Interview: Gon Pan (Down In One)

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There’s no denying that metal’s original giants and heavyweights are still loved and adored. I’m talking about your back to basics heavy metal- legends like Black Sabbath, Pantera, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, and countless other god-like figures. From the depths and couches of your local punk’s basement to the modern day rock-alternative satellite stations, these heroes continue to influence a vast amount of people. Zoom in on Nottingham’s Down In One- a freshly established band of drunken metalheads that produce a gritty sound that is directly influenced by the aforementioned heavyweights. I had the pleasure of catching up with their vocalist, Gon, about his starts in metal, beer, and all-things related to Down In One and heavy goddamned metal!

Ouch That Hertz!: So, first, tell us a bit about yourself, Gon! 

Gon: Hey, man!  Well, my name’s Gon, I’m from Nottingham in the UK. I love riding motorbikes, drinking, and metal! Though the motorbikes and drinking usually come separately…

OTH!: So, Gon, how did you get your start in vocal music- especially in heavy metal? 

Gon: It all started when I really got into Machine Head. I’d been playing guitar for a couple of years by that point but I started really listening to what Robb Flynn was doing vocally and lyrically- suddenly, I wanted to be him!

Starting off was a little awkward. I started off with screams/growls, those kinda Cookie Monster metal vocals so it was a case of finding out what I can do with my voice that wouldn’t make it hurt too much. Really, it was just 16-year-old me yelling along to Seasons Wither in my room! Then, when I had a bit of confidence, I started putting myself out there as a frontman instead of a guitarist for bands and I quickly realized that I preferred singing and writing lyrics over [playing] guitar.

It’s all about just getting out there- there’s tons of great websites for finding other people to form bands with. I was lucky because I met a few friends through school and the like back in the day and we started forming bands!

OTH!: If I remember correctly, you’re an analytical technician for Pepsico, yes? How do you manage working full-time and being a full-time musician? What are some of the hardships of being so split between two full-time projects in your life?

Gon:  Haha, yeah, gotta pay my bills, man! Luckily my job’s a 9-5 Monday to Friday, so I’ve got my Friday nights and weekends to myself. A couple of the guys in the band work shifts and that can make organisation awkward.  It can get tiring, though; working all week, partying and gigging on the weekends, it’s a hard life, haha!

I think the main difficulty is finding the right balance and compromising. I love my job and what I do throughout the week, but I also love music, so sometime’s I’ve gotta say no to exciting, alcohol-fueled things I;d love to do throughout the week because I’ve gotta get to work on the next day. But, I think I’ve got the balance nailed at the moment, so right now I don’t mind being split between the two projects! It’s nice being busy.

OTH!: Taking that question a little further- do the rest of your bandmates also have full-time “regular” occupations and, if so, how do you all manage to balance out schedules to fit in practice time? 

Gon: Yeah, man, we’re all “productive” members of through the week!  Our guitarist and bassist both work for Harley Davidson, which is cool as Hell, and our drummer works for a biotech firm.

But, yeah, a couple of the guys works shifts, so it’s just a case of knowing each other’s schedules. Usually we get gigs a fair while in advance,  so we’ve got plenty of time to organise and book days off and the like. We’re surprisingly organised for a band of drunks!

OTH!: I have to say, I love the beer/drinking reference in your band’s name. I take it you’re a beer lover, then. I personally enjoy the microbrews of my home in New York. What’s your favorite ale? 

Gon: Well, this is slightly embarrassing. I do love my beer, but unfortunately I’m a massive fan of cheap lager! I don’t get on with a lot of ales because they’re quite hoppy, though I do love Brooklyn Lager. I’m more of a whisky man; scotch is my drink of choice and, lately, I’ve been getting more into bourbons. I just finished a bottle of Woodford Reserve and my God was that delicious!

OTH!: Speaking of your band- I’m curious- how did you all meet? What’s the history of Down In One? 

Gon: So, I met Jonny, our guitarist, a couple of years back when we were working for the same company and we very quickly realized [that]  we had a mutual appreciation for drinking and loud metal.Forming a band was clearly the next logical step! the band I was in at that point had just fallen apart and I mentioned being a vocalist to Jonny. The stars must have been aligned that day because he was looking for a vocalist! So we started jamming together and got some riffs down, and Jonny invited Rich (our bassist), who he met through Harley Davidson, to fill out the low end.

I’ve known Jimmy, our drummer, since we were 15. We used to play in a band back in the day and, after noticing we sorely lacked a rhythm section, I asked him to come play drums with us. And the lineup just clicked! We haven’t changed the formula since; the four of us work really well together and it’s really great being in a band with four goddamn good mates who just want to have fun!

OTH!: I really dig the sort of ‘Black Sabbath meets Pantera and Motley Crue’ vibe that I get from you vocally (and instrumentally from the rest of the band). It’s nice, for a change, to see a new “heavy metal” band actually taking cues and influence from the original/classic greats and giants. I feel that current heavy metal has taken on anew “modernized” form that’s pretty different from what you guys are doing- so why did you take this more “classical” direction of grit and sludge in your music? 

Gon: Thank you very much, man! It’s an absolute honor to be compared to those heroes! It’s exactly as you say, there’s a lot of new modernised metal, which is cool and I do appreciate it a lot of it, but I think there will always be a place for the down and dirty old-school. There’s definitely a space waiting to be filled with dirty riffs and low down sludge!

