The Gypsys
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The Gypsys

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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I generally find small, local bands annoying to deal with, rather unoriginal, uninteresting,and disposable, but I have to say, when you find an interesting local band, hold onto your Depends because shit is about to hit the fan.
The Gypsys will play covers and originals in the key of "bloozy psychedelic rock n roll" or that's at least the word on the street.
"We play bands ranging from the Stones to Baby Huey to the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Scissor Sisters, some reggae, old Fleetwood Mac, Zeppelin, Skynrd. All gems!" said guitarist Kerry Hirsch, "but the originals are our strength, a hearkening back to the quality rock n roll of yesteryear."
Recounting on one of their first gigs, out to Mayerthorpe of all places, the band ran into a little dose of the spontaneous combustion to the band's van.
"We took Allen's dad's Volkswagon Vanagon- a special edition with jump seats and a fold-out playing card table- to the gig, but about halfway there the vehicle, with the band and gear inside, slowed to a crawl, barely going ten kilometers," said Hirsch.
"We stopped and checked to see what was the matter. The licence plate was on fire. And the fire didn't go out. We hauled our stuff out and watched roadside as the glorious machine burnt to a charred skeleton. At one point the van, engulfed in flames, started rolling! Then BANG! Tire pops. Three more. BANG BANG BANG!
The band found themselves in the local paper soon after.
Prior to the big "bang" however is a story of friends that all met in school and found time to jam and experiment.
"Allen Meek (singer) and I were both in separate classes with drummer Brent Clarke, who had this sick vintage Ludwig drum kit, pearl white, double bass drum, unholy," said Hirsch, "Since he lived in the same subdivision of Kyle Short (bass) and I, we walked over to his place to hear him out. He put on a strobe light and started playing "Reign in Blood," by Slayer, and the rest is history."
Taking it all to a new level the banded started to play at their school grad, and competed at their High School Battle of the Bands, but only whilst they took Machiavellian approaches to rig the balloting.
"They gave us control of the ballots! 'Here boys pass these around, make sure everybody gets one,' But it's debatable that we would've prevailed regardless of the fixing, as the closest rivals were passionate emo losers Calico Drive, now the Stereos, a band we all love to hate."
After finding their "buzz," The Gypsys, sloganified "eargasms of staggering magnitude" found their success in the natural, if not real, progression of what it means to be a good band.
"The show was a success, really they all were. It's the change in atmosphere, most band's dom't have it, but the great ones all do. It's creating the point at a concert where you're totally drawn in; you aren't thinking about money or cars or drugs or marks or food or anything but the sound, which you want to bathe in, get lost in," said Hirsch.
The Gypsys will be playing next weekend Jan 16th at 9pm at the Crown Pub. I wouldn't miss it; it;s gonna be gnarly" - Grant Macewan Intercamp


The Gypsys
With Los Diableros
Saturday, January 16 at 9 p.m.
The Crown Pub (10709–109 St.)
$5 at the door

When I knock on the door of the basement suite that serves as the unofficial headquarters of The Gypsys, I don’t know what to expect. The beat-up van out front, painted to look like Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine, is an interesting introduction. Gypsys guitarist Kerry Hirsch lets me in and leads me down into the hazy underground living space and introduces me to bassist Kyle Short. Both of them live here. Lead singer Allen Meek arrives late, complaining of a hangover, while drummer Brent Clark just grins.

We wander into the band’s studio — a small, re-appropriated garage attached to the suite. Their passion plasters the walls in the form of posters paying homage to their personal rock idols: Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, KISS, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. One of the band members flicks on a psychedelic light that projects against the back wall and the band gets ready to begin — well, almost. For a few minutes we seem to be missing one band member or another, but everyone makes it back in time to pass around a couple of joints.

As Hirsch provides the opening riffs, suddenly the smoky room seems an integral part of the atmosphere, a throwback to a time before mountains of subgenres and niche bands existed, and rock 'n' roll way in its heyday. At one point, Clark punches out the percussion blindly while gulping back water that Meek is pouring down his throat from a pitcher during one of their songs.

"While symphony musicians might be thrown off by a cough in the crowd, the Gypsys could dodge beer bottles thrown at them on stage and still perform pitch perfectly," jokes Meek.

The jam session comes to an end and we meander back into the main living space of the basement, highlighted by a mattress on the floor in the middle of the cropped-together couches surrounding the TV. We crash down on the couches and it’s not long before another joint is being passed around, followed by an acoustic guitar. We joke around for a bit before we get to discussing the band's genesis.

“We were all on the same volleyball team [in high school] and [Hirsch] walks up to me and says ‘Meeks, are you in musical theatre? Okay, you’re in the band,’ ” he laughs.

Once the quartet had parlayed their athletic interests into their musical ones and figured out how to play a few songs together, the next step for the group was obvious: rig a talent competition.

“There was this Axe-stream Fest, so we played the prelims at [our high school] and the other one at Red’s. We rigged the vote at [our high school] and won,” Hirsch adds.

Everyone bursts out laughing and Meek takes over.

“We played this girl’s keg party. That was sort of the band's peak," Meek jokes. "It was her sweet 16 and her parents throw her a kegger. What type of parents are these out there today? Like, 'have a pack of smokes, little Johnny.' ‘Thanks Dad!’ "

The Gypsys are nothing, if not easy-going. We banter about the obstacles that face a band like theirs, how talent doesn’t matter much to music producers anymore, and how rock and roll is a dying breed. Hirsch pauses for a second.

“I have this grand glory conception of the band in, like, a '70s sense, those great bands of the era. But with the new music industry...”

