Think of two of your favorite bands. Let’s say by chance, you have a mutual friend with one of the members of those bands. You casually end up getting a chance to meet that member at a local show. You really hit it off as you are a capable musician yourself. Your conversation ends by suggesting that someday you jam together. Then it happens. Then you write songs together. Then members from the second band you love just as much are invited into the jam sessions as they too have a connection. Seem like a dream? Welcome to the world of Gary Noon.
That all happened. Noon, an avid Sevendust and Alter Bridge fan, had a mutual connection with Sevendust guitar player Clint Lowery. He also loved the band Alter Bridge and was even thinking about starting a cover band. Until he met Lowery and discovered the Alter Bridge and Sevendust camps are pretty friendly. You now know the rest. Walking with Giants was formed with Noon running point.
Three weeks ago Walking with Giants released their first record – Worlds Unknown. After two years of collaborative sessions that included Alter Bridge bassist Brian Marshall, Alter Bridge drummer Scott Philips, Sevendust guitar player Clint Lowery and Noon taking on the vocals and rhythm guitar, their music was presented to the masses via their own label. The band previewed material through a series of behind the scenes, making the record series they put out via Youtube and their website. Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose, replaced Philips due to scheduling issues and Noon plans to hit the road later this year.
Alternative Nation had the chance to catch up with Noon from his hometown of Baltimore just days before the record release.
Friday’s the big day; it must feel a bit surreal after everything that has transpired?
Yes it is. My heart’s beating fast. It’s very cool. It’s surreal and at the same time you think – is it supposed to be like this? I’m really happy. I’m very proud of the record and I hope others dig it too.
Do you have anything special planned for the release?
We’ve got a few things. I’ll be sharing a video that features the studio team as well as Brian and Morgan. They are going to share some of their thoughts on the process and what their experience was working with me. I think people will like that because all of the videos that I’ve done, except for the end video, it’s been more of just my perspective so I think people will really enjoy hearing from those guys.
Talking a step back, it looks like it all began with meeting Clint Lowery. What was that initial meeting like for you?
A buddy of mine who I used to work with, took me to a Sevendust show years ago. I had just started listening to them a few months before and became obsessed their music. We went to the show and it was fantastic. We then get to go back stage because my friend knows Clint and I was scared to death. Clint is this tough looking guy and the band has such an aggressive stage presence. I go back and meet him for the first time and he was such a nice guy. He was a totally cool and polite individual who was very calming to talk to. We figured out we have a lot of the same guitar history. We talked a lot about it and just struck a friendship
What were you doing at the time? Playing in other bands?
I was doing a lot of covers on Youtube. That was really the extent of my musical connection to the world. I did a cover for “Better Place” and for “Cold Day Memory.” It turned out really cool so I got the courage to keep going. But that was really it.
Was it that initial conversation with Lowery where you discuss the idea of writing together someday?
Yeah, I let him hear some of the things I had recorded in Garage Band and showed him some of my covers. I said to him, “Maybe one of these days we can do some stuff together. That would be cool, I love your music, you are totally awesome on guitar.” You know, just being a total pain in the ass (laughs). But Clint said, “Yeah man that would be great, I like your stuff.” He wasn’t just being polite. He spoke specifically of the guitar technique I showed him. He knew exactly what I was doing. So he was being 100% authentic and real. That’s basically how it all started, just goofing round and one thing led to another and here we are.
Did you write all the songs on the debut record?
I was the core songwriter, but it’s a collaborative effort between Clint and myself. We co-wrote the whole record. He brought two songs of his in immediately. He gave me the pro tools project and then when we got into the studio it morphed into my flavor. Brian and Morgan added their own thing to each track. They would ask me, “is this good, is it cool?” I would just tell them to go with their instinct. So we would all collaborate, but it was mainly Clint and I.
How did the transition go from Scott Phillips (Alter Bridge) on drums to Morgan Rose (Sevendust)? Was that due to schedule conflicts?
