Consisting of four talented musicians who joined forces in Los Angeles, California, Gundriver is a rip-roaring, all gas-no brakes rock ‘n’ roll band who are influenced by Black Sabbath and AC/DC. The band recently released their debut album No. 1, which was recorded in less than three weeks. The album features nine tracks, comprised of the four basic elements that make up all great rock music: riffs, grooves, thunderous beats and soaring vocals. They are currently on the road supporting Michael Schenker on most dates of his Bridge the Gap tour. We recently checked in with Tom Potter, the band’s founder and guitarist, who was gracious enough to answer our questions while on the road.
Limelight Magazine (LM): You’re currently on the road supporting the legendary Michael Schenker. How’s the tour going so far?
Tom Potter (TP): The tour’s going great! It’s a real pleasure to be out on the road with such a great group of professionals, and we’re enjoying watching Michael Schenker perform every night. Can’t say enough about the experience.
LM: Were you fans of Michael Schenker prior to going on this tour?
TP: Definitely! But, I can personally say that I really enjoy live music and getting to watch one of rock’s great guitar players perform every night has been one heck of an experience. We’re all bigger fans now! Michael’s playing is brilliant and [vocalist] Doogie [White] sounds like a million dollars – those guys are the real deal!
LM: You’ve received a lot of positive feedback on several social media sites about your live performances. What do you like most about performing live on stage?
TP: That’s great to hear! Rock ‘n’ roll is a real organic thing and the connection with fans live is what we’re after. Even though we’re all very proud of our first album, we think that our music translates live even better than in the studio and we love being able to bring it to people who love rock.
LM: Who came up with the name of the band? Why was Gundriver selected?
TP: I came up with the name, or actually took it from my time in the Army flying apaches. It’s a term used for people who fly gunships – and after going through the trademarking/domain name search it fit best.
LM: You’re music is heavily influenced by bands such as AC/DC and Black Sabbath. What are some of the other bands that inspire you?
TP: Zeppelin, Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses – Jimmy Page had a huge impact on me with regards to song structure and the concept of tension and release so that’s evident in some of the songs. Stevie Ray Vaughn basically taught me to play the guitar, even though it was only through his music I learned how really digging into the guitar can bring out the various colors the instrument has to offer – the growls and screams if you will.
LM: Your debut album Gundriver No. 1 was released a couple of months ago. How long did it take you to make the record? Are you pleased with the finished product?
TP: It took us six weeks of writing, rehearsing and recording to get it completed. Those sessions took place in February and June of 2013 in Los Angeles. It was a really cool experience, basically to start things out [vocalist] Scott [Siegel], [bassist/vocalist Crazy] Tomes [and I would work out the basic song sections and vocal arrangements in Scott’s living room. After that, the songs got the final treatment when Alex [Rivas] brought drums into the mix – which usually included some final arrangements; for instance, the bass/drum solo section in “Nothing to Lose” was developed by Alex and Tomes in rehearsals only several days before we went into the studio and it came out great.
We’re pleased with it – obviously your first album teaches you quite a bit from the writing, arranging, recording and producing perspective, so, even though we love it, I would just expect things to get better as we progress.
LM: Do you have any favorite songs off of it? What makes them your favorite?
TP: [We] all [like] “Against the Darkness.” There’s a funny story attached to that one. Tomes, Scott and I were writing at his house and I had recorded the main riff and we were listening to it. Scott fell asleep on the couch and, while he was racked out, Tomes came up with that amazing vocal line and I wrote the lyrics while listening to the basic vocal line. As the song went through the rehearsal/recording process it just got better. We all are really proud of it.
LM: The song “Outta My Head” from this album was picked up by the Local MusiCafe on WMVY radio that airs on Tuesday nights from 9 – 10 p.m. Since you’re a California band, how do you feel about it being picked up by a Massachusetts station located across the country?
TP: It’s great that anyone would play our music and we’re appreciative of that anywhere it occurs. Scott’s the only Californian in the band, I’m a Virginian, Alex is from Illinois and Crazy Tomes is from Israel. L.A. is great place to make a rock record and it’s where we all met, and since we travel so much it’s what we’re currently claiming as home.
LM: What are your plans after the tour ends?
TP: Sleep, and then get back to writing songs. We have a few in the can for our next album and want to push forward towards a strong follow up to No.1.
LM: How can fans purchase your music?
TP: It’s available on a wide variety of digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon.com, etc., or you can pick up a CD at one of the shows!
LM: Is there anything you’d like to add for anyone reading this?
TP: We’re really glad to see firsthand that the rock n roll public is still very supportive of the genre and we’re having a blast supporting Michael Schenker on this tour – don’t miss it!