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Interview: GMT (John McCoy & Bernie Torme)

Rock Stars...

GMT, or Guy McCoy Tormé, are ROBIN GUY, JOHN McCOY and BERNIE TORME and formed in 2006.  Individually the band represent a wealth of experience.  John McCoy and Bernie Torme were members of Ian Gillan's Band in the late seventies/early eighties whilst Bernie deputised for Randy Rhoads in 1982 after the tragic death of the Ozzy guitarist.  Robin Guy has sessioned for a number of well known artists, including Adam Ant!

GMT, photo by Noel Buckley

Bernie Torme and John McCoy talked to GRTR's Joe Geesin...

GMT are playing live a lot, getting a lot of good reviews; you must feel on a bit of a roll.

JM We are not playing as much as we'd like or even at the right venues but we just love to play, it's where the magic happens.

We feel on a roll for about two hours a day (on stage) but its the crap involved in getting to that stage that's the problem.  Still we keep on keeping on, what else could we do!?

BT Yes the travelling and logistics and managing it all at this level is a complete nightmare: every time we do a gig I swear I'm never going to get involved in all that crap again: but the playing is magic, and it's good to be in a band of mates, but the other bits are not getting any easier...

Your music is much more stripped down punky rock’n’roll. Was this an intentional move?

JM Our music/albums seem to strike people in different ways, mostly good, but there was never a masterplan or anything intentional, it's just what comes out of mine and Bernie's writing with the added input of Mr.Guy in my mind it's just a traditional rock three piece, the same racket we always made!

BT Yes I wouldn't necessarily describe it as that, we do fifteen minute jams too, that's not exactly punk! More like psycho jazz! But it does have the energy when required, it's just us. We definitely do not try to pigeon hole it, there is no plan, it's just what we like to do the way we like to do it.

What plans for a third album?

JM The third album is well under way in fact we have more material than can be used, some of it may surprise but rest assured it will ROCK!

GMT, photo by Noel Buckley

You’ve played a few festivals, how did you go down?

JM Great.  It's a festival band and we always get a good reception, I guess it shows we're having a good time .

BT Really great, we all really enjoy the various festival vibes, they are all different, and they seem to like us too.

Any stories from the road you’d like to tell fans?

JM I'm afraid my stories are unprintable.

BT and I can't remember any....

How do you go about writing new material?

BT It just hits you really, nice riff, nice groove, nice lyric, tune, anything like that and build on it: it's difficult to force it, like buses really, nothing comes for ages and then three hundred and fifty come at once...  Sometimes the whole idea is instant, sometimes you store it and it combines in the subconscious with another idea, sometimes that can take 20 years! I still have bits that I'm trying to use from the Gillan days! No plan, each one is a gift that appears.

JM Bernie and I are quite prolific writers and also our own heaviest critics.  We instinctively know when we have an idea that is right for GMT although we write for other projects/artists.

We live quite a distance apart so we tend to send each other ideas, finished songs,riffs, lyrics etc agree that they are 90% rubbish and then get together to bash them into almost coherent songs, then we have the task of conveying the feel and mood of the track to Robin which is pointless as he just plays whatever he likes.

Robin Guy, GMT, photo by Noel Buckley

How did you come to work with drummer Robin Guy?

JM Robin was at Bernie's studio doing sessions, I was there working on a different project.  A phone call came through asking if Bernie and I would do a charity show for Clive Burr (Iron Maiden), Clive's an old friend of both of us, I worked with him way back in the seventies when he was the drummer for Samson, Bernie worked with him in Desperado (with Dee Snider) so obviously we agreed to do something.

Robin heard the conversation and asked if he could play drums as he's also a friend of Clive and we rolled up unrehearsed, We had a great time and were asked if we'd like to play a festival alongside Saxon and Wishbone Ash,

We of course said yes and then realised we had to prepare a set. We played that show and decided then and there that we had found something special, the rest is history.

Will you work with Colin Towns again?

BT That goes without saying, Colin's a good friend.

JM Colin Towns?  The man's a genius!  We all love working with Colin and would jump at any opportunity to work with him.  He's already contributed some parts for tracks on GMTs third album.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

BT Always, mostly recording in my case because of Barnroom, my studios. You've got to do everything you can, travel broadens the mind.

JM We all have other less exciting projects on the go, my production/session work and continuing involvement with Angel Air Records releases, Bernie has his excellent studio, Barnroom, which is becoming very popular, and Robin works constantly, he describes himself as a Drum Whore! Nice.

John McCoy, GMT, photo by Noel Buckley

You've worked together on several projects, including Mammoth. How did they come about?