Meek chimes in, “It’s so much easier for everyone to get their music to everyone. So there’s a trillion people trying to get their music, you know. Back then you had to be talented enough to get noticed, but now you can find any Joe Blow’s music on-line.”

Still, knowing that their music has to start somewhere before it reaches trillions of people, Hirsch has a pretty good idea of where they can start the attraction phase.

“I’d like us to be played by Sonic to get more fans… I’d shamelessly whore out the band for money, you know?”

As all of the guys burst out laughing again, I ask where they think the band is headed next.

“To roll a joint," Meek shoots back semi-seriously.

Hirsch has a more comprehensive answer, “Oh, North by Northeast. Submissions are due at the end of the month.”

Though their plans are far from being firmed up just yet, The Gypsys are also considering heading out to Toronto to lay down some recordings. With dreams of regular radio rotation, festival exposure, and their demo eventually making it into the hands of someone who recognizes what the band has going for them, The Gypsys are getting there the only way they know how: one show at a time.
- U of A Gateway


The Gypsys
The Crown Pub (10709-109th St.) Jan. 16 9 p.m.Tickets: $10

So I woke The Gypsys’ guitarist, Kerry Hirsch, early last Friday morning. I could tell by the way he answered the phone, confused and little annoyed, that he kind of, sort of forgot about our interview. He groggily apologized, admitting that last night was spent on the town.

As an A&E reporter, this is reassuring, since Hirsch is the only rock n’ roller I’ve ever woken up a little worse for wear. Rock n’ roll is, apparently, not dead, but alive and well and drinking in Edmonton. And that’s what The Gypsys aspire to be — not drunks — but purveyors of some serious classic rock, producing tunes with a little bit of blues, some heavy guitars and a swaying bass.

But they’re not quite there yet, as they’re still working on their first release. Hirsch is optimistic, however, hoping to have an EP to sell at the show this Saturday. His positive attitude is a little unexpected, considering the fact that the tunes tend to be bleak, with titles like “Sea of Misfortune” and “Dreadpocalypse.” But even in the early morn’ nothing seems to bother him that much, except maybe Nickleback, and he seems to have a twisted ability to look on the bright side.

“It’s a long sad story, I guess,” he starts when I ask about the group’s history. “We all went to high school together — we had a band then. Allan [Meek] and I played volleyball and he went to Mount Royal to play, so essentially the band folded temporarily. We got this shitty replacement singer, but then Allan didn’t do academically well, so now he’s back in Edmonton. As I told him, ‘academic failure is rock n’ roll success.’” Remember that kiddies!

When talking to Hirsch it becomes clear that you don’t need to be a rock star to have the rock star attitude or even rock style adventures. The Gypsys were already lighting things up back in high school, and on their way to one particular gig in Mayerthorpe, I mean that quite literally.

“We took Allan’s dad’s Volkswagen Transport to the show,” he says. “So we’re cruisin’ along at a good clip, but the vehicle slows down for some reason. No one could really put it together. We keep driving for a bit, then we pull over to see what’s wrong. [I] get on my knees and look under the vehicle and there are flames just licking up the licence plate — not big ones, nothing real serious at that point, but it was on fire. We didn’t really know what to do, everyone kind of panicked and freaked out. The immediate reaction was to get our gear out of the van into the ditch, which, in retrospect — you know it’s old shitty gear — we should have let it burn, let insurance take care of it.

“So yeah, we’re on the side of the road and the van’s just getting progressively engulfed in flames until it’s just spitting black smoke into the sky,” he continues. “Nobody can get past it. It’s holding up traffic for kilometres and we’re just sitting in the ditch kind of amazed that this happened. Then is starts rolling when it’s completely engulfed in flames. It was parked but maybe the park brake went or something, so it starts moving. Everyone’s freaking out and then ‘bang!’ a tire explodes and then three other tires explode. And it just burns to a crisp… we were actually playing a high school, so the principal came and drove us to the show.”

Now that’s a classic rock story, if I’ve ever heard one.
- SEE Magazine


Discography

We released a self-titled CD under our original name "Valhalla" about 5 years ago. Now we're the Gypsys with a self-titled 4-song demo.

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Bio

Hailing from Sherwood Park, Alberta, the Gypsys have come to liberate rock n' roll from its modern-day shackles. With their stoneheavy groove and resurrection sound The Gypsys are a cause to believe in: "Holy shit! These guys can rock. One time their Vanagon burst into flame en route to a gig, holding up traffic for 3km. I picked em up, drove em to the show, and they delivered the payload... I'd never heard anything like it, but a stoned teenager said 'they sound like sex feels.' Graphic, I know, but the kid had a point."-Chuck Rivers

It’s hard to determine how long the band has been around for; in a way, it’s like they’ve always been around. “We like to think of our music as a transcendent experience,” said guitarist Kerry Hirsch. “It’s just like, sometimes when we play we tap into forces that are greater than us, beyond our control; and the audience senses this, pressing us on to greater heights, and when that happens a unity occurs; no longer are audience and band divided, but merged. We are the Walrus.”
Pretty heavy stuff, but heavy is what these guys do. “Well, not always,” said singer Allen Meek. “There’s quite a variety between the songs and dynamic within them. It’s always rock and roll at heart, but there are elements of reggae, metal, blues…It’s tough to pin down.”
“One thing’s for sure,” said Kyle Short, the bass player, “the ladies always have a good time. And if we can learn anything from Viv Savage, it’s to have a good time all the time.”
Brent Clark, the drummer, was silent. “Oh don’t worry about him,” said Meek. “He’s under heavy sedation. The man suffers from a bad heart; but don't worry, we've got plenty of medicine."