We all grew up listening to Sabbath,  Pantera, Metallica… All those true legends who blazed a path of substance abuse and laid the foundations of metal and, I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, they’re why I picked up a guitar and started singing in the first place. Our musical tastes might have changed and branched out nowadays, but, shit, I’ll never forget the goosebumps I had the first time I heard Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath, or just the sheer appreciation for Dimebag’s insane riffage. And it’s these songs and bands that influenced me and made me who I am as a musician now. I think we took the path we did because we write to our passions and think this is the kind of music we’re passionate about.

OTH!: It’s been 2 years since the release of your debut EP The Bittersweet Remedy. You guys released two new singles this past March, the sludgy “Elena” and the groovy “Mad Gun.” Can we expect more epic southern sludgy, groovy, heavy goddamned metal from you guys in the near future? Maybe another album in the works? 

Gon: Haha, of course, man! We’ve got a lot of songs we’ve not recorded yet and we’ve just started writing again to try and get some new songs into our live performances. Some of these new ones are seriously killer! I think we’ve pretty much got an album’s worth of material- it’s just a case of funding and time. We’ve been mainly focused on gigging and just getting ourselves out there at the moment. I think winter might be a good time to start getting some more tracks recorded. I don’t know about New York, but English winter is so goddamned miserable that you just don’t want to set foot outside!

OTH!: Speaking of “Mad Gun,” you guys just recently shot a music video for it this past March. It looks like you guys had a blast- like one hell of a banging party! How did you like working with Rob Rutley of Untraditional Productions? 

Gon: It was an absolutely amazing day! To start with, we we re all hungover as Hell,but we started drinking from about 11 on the day of the shoot… Good God, I was paying for it the next day! It was an amazing day of partying and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends. The outpouring support from them really meant so much to us!

But Rob Rutley was great to work with- very professional and anyone who can still be professional while putting up with the four of us dicking about is a true hero! And I think the results speak for themselves; I absolutely love that video!

OTH!: On the topic of music videos, will there be any future music videos in the works from you guys?

Gon: I sure hope so! Again, it’s down to money and time. I had this idea for a video inspired by Gangs of New York that I really want to do, so get a load of us  dressed up as 20th Century gangsters and have  a massive brawl set to one of our tracks… It’d be a thing of beauty!

OTH!: I noticed that you guys have had all your work mixed by Kevin Simpson and mastered by Subsequent Mastering. I take it it’s safe to say that you highly recommend these guys. How did you come to work wiht Kevin and Subsequent? 

Gon: Me and Kev go back a bit. He was the guitarist for the band I was in before Down In One and he’s also an utter genius when it comes to recording. We played together for ages and I owe him a lot- my time in RH Conspiracy really shaped the frontman that I am now. But when it came to recording Down In One’s music, there was nobody else that I wanted to work with. He just perfectly nails the tone we’re going for and hes always got great ideas when we’re recording. He’s also a right laugh to work with!

Kev usually sorts out who does the mastering, too, so I think it’s a case of who he likes at the time. Can’t argue with the results, though. I’m blown away every time he sends me back tracks we’ve recorded!

OTH!: You just played a show with Ten Days Later at the Running Horse in Nottingham. How did it go? I imagine it was quite the party! 

Gon:  They were a right laugh to meet! The other bands on the show were all awesome, too. It’s always nice when everyone’s easy going and laid back- makes the show a lot more enjoyable!

We had a really great time at the show! The crowd responded really well and we were all rather drunk! Our good friend, Phil Core, put on the show and he’s always amazing to work with. He always puts on fantastic shows and it’s always a pleasure playing his shows!

OTH!: Speaking of shows, can we expect any future tours from Down In One at all? Perhaps in support of any new music? 

Gon: We’ve got a couple of shows lined up, but we’re always looking to gig! I think this year we’re focusing on tryign to get around a bit more. We’ve played our local area a fair amount so we want to branch out a little. We’ve been trying to get a little mini-tour of the UK sorted, too. That would be a lot of fun! And, Hell, I would be over the moon if we could play outside of the UK this year!

OTH!: Alrighty, Gon, I always like to end my interviews with something a little silly. Let’s say you and the guys are at your favorite haunt and somewhere along the night (and after a few pints), you manage  to picka  fight with a mean-muggin’ otter. Thankfully,you’ve got your Down In One bros to back you up… Or so you think. Which one stays and fights with you, which one immediately bails, and which one just sort of stands off to the side and watches? (Bonus question: How quickly do you lose this fight with this otter?)

Gon: Hahaha, that is an amazing question! Are we literally fighting an otter? Or some guy who looks like an otter? But I know straight off the bat who’d be doing what… It’d be me and Jonny facing off with the otter. Rich would have bailed ages ago and most likely would have been bitten in the ass by the otter in his escape. Jimmy would be standing to the side yelling, “BULLY!” while laughing, pointing, and recording the whole thing!

Depending on how much we’ve drank, I think me and Jonny could take this otter. He used to train MMA heavily and I used to train Muay Thai heavily. However, I’m not discounting the idea that this otter might know Muay Thai and MMA… In which case, we’d be in the fight of the century!

OTH! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Gon! Before I let you go, is there anything else that you’d like to add? 

Gon: No worries, man! It’s been an absolute pleasure! All I’d like to say in closing is drink liberally, fuck authority, and support your local scene!


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