While the internet has been the bane of many a record label, band and musical artist, slashing opportunities to make money because of the advent of streaming and downloading, there are some good points to the ability to instantly communicate with folks around the block, across the country or around the world, and to share files virtually.
A positive side effect of all this connectivity for musicians/songwriters Dave Starr and Ed Gage is that it brought them together to forge an unlikely creative partnership that has led to the release of a new song: a gritty rocker entitled Forest of Darkness, under the banner Wolf Chamber. It is the first release of what could turn out to be a prolific and profoundly rewarding collaboration, that literally saw the veteran Starr, best known for his time in Vicious Rumors, Chastain and also for his latest, critically-acclaimed studio band, Wildestarr (which features his wife London Wilde as a songwriter/vocalist), reach out to Gage, who is also a Hollywood based film and TV actor, via social media.
“I have been a fan and follower of Vicious Rumours and I added Dave on social media a while ago, through a mutual friend, and we chatted the odd time here and there. I was working constantly in Hollywood and Dave saw a picture of me on my Facebook in the show Westworld and he reached out. I mentioned that I played music as well and he asked if I would be open to a possible collaboration and I said yeah, absolutely,” said Gage, who is originally from Florida, grew up in Buffalo, and has lived in Hollywood since he was 21. Besides his part in Westworld, he also played a small role in the current Disney+ Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, as well as a featured part in the 2018 Cypress Hill video, Locos, among many other credits. He is also frontman for his own metal act, Steelwitch.
“I had already recorded a different version of Forest of Darkness. The lyrics and story behind it are still pretty similar. When I first sent it to Dave, he envisioned it as a much heavier and faster version and then he showed me some ideas that he had and I was like ‘holy shit, we might be on to something special.’ And I knew immediately that it would end up being a great meeting of our two ideas.”
Starr is still amazed at how well he and Gage have clicked both as collaborators and as friends, seeing as how they live a couple thousand miles apart and that Starr is more than twice his new collaborator’s age. It just proves the power of music to bridge divides and bring people of disparate backgrounds together.
“When I realized we were going to start doing some press for the track and for the project, I started thinking about what it was and I think it was because something about Ed reminded me of myself when I was starting out in the music industry. There is quite an age difference between us. Ed is 27 and I am 58, but you know, some things never change, and that’s the love of music. I had that same passion and fire that he does now. And I just thought, hey I may not be God’s gift to music, but I have been around the block, I have done a lot, I have done a lot of records, and I have toured a lot back in the day. I thought maybe I could work with Ed and pass on some of my wisdom, or whatever you want to call it,” he said.
“And I have to admit I was a little nervous when I first approached Ed because, what Ed and I ended up doing to the song, I had never done before. I had never just basically told someone, ‘I’ve got some ideas for the song, and I basically want to rewrite most of the music and make some pretty radical changes to the song.’ I don’t know a lot of people who would like that. But Ed was receptive to my ideas and I figured if he doesn’t like it, and I don’t like it, there’s no harm, no foul. But he seemed really floored by the ideas I came up with, and we’re both very happy with the final result, so it proved that we could work well together.
“The funny thing is, Ed and I have still never met, which probably goes on a lot in entertainment and in the music industry these days. I am out here in Houston and he is in L.A. And we’ve actually only talked on the phone once or twice; we usually message or talk on Facebook or on email. I did all the music here using the members of Wildestarr, myself on guitars, London on bass and our drummer Josh Foster doing his part.”
In a sense, the relationship between Starr and Gage is one of equals, but there is also a mentorship component to it.
“It’s been awesome, because I know that Dave has definitely been around, and he has done so much in his career. To get the chance to work with someone who really knows what he is doing is great. And of course, I really enjoyed all the early Vicious Rumors albums that Dave played on. The very first song I ever heard by them was Ship of Fools [from the band’s self-titled 1990 album], and I remember when I first heard it, I thought it was the most magical song I had ever heard. And here I am all these years later working with the guy who played on that song,” said Gage.
