Troy Gregory & the Step Sisters
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Troy Gregory & the Step Sisters

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The best kept secret in music

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"The Many Faces of Detroit"

The Many Faces Of Detroit: The music of Detroit is enjoying a higher profile than ever with the bust-out success of the White Stripes' White Blood Cells, which has hammered its way into the top half of the Billboard 200.

Anyone seeking a useful primer devoted to some of the Motor City's better young rock bands needn't look much further than Troy Gregory's debut solo album Sybil, due April 30 from the Los Angeles-based, Detroit-skewed indie Fall Of Rome Records.

Gregory -- a member of hard rock acts Flotsam & Jetsam and Prong before he formed his own combo the Witches -- has enlisted some of the best up-and-coming talent on the fertile Detroit scene for his project. Each of the 13 tracks on Sybil -- which takes its name from the book about a famed case of clinical multiple personality -- finds singer/guitarist Gregory backed by a different hometown combo.

"I was going to play everything myself, and I thought, 'Well, I'll get so-and-so to play on it,'" Gregory says. "And then I thought, 'Fuck it, why don't I just get their whole band?'"

The album kicks off with "Lice Cots N' Rabies Shots," on which Gregory wails over the axe-whacking power duo Bantam Rooster, and concludes with "Freezing Rain Freezin'," where he is supported by the whispery all-female unit Slumber Party. The tracks sandwiched between those extremities run the gamut from flailing garage rock to psychedelia and neo-soul; the backup bands include the Dirtbombs, Outrageous Cherry, the Sights, They Come In Threes, the Alphabet, the Wildbunch, the Volebeats, and album co-producer Jim Diamond's Pop Monsoon.

The one-for-all-and-all-for-one style of Sybil is in keeping with the open-ended modus operandi of the Detroit scene, as Gregory describes it.

"It's so incestuous around here," he says. "So that creates that kind of communication network.... You just go to jam with some friends, and it's not like, 'OK, we're going to get this together, and then we're going to get ourselves on the cover of Spin.'"
- BillBoard


"a gorgeous, sad monster"

Out of the unforgiving industrial landscape of Detroit comes a gorgeous, sad monster with one head and 13 bodies. The head being Troy Gregory, on break from his regular band The Witches. The 13 bodies being a baker’s dozen of Detroit garage rock bands, a different one for each song on the album. It’s the Motor City equivalent of Stephin Merritt’s “guest star band” The 6ths.

On Sybil Gregory enlists gritty blues bastards like Bantam Rooster, The Wildbunch and The Dirtbombs. There are also impeccably harmonious 60’s pop revisionists like The Sights, Outrageous Cherry and The Volebeats.

Despite the disparate natures of the bands involved, there is a unifying force at work All written by Gregory himself, the songs on Sybil are as tenuously muscular as Iggy Pop and melodically sophisticated as Paul McCartney. The sound is raw and immediate, in sharp contrast to today’s standard practice of processing everything to a smooth consistency and polishing away any endearing quirks.

On first listen, it’s the energy and panache that dominate. Repeat listens are rewarded with tender layers of sound peeling away from the raging slabs to reveal a roiling, hypnotic center of calm amid the chaos.

My favorite moments include the straight-ahead bounce and bang of “Leave the Ghost at Home,” a double-rush hit of caffeine and sugar. There’s also the jangly fuzz and soulful harmonies of “Regrets . . . I’ve Had a Few.” Gregory’s voice is especially gripping here, as ribald as it is rueful. An eager yearning pitch in his singing grapples with the scratchy after-effects of decades of decadence, giving the impression of a seminary school dropout who just got out of rehab a couple years ago and now roams freely in the space between heaven and hell, having licked them both.

This is an abrasive yet inviting mud fight of a record. You’ll get dirty and your mind will be freer and sharper for it.
- FM Sound


"Real Cool Witch"

Troy Gregory is the front man for Detroit's coolest underground band, The Witches, so it's not too surprising that when he decided to do a solo album he found support from a most of the other underground bands that matter. On each track, Gregory becomes the front man for a different band, and the results are always mixed, but not in the way we usually mean when we say "mixed results." In this case, I mean we get a mix of Gregory's sense of dark mystery and whatever it is that makes the other band what it is.

No matter what the trademark sound of the band, the combination yields a surprise. I'm a big fan of the power pop band Outrageous Cherry, but I have to listen twice to be sure it's actually them performing on "Regrets... I've Had A Few" with Gregory, and The Sights, one of the most powerful bands on the planet, sound like another powerful band on "Leave The Ghost At Home." It's that way with everyone, from The Volebeats and Slumber Party to Jim Diamond's Pop Monsoon and They Come In Threes, but while Gregory makes every song his own, each track has a distinctly different sound thanks to the talents of the bands he worked with.

