Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Exorcism Number Two: Brian Gorsegner

Hello again. Here's another interview I conducted with my friend Brian Gorsegner, the current vocalist for the all-boy band Night Birds. Previously Mr. Gorsegner played in such bands as: Survivors, FORWARD TO DEATH, Snakebite, Psyched to Die, Splitting Headache, For Science, and Full of Fancy.  

A few other tidbits about Brian: I thought his name was Andrew for about the first year I knew him. He is multi-talented in the areas of MUSIC and MUSIC BUSINESS. And finally, he has an ACTUAL HEART of 24 CARAT GOLD despite what his constant fun-poking (and several ultrasounds) might insinuate.

 Here he is, ladies! (and some gentlemen.)

In what order did you learn the instruments that you play? Which is the most comfortable for you to play? Which is your favorite to play?

I learned how to play guitar first, when I was about 13 years old. One of my best friends at the time, his dad was a guitar teacher. I wanted to learn how to play Nirvana songs. He taught me the basics, then I would listen to songs and try and learn them by ear. After that was drums when I was 19. I was hanging out with friends in a basement full of equipment and we started a band on the spot called FORWARD TO DEATH which I would be the drummer of. I loved it. Sucked at first, but got a little better over time. I am more comfortable, and prefer playing the drums.

Talk briefly about the Survivors and your role in that band. How far did the band progress? How old were you when the Survivors broke up? How did being in that band influence how you approach music and touring today?

Survivors began in 1997. It was me and my 3 best friends at that time. We were pretty bad, but it was a lot of fun. We were just getting into punk and didn't care if it was sloppy or not. We all went to Middle School together and were in the 8th grade. After school we would walk to our drummer, Chris's, house to practice in his basement. We were a street punk band. I played guitar and sang in the very beginning, which came to an end after playing our very first show which was a disaster, and the moment I learned that I could NOT sing and play at the same time. I would play, then when it came time to sing I'd stop playing and just sing, which sounded terrible seeing as how I was the only guitar player. Why I didn't come to this realization at a practice, I really can't recall. It was 15 years ago, cut me some slack. Eventually I just sang. We went on a bunch of tours and around 2001 I went on my first US tour with the band. We had been through many lineup and genre changes at that point, and it had sort of morphed into this thing I didn't like anymore, but really didn't know how much I disliked it. It was my first band, I guess I didn't know any better. Around this time is when I started playing drums in FORWARD TO DEATH as I had mentioned above, that sort of made me realize I was having no fun in Survivors and it had turned into something I didn't like. Other guys pulled the trigger on ending the band, and we broke up in 2002. I have a lot of great memories from doing that band, and it was a great learning experience, if just seeing how NOT to do things in the future. I'm also glad I had the opportunity to do a band before the internet was a major factor. Everything was more hands on. Talking to more promoters on the telephone, making and handing out paper flyers, getting lost WAY more going to shows, etc. Helped to create a good band work ethic which I still have.

Besides being proficient at their instrument, what in your opinion makes a good musician? 

Being creative and finding a way to do it a little differently. I can watch a video of someone doing a Beatles cover note for note and it can be boring as shit if they don't have style. Then I can watch a sloppy guitar player who has their own style and it can be the coolest thing I've ever seen. That's punk rock, ya know?

What was your favorite tour you ever went on? How has touring changed as you've gotten older?

Hm, favorite tour. I always had fun on FORWARD TO DEATH tours because those guys are 3 of my favorite people in the world. We would fight like brothers sometimes, and that would get old, but we had a lot of fun together. Night Birds first tour in Europe was a real trip. Lots of culture shock stuff, blah blah blah. Every tour has it's great moments and also the moments where I say, "what the hell am I doing here?"

Talk about how Night Birds started and how its changed over the past few years? What are the goals of the band? How is being a lead singer now different than when you were a teenager?  Is it weird to go back to that, many bands later?

Like every band I ever do, it starts out as "just for fun" not going to be touring or playing a lot... Then I remember I can't do that, and need to do it full on or not at all. Half of the lineup is different now then when we started, mostly because we are now way more full time then when we started... By full time I mean an average of 60 shows a year, one or 2 practices a week, and writing recording as much as possible. A lot of real full time bands would laugh at considering that "full time", but that in addition to all of us having jobs can really add up. We have already met every goal we initially set out for, so everything from here on out is a bonus. We wanted to release an LP and go to Europe. In 2013 we will release our 2nd LP and go to Europe again. As weird as it is, or maybe my memory is just shit, I really don't remember what it was like to sing in Survivors, so it was essentially a brand new experience for me. I actually wasn't even sure I could do it. After we wrote the first few songs I talked to Joe and told him I didn't think I could do it... I was convinced to sing on the demo, and that was also the first time I ever felt comfortable singing. Maybe because I was able to hear myself where I wasn't before? I don't know why, but I have been comfortable with it since then. It was the same thing with playing live... after we did it once I was never nervous again.

Who do you look up to musically? What bands made you want to start playing music? 

Nirvana made me want to play guitar. After I started going to shows and learning that anyone could start their own band I was influenced by all the shitty local bands I loved so much. Till that point I thought you had to be some gifted, lucky person to be in a band. Then I learned you just need to be a loser with some loser friends.
How important is the business side of music and how do you, personally, balance that with the fun artistic side?

I think it's fairly important if you want to be in an active touring band. There are many levels to the "business" side, but in doing that stuff correctly it makes the fun part of being in a band much more fun. When you can travel to places you've never seen on your band's dime, and even make some money when it's over, I think that makes it more fun. When you plan things so you go on tour right when your album is out to promote it, and advertise the tour, and send out tour posters, and book through people who know what they are doing, and overall make your tour as good as it can be, I think it makes it more fun. I, personally, thrive at the business side, I leave the artsy creative junk to my band mates, haha. Naw, I mean, I write a lot of our songs and stuff, but you need a well managed band, that is ALSO good and interesting. 

Where did you grow up? Where else have you lived?

I grew up in a town called Belford. Pretty close to the shore. My family moved about 15 minutes away to Atlantic Highlands, NJ after that... I moved out to my bud Frumps house to Tinton Falls, got engaged to my wife and moved to Sayreville, NJ with her in a dumpy apartment. We just bought a house in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Always NJ.
What are your parents like? 

They are cool. My mom was way stricter when I was young. She likes baseball and the Boss. My Dad is a very loveable goofball. Maybe a bit brain damaged, but I love him all the same.

Do you feel like your childhood had anything to do with your interest in music beyond just liking bands like any kid does? Do you remember what made you wan to play music and not just be a spectator?

My Dad was never a big music fan, but my mom gave me her records and a record player when I was little. I remember playing her Monkees album all the time. Being a fat nerd who sucked at sports is what really got me interested in music though. Like I said, any loser can start a band, and I did. It all was sort of natural once I started listening to the radio and getting my own musical tastes. Then shortly after I discovered punk and it was all downhill from there.

Do you have any real life ghost stories? (as in like, paranormal shit that happened to you personally)

I don't believe in ghosts, but I just moved into a new house that's over 100 years old, and I've been watching season 1 of American Horror Story on FX and it's been scaring the shit out of me.

Thanks Andrew. Here's some links.


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