“I never would have expected someone like Dave to reach out and have an interest in wanting to collaborate. I know a lot of musicians who are very picky about who they want to work with. For me, I try to keep an open mind, and I really think that’s how you’ve got to be in life, and especially in the entertainment industry. You need to have an open mind and be open to opportunities.
The song itself has a darker, more ragged feel to it that anything Starr has done with Wildestarr, which he said was deliberate, in order to differentiate it from anything else he has done, and also because he wants Wolf Chamber to have its own identity and evolve in its own interesting and unique direction.
“It’s very raw and unpolished and a lot of that was intentional. I didn’t want to do something with Ed and then have it sound exactly like Wildestarr or exactly like Vicious Rumors. There really wouldn’t be any point to that. It just so happened that the people in Wildestarr are close by and I already work with them, so it was convenient for the three of us to work on the song with Ed,” Starr explained.
“I have a very low tolerance for bullshit, which is one of the reasons why I play all the guitars and bass on the Wildestarr albums. I have a hard time dealing with people who just can’t get shit done. And then I realized if the three of us work with Ed on this, I know it’s going to get done, because I am familiar with everybody since we’re going on our fourth album now.
“The rawness and grittiness is the way it worked out, and I think it worked out good. I think the song is real and raw; it’s kind of in your face and has a real old-school vibe to it and I think that’s what we were going for. Even though there is a huge difference in our ages, it really doesn’t matter when it comes to it, because Ed and I have a lot of the same influences in music, the stuff from the 1970s and 1980s. So, it made it really compatible to work together in spite of being miles apart and years apart. Neither of those became a factor. I do remember telling Ed that I had this WASP vibe that I wanted to try on the song and we just kind of ran with that.”
Thematically, Forest of Darkness is an old school fantasy/horror tale, one that incorporates classic images and characters to create a chilling, edgy feeling both melodically and lyrically.
“I’ve always had a fascination for horror movies, especially from something like Friday the 13th, which is a franchise I have been a fan of for quite a long time. But I didn’t want to be cliched writing a song about Jason Voorhees or a generic slasher. I already have another song that’s in my archives that I eventually want to put out that’s about a serial killer. I wanted to do something that was more of a combination of horror and fantasy and fiction. I thought I would write a song about a forest that has every single monster you can think of from the traditional horror genre. I especially hearkened back to the Universal Studios horror monsters like Dracula, The Wolfman and all that,” Gage explained.
“It’s what would happen if you went into a forest where every single monster of your nightmares is. And like it says in the lyrics, ‘you can run all you want, but you can’t hide,’ because they’re always going to find you and come after you – if it’s not one it’s the other. Like I said, I’ve always liked the horror stuff, so I wanted to do something horror based.”
Starr also admitted to being a horror movie buff, saying that he often writes music while watching horror and sci fi movies, and said that the horror movie connection is yet another strong bond that has developed between he and Gage.
“One of the things that Ed and I were going to try to do, besides the band itself, was to get the song placed in an actual horror movie. That is something we’re hoping might be able to come down the pipe. I have a few contacts, but Ed has a lot more contacts in the film industry than I have, so we’re hoping to get that done at some point,” he said.
Starr does not tour, or play many shows at all, since he and his wife Wilde have a number of home-based businesses on their Houston-area property. Plus, he said after becoming clean and sober, the lustre of the road life has worn off for him. Gage said he is working on Steelwitch and solo material, as well as the beginnings of another possible Wolf Chamber tune. As well, he is also working on a movie at present, which is hush hush, but should be out before the end of the year.
Wildestarr is also partway through the writing stage for its fourth album, which Starr said should be out by December of 2020.
“Ed is a lot younger, and when I was his age, I was out taking on the world. And that’s what I want Ed to do with both his acting and his music. And if I can help him out in any way, that’s what I am trying to do,” said Starr.
For more information, visit any of Starr or Gage’s social media, as well as www.facebook.com/wolfchambermetal.
- Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for nearly three decades. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at email@example.com.
The post New Metal Combo Wolf Chamber Release First Song – Forest of Darkness appeared first on Music Life Magazine.