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"What Sets You Apart?" -Finding Yourself As An Artist, An Interview With Gonzo

Article written by Kyla Wyllie
A huge part if music is being an individual, fully finding yourself and allowing room to grow, not only as a person but as an artist also. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially if you don’t know where to start. Most likely, you’ll want to begin at your roots, musically speaking.
“I personally came from a punk background,” says Jack Tobias, bassist for Oregon raised band, Gonzo. “I was influenced by Iggy Pop and Sex Pistols, then Growlers and the whole ‘beach goth’ scene. But my biggest influence is probably The Animals and Allah Las as well as a psychedelic vibe.” As a band, Gonzo has been influenced by a large collection of artists, from The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys, to “jazz cats like Charles Mingus.” This collaboration of surrounding styles is what has helped this group evolve and mature the sound they put out, one that Ryan Pickard, lead guitarist, describes as “indie rock with a dash of blues.” Jack goes on to add, “I think our whole ‘image’ is kind of different than everyone right now especially in Oregon which makes us unique and puts us out there more than other local bands.”
Another aspect to consider when finding yourself as a musician is style, and not the kind you can hear, but the kind you can see. From what Jack has told me, it’s obvious that the members of Gonzo go all out with their performances, “Rickey (lead singer) will wear a Chinese blazer, I’ll wear black and white overalls, Ryan (lead guitarist) will wear a Starbucks hat and his girlfriend’s clothes, and Andrew (drummer) will, whatever…we all bring something different to the table.” In addition, stage presence is extremely important if you want to set yourself apart, even if it’s only you performing, with the right stage presence, one person can fill an entire room. “I (Rickey) think that we all get turned off of bands with a ‘stiff’ stage presence, so we really try to stay loose and just put on a fun show for people to watch.” These are big contributing factors that set Gonzo apart from the rest of the Oregon scene. (Differential from the California scene, and more local, San Diego scene, that most of our readers find themselves in.)
Finally, the last idea that we touched on with the band, you have to accept the fact that you win some and you lose some. Some of you may not realize that your first band won’t click, most often than not (but it isn’t impossible). Bands are compiled of individuals, and taking this article full circle, each member has to know themselves to some extent. Now I’m not saying that you have to go on this big “self finding journey,” what I’m saying is that you have to know your strengths and weaknesses, and be willing to progress and think outside of the box, while still having a firm grip on your personal boundaries. To do that you have to be willing to fail a few times. For example, Gonzo took time to evolve, losing two original members and forming different ideas for the future. They twisted their sound until it was what they play today, and may still even be making alterations. Going back even further, lead singer, Rickey Havern told us a story that occurred a long time ago that played a big part in who he is as a musician today. “I was kicked out of a band one time when I was 14, and in the long run it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was just a shitty rhythm guitar player and didn’t have a ton to contribute, but I took it personally and started writing songs. That’s pretty much how I found myself as an artist.” He goes on to add, “I didn’t have the drive that I have now.” Which just goes to show, you understand yourself most when at your lowest points. Whether or not you get back up, and what you do with that experience, that’s fully up to you.
Keep an eye out for Gonzo’s EP and a new album, “Midnight Fight,” COMING SOON! Expect a tour over into California later this summer!
But in the meantime, check out what they have on soundcloud:

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