Just Be Still…

An interview with Tracy Byrd of A Gathering of None
Justin Stankus

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A Gathering of None is a one man project that is headed by Tracy Byrd (aka TB) that now has turned into a full fledged quintet.  His new project is the result of breaking molds and smashing musical boundaries and escaping the confines of just certain genres and blending them all together to bring something new to the table that everyone will enjoy whether you’re a punk, metal head, stoner, or whatever else, TB with his new band has brought something extremely refreshing.  What is here is the outlet of a musician who wants to do something different and inspiring.  Technicolor Terror has had the chance to chat with TB about his new band.  So let’s start this interview already!

Justin – So Tracy we already know each other but for our fans and readers could I get your name and your position within A Gathering of None?

Tracy – Well, I’m Tracy Byrd (not to be confused with the country singer) or TB if you prefer.  I am the main singer/songwriter in A Gathering of None and one of three guitarists.

Justin – Tracy can you tell us how A Gathering of None came about and how all the current band members came together?  Was this something that was always in the back of your mind or something that has come up more recently?

Tracy – I have wanted to do something a bit more off my beaten path (Blitzkid, Vagora, Automatons) for years now. I have influences all across the board musically, and in early February of 2012, I went and recorded some songs all on my own that I had written that I initially had thought were going to be songs I would use elsewhere, but they were never exactly right for anything else other than what became AGON.  This past November, I put the ball in motion and started working on this as my main outlet.  The “Purging Empty Promises” EP is all just me.  I did everything, the guitars, the bass, all the vocals and drums.  You can tell too, especially the drums!  Haha.  But now, we have a full lineup.  I am joined recently on guitar by Carlos Cofino (aka Loki from Darrow Chemical Company/the Doomsday Prophecy) and Doug Schwenker on bass (Darrow Chemical Company) along with Justin Osburn (guitars) and John K (drums) from Celebrity Sex Scandal and the Bloodfuckers.

Justin – So how did the name come about?  Is there a story behind it?  Were there any other names that almost made the cut and would you mind sharing any of them if there were?

Tracy – No other names except for variations on A Gathering of None that never really clicked or rolled quite well.  An Army of One, but as people probably know, that’s already it’s own thing so that idea had to go, haha.  This is probably the question I get asked the most, especially now that we are a quintet.  People probably wonder how it makes sense, and I can’t blame them.  But initially, the idea for AGON was just to be me, hence a gathering of none.  But now that we are an actual band, I think it implies more that there’s no stylistic boundaries or any specific genre that we could be labelled.  Both good things!

Justin – Obviously the band has many musical influences and you can hear many different genre influences throughout, “Purging Empty Promises”  takes a different approach from past bands you’ve been associated with.  How would you describe your sound and the pros of this change musically for you?

Tracy – I think that everything I’ve done is still in there, you hear  a song like “Just Be Still” and there’s definitely still Blitzkid in there, same with “Pathways” which is more akin to what I feel is a sound Vagora would do great justice with.  My past is what established my songwriting, so bits of that are always going to be in there and that’s perfectly fine with me.  But the newer material I have been writing is a bit heavier, a bit more stoner rock and mid to late 90’s post hardcore (Only Living Witness/Handsome/Quicksand/Helmet) along with the dreampop and melodic punk stuff.  It’s a pro because I feel that we can do whatever we want and have an audience somewhere that’s going to get it.  That is never a bad thing.  And you know what?  Given my past, I have to thank all of the Blitzkid and Vagora fans that currently support this new project.  Those people and that scene have proven to be my biggest supporters and that is awesome and something I will gladly recognize.  Having said that though, we seem to have fans across the board that like alternative, metal, punk, stoner rock.  It’s just amazing the amount of support we have thus far and I can only hope it grows from here.

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Justin – What made you want to become a musician and pick up the guitar amongst others?  Instrumentally who were your biggest idols growing up?

Tracy – Honest answer. I bought the cassette “Who Made Who” by AC/DC from my mother’s friend at a yard sale for $1.  After that I was hooked and then I got into bands like Guns N’ Roses, Megadeth, Metallica, and then later stuff like King’s X and Bad Religion.  I was sold from that point on.  Vocally, I take a TON of inspiration from Layne Staley, Jonah Jenkins, Doug Pinnick, Joey Ramone and Zoli Teglas.  Guitar wise, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, Pepper Keenan, Billy Corgan, Dimebag Darrell, James Hetfield, Brett Guerwitz, Billy Joe Armstrong (his leadwork on those first two Green Day albums is awesome!) and way too many more to mention.

Justin – Now we all know of your debut release, “Purging Empty Promises”.  But is it too soon to ask if there is any new material on the way?  Can we expect a full length anytime in the near future?