The production (uncredited as such though the liners say recorded by Jim Diamond, Bill Brovold and John Nash) has a lot to do with the artistic success of this album. There's a layer of reverb poured over the tracks that gives the entire event a feeling of mystery akin to the best of the early Blue Oyster Cult albums, whether the song is ethereal as "Other Dimensions Will Reveal Themselves 2 Be True 2 U," recorded with The Alphabet, or light and poppy like "Left My Mind Alone," recorded with The Volebeats. But the real star is Troy Gregory himself, the head Witch and a natural talent who deserves a large audience (who, in turn, would be very lucky to have discovered him).

I interviewed Troy for the Halloween issue of Cosmik Debris last year and learned that he lives in a house that's decorated for Halloween all year 'round. Funny, too, because I keep thinking this would be a perfect Halloween release. I guess this proves what Troy was saying all along. For him, it really is Halloween all year 'round.


- Cosmik Debris


"Spotlight Kid"

Appropriately named, Sybil presents Troy Gregory of The Witches stretching out and enjoying the backing of a different band for each of the thirteen tracks here. Reading like a "who's who" of Detroit's garage/punk scene, Gregory keeps fine company on what is a promo not only for him, but also for some stellar acts from the motor city.

Most notable from the get-go is Leave The Ghost At Home, where Gregory marries his aggressive pop style quite nicely with labelmates The Sights. This is straightforward rock built around an irrepressibly solid groove that'll have you swaying along. Also noteworthy is Gregory's collaboration with They Come In Threes on the tough swagger of Rat Squad. As far as the contribution of The Come-Ons goes on It Ain't Human, look for a reverb-drenched r&b flavoured workout that'll keep you coming back for more.

Of course, you might expect Sybil to somewhat erratic thanks to the participants, but Gregory either maintains a strong signature style - or has the power to influence his collaborators here to an impressive level. Rather than a Detroit "best of", Sybil remains a Gregory CD. Not even the pairings with Outrageous Cherry on Regrets…I've Had A Few or The Volebeats on Left My Mind Alone can shift the spotlight.

Great garage-pop, and - for the unconverted - a great introduction to a wealth of talent.


- Shake It Up


"Dark Entries"

The aptly named solo album from The Witches frontman (and one-time Prong and Flotsam and Jetsam bassist), Sybil shows the many faces of Troy Gregory, a versatile performer who showcases his songwriting style by performing each of the 13 songs with different Detroit bands. Each brings a new approach to the songs, making Sybil interesting as well as enjoyable. Working with a variety of known acts, from the pop sounds of The Sights to the experimental avant-jazz of Larval, the music goes from garage rock to pop and more. Gregory’s vocals sometimes come across like those of a David Bowie who sang in a garage band. The album starts off with a bang from rockers Bantam Rooster. The strongest tracks here are the ones that show off the pop sound behind his often-dark lyrics, creating a unique contrast. “Leave the Ghost at Home” with The Sights and “Rat Squad” with They Come in Threes are two examples of this. The next three tracks take on a ‘60s psychedelic vibe then it’s back to rockin’ with the longest titled track on the album, “Dealin’ in Death N’ Stealin In The Name of the Lord” with the Wild Bunch. “It Ain’t Human” is a Stones-like rocker with The Come Ons. The album closes on a quieter note with the dreamy ballad, “Freezing Rain Freezin’” done with Slumber Party. Sybil is a clever concept album from start to finish.


- Altar Native


"The Rise Of Troy"



Troy Gregory had his first rock band before he had hair in his pits. While most boys his age were busy burning ants with magnifying glasses, Gregory was holed up in his Warren home spinning records and playing guitar.

“I started my first band when I was 9 years old,” he says
“I would ask my babysitters to bring their records over.”
He’d received his first acoustic guitar at the ripe age of 8, from a young uncle whom Gregory would soon lose to a fatal asthma attack. There was a lot of death in Gregory’s family when he was a kid. “Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a dark person, I would definitely say that all the funerals and family deaths that happened when I was young changed the way I am,” he says.

After he and a couple neighborhood boys struck up friendships, music would become an essential social activity. He started his first band with buddies Mike Alonso (Speedball, Five Horse Johnson) and Matt Smith (the Volebeats, Outrageous Cherry). They are all still friends today and successful musicians in their own rights. But back in the mid-’70s they were simply a three-piece rock ’n’ roll cover band whose net age equaled that of the average graduate student. They called themselves The Archives.

Even as a grammar school student, Gregory had a seriousness to him that went far beyond his years. He and his band mates spent their free time jamming and waxing philosophical on the virtues of Devo, Zappa and Captain Beefheart. The band would play talent shows and neighborhood gigs.

When he was in the ninth grade, Gregory’s family moved to Holly, Mich.

“That was the beginning of my social nightmare,” he says.

Moving from the city to the countryside, where “the closest store was 10 minutes away,” Gregory was in for a bit of a culture shock. “Sometimes people listen to a certain kind of music to be liked,” he says. “I was really into Black Flag at the time. … I got picked on a lot.”

Music was his only defense as he made it through high school, then it became his career.

Shortly after graduating from high school, Gregory moved to Hollywood, Calif., and began to frequent Bukowskian haunts. “I loved going to places like that,” he admits of his affinity for dark, seedy places. He loved to study the people he found there.