JM I've known and worked with Bernie since the mid seventies(!) and we've stayed friendly and in touch all those years.  For instance when Kenny Cox blew a brain fuse and walked out of Mammoth during the recording of the first album it was an obvious and positive choice to get Bernie in to finish some guitar parts and solos.  Shame he hadn't eaten enough pies.  He's always my first choice when a guitarist is needed.

BT ...and I left many more pies for John and Nicky than Kenny ever would have...

When did you first play together? Was it Scrapyard?

BT Wow! Indeed it was! John replaced the original bass player, a guy by the name of Bernie Hagley who very sensibly went off to join Vanity Fare..... they had paying gigs...

JM Yes Scrapyard!  What a band.  Roger Hunt on drums.  Classic seventies three piece heavy as a lead balloon.  Well that's how we went down anyway.

BT Roger was a great drummer.

Will the Gillan connection always weigh you down?

BT I definitely would'nt put it that way! I made a name as a guitar player entirely out of playing with Ian, and have many happy memories of those days.

When I left, due to my conviction we were being f**ked over, I suppose I also had more of a sense of closure than the others.

The silly stuff about "did he leave or was he pushed" that still goes on in the world according to Ian's acolytes is just attention seeking on behalf of their leader really, nowt wrong with a bit of attention seeking though: truth is I offered to carry on till the end of the tour but no longer, so Ian told me to eff off on the spot!

A good example of how two people can shoot themselves in the foot at precisely the same time. So in each of our views of events we both feel 100% justified: the only thing was, and I MUST mention this..... was that I SAID IT FIRST!!!!

All very childish really. Gillan was a great experience, I loved every minute of it, I still love Ian, great guy to have around, great singer. We may have had disagreements but the main thing to remember is we had a great time, and we made some good noises.

JM Odd question Joe!  I'm very proud of what we achieved with Gillan.  It was a remarkable band.  I suppose you refer to the terrible financial mess that we were faced with at the end (which is why Bernie had left a couple of years earlier) and the realisation that we'd been ripped off in the grandest manner but now I like to concentrate on the good bits and there were plenty!

Great players, great songs, freedom to explore visual performance etc etc and of course the best singer!  I was asked by a major promoter last year if Gillan would reform for a few shows, featuring the classic lineup but ultimately that decision is Ian's.  Maybe he's forgotten how special it was.

BT I was asked by the promoter you old git! Are we talking about the same promoter or are they like buses?

Bernie Torme, GMT, photo by Noel Buckley

What did you make of the remastered Gillan reissues of a couple of years back?

JM Very good and great to see after all these years.

BT Very glad they are out again in a well packaged and mastered form, but personally I'd rather listen to bands I wasn't in!

Gillan were always a great live band. Do you think justice has been served with the Angel Air CDs?

JM Probably not although the BBC CDs on Angel Air are probably the best sounding live Gillan stuff but maybe not the best performances. I've lived with them for so long now its hard to be objective.

BT I think the BBC ones have a magic. I personally don't like the others that I'm on, I haven't heard any of Janick's. I liked the one from the Marquee that Steve Byrd and Pete Barnacle played on, some great tracks on that.

Have you done any sessions that fans might not know about?

JM Yes, and for a lot of them I'd like to keep it that way!Some goodies in amongst the boring stuff like Rogue Males album, Nail It.  Did some great tracks with Stevie Zee Suicide, er check out Twin Dragons from Italy if you can find them.

BT Probably but luckily I can't remember any of them...

Apart from with the Split Knee Loons, have you ever played other instruments?

JM Is The Split Knee Loons an instrument?  Not come across that one, or are you referring to the fantastic Gillan Tribute band that has just resurfaced in Japan?Personally, my first instrument was cello and after that trumpet, I also play drums, autoharp, zither, dulcimer harmonium, double bass, and guitar of course.

BT Mandolin, harmonica, keyboards of various types, bass. Nothing too good of course.

Who would you most like to play with?

BT Myself.... but seriously, lots of people really, I like playing. Zak Starkey comes to mind, I really like his playing.

JM Jeff Beck.  Last time I played with him was back in the early seventies when he guested on tracks for my band ZZebra.  Would have loved to work with Frank Zappa.  I like to play with people that excite my jaded soul.

What can we expect from GMT in the future?

JM More of the same racket we always make!  We are in discussions for an epic first European tour as I write, we'll keep you posted.

BT ...and hopefully a different racket too...

Do you have much unreleased material in the vaults? (GMT, Gillan, solo, anything)

JM Yes, sheds full of the stuff but for the moment I'm concentrating on new GMT material.

BT Yes.

Any message for your fans?

JM Thank you for the continued incredible support.  You all are obviously oozing good taste.  That's all from me!

BT Thanks, you are even crazier than us! We love you all!


Interview © May 2010 Joe Geesin

Photos by Noel Buckley

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