Go On, Great Immortal is not only a really cool-sounding phrase and potential line from a karate movie, but it's also the name of the solo project of Gogi Randhawa. Gogi is a very well accomplished musician that was a founding member of both Dear Enemy and Viasava and has been acting as the current touring guitarist for New York City artist Madame Mayhem. So, you can be sure this dude knows his music pretty damn well! Gogi recently pursued a solo career and the result is the new record Flawed, with all instruments, vocals, engineering, writing and production done by Gogi himself. We recently spoke to him about Go On, Great Immortal, the making of his solo album, and some of his desert island all-time favorite albums.
For those not familiar with your band can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? Gogi Randhawa: The name of the project is Go On, Great Immortal and it's my solo project. I wrote, produced, engineered and performed everything on the record. It’s really a labour of love project that was intentionally meant to be all mine for better or worse. I certainly would prefer that people enjoy the music, but if they don't then I'm ok with it because it was admittedly all for me.
I was heavily involved in the Atlanta music scene for a number of years and had been a founding member of a band called Dear Enemy. We shared the stage and toured with bands like Sevendust, Taproot, Alterbridge, Chevelle and Three Days Grace. During that time I connected with Corey Lowery, who was in Stuck Mojo, Dark New Day, Eye Empire and is currently the bassist for Saint Asonia. Corey produced several Dear Enemy releases, and we remained good friends. He eventually mixed the Go On, Great Immortal album. His brother, Clint, who plays in Sevendust, came in and played on a track for our album, Believe the Rumors and was instrumental in getting us out on the road with Sevendust, which was an amazing opportunity. During my years in Dear Enemy, we played several shows with a band called New Era Project whose lead vocalist was Dustin Lowery, Corey and Clint’s younger brother. When Dear Enemy called it a day, the drummer, Alex, and I immediately contacted Dustin and my next band, Viasava, was born and we toured for a little bit.
After Viasava disbanded I started writing and demoing out songs. In the middle of that process I got a call from Corey to see if I was available to go back out on the road with an artist he was working with, and so I jumped on board as a touring guitarist for Madame Mayhem and have been doing that ever since while still writing material for Go On, Great Immortal.
Your new disc Flawed. has just been released. Now that it is complete how do you feel about it, and what has been the response so far? Gogi: It feels great. The process of making it was definitely tough at times and I struggled a lot with confidence issues, technical issues, financial issues, etc, but ultimately I think I made the record I set out to make, and I’m honestly more proud of it than I thought I would be. I love it. It's definitely a record I would buy if I hadn’t made it, and that’s a pretty great feeling.
At the same time, when I started this process I never would have believed that this is what the finished product would sound like. It didn’t turn out like I initially planned it, but I think that’s a good thing. It's just a testament to the fact that you have to trust the journey and just let the song go where it's going to go. The more honest and open you are, the better things will turn out and I feel like that’s what happened. I also feel like the best is yet to come.
The response has really been overwhelming. It's always great when people contact you to tell you how much they love the album or even just a particular song when they didn’t have to say anything at all. I know the album isn’t for everyone and not everyone will love it, but without a doubt, enough people have made comments to me to make me feel beyond proud and thankful that I was able to make something people could enjoy and relate to on some level. It's all any musician wants to do, and I am thankful that I am able to do that in my little tiny corner of the musical world.
What’s the story behind the name of the band? Gogi: It really just kind of happened. After my last band stopped, I fell into a depression because I didn’t know what I was going to do musically anymore. I knew life would be bad without some sort of musical outlet, and I just didn’t know where my place in all of it was. I had only really ever wanted to be in bands, but the idea of starting over yet again just seemed like it would be going through the motions. I felt like it was doomed to fail before it got off the ground because I could just tell my heart wasn’t in it. So one day while fighting with myself in an internal dialogue, I basically was kicking myself in the ass to either do something or accept that it was done and just sell most everything I had.
Music is one of those things that I have always felt like is never ending and will go on forever in some capacity. If every human is wiped off the planet, I still believe that music will exist regardless, even in the natural rhythms that occur in nature. So, I pretty much told myself that music is going to go on with or without me and for a little bit, during this internal dialogue, I imagined myself saying goodbye to it. The phrase, "Go On, Great Immortal" just kind of appeared in my head and it sort of stuck. I don’t know if it was a subconscious thing or what, but a few weeks later I was creating a folder on my computer for the project just to sketch some ideas and I abbreviated it. Only then did it dawn on me that the abbreviation of it spelled my name, GOGI. I specifically remember saying out loud to myself, "No one’s ever gonna believe this."
I think at this point the name has taken on a dual meaning. At the time I was saying it potentially as a goodbye to music. Now it feels more like a motivation as if the music itself is telling me to go on. No, I don’t do drugs.
What is the story behind the name of the new record? Gogi: I had another name in mind for a few years that I was pretty set on, but by the time the album was finished, I felt like I had just kind of put a lot of myself out there, scars and all. So it just made sense to me to take it a step further and find a simple way to say, "Hey, look…I have some issues, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon." It’s come to a place of embracing the "screwed up" and working through it. Flawed. came to me pretty quickly at that point. It just made sense, it fit and I remember writing the period (.) at the end with purpose, and feeling like, "There it is! Here I am. I’m flawed –period."