Sound weird? It’s not once you have heard Gregory’s music, which paints vivid lyrical portraits. His songwriting is more like prose than poetry.

Though he spent most of his 20s on tour with a variety of bands (on both major and independent labels), he says that pursuing the brass ring was an abysmal experience.

Since returning to Detroit in 1993, Gregory has churned out a rich body of work.

“The songs came spontaneously,” he says.

From his band, the Witches, to his 2002 solo album, Sybil, he has carved out a unique sound in an almost impossibly limiting scene: the garage. Recording his signature echoing vocal tracks atop accompaniment from such luminaries as the Dirtbombs and the Electric Six, Sybil was a compelling collection of 13 original Gregory songs, backed by 13 different bands.

His latest solo release, Laura, on Fall of Rome records, makes it evident that his musical obsession hasn’t loosened its grip. From brooding to dancey, Laura’s untraditional songcraft represents a mélange that evokes everyone from Pere Ubu to Kraftwerk to Wilco. The opening song, “Dracula has Risen from the Pond,” is unsettling and atonal, while the ass-shakin’ cut “Live/Dead Entertainment” is Hammond keyboard-laden. The album is unexpected and entertaining.

After nearly three decades of devotion to making music, Gregory has a simple explanation why he continues to pursue this vocation: “Because I feel like doing it every day.”


- Metro Times


"Highly Recommended"

Reverb/echo addict Troy Gregory is a true original. A member of multiple bands (most notably The Witches) as well as a solo artist, Gregory's musical output is a seemingly endless stream. His last album (Sybil) impressed many...and Laura is likely to have the exact same effect. Troy's music sounds something like a cross between The Lyres and Bruce Joyner...but his presence is scarier than either. Laura is chock full of garage rock with the only constant being those unmistakable vocals absolutely drenched in reverb and echo (a trademark of the man's vocals). Gregory wrote every song on the album and played most instruments himself. Not surprisingly, every song is a keeper...and from the sound of this album (co-produced by Jim Diamond), you would never know this is a (mostly) one man affair. Fantastic cuts include "Dracula Has Risen From the Pond," "Yer Secret Santa," "In Thee Popsicle Patch," and "Bananas N' Dynamite" (how 'bout them great song titles...!).

Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

- babysue


"beautiful little headfuck"


Troy Gregory’s songwriting and multi-instrumentalist skills have made him D-town’s Man in Black, and his integrity has ensured that he still fights to cover his mortgage. This sonic Svengali — best known for the Witches — here talks up his beautiful little headfuck he calls Troy Gregory and the Stepsisters: Imagine, if you will, a ’60s pulp version of a Robert Palmer video, or some shit like that.

Gimmick: Some people actually had the nerve to think that I would get myself an all-female band for some type of “gimmick.” If I was going to put the time and effort into a gimmick, it would involve Dr. Phibes, automatons, vampire light sabers, miles of papier-mâché, talking flying animal parts, hypnotism, SXSW.

Teri Lynn: She lugs an amp half her size after work through the slush into her shitty car, has a rehearsal or a show every night with one of her three bands that make her pretty much no money. She will sock a boy if she gotta and knows how to belly dance like it’s karate.


Mary Alice: In Hamtramck with her giant stuffed giraffe playing ABBA on a crummy piano in a Moog T-shirt and lace skirt. Born and raised in downtown Detroit and is not afraid of the Nain Rouge, but Mick Collins is. Finds unicorns in the sewer.

Noelle Christine: She can read Kool-Aid powder as if they were tea leaves, is the great-great-excellent-granddaughter of the woman that invented the man who invented Kiss two hundred years before they were even a band. Hates crowded people, rude elevators. She will sock a man if she gotta and knows how to cook like it’s alchemy.
- metro times


Discography

Troy Gregory - Sybil ( 2002 Fall Of Rome Records )
Troy Gregory - Laura ( 2004 Fall Of Rome Records )
Troy and The Stepsisters are more than ready to do the debut album Stepsisters Assemble !

Troy and The Stepsisters have several songs swinging over the world wide web and have also received some nice radio attention as well , despite no "push". Word of mouth still rocks.

Carbon 14 magazine recently offered a CD comp of Detroit music that has the Troy and The Stepsisters tune " Get That Luv Outta Here " lurking on it.

The song " Tippin The Candy Machine " will be released in the Fall on a Detroit comp of candy songs.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Plot :
Three very cute talented weird girls and one curiously creative creature from Detroit conjure up in the perfume and pollution some authentic butt shakin' mind expanding Top40 bizarre sassy rock anthems for the now people of the planets. We have blips, booms, bleeps, crashes, smashes, shrieks, sighs, groans, moans, bangs, biffs, and pows. We sure do have songs about love, sex, gods, sleep overs, Santa Claus, Morrissey, television, candy machines, city pools, lingerie, fire breathing, talking toys and wet basements. Honey we have songs about everything that happens here on Earth. Come To Us . . . Come 2 Us ... get yer nose outta that Aerolac bag and step into yer dancin' shoe IT look so good on U yes it do ! ! ! !