17 October 2008

10 Questions With...Gary Lauzon

One of the nice things about spending time on musicians’ fan forums is that you get to meet a lot of people who have their own bands. It’s probably pretty obvious that if you are hanging out at a forum for someone like Mike Portnoy, the majority of bands from other forum members would show Dream Theater as a major influence. While this may be true in theory, in practice I’ve not really seen it that much.

I ‘discovered’ the Canadian band The Rebel Wheel on the Mike Portnoy forum, and had the opportunity to review the band’s second album, Diagramma…first in the original independent release form, and then as reissued by 10T Records a few months later. I had this to say of the album:

“The Rebel Wheel offers a diverse selection of sounds and styles on the 43-minute Diagramma. Far from presenting a disjointed idea of what the band has to offer, it instead shows a group unafraid to mix things up. Strong songs and stronger playing mark this as an album well worth checking out.”

Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with bassist Gary Lauzon. We touch on a wide variety of subjects, including band history, literature, influences, and a few teasers for the band’s upcoming release!

1) Who are you (Name, band, instrument played)?

GL: People call me Gary Lauzon, I play with The Rebel Wheel, instrument played for the moment is a 4 and 5 string bass. I also play bass pedals and keyboards and maybe a little guitar on the forthcoming album.

2) In 100 words or less, tell me about The Rebel Wheel.

GL: The Rebel Wheel is a modern progressive-rock ensemble based out of Ottawa Ontario. With influences that range from Gentle Giant to Frank Zappa via Genesis and Rush, the band features a frenetic mix of rock aggression, odd-meter vamps, and turn-on-a-dime arrangements. Originally formed in 1991 as a fusion-based midi ensemble, the floating lineup has gradually solidified to the current four piece featuring guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, sax and vocals. Since its inception, the music has focused more on modern and traditional Progressive Rock.

3) What is the wheel rebelling against?

GL: Note this answer was provided to me from David (Campbell), who's steers the ship for the band.

We're not rebelling against anything really. The name is based on a book by William Kotzwinkle called Dr Rat. Dr Rat is a laboratory rat who has become something of a genius (kinda like The Brain form Pinky and The Brain...a show I am convinced was inspired by the novel). The lab animals create a "rebel wheel" wherein the animals join hands and revolve faster and faster and they telepathically communicate to all the other animals on earth (a kind of a animal psychic hot-line), rebelling mostly about cruelty to animals (animals in research). The story resonated with me because I like Kotzwinkle's imagery, and I later wrote the score for a Nature of Things show called "Animals In Research". I decided to take the name for a band.

4) How did you find the reaction to the band's 10T records release?

GL: Well the whole band and especially myself were in disbelief. I remember I was driving back from Montreal and got an email from David on my Blackberry that read, label potentially interested in signing us, needless to say I pulled on the side of the road and immediately called David. 2-3 months after we were signed and our second record (Diagramma) had a street date of May 14th 2007 with 10T Records based out of Atlanta GA.

5) The re-release of Diagramma followed very quickly after the indie release. Was that why you guys added the extra tracks?

GL: 10T liked our indie CD a lot but they felt it was a little short, barely clocking over 40 minutes. They wanted to re-release the CD with a different cover and digipack, and add some more material to it. We had 2 songs on the go that we anticipated to release on our next CD, but in order to make the CD closer to an hour we rushed in the studio and recorded “Arachnophobia” and “Awakened,” which are 2 of the stronger tracks on Diagramma.

6) How does the band work up their material?

GL: In general, for about 85% of the material David writes it in his studio, usually it's bass, synths, drum loops and drum programming. We then learn the demo and bring on our ideas and the songs usually take form this way. Think of it as a blueprint. Some songs are written by other band mates, like “Arachnophobia” was written by myself and “Awakened” was written by our other guitarist who is no longer in the band. For the next CD we anticipate the same formula, since I'm bringing in a sequel to “Arachnophobia.”

7) The Rebel Wheel has had a few lineup changes, like most bands. Do you feel the current band is the 'classic' TRW?

GL: Since we acquired the drumming services Aaron Clark last November, we feel we're on the top of our game and there's no doubt in any of our minds that this is the classic TRW. We did lots of gigs recently, including a pre-show for RoSfest, a show in Quebec City and one 2 weekends ago in Toronto for the NUANCE festival which was our best performance yet (which I'm listening to right now for the first time)

8) What do you do when you're not rocking out with The Rebel Wheel?

GL: I'm playing Rock Band of course!! Call me a wannabe drummer but I'm having a blast with this game! Other then that I play other video games with my gf, she's discovering RPG’s. I spend a lot of time working/organizing a festival I organize called Progtoberfest (progtoberfest.ca) in my hometown Ottawa. Other then that I like to hit the gym to try and stay in shape. I also bowl in 2 bowling leagues and I'd say that it is my talent even over music.

9) What's out there new musically that's blown you away?

GL: In the last year I'd have to say Oceansize's last album Frames. Everything about that album leaves me in awe. I've been listening to lots of Spaced Out, Brand X, it's kind of funny how I kind of switched from Prog Metal to fusion. Planet X is also a CD that gets a lot of mileage in my CD player. How could I forget Riverside, saw them again last month and still have chills!

10) What's next for you and the band?

GL: Well right now David is doing some shows with Bob Drake. Once he returns we're starting to rehearse the material for our next album, it's pretty much all written, with the exception of one tune. We will then hit the studio by year's end. Our goal is to release the CD in June 09. I could tell you that the name of the CD will be called: We are in the time of Evil Clocks and it will feature a 35-minute track called “The Discovery of Witchcraft.” Stay Tuned!

I'd like to thank you for interviewing me, and of course supporting our band.

Links of Note:
http://www.progscape.com/rev-143.php (original release review)

http://www.progscape.com/rev-192.php (reissue review)

(Photo of Gary Lauzon by
Greg Yantz. © 2007 Greg Yantz)

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