It's not often that a guitarist gets to record with one of his idols—but that's exactly what happened when Sevendust's Clint Lowery got together with guitarist Gary Noon for Noon's Walking with Giants project, Worlds Unknown.
Produced by Lowery and featuring performances by Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose and Alter Bridge bassist Brian Marshall, Worlds Unknown is a spirited debut by Noon.
The Lowery-penned “Heavy Hand” and Noon's “Different Voice” demonstrate the quality of musicianship that attracted the Sevendust guitarist to Noon's project.
I recently spoke with Noon about Worlds Unknown and what it was like working with Lowery.
How did the Walking with Giants project begin?
It actually began as an answer to my frustration over trying to create an Alter Bridge/Sevendust cover band. I really wanted to do a cover band, but for some reason it just didn't work out.
Eventually, I decided to move on and write my own stuff. Through a relationship I had built with Clint over the last five years, I reached out to him and asked him if he'd like to produce. That's how it all happened.
How did you first meet Clint?
We got linked up through a mutual friend. I met him for the first time backstage at a Sevendust show. Through our first conversation we discovered that we had a lot of the same influences and musical interests growing up. We really hit it off.
What was the writing process like for Worlds Unknown?
I always start off with a guitar riff that usually turns out to be part of a chorus. But I never set out to sound like Sevendust or Alter Bridge. It was more about writing songs that gave me the same feelings their songs do. Then I presented my ideas to Clint via a ProTools session or an mp3, and once we hit the studio, we had a real general idea of the arrangement and the songs took on a life on their own.
What was it like having Lowery, Morgan Rose and Brian Marshall in the studio working on your tracks?
It was surreal. What was cool was that they made me feel comfortable. I was one of those people who over-analyzed and worried about everything, but they said, “Just relax. If you screw up, you just do it again.” On the very first day, the whole group would go into the live room and listen to the scratch tracks we had put together. Then we'd all start playing and figuring out how we wanted to have them arranged. Once that general idea had been recorded, each person would go in and track their parts.
Did Clint give you any advice about working in the studio?
The best advice I got from Clint was that vocals are king. You can have a great musical arrangement, but if the lyrics and vocals don't make it, then the song may be off.
What can you tell me about “Heavy Hand”?
The original arrangement of that song was given to me by Clint. I cranked it up and was totally hooked. It was right in my neighborhood. It's about the idea of thinking how you're on top of things and the next day thinking you're a total loser. It's a struggle people go through all the time.
How about “Different Voice”?
I always try to write heavier-sounding songs, and when I do, they usually end up being a “happy” kind of thing. That's when Clint would say, “Well, if your music is happy, don't try to make it something else.” I like to think about the good and positive things and that's what the song is about.
Do you have plans to do any live shows to support the new album?
I have some people I'm working with, and the touring plan is that sometime in late spring I'll be doing some weekend shows. Then further on into the year we'll look into doing a one- or two-week stint.
How did you get into guitar?
I first got inspired to play by listening to Joe Satriani. The first song I ever heard of his was “Surfing with the Alien,” and it just blew my mind how he could make the guitar sound like it was singing.
What's your current setup like?
It's pretty simple. The amps I use are PRS Archon 50's. I have the 6L6 tubes in the instead of the 34's. My go-to guitar is the Mike Mushok Baritone. I've got several Custom 24's that I love, but there's just something about the Baritone that really feels comfortable.
What was the best part of the whole experience for you?
When you get in the studio and work with these guys, you would think there would be a ton of pressure, but they do their best to take the pressure off and let the creativity flow. Then when you show them a riff or a vocal line or lyric they think is cool, it really makes you feel excited. And there were a lot of moments where that occurred.
For rmore information, visit wwgiants.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.