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Interview:
After Split, Detroit Rockers Are Go-ing Again
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

The Go are ready to release a new album, hit the road and spend a lot of time together as a band. Not bad considering that two years ago they weren’t one.

The long-lived Detroit outfit, which formed in 1998 as an early hero of the city’s burgeoning garage rock scene — and an early musical home to the White Stripes’ Jack White — had grown “frustrated” after its self-titled 2003 album failed to deliver the worldwide conquest that many predicted. Consequently, singer Bobby Harlow says, “we sorta split up.”

“I think that we were pushing ourselves a little bit in the wrong direction,” Harlow, 32, explains. “We weren’t as creative. We were worried about the business aspects of the music industry more than we were worried about being artists. We were concentrating on, ‘OK, this next show, there’s gonna be these record labels there, these people from the business,’ that kind of mentality.

“It’s good to have a little of both the art and the commerce, but we were well out of bal- ance. We became frustrated and we didn’t have anyone to take it out on, so we took it out on each other. We just needed a break.”

While The Go’s members — Harlow, bassist and co-founder John Krautner, guitarist James McConnell and drummer Marc Fellis — went to their separate corners, Harlow started working on new music. He figured he was making his first solo album, but as he worked on the songs, Harlow “missed the guys, and they missed me, too. So we started working together again.”

The Go worked on the new “Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride” — released by the Detroit-based Cass Records label in the United States — mostly in its rehearsal space, a Berkley house owned by a deaf 92-year-old man who Harlow says is “older than rock ’n’ roll and can’t hear it, but he can feel the vibrations and he loves it.”

It’s the product of what the singer calls “a Beatles obsession,” though it has other sonic touchstones as well — including the Beach Boys, the Small Faces and Traffic.

Harlow unequivocally acknowledges all those influences and says that the group’s goal was to capture the sonic spirit of that era without sounding gratuitously retro.

“It’s not so much a matter of trying to reinvent the wheel but trying to keep The Go sounding new and fresh,” Harlow explains. “That music back in the ’60s was the result of all these people just experimenting and trying stuff and inventing stuff.

“That’s how we approached this record. That’s why I didn’t go into a studio. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I just kept trying stuff until I got what I wanted. We got things that were new to me, new to The Go, and that was the best way to get it.”

Although Harlow and company have certainly tempered their expectations since “The Go,” they’re still hopeful that “Howl ...” will find its place and its audience. The group plans to tour extensively in support of the album, which will hit local stores next week though it won’t go into wide release until July 24 — by then possibly on a larger label.

In the meantime, The Go is just happy to be together playing music again, and the frustrations that split the band in 2005 are distant memories.

“Honestly, we’re so close now, and we’re having such a great time,” Harlow says. “We love each other on the road. We hang out all the time, all in one hotel room, sitting up and watching movies at night and goof off and make jokes. We light firecrackers and toss ’em in the bathroom when someone’s taking a shower.

“We’re, like, those guys on the road. There’s no problem. Ultimately, nothing beats being in a band.”



The Go performs at Friday's (April 20th) Detroit Music Awards at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $25 and up. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.detroitmusicawards.com. The group also celebrates the release of its new album, “Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride,” on Saturday (April 21st) at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Siddharta, the Pizazz and Gresh Ashley’s Medicine F*** Dream are also on the bill. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.



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