Gary Noonkester aka Gary Noon is a Singer, Songwriter and guitarist who is currently teaming up with Clint Lowery of Sevendust and Scott `Flip´ Phillips of Alter Bridge to produce the EP Walking with Giants which is due for release in mid 2013. I’ve been lucky enough to catch up with Gary during this exciting process and here’s what he had to say.
When did you start playing guitar?
I started playing guitar at the ripe old age of 18, which was back in 1989. I actually didn’t get super serious or really committed into playing guitar until 4 years ago. I did play off and on for like 10 to 15 years but gave it up for a while before I got inspired and then continued to really work at it.
How did it come about to get Clint Lowery on board to produce your first EP?
I was introduced to Clint through a mutual friend in late 2009, He and I had a conversation back stage and found we had similar interests in terms of playing guitar, the kinds of songs and bands that we were into while growing up and we’ve been friends ever since.
Was it always in your plans to get Flip on board?
It came to mind and it was one of those things where I wanted to ask him ( but didn’t imagine in a million years he’d accept ) and then see what he had to say because through the same mutual friend I got introduced to Brian Marshall back during the Full Circle tour. Through meeting Brian I then got introduced to Flip and Mark: Flip and I have always maintained a good friendship. About two weeks before the Christmas holidays I got a bug in my ear and I asked him what he thought and he said yes. It totally blew my mind but at the same time, it’s totally awesome. You may know this already that Alter Bridge and Sevendust are my two favorite bands ever, so to have two guys from both of my favorite bands be a part of helping me create the music that I really care about is absolutely exciting for me.
Is there going to be a bassist involved in the project or is that going to be yourself?
The current plan was that I’d track bass but Clint would step in and do some of that stuff if my fingers couldn’t handle all that playing in such a short period of time. During actual production, Clint and I switched off playing bass – Clint on three, myself on three
How did you meet Clint and Flip?
During my day job, one of my good friends, Jon Wheeler, introduced me to these guys at concerts and he’s had relationships with these guys for years. He and I started working together on the same team, which lead to us hitting up rock shows together and that’s how I met them. For me, it was like meeting my childhood heroes and for him, it was like, another group of guys in his mass network of good friends. So when Sevendust, Alter Bridge or Creed hit a town nearby, I would go to nearly all the shows and hang out with them afterwards.
How would you describe your sound?
My nickname is actually GG Funk, Which is an interesting thing and has been since 1995. There’s a lot of groove to my sound, I believe and a lot of positive feel to it. I’m like the metal guy with a great attitude. People wouldn’t normally put those two things together but I want the music to feel positive to somebody and give them the same kind of feeling I get when I listen to bands I like. That’s what I look for, so if I don’t feel that then I move on to the next thing.
If Walking with Giants goes down well, would you consider putting a full record out?
Yes. Definitely. That was kind of the plan from the beginning. We have 9 ideas floating on the table at the moment and we are also talking about writing one from scratch because it would be the coolest thing to do for all three of us to come up with something while in the vibe. It’s either going to be EP first then full record or maybe just the full record.
Who is your inspiration?
My inspiration is a guy named Earl Nightingale and it goes back to that thought of me being a positive person. I really believe the attitude you keep in your mind and the stuff you focus on really determines what you’re capable of as a person. I first got introduced to those ideas by a recording from this man named Earl Nightingale. It was recorded back in 1959 and the guy died in 1989, the year I graduated high school. I didn’t discover this stuff until 2006, So its like this really long history of an amazing idea and to be very frank with you, It revolutionized the way my life has turned out, My day job, My music, My personal life. It’s all because of his ideas.
What music did you listen to growing up?
We listened to everything from the 50´s, Gospel, Heavy Metal, Pop, Elvis to Chicago to Judas Priest and Metallica to Joe Satriani.
What was the first record you bought?
Soldiers Under Command by Stryper
Are you planning on doing any live shows to promote Walking with Giants?
Yes, Most definitely! Where those shows are going to be and who the touring band will be is as yet undetermined. It would be the coolest thing in the world to do some shows in Europe. We are going to make it happen somehow and that’s all I can say.
How’s pre-production going?
It’s all going really well. The approach Clint has taken is that he really believes it’s the vocals that carry the song and I agree. His writing style is to create a musical foundation that doesn’t step over where the vocalist is going to really sing. So we come up with this basic idea and then we sit down together and then come up with the vocal line and what the lyrics are going to be. This is where the song will transform based off of where that leads.
Do you have any idea of a release date?
That’s open at the moment.
One for fun….
If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed one item, what would it be?
Interesting question and I guess it would be a book, The book would be The Master Key System by Charles F Haanel. Its one of those books about ideas, thinking and how it really drives your ability to be successful. I think if I were on an island and there were nothing else to do, I would be reading otherwise I’d go nuts, Apart from hunting and fishing and trying to stay alive of course!
Credits to LDO photography for the images