What is your writing process like? Gogi: Writing is always a just "it comes to me" kind of thing. I never really sit down to write songs. I just play and if something sticks out to me I’ll flesh it out. Really though, the majority of my musical ideas come when I am nowhere near a guitar. It will appear in my head and I’ll work it out to a certain point and pull out my phone or voice recorder and sing it horribly so I don’t forget it. Then when I sit with a guitar I’ll work on it until it’s at a good spot to demo it out in my studio.
Lyrically I just listen to the music and see what mood it puts me and how it makes me feel. I don’t come up with words so much as melodies that sound like a good fit for the songs. Once I am happy with the melody I’ll find specific words or syllable sounds that fit within the melodies. Then I just combine the mood and feeling with the words I like that fit within the melodies and let the idea unfold on its own. Throughout the process any of it could change. I could be halfway done with lyrics and an idea will happen that I think is better for a certain part of a song and I’ll tear it apart and work in the new idea. So it's never done until it's DONE, but over the years I’ve learned how to let the song breathe on its own and recognize when it's time to walk away and let it be finished. I'm still learning though. Each writing process presents its own learning experiences.
When you write do you do so with the live setting in mind or do you write a song just for the song's sake? Gogi: I love playing live so much and in previous projects, for the most part, the stage was always on my mind when I wrote music. I always wanted to feel like I could envision when people would go off to a particular part of a song and it would actually cause me to simplify because I knew I would want to throw down with the crowd as well. So yeah, generally I keep the live setting in mind. With this particular project though, I didn’t necessarily intend for it to be something I would play live so I didn’t put that limitation on it and just wrote how things came out – more vocal harmonies in spots, more additional guitar parts, etc. I do feel like there are some great “live” songs on the album but they definitely weren’t all written for the live show in mind. I suppose at some point I’ll have to test that theory and see how they hold up. We'll see.
Check out the video for the song "Black Waters Rise"
What was the inspiration for the album's cover artwork? Gogi: I am a graphic designer by trade for many years, and this was, much like the music, a bit of a departure from my style, and again, much like the music, it just kind of happened. I was just messing around, an idea stuck and it kept building on itself until I looked at it and fell in love with it. It made sense. I think it’s a really cool, beautiful piece, and I know that while some may look at it and see it as flawed in its abstractness and maybe nothing special, I can find a million reasons why I love it. It looks killer on a t-shirt too.
Do you have any touring plans in support of the new recording? Gogi: I originally didn't have plans to play out at all because this was supposed to be an outlet and a studio project that I could do when time allowed, but the feedback has been pretty great and slowly people have been increasingly asking if I will play shows in support of it. I still am not sure if it will happen, at least not on this particular release. But after the past couple of years I’ve had, I am firmly convinced that literally anything is possible, so I am definitely not ruling it out. When it is time to take these songs to the stage I think I will know it. Everything else about this project has been so organic and presented itself on its own that I have no doubt the live situation will do the same. The more people mention it, the more I want to, but I also want it to be the right time with the right people.
What do you think of the current state of the rock/metal world? Gogi: I think it's great, just like it has always been. There's more bands these days out there that sort of blur the lines of rock and metal. They are introducing new elements and at the same time there are plenty of bands that hold on to the traditional bare-bones idea of a rock and metal. I think it's a great thing. I know a lot of people want to get on board with the whole "Rock is dead" thing, and that’s fine if they want to do that, but they are wrong.
Rock’s not dead and it’s not going to die…ever. It’s just not. As long as there are angsty teens, misunderstood youth, tough times and loud speakers, rock will be around. Rock didn't die, but the dynamic and the vehicles by which people are exposed to it has changed so dramatically in recent years. The constant in-your-face barrage of information overload causes a scenario where people don't necessarily know where to look and so they are forced to believe that the only rock that exists is what's in the mainstream. They don’t know where to look and many are not actively seeking newer bands, but I also think that’s a perspective from an older generation that is busier and has more responsibilities than in their youth. Just like there has always been, there are younger music lovers that still actively seek out new music. It's the same natural progression. It just looks different.
I think people see rock radio going through changes and shifts and a rock club might shut down here and there, but rock has always lived and thrived in the underground. The roots always stay healthy even if the flowers don't appear to be blooming. There’s plenty of great bands and music out there that people haven’t heard of yet. You don’t have to constantly actively seek out new bands. You really only need to seek out one avenue - a particular internet radio station, a friend that is a die hard fan that will give recommendations, a website that focuses on new music, a podcast – and just listen to that. Find one that is consistent for the most part with the kind of rock you are into and they will do the work for you. The right vehicle is out there for everyone to find the rock they want.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three CDs with you for eternity, assuming there was a solar powered CD player, what would they be? Gogi: Whooo! This one is tough. I think I could give you a different answer month to month or even week to week because my musical mood can change so frequently. My most common go to’s would probably be:
Alice In Chains – Dirt
Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power
Prince – The Hits
But even answering with those three makes me nervous cause I love so much different music that the idea of only being on an album with three CDs stresses me out. I'd probably find a way to use the solar power from the CD player to power my phone so I could stream any music I wanted.