Starting off as a side-project as movie trailer and video-game scorers, Mike Zarin and Tony Hajjar (ex-At The Drive In), Gone Is Gone have quickly built up a solid following from writing some damn good atmospheric music. Sure, you can also take into account that with Troy Van Leeuwen (QOTSA, A Perfect Circle) and Troy Sanders (Mastodon, Killer Be Killed) on board, it was already destined for something special. Riding on the success of their debut EP and with their first album just released, I was lucky enough to speak to mastermind Mike Zarin about the groups take on writing, scheduling … and how much he loves our name.
Hey Mike, how’re you doing?
Firstly the name of your company is gotta be the best thing I’ve ever heard, ever. I’m ecstatic right now, you have no idea … I have a sticker on my refrigerator that says ‘Your band probably sucks’ [laughs].
That’s so good! Mike, first off, congrats on the reception of the EP. How have yourself and Tony (drummer/co-writer) taken it so far?
We’re excited! We’re pretty floored by the reception of the EP … we didn’t know what to expect and the fact that we’re getting such good reviews from all across the world is humbling to say the least, I’m not gonna lie.
Absolutely! Regarding the EP sessions, how long did it take to piece it all together, even in regards to getting the guys together?
It definitely happened in bits and pieces … we wrote that back in 2013 (the music) and over 2014 we were mixing the music and sending it to Troy Sanders to see if he was down, and he was! So whenever Troy had free time, he’d fly out to California and work on the vocals. That collectively took about 2 years due to scheduling and lining things up. For Echolocation, we all got together in January last year (2015) and just wrote and wrote, then recorded … pretty much staying together for a month until we were really happy with what we got. We spent some months after that doing some overdubs then recruited a mixer on board the past summer, so yeah, it’s been a fairly long process mainly due to getting our schedules lined up.
Did you find between the release of the EP and the writing for the Echolation album, was there any difference to how you approached the writing?
There’s two big differences between the EP and the album. The first one is that Troy Sanders was involved in the writing for Echolation from day one, so musically, that bought his bass and his ideas. Whereas on the EP, I was on bass and we worked as a trio and then brought Troy in and worked on vocals. That was a huge difference between the EP and Echolocation. The second big difference is that the EP almost seems like a seed planted, as if we were sketching down ideas and going ‘Okay, what is this project, what is Gone is Gone?’ But now we tracked together with Sanders from day one, and I think we’re able to really knock out what we think collectively is the sound of ‘Gone is Gone’.
Regarding your experience with your composition work on movie trailer and videogame soundtracks for Sencit, has that influenced the process at all for the album in a band setting?
Absolutely. I would say our writing process is equal parts writing like a band and scoring for a film trailer. That was always the original concept by Tony and myself from the beginning, by taking the techniques that we learned while writing for some trailers and applying that to the band. Very much the dynamics you’re hearing are ones that if we didn’t write film trailer music, I don’t think we would think about.
Due to the eclectic soundscapes and themes you run through the Echolation release, it leads me to ask whether there were any other composers or groups apart from the members’ bands which helped inspire the music for this release?
We all have a lot of different influences … everything from Haxan Cloak (British composer), who Tony (Hajjar) and I were listening to for a little while. Me personally, I was kinda putting my Pink Floyd hat on when approaching a lot of themes because I’ve always admired what they did from a visual aspect. Spotify had asked us to put together a playlist with what inspired us individually on this record and on that playlist would give you a broad spectrum, but if you listen to it you would go ‘Oh no shit, yeah I hear that influence now!’ [laughs]
You’ve played a handful of live shows with the band so far, but is there a plan to take the album release on the road at any point, schedules allowing?
We would love to! It really does come down to scheduling in terms of live shows. We’re very much driven by this visual aspect and we’re very collaborative with artists to create different things that really, truly create what Gone Is Gone is beyond just the four guys creating the music. We’re gonna be some shows … I don’t know where or when yet but we’ll see how things pan out from a scheduling standpoint. We’re also looking at doing interesting and creative things that don’t involve us physically being there … so, you know, we’ll be doing things a little differently.
If Gone Is Gone can pull off a Floyd Pulse-style hologram live show, count me the fuck in.
Echolocation is now available via Cooking Vinyl Records.