Tracy – Not at all.  Immediately after I wrapped mixing on the EP, I started demoing out new stuff.  As of right now, we have 18 songs to choose from for the next release, which will definitely be a full length.  I’m also toying with the idea of putting out another EP first though, because for “Purging Empty Promises” I recorded 8 songs, maybe I will include them on the full length or just do that as a digital only release.  But the next physical thing will definitely be a full length.

 184371_212758075535316_40704422_nJustin  – What is your favorite song off, “Purging Empty Promises”?  What makes it your favorite off the release?

Tracy – I think my favorite song would be “Pathways” because it’s a very heavy song with it’s subject matter.  It’s about lost relationships with people over the years because you know you fucked up and did alotta wrong instead of alotta right.  Not only that but it was basically the first song I wrote for AGON.  The opening two lines “Just turned 35, and it’s been about nine days” are absolutely true.  I started writing that song nine days after my 35th birthday.  So it’s special to me for those reasons.  That song’s end gives you a choice, in the line “Search your heart today, which way will you go?” ya know?  You can either keep screwing up and not learning from your past mistakes, or you can try to right yourself for yourself.

Justin – So I understand A Gathering of None will be embarking on a mini north east tour this September.  Are there any other and bigger tours in the works?  Is this a band that people will expect to be touring a lot?

Tracy – I am not even going to go into the laundry list of reasons why I refuse to call four shows a tour but yes. haha We will be doing some dates in the northeast in September that I am VERY excited and nervous about. This is the first time I’ve ever been onstage without a guitar strapped to me the whole time EVER.  Myself I am Massachusetts, Doug and Carlos are in NJ and Justin and John are based in San Antonio, so right now, I think the goal of playing 20 to 30 times a year is more than reasonable provided everyone can afford to travel and meet up and has the time from work and their other projects. But no, we won’t be touring alot. AGON was never intended to be a full time touring entity, but you will see us out there from time to time. Doing limited shows just makes it more special for fans of our music in my opinion.

Justin – When it comes to touring and shows who are some of your favorite bands to share the stage with?  If given the chance to play with whoever you so desired who would they be?

Tracy – Man, The Cryptkeeper Five hands down will always and forever be my favorite band to play with.  I also like Pollock from Buffalo, Birds In Paintings Can’t Fly, and Black Pharaoh.

Justin – Do you or any of your current band mates have any weird pre-show obsessions?

Tracy – I’m not sure of the other guys, but I know I do, absolutely, haha I don’t like to eat too close to showtime, that’s always a bummer once you get up there and go “Man, that Taco Bell wasn’t a good idea an hour before going on” ya know?  When you are out there doing shows, it is a fight or flight situation when it comes to finding the time to grab some food, and sometimes you just have to go up there with it sitting like a brick.  So that’s one, I also like to find a corner somewhere alone, and just sit and do some vocal warmups or some stretching and at least one beer.

Justin – If someone stumbled upon this site and spotted this interview not having any idea who A Gathering of None was how would you describe the band?  Why would you suggest people check out your music?

Tracy – I would describe the band as soulful nuanced rock n’ roll with elements of melodic punk, post hardcore, 90’s alternative, stoner rock and metal.  And I would suggest people check out our music because we have something for everyone that is into ANY harder edged music.

Justin – Tracy, has any of your lyrics ever struck a nerve with friends, family, or loved ones?

I have had people tell me recently, that songs like “Just Be Still” and “Pathways” have really helped them out through some hard times or that they were inspired by the words in some way. That is a great gift to get from something you wrote to help yourself get some emotions out. The fact that ANY words I might write could help someone else or strike a chord with them is phenomenal. It’s one of the best things about connecting people through music. If it’s relatable, and it moves others as it did you? Then that’s a great feeling, and nothing else compares to it.

65313_173550049456119_224635545_nJustin – Give or take you have been involved and making music for more than 14 years now.  During this time what is the most important thing you have learned personally?  How do feel all this experience has helped you musically and as a musician?

Tracy – Do what you truly want to do and be honest about it and make yourself happy.  It’s helped me because you learn as you go not what to do, sometimes at heavy costs, but you have to do what is best for you in the end.

Justin  – What’s the best way/place for fans to get a hold of your music and merchandise?

Tracy – We don’t have an official website just yet, which will soon change.  For now though the best way to get in touch with us is via our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AGatheringofNone or http://www.reverbnation.com/agatheringofnone
and we have our own merch store over at http://agatheringofnone.bigcartel.com

Justin – In closing I sincerely want to thank you Tracy for taking the time to do this interview with Technicolor Terror!  Is there anything you would like to add or say to the fans?

Tracy – I just want to thank you personally for doing this with me, and I also want to thank anyone and everyone who has supported, is still supporting or will support what I do with A Gathering of None. All of it means a great deal to me and is still mindblowing. More stuff from us in the future I promise.

– Thanks for reading everyone!
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One response

  1. Amazing! Its genuinely remarkable paragraph, I have got much clear idea about from this paragraph.

    July 27, 2014 at 4:45 am

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