K Bo: Let’s expand on that thought. Through Metalworks you have transitioned into a new career right?
GM: Well, don’t forget when I started out as a kid I had this fascination with amplifiers and drums. I was doing what Tom Scholz (Boston) was doing in a way. That is fooling around with music and electronics at the same time. So I had a company I started in my parents’ basement when I was a teenager and that was before Triumph got together. So for me to have a sound company, studio and the school today, it is kind of a return to what I was fascinated with as a kid.
K Bo: When you are in your “second career” mode and talking to the kids how much do you borrow from your “first career” mode when you were a performer?
GM: General advice is very important although I don’t know that it is always received as well as it should be because it’s that cycle where kids, like we all have at one time or another, want to know about that person who can push a red button and make things happen. However, music is really no different than anything else. It usually, like most things, comes down to a ton of hard work and perseverance. There is that odd scenario, however, with how the internet dominates everyone’s existence on the planet. For example, look at what happened with Psy last year with that song which came from nowhere (“Gentlemen”) and it became a worldwide phenomenon. That wasn’t possible before the world became as connected as it is. But I think in the end it’s the same principle: If you want to succeed in music work really hard and be serious about your craft. Be prepared to hear “no” a lot. But it’s really all that old fashioned stuff that your father told you that really counts. I try to convey this in my business.
K Bo: Consider this hypothetical. If Triumph came out today instead of in the 1970s do you think you would have achieved the same result?
GM: Yes. In fact, I think we would have been in an advantage because Mike Levine and I had experience in the business. Rik had experience as a performer. So when we started Triumph we had some ideas on how to promote the band. For starters Mike and I knew getting across the border was huge. There are really great bands in Canada who are successful who never make a dent in the United States which is a ten times bigger market. We were pretty good promoters of our band then and I think today we would do better. When we got together we really had two guys who could really pull the cart so to speak. Today there are more tools and we would have used them. And also things happen so much quicker today. I mean look at the career that Justin Beiber has and how incredibly fast it occurred even compared to someone like Michael Jackson.
K Bo: Things indeed change. Let’s talk about you as a drummer. I don’t see a lot of drummers anymore like you in that there really isn’t that great lead singer/drummer vocalist. Furthermore, outside of your Canadian counterpart, Mr. Peart, you really don’t see the large kit anymore. Talk about that and also the evolution of today’s drummer where almost everyone plays a four piece kit.
GM: That’s a really good question. I think it’s really a change in style. It’s a lot like fashion and asking why have things all gone this way or that way. Look at architecture, for example. The lines are more rectangular and cleaner today. I really can’t think of anyone today who is a lead singer and drummer. As for my kit, I was a fan of big kits and I don’t know where that came from. The guys I admired the most did not play big kits like Ian Paice (Deep Purple) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). I think it will take one person who can buck the trend to get things moving the other way.
K Bo: Okay. Let’s get to Metalworks. This has been a nice transition, in terms of a career change, for you. Talk about that.
GM: I’ve been lucky. Metalworks has had a phenomenal track record in Canada. For example, in Canada we have a music conference every year called “Canadian Music Week.” This is the biggest conference in the music industry in Canada. We’ve won the studio of the year award 15 times which is like 12 times more than anyone else. We’ve had a stream of gold and platinum records over the years so we’ve done well. Our sound and light division really benefitted from this too and the same thing with the school division. So, we have the studio, the school, and also the production company. Each have their own crews and management. Yes, this career is great as well.
K Bo: I can sense your passion in the second career too.
GM: Absolutely. I have always wanted to be around amplifiers so to speak. I remember building speakers in my mom’s laundry room. I then began hanging around bands as a roadie. That was my way of being able to hang out with the cool guys. I then learned how to play without any real lessons. I did have orchestra lessons in school but I really got on to it by watching bands. The only way I could do that was by offering free labor. Over a period of time I then taught myself to play.
K Bo: Taking all that you have learned at Metalworks, then, what have you also learned from now being on the other side of the glass, so to speak, as opposed to when you were the player?
GM: It’s a general life thing to be honest. It’s a bit cliché and it’s one of our songs but I would say “follow your heart.” If you’re doing something that you really like doing then you really don’t have a job or a grind. Like when I was in Triumph it was like going to the circus everyday. There were tough times of course but I had a blast. But, I’m still having a blast doing something else that I like doing. Now I don’t have a set schedule and I keep whatever hours I want. So that same freedom I felt in the band I feel that now and it’s great. That’s key. You really have to do what’s near and dear to you. So I’ve found that same love in both places.