I was able to contact the wonderfully eclectic Buddy Hale of Old and Gray, who released Picturesque Moments last month, and we came up with a great conversation, from NIN to cave paintings to nursery rhymes..and beyond!
1.) What are some of your influences—musical and nonmusical alike—you drew upon during the creation of your upcoming album? Also, what are you trying to (ultimately) convey through it?
I’m glad you asked that, I’m very inspired by NIN. They were the first band that I ever fell head over heels for. The drum stuff Trent comes up with is hot… too hot if you ask me. I’m a big fan of the nineties… still … and that’s obviously written all over my musical face. But yeah, Picturesque Moments grew from a love of Prog Rock, Punk Rock, and cheap brandy not on the rocks. If you had to guess you’d probably conclude that we have a taste for all things heavy.
We wanted to make something so heavily fuzzed out that it sounded like it was coming from a far off radio station that was using some of Tesla’s original prototypes. We were trying to make the drums feel like a guitar, the bass feel like a synth on fire, the vocals feel like a kick in the caboose, and the guitar feel like The Gravitron.
I don’t think we said this yet, but a big influence is definitely other local bands, Adventure Playground, Buzzmutt, Commissure, Silian Rail, B Hamilton, The Aimless Never Miss, Tartufi, Saything, Judgement Day, Starskate, all the 20 Sided Records bands, and tons more.
Something we all agree on as an influence is sculptural gardening but individually we are inspired by such things as art brut and concepts such as depressing realism, we talk about ants and brains a lot.
Picturesque Moments was a two-year work in process. I intended to make the fuzziest album possible and learned a lot about how difficult that is. The album is a celebration of my one remaining memory of a friend I lost within the last year. She would visit me in my dreams on occasion and sing these tunes to me that often ended up being the words and vocal melodies for the album.
2.) Please give us a brief history of your project. (i.e. how, when, and where you formed, what inspired you to form it…)
Old And Gray has been around forever. To long some might say, but we isn’t goin nowhere but to the top, or the moon. But jeez, we never really knew how to start a band. It took us eight years to finally understand the insane detail and art involve in it. If you aren’t lucky enough to start a band in when you’re twelve… and all end up going to the same college, and then move in together, odds are, you’re going to have a tough time finding people that gel with you musically. I feel like that’s kind of something people grow into over a long period of time. In many cases, if you don’t have that, I think bands fail within the first 2 years.
We all started playing instruments when we were super young. Buddy started on drums when he was 2. Braden started on a Flying V when he was 5. Kevin won back-to-back high school talent shows with his unruly baritone vocal skills. We all got together though… I cant really remember, maybe a month ago? I think I gave Kevin a CD after a girl fight in Oakland and told him to hit me up if he liked doing that kind of thing. Then I think Braden joined the fold at a BBQ after seeing Silian Rail play. Or maybe it was after his girlfriend advised me to ask him if he wanted to jam while we were all hanging out at Beer Garden (the old Mama Buzz).
Oh, actually I remember now. We got together in the summer of 2007 when we all worked as camp counselors. A bond was formed out an affinity for similar campfire songs, and the rest is history. No, We formed in 1998 but after our founding member went on to bigger and better things (DJing a monthly set of mash-ups at a farmers market) we broke up. Now we have reformed to continue on to greatness.
3.) What are your long-term goals for your project, and, if any, other (creative) endeavors?
We have tons of goals. We even have goals about goals. We’re like a goal factory. We plan on opening for Queens Of The Stone Age when the opportunity arises. We’re going to release our next album and have a different singer on each song. After that, we’re going to record an album that synchronizes with the best movie of all time “Ghostbusters”. And then if we’re all still alive and have our wits, we’re going to make a series of short films about aging. We’re going to start playing shows really soon, and plan to do at least one small weekend tour a month. We’re also looking for a permanent sound guy and a lighting tech to join our family.
Ultimately, we’d like to be bigger than the Beatles, meaning we’d have at least one more member than they did. We are currently also working on a post-fusion neo glam-folk electro project called “Pretentious.” We’d like to save up some money from shows and albums sales simply to continue on our musical journey towards affording hot air balloon rides. One or more of us is also working on a secret side project that I’m not supposed to talk about.
4.) Who are some of your favorite artists? (e.g. musical, visual, literary, etc.) Reason I asked about your favorites beyond the musical world is because I also see a lot of visual art elements tapped into your music.
There’s a bunch, but if we’re talking about a jungle island-type situation, it would probably be David Lynch, Frank Zappa, and Anita Kuntz. They all managed to create weirdly distorted and colorful images of the world while staying grounded in real life. It’s an important balance and makes their satire that much better. Oh, and Hieronymous Bosch. Seriously, who doesn’t love that guy?
I suppose any artist that just goes for it and tries to bend whatever they do. Artist that eat paint are always cool in my book too. Especially when they go bat shit crazy and end up making the most amazing things. So what, or who does that mean? They all swam away. And keep swimming. My favorite artist has to be the planet, and all the little parts of it. I find myself just staring at life all the time. This place is NUTS, and the closer you look, the wilder things get. I do lots of strange visual experiments whenever I’m out and about. Like taking mental pictures of things, then scrambling the parts, and reconnecting them with someone’s face that walks by. Or, I’ll take a sound coming from a passing car, I’ll outline it visually, and I’ll imagine it drawing itself on something totally unrelated. That can be pretty inspiring, if not simply entertaining as all heck. I also have this fascination with staring at the sun, and I’ve seen some pretty crazy things while doing that.
What else? Oh yeah. Nursery rhymes… you have to have those. I’ve really been into cave paintings lately as far as a take on visual art goes. Once again the ‘Art Brut’ stuff, folk art from around the country. It’s like finding treasure when you come across a piece from someone who isn’t trying to be famous or may not even consider themselves an artist and what they are doing is really great.
5.) One last thing: Since the East Coast most definitely needs a taste of your music, do you have any words of advice for them as well?
Hey east coast. If you want to taste Old And Gray… We recommend paring our newest album (Picturesque Moments) with Korbel, chimichangas, and a slice of za. If you’re an east coast band reading this, lets play some shows together (especially you Buke And Gase). Hit us up if you want to do a show trade or something like that. We’d love to hear more about what’s going on over there too. I have access to a venue in Berkeley if any of you are on tour and want help booking a show here. East Coast = Excellent!