Yeah, it was all scheduling. Flip had some other commitment. We tried to make it work and it just didn’t so Clint reached out to Morgan and he then joined us. It was cool. Flip is a fantastic drummer and so is Morgan, so to be able to work with these two different guys was fantastic.
The record is out on your own label. What was the process of making that happen?
It’s pretty much Gary Noon. Walking with Giants is basically me and I had these other great guys that partnered with me. We don’t have a record label attached to that just yet, so it’s pretty much just me putting it out on my own. Write the stuff, record the stuff, pack and ship the stuff, it’s all me. At some point down the road if I am lucky enough to have a label with me, that’s cool, but for now I want people to know it’s me.
The record sounds great; it has a unique feel blending the two groups with your own style. What really grabbed me was the “Worlds Unknown” beginning and ending, especially the piano melody in there. It was a nice segway in and then roll the credits out.
That’s awesome. I’m glad you liked it. That idea to bookend was something I got from Ben Burnley from Breaking Benjamin. When their new record came out this past year – Dark Before Dawn, I noticed that. I had about seven tunes ready and thought – man, we should do something like that. That’s really where it started. I’m glad it’s well received because I was scared to death about what people were going to think when really the first song is track two and then the record ends with the same melody it starts with.
Do you see any potential collaboration with Myles Kennedy or Lajon Witherspoon as well?
They know about Walking with Giants. I’m not sure if they’ve had a chance to hear it or what they think about it, but it would be awesome to mix with those guys someday in the future. Obviously, I love the combination of guys that I have right now, but who knows maybe I’ll get the chance to ask Mark (Tremonti) and Myles to come in too. They are both so distinctive, they have a particular way of doing things, which may make it end up sounding more like them. I love their stuff, but I want Walking with Giants to sound like me as much as possible.
Given you are such a fan of Alter Bridge and Sevendust and were even contemplating a cover band, what are your favorite songs of theirs?
For Alter Bridge my favorite song is “White Knuckles.” It’s like my theme song. It’s the lyrics that are just always there, it’s just very encouraging. For Sevendust, I have two of them. Their song “Shine,” is one my favorite songs of all time. Every time I hear that song I feel like I can just do anything. “The End is Coming” is the other. That song really moves me. I don’t know what it is. Something about the melody and when the vocals come in, it’s like contemplated a bit and then it just starts kicking ass. It’s really powerful song. I’ve listened to those songs a couple hundred times and I’m still not sick of them.
Is this what you do full-time now? Are you 100% dedicated to this project work wise?
Walking with Giants isn’t fulltime yet. It’s something I would love to do, but we are long way from that right now. I have another career that I’ve been doing for a long time. It’s really tough to be fulltime in the music business in this day and age.
What is your other career?
I’m a trainer and a project manager. It’s something that I love to do and I’m pretty good at. It comes natural, you feel like you can just do anything in that realm. That’s really what my career is like. It’s hard to want to give that up, especially after 15 years.
Do you have any shows lined up?
That’s something I’m working on. The rest of the guys have their own commitments obviously so unless we want to do an all-star show together down the road, it will just be me and a couple of other guys I can bring on the road. I’ve been working with some of the guys in Dear Enemy. We’ve been thinking about rehearsing and doing some shows together. Gogi Randhawa from Dear Enemy is the guy who did the album cover and all the artwork. So it’s going to be me and the dudes I get to work with. That’s important to me because with Walking with Giants, I’m working with these other guys of course and that’s really the purpose of the name, they’re my idols that became my friends, but Walking with Giants is me. I want people to know that.
When you look at Walking with Giants now; thinking back to your first meeting with Lowery and seeing this all unfold, is there a song on the record that speaks to this dream coming true for you?
Yes, the song “Solid Ground.” Through all this process “Solid Ground” has been my anthem of what I would like to be able to say. I feel really grateful and really proud with what we’ve come up with. It’s something I’m really happy with. It’s just what I’m meant to do so I have to keep pushing and pushing until I can do it for a living.