Born: August 6, 1970
Place: Ottawa, Ontario
Instruments Played: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Influences: Kiss, D-tuned Bands and 70’s Sugar Pop.
Personal Philosophy: There are three things worth living for… music, food and people.
Born: January 25, 1978
Place: Carleton Place, Ontario
Instruments Played: Vocals, Drums, and Percussion, Kazoo.
Influences: Queen, Shunt, The Who, Pink Floyd, Kiss, Weird Al Yankovic, Andrew Lloyd Webber
Personal Philosophy: Music = life. Everything else is uncivilized.
The Story of GASM
In August of 1996, a young songwriter was hoping to complete a musical he’d been working on. An ad was sent, and three weeks later, the ad was answered.
Andy Simpson, then a high school student, placed the following advertisement on radio station The Bear:
“COMPOSER/ARRANGER NEEDED TO HELP COMPLETE NEW MUSICAL. LYRICS ALREADY WRITTEN.”
“I wasn’t even listening to the radio when the ad was read. I was doing homework,” says Simpson. “The phone rang, and my mom picked it up and then gave it to me. I then heard the voice of the guy I was going to work with.”
Gerry Madden picks up the story….
“I had just parted ways with a band I was in and was looking for musicians. I saw Andy’s ad and decided to see what it was all about. Needless to say, that we’re still working together today proves that we both are creating something special.”
After numerous phone calls back and forth (I’m sure the long distance bills were really high—especially on my end, Simpson recalls), the two finally met at Carleton Place High School on a rainy night.
“I was playing a coffee house that night, and before I went to do my set, I saw a car pull into the parking lot. I went out, thinking it was just another false alarm (chuckle). This guy walked up to me and asked if I was Andy Simpson. I said ‘yes’, and Gerry introduced himself.”
What was the first thing that Andy said to Gerry?
“He said I looked like Geddy Lee of Rush!” Madden says.
“I still don’t really know if he was insulted or flattered. He kind of looks like Jesus, too.” Simpson remarks.
At Christmas that year, the two finally met at Simpson’s house and started to work on the project: a musical version of Daniel Defoe’s classic novel, Robinson Crusoe. The musical is now on the back burner, and attention has turned to a more practical project, The Fork.
The Fork is based on a song called “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye.” It’s an old Irish anti-war song, and it’s often heard on St. Patrick’s Day at the Simpson house.
Madden and Simpson “scratched” together a story in the Second World War “with a love story woven in there somewhere.”
Basically, the story is about making a choice. John, the main character, is faced with going to war, or staying with his girlfriend, Enid. He goes to war, but ends up wondering if it was the right decision to make. From there, people can draw their own conclusions of the story.
The song cycle is as follows:
Overture, Seig Hiel/Man From Hell/Revenge, May Day, Train Of Lost Souls, Army Life, Over The Ocean, Northwind, The Ant’s Theme
Underture, The Fork, Into Action, First Attack, In Flander’s Fields, Second Attack, Heartstrings, Sixteen Memories, Escape, Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye
The double CD debut for GASM is slated for release on January 25th, 2004. The date, oddly enough, coincides with Robert Burn’s Day, and Andy’s birthday.
Some of the songs came from Madden’s unused/finished ideas and others came from the public domain and re arranged to suit the album’s theme.
In the summer of 2004, Simpson went to Celtfest in Almonte, Ont. The headliner was legendary Irish folk singer, Tommy Makem. Makem and The Clancey Brothers were the inspiration for The Fork. Simpson was lucky enough to meet Makem after the show and Makem was pleased to hear about his influence on the project. “I wish I’d brought a copy of the CD with me to the show and given it to him.”
We Are Right
Madden and Simpson’s second release was “based on a true story” that happened in Carleton Place.
The story follows the lives of two teenage boys, Ajay and Walter and their involvement in a religious cult – called the We Are Right Society The boys, both 13 at the start of the story, struggle with growing up, finding acceptance and dealing with the harsh world around them. All the characters in the story are based on people from Simpson’s life and childhood.
“The ‘cult’ was certainly real,” he says, “though I took the concept of a Bible study group and turned it into a cult. The ‘cult’ became a metaphor for how I saw the world around me.
“At the time of writing these songs, I was going through a really dark time in my life. The lyrics represent how hurt, alone and angry I felt. The story – the true story – happened when I was in my late teens. I decided to move it back and tell the story through a younger boy’s point-of-view.
The track listing is:
Prologue: Kryton, Overture, Childhood Prayer, It All Began Here, Growing Child, Downtown Letdown, Ajay’s Blues, Friends 1: The Doughnut Shoppe, The Learning Tree, See What I See, Find Out For Yourself (One Minute), Take It Or Leave It, I God /The Acceptance
It’s Been A Long Time, Friends 2: Confrontation, Hang On To What You’ve Lost (Dedicated to…), Wonderment (Parts 1-4), Piece Of My Heart, I God 2/The Seduction, Menace, Friends 3: Walter And Tempter, Crusade/Stray, Lion Skin