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Progressive Rock Interviews

BangTower

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Bangtower from 2010

MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your personal involvement in music?

Walter Garces: I started making a living as a professional musician at 17, right out of high school. Along the way I have had the good fortune not only to work with many great players, but to somehow make a living through drumming.

I have also taught the drums for many years now, and enjoy the exchange of ideas with all my students. Growing up in Harlem, I was exposed to a lot of soul and R & B as a young lad. Listening to all those Motown records and Cuban music at home has had a huge impact on my drumming.

Neil Citron: I started playing the clarinet when I was eight years old. I switched to guitar when my cousin Howard told me I would never get chicks playing the clarinet.

MSJ:

How did Bangtower come about?

Walter Garces: With raw drum tracks I had that were FTP’d to Percy, and a guitarist we were working with at the time.

Neil Citron: I believe it started with Walter doing some drum tracks and sending them to Percy to see if he was interested in being involved. I was sent bass and drum tracks as my introduction to Bangtower.

Percy Jones: It was a project started by drummer Walter Garces and a guitar player. They invited me in. We started working on it but the guitar player subsequently bailed out because he didn’t care for the direction it was going in. Rather than abandon what we had done up to that point, Walter suggested Neil Citron.  Neil came in and it all got finished quite quickly.

MSJ:

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Walter Garces: If I wasn’t involved in music, I must be dead.

Neil Citron: I would be teaching Martial Arts. It's my second love.

Percy Jones; Meteorology or landscape gardening

MSJ:

How did the name of the group originate?

Walter Garces: A former guitarist came up with the idea of Googling words in pairs and seeing what came back.

Neil Citron: The guitarist that left the band before me, came up with it, and told everyone it was fine to use and keep it.

Percy Jones: The original guitar player thought of it.

MSJ:

Who would you see as your musical influences?

 Walter Garces: First and foremost my drum instructors, Carmine Appice, Joe Markowski and Henry Adler.

Neil Citron: Jeff Beck, Deep Purple/Ritchie Blackmore, Gov't Mule, The Beatles and the Stones.

Percy Jones: Several, but Charles Mingus, Igor Stravinsky, Miles Davis, just to name a few

MSJ:

 What's ahead for you?

 Walter Garces: Looking forward to getting Bangtower off the ground and running. Also I would like to open a drum school in the near future.

Neil Citron: Bangtower is making plans to tour and I'm really looking forward to traveling and meeting people.

Percy Jones: I can't even contemplate. Just thinking about it freaks me out.

MSJ:

 I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Walter Garces: Bangtower is three people with different musical backgrounds getting together to form a musical union of ideas.

Neil Citron: I think of it as blues-rock based with some fusion mixed in for fun!

Percy Jones: I sometimes get labeled as being a fusion player, which I don't care for. I'd rather call it “World Music” because I listen to all sorts of stuff. Current so called “fusion” is akin to "music for washing dishes.”

MSJ:

 Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Walter Garces: Definitely, too many to mention.

Neil Citron: I would love to jam with Prince's band one day. He's all about the groove and there's nothing finer than jamming with guys that can groove hard!

Percy Jones: Christian Vander, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, MC Lyte, to name a few

MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

 Walter Garces: I believe it does both.

Neil Citron: It's ruining the music business as we know it. It makes it almost impossible for bands to make a living.

Percy Jones: Well, it hasn’t made much difference to me because most of the record companies I've been involved with never paid any royalties. So, I don't have much sympathy for their dilemma.

I guess free downloading gives the music exposure, but then the only way a musician can make a living is from gigging. That's OK as long as you get enough gigs.

MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

Walter Garces: It can’t be stopped, people always find a way.

Neil Citron: Fans recording shows doesn't bother me. It's actually flattering to have people like you that much. These recording don't replace your CD, but add to your popularity.

Percy Jones: I don't care as long as they don't sell the stuff and make personal profit from it. Anyone caught profiteering should be sentenced to 90 minutes inside Billy Cobham's kick drum.

MSJ:

 If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Walter Garces: Someone that complains when I practice!

Neil Citron: Jeff Beck, because he's unbeatable!

Percy Jones: I can't say. I don't want my head nailed to a coffee table.

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Walter Garces: Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius, Steve Mariott, Buddy Rich

Neil Citron: How about Percy Jones on bass and Walter Garces on drums?  

Percy Jones: MC Lyte, Miroslav Vitous, Jack DeJohnette and Buckethead.  I would be really curious to see what they could come up with if they really got stuck in and put their minds to it.

MSJ:

 If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

Walter Garces: Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius, Steve Mariott, Buddy Rich. If I could get some of these guys to come back and play that would the ultimate show!

Neil Citron: A reenactment of California Jam

Percy Jones: Moby, Eminem, Amy Winehouse, Leonard Cohen, Cecil Taylor, Venezuelan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tom Jones, Rage Against the Machine, Nik Bartsch's Ronin, Magma, Mawal

MSJ:

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

 Walter Garces: Lee Ritenour, 6 String Theory

Neil Citron: I just bought my second copy of Sloe Gin by Joe Bonamasa. I wore the first one out!

Percy Jones: It's been so long since I bought a CD I really don't remember the last one. Last thing I listened to was a DVD of Miroslav Vitous, Trilok Gurtu and Terje Rypdal.

MSJ:

 Have you read any good books lately?

Walter Garces: George Carlin’s Final Words

Neil Citron: The Woman with the Dragon Tattoo - really great.

Percy Jones: Lightning by Rakov & Uman

MSJ:

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Walter Garces: Count Basie’s Big Band

Neil Citron: The last concert I went to was Peter Frampton at the Canyon Club LA. He still has it!

Percy Jones: Magma in NYC

MSJ:

 Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Walter Garces: Not really.

Neil Citron: I wish I did.

Percy Jones: The sound of a salvo of Katyusha rockets being launched

MSJ:

 What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Walter Garces: Pulling up to a club with a truck full of gear, to find the place closed by order of the city.

Neil Citron: I fell into the crowd at the Santa Monica Civic years ago, and because I didn't have on an all access pass, I couldn't get back onto the stage - security!

Percy Jones: While recording Xcommunication with Brand X. John Goodsall's rental car was towed to a pound in Manhattan. We drove over there in a rented van to pay the fine and retrieve his car. While we are in the office attending to it, the traffic cops attempted to tow the van which we had parked outside the pound.

MSJ:

 If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Walter Garces: Gene Krupa, Chick Webb, and my friend Micky that passed away too early.

Neil Citron: Eric Clapton, President Clinton and Duane Allman.

Percy Jones: Bernard Vonnegut, Charles Mingus and Ava Gardner

MSJ:

And what would be on the menu?

Walter Garces: A vast array of my favorite wines, and some food that goes with it.

Neil Citron: Indian food!

Percy Jones: Bubble and Squeak and beers

MSJ:

 Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Walter Garces: Enjoy yourself!

Neil Citron: I want everyone to support the bands you love, by going to see them live and let’s all continue to make the music business strong again!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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