ROCK AND A HARD PLACE "[Boston] is one of the best cities in the East Coast, but that doesn't stop
the fact that people would rather go to electronic/techno shows," says Grey Valley Ghost's Madison
Taylor (left, with Tim McCarthy and Rob Black).
Rarely does the subject go into an interview with their own set of notes, but that's exactly what Grey Valley Ghost frontman/guitarist Madison Taylor did when he checked in from his hometown of Atlanta last weekend. He had a long list of people he wanted to thank here, and a full set of topics to cover about the past four years his rock band has been calling Boston home. It sounds like a farewell, compounded by the fact that Taylor has gone back to Atlanta and two more members of GVG, who take their sonic cues from the best early-'90s grunge had to offer, are following suit.
"I don't know if I'm done with Boston," says Taylor by phone, eager to discuss his band's new self-released full-length, What Might Have Been, which drops at a July 20 party at Church. "It's simply a matter of: I was a starving artist, I was running out of cash, and I was running out of time. It was a money issue." A few weeks back, Taylor launched into what many took as a rant against Boston in a post on the Grey Valley Ghost Facebook page where, among other things, he wrote, "The 'collective ear' of DJs in Boston is not to our advantage . . . a/k/a we don't sound indie enough."
"I don't agree necessarily with everything I said, but I was just pissed off, and sometimes it happens," Taylor says in retrospect. "[Boston] is one of the best cities in the East Coast, but that doesn't stop the fact that people would rather go to electronic/techno shows. Rock's not only dead; it's been beaten with a stick and is rotting away."
And though he claims that he faced some hostility for being "a redneck outsider," Taylor says he was, "always very cool with the people that mattered" in Boston. "The people that were complaining [about the Facebook post] were never at one fucking show, and I had been to a lot of their shows. So in my eyes they're just poseur, scenester wannabes."
Early incarnations of Grey Valley Ghost developed in the ATL, but Taylor decided in 2008 that the fertile music environs of Boston would better provide a pool of musicians to see his vision through. He didn't just want talented players, but rather people who were just as into the glory days of huge-sounding Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden alt-rock. "Those bands weren't fucking around — they were serious," he says.
First Taylor found Rob Black, who he calls, "the fucking bass player of my dreams. Listening to his bass lines, I consider him the Mike Mills of Boston." That led to meeting drummer Tim McCarthy, who Taylor says was "more of the Jimmy Chamberlin–type drummer I was looking for; I saw him and I knew I wanted him." Jason Onessimo was added on guitar, freeing up Taylor to focus more on audience interaction while giving GVG a wall of sound.