I decided to strike out on my own as a musician because, quite frankly, all the friends that I knew were busy with other projects.It seems that today’s music industry makes it very difficult for musicians to earn a decent living. I’m not talking about guys that are in it to be a multimillionaire – though that would be nice – these are people who were put on this earth to make music, and they want to be able to support their families while doing what they love. Since it was difficult to line up with musicians that I knew, I thought that I would just go ahead and try to write music myself and hopefully, somebody with similar goals and interests would join up with me.
EMURG: What events brought you to this point in your career?
GN: As I mentioned before, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to play guitar. That lack of confidence bled over into my personal life and my work life is well. Around 2007 I was recruited to take a specific job that I didn’t think I had the ability to do. The interesting thing about this job was that I discovered that I was good at it – I was really good at it. It was very defining moment for me, because I learned to trust the judgment of other good people and I also learned to trust myself and take a risk.
After a year or so on this new job I discovered that I was really good at it. I got excellent reviews, colleagues made nice comments about my performance, and began to trust my judgment – that was something that hadn’t happened quite a long time. Maybe even ever. So this idea popped in my head – “if I wasn’t able to see my own potential in that job opportunity, who’s to say I could be mistaken about my ability to play guitar as well?’ So, I decided to start a band and the rest of the story is just beginning to be told.
EMURG: Who inspired you to start playing music?
GN: I was inspired to start playing music by Joe Satriani. His song ‘Surfing with the alien’ totally blew my mind. I’d never heard anything like that before. The sounds he was making with the guitar was amazing but what drew me wasn’t the tricks and cool things he was doing – it was how the song made me feel. Energetic, happy, confident. As a teenager getting ready to graduate high school and make his own way in the world – that was something I needed desperately.
What made them so special over the rest? Joe’s guitar playing was amazing to me because it had a unique voice. He didn’t sound like any other guitar players I’d heard before. It was if he cared more about making a good song versus the guitar tricks that he could perform. That idea has always stayed with me: I don’t care the genre of music, who the artist is, if they create a fantastic song that makes me feel something, then I’ll listen to it again and again and again.
My inspirations grew as I did. Bands like Stryper, Vertical Horizon, Creed, Sister Hazel, Alter Bridge, Sevendust – bands that knew how to right fantastic songs that made me feel something awesome.
EMURG: What do you want fans to take away from Walking With Giants’ newest EP?
GN: The most important thing that I want fans to take away from the Walking With Giants EP is the feeling that the music gives them. I wrote lyrics that meant something to me, words that sing well together. Maybe they’ll hear themselves in one of the songs. I want it to mean something to them – maybe get them through a tough time, or inspire them to keep going when they feel like quitting. There’s so much cynicism, negativity, and focus on all the things that are bad in life – it’s great to have something inspiring.
EMURG: How does a relative newcomer to the music industry survive and stay relevant an ever-growing music industry where it’s “here today, gone tomorrow”?
GN: That is a very very big question, and I’m not sure if I can completely answer because I haven’t survived or remained relevant yet – I’m just starting out. I believe the key to doing that is to give value first. There are a lot of guys out there that ask fans to listen to their music, by their EP, to share their webpage with friends, but never offer anything in return. From the very beginning of this project I’ve given a lot to the people that follow the band – before they purchased the EP, even before I had gone into the studio and begun recording. We helped the fans keep track of everything that was going on from the very beginning of the project – through free videos and photos, audio clips. We streamed the entire EP for free for two weeks before it went on sale, and it’s still available for streaming today. I want to make sure that we give the listener something worth paying for.
EMURG: What are your current views about the music industry and where it is heading?
GN: I think this industry is heading to a very bleak place. Today’s concept seems to be ‘give less value but get more money’. You buy tickets to a concert today and the prices are skyrocketing – hundreds of dollars for seats – even horrible ones. Go watch a local show and see how much it costs to get in, then check how much it costs to buy drinks. There are a plethora of festivals now – they’re everywhere. They blow through a town and take the money out of the local music scene. Venue owners – those that are still independently owned – are struggling to bring in good entertainment and keep their customers interested. Customers vote with their wallet – so, they have to cut corners somewhere – so they go listen to free music online and don’t want to pay for CDs much anymore. Everyone has a line of clothing these days – it’s really something to see.The ones who end up losing are the artists and those who come to see them. We’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg, and we all know how that story turned out.
EMURG: What is the best piece of advice you can give an inspiring musician who wants to have a career in the music business?
GN: The best advice I think I can give is: Think. Know what you specifically want to do and be authentic.
EMURG: What is next for you with your musical endeavors?
GN: There are a lot of exciting things going on in Walking With Giants. I’m recruiting bandmates – Clint and Flip were involved in the studio portion of the project. We’re going to be a quartet, and so far, we’ve signed on Guitar 2, and a drummer in addition myself on Guitar and Lead Vocals. Once the lineup is complete, we’re going to play some shows and get a feel for how we all work together. I’m working on a couple of acoustic versions of the EP tracks to support the single ‘Inside Out’ and I’m planning to record a full-length in the first quarter of 2014. Also, fans will get to see and hear more from Walking with Giants live in which we’ll be announcing show dates as soon as we complete the final lineup of the band!
Editor’s Note: If you want to know more about Gary and his music, please be sure to check out the following links: