I’m here to tell you all a little story. Back a few months ago I found a gem of an album. It was basically swamped under the massive digital flow that hits my email inbox from record labels and promo companies from around the world. It can be overwhelmingly oppressive at times, that’s for sure. I try to listen (or at least sample) to as much of it as possible. Knowing nothing aside from the perhaps different cover art, I clicked play on The Gang‘s The Gang album. Simply wonderful! The more it sits with me the more I like it. Originally enamored with the track (video below) “Rock ‘n’ Rebels”, I now find tracks like “Let It Rock” (video below) and “Wild Hurricane” really endearing themselves to me. As someone who normally dislikes ballads and slower fare, even those tracks are warming my heart. Check out “Only The Devil Knows” and “You’re The One” videos below as well.
After spotting my album review online The Gang reached out to thank me. Exchanging a few emails back and forth we decided to do an interview with the whole band via Skype. However, either I’m basically an idiot or there’s something up with Skype. Two different computers, several different microphones, even a totally new Skype account and several failed test calls, the program just doesn’t seem to work for me. It always has in the past, but now it just won’t gel. So, unable to personally chat with The Gang, we instead have this email interview that the band graciously took their time to complete. I swear I’ll yet talk to The Gang in person eventually…perhaps as guests on my own podcast (CGCM Podcast)…you just never know! I’ve already featured “Rock ‘n’ Rebels” in the CGCM Best of 2017-Revisited Episode to great reviews from our listeners.
THE GANG – Email Interview
1-So, tell me how The Gang began?
Dr. Evil: The Gang originated in 2013 and I founded it with my brother Tom the Thunder, who plays the bass guitar. Our goal was to play honest hard rock and to involve the best musicians. Therefore, the line-up has changed several times until it got stabilized in its present form. Contrary to our ideas, however, one major thing has changed. We never thought that a woman would be behind the microphone. All of our favorite bands (except Janis Joplin) had male singers, and when I was making the songs and the philosophy of the band, I always had a great male singer in front of my eyes like Robert Plant or Ian Gillan. Of course finding such a singer in our country is impossible, even though I’ve been trying for 20 years. Eventually, the coincidence sent our Dory into our path.
2-What made you choose The Gang as your name?
Dory: The name The Gang symbolizes our crew and our music. We have similar music opinions and like in every gang all members pull together, it’s also true in our band. As we play hard rock, which is on the edge of the interest of a regular listener of popular music in Slovakia, we feel a bit like outcasts – like a rock ‘n’ roll gang. All for one and one for all. Our music is hard, dynamic and confirms the rule that rock ‘n’ roll will last forever.
3-I understand there was an EP released earlier with a different singer?
Dr. Evil: Yes, The Gang started with a male singer. As for personnel changes, every cloud has a silver lining. After our former singer quit in spring 2015, the band had a hard time for almost a year. In the meantime, we were trying to cover the front man’s post, testing many candidates, but none of them complied with our strict criteria. We were looking for not only a quality vocalist but also a person who would have the same musical philosophy and fit into the crew. Because we are all orthodox rockers, finding such a person was extremely difficult.
4-How did Dory come to the band? I understand her mother went to school with Dr. Evil?
Dr. Evil: You understand correctly, her mother went to high school with me and her father was my best friend. I know her since she was born, but I didn’t even know she could sing. When the band was facing the dead-end street, I got an echo that Dory played the guitar, sang and composed her own songs. When I first heard her singing with the acoustic guitar, it was a deal. It is paradoxical that Tom didn’t like this idea at first but my instinct didn’t fail me. It is clear today that my ears were right and today Dory is the magnet of our band.
5-Being younger, did Dory have the same influences as the rest of you before she joined the band?
Tom the Thunder: Although Dory is only 20 years old, she grew up on classic rock music of the 1960s and 1970s as the other band members. We have the same musical roots and inspirations. Dory, however, is not only limited to classic rock but also has an overview of the current scene. Thanks to her youth, she brought to the band not only the rage and energy but also the influence of modern bands so nowadays our final sound is up to date and closer to the young generation of rock listeners.
6-Ok so we’re all together now and it’s time for live gigs. Tell me about the Rock Maturity competition.
Dory: Rock Maturity is the biggest competition of unsigned rock bands in Slovakia. Together with us, more than 60 other bands took part in it. Sixteen of them got to the semifinals based on their recordings which were assessed by a jury that consisted of producers, music critics, media and radio representatives and professional musicians. Back then we didn’t have a studio recording and I had only been a part of the band very shortly. That’s why we recorded a simple demo that did not have perfect sound but had the right energy. In semifinals, the bands played a live concert, which was video recorded and transmitted over the Internet. The jury selected eight bands for the finals. We were awarded the third place.
7-Have you played a lot of gigs? Where? Only in Slovakia or have you played outside?
Tom the Thunder: We started our concert life at Rock Maturity, which was also our first show with Dory. After winning the award, we went touring with other winning bands around Slovakia and Czech Republic. The biggest Slovak rock festival Topfest and other shows followed. In autumn 2017, we got to the studio and recorded our debut album. Then we were working on the promotion, music videos and getting the band into the air. In the meantime, we played a few concerts. Our goal is to get a wide fan base and then offer them the best rock ‘n’ roll. That’s why we are currently preparing our show and concert program. Of course, the goal is to succeed also out of Slovakia, where there is a miniature market and with fewer people compared to New York for instance (5 million inhabitants).
8-What’s the rock scene like in Slovakia?
Dory: There’s almost no scene here. You have no place to play, there is no rock radio, only pop music, and the official showbusiness. Rock music has no big tradition in Slovakia, although there are many young bands. Their effort is often a tough fight. If you want to play a concert, you have to pay… That’s why it’s natural that we are looking for a way out. The situation is better abroad in Czech Republic and also in the surrounding countries like Austria or Germany. That is why we are working on our promotion out of Slovakia. Thanks to the Internet, our music can reach a wide audience. The proof of it is also Decibel Geek, who found us by themselves.
9-What are your 2018 touring plans if any? Any sights of North America? What about Sweden Rock and festivals like that?
Dory: Of course, we plan to play concerts. We want to introduce ourselves in major events such as festivals or to support more famous bands. Our debut album is out there and offers will come I hope. As for America, it is a distant dream. So far no band from Slovakia has ever been able to succeed around Europe, let alone in the USA. But dreams power our further progress. So we have to work hard and try to be lucky. We may get on stages on the opposite side of the globe.
10-How do you get psyched or prepared for a stage show, especially Dory as the front person? Are there any rituals or superstitions you go through?
Dr. Evil: Except Dory, we all are veterans who have already played in many concerts. Our guitarist Vadim has been the leader of a legendary band Dorian Gray for many years. This band has supported bands like Guns N’ Roses or Jethro Tull. So, preparing for a concert means to have lunch, a coffee and debate together. Pleasant atmosphere in the band is the core of a good concert. Of course, we also get a couple of beers, but moderately. At the soundcheck, we set the best sound and before the concert, each of us focuses on themselves to warm up. Dory manages the situation without any problems and I have never noticed any stress or stage fright. She just comes out in front of the people and in a minute she wins over all of them.
11-Embarrassing moments…. Any stories to tell?…. Who’s done something stupid on the stage?
Dr. Evil: The worst is when technical problems come, such as ripped strings, broken drum membranes or power outages. Then the stress comes, but we can handle it. We can improvise, so we’ll have some common jam or solo until things settle down. So far, we have not had any serious problems. On the stage, everything must tick. People pay for The Gang concert and we have to offer them the first-class show. Failures are Iggy‘s, the band keyboardist’s area, but he does stupid things off the stage only. Last time he was short of money, he tried to pay to a taxi driver by giving him our CD. Although it was very early in the morning, strangely enough, the taxi driver was willing to drive him home. He must have been a hard rock fan. Iggy has also had problems with the police. When the police stopped him in his car recently, he had to go to a drug test. Iggy looks like a Keith Richards‘s son.
12-Let’s talk a bit about the album now. I reviewed it for Decibel Geek. I absolutely love “Rock ‘n’ Rebels”. What’s the concept behind the song?
Dr. Evil: It is a long history. When we started, we were dealing with our image and I got the idea to ask a rock clothing store in Bratislava for cooperation. They would dress us up and we would promote them. The shop was called Rock ‘n’ Rebels. So I stepped in and I played the owner of the shop our recording from my cell phone. Of course, she was a true rocker and immediately fell in love with our music. We made a deal and she became our first manager. I made “Rock ‘n’ Rebels” for her and it’s a song about people like us – fans who love rock music, nice girls, Jack Daniels, leather, and motorbikes… that song is about us – “Rock ‘n’ Rebels” – yes, that’s who we are… The song became a minor hit and today it is the basis of our concert repertoire. It’s a great hit and it works at concerts as well as in the car. You just have to watch your speed then. (Check out the video below)
13-How does the songwriting process work for The Gang? Is it mostly done by one or two members or is everyone involved?
Dory: When I came to the band, there were about 20 ready songs, we picked the ones that fit my interpretation best and have the greatest potential to reach out to the audience. Of course, we had to modify the lyrics written by Dr. Evil slightly. His compositions had crystallized before my arrival and I only contributed with my vocals. Since I’ve been writing music for myself for a long time, I modestly offered the band a few of my tracks, and finally, two of them appeared on the album. Of course, I wrote also lyrics to my songs. As for the new stuff, the whole band works on the production of songs. Whoever has a music idea will offer it to the others and things we like the best get completed at the rehearsals. Dr. Evil is used to preparing his songs completely, having each instrument thought through in advance. So, we can’t say we only have one method of composing, there are several methods. The final songs are mostly common work and that’s what makes our music so diverse.
14-You mentioned that Dory had the best English of you all. Why write songs in English if you don’t speak it well?
Dory: All the bands we like and listen to sing in English. English is a language people around the world can understand. For rock music, English is ideal because words can be bent and sung much better than in Slovak. This is the first reason. The second reason is that you are not limited to the small Slovak market, but you can offer your music globally. Our music can sound, thanks to the Internet, literally around the globe. As for English, I grew up with it and studying the language is my hobby. The boys in the band can also understand and communicate in English. No problem there.
15-Who designed conceived the album cover? Any symbolism to it?
Dr. Evil: We contacted Igor Slovák, who has an interesting style in photographing. He is almost unknown in Slovakia, but he is very successful abroad, especially in German-speaking countries. Our original idea was different, but Igor‘s idea of stylish historical cloths grabbed us immediately. Dory as a rock queen and us standing behind her, just like on the stage. We are her gang and she is our leader. The result is really original, and I think our CD artwork will definitely glow amongst the other CDs. This is how everyone can remember us and that’s exactly what our point is.
16-How has the reception of the album in Slovakia been? In the World?
Tom the Thunder: The responses are great and we are very happy about them. We are in contact with many fans and people from the media, especially from abroad. Our CD was noticed just after it was released. We are currently in the phase when our album is looking for its way into a number of specialized rock magazines, internet radio fanzines, and rock music sites. Gradually, album reviews are coming out and we’ve only seen high ratings and recognition so far. Some of our songs will come out on compilations dedicated to new promising performers. We have also been broadcasted by several radio stations, most notably in South America. We also have a lot of requests for interviews literally from all around the world. The album is rated as a hit, being catchy, our music has great potential. I think we have managed to record a really strong album with strong songs and great sound. We believe that our music will find its way to a wider audience.
17-Will it be or is the album available on vinyl? I need to buy a signed vinyl….lol.
Dory: Everything is possible. We are thinking of releasing our album on a vinyl too, it’s in our plans. The first signed vinyl is going directly to you! (Awesome! Thanks, Dory!)
18-Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about The Gang? Or anything you’d like to say?
Dr. Evil: Thanks for the opportunity to present our band and our music opinions. The Gang is the evidence that rock ‘n’ roll will never die. Good rock music will always find its way to its listeners. It is about following the goal without compromises and success will come. We would like to thank everyone for the positive welcome of our debut album and for all the enthusiastic reviews. We are very happy about it and I hope to see you in our concerts. Long live rock ‘n’ roll!
Thanks to THE GANG!
Thanks so very much to The Gang members Dr. Evil, Tom the Thunder, and Dory for taking the time to complete these email questions. My apologies again for the Skype issues and hopefully we will be able to speak in person in the future. But, most of all, thanks for a great album!