Gavin Brown Chats To Mac Gollehon
Mac Gollehon has a long and storied career in music that started back in the 1970s. The trumpet player has played on so many pieces of music and recorded with some of the greatest musicians of all time. As well as his work as a session musician, he has released a multitude of solo work and shows no signs of letting up, with his music taking more exploratory forms as the years move on. His latest EP The End Of The Beginning is no exception and we caught up with Mac to hear all about it, his collaboration album with Gridfailure and his vast journey in making music.
Your brilliant new EP The End Is The Beginning has just been released. How did the creation and recording process of the EP go?
Very well. Once a direction was visualized from the photo session the music conception took form. A bit of reverse inspiration.
Gridfailure’s David Brenner produced and engineered the EP. How was it working with him and what did he bring to the sound of The End Is The Beginning?
David suggested that I score the music as a film noir score inspired from early 70s and I should perform all instruments during the tracking. I modeled some of the inspiration and attitude of The French Connection by Don Ellis as well as Dirty Harry and Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Naturally it ended up much different than those, but that inspiring mode was a start point.
What inspired the songs on The End Is The Beginning?
Classic film noir for the most part but the waters got diverse and deep as the sessions progressed. A wide gamut yet an intense core focus.
Did you want to convey a feeling of how New York used to be with this release?
I never want to replicate. Instead, I prefer to observe and recreate an alternative or surrealistic account of a prior existing feeling.
What are your favourite things about New York when it comes to music?
Diversity, intensity, authenticity, and stylistic opportunities.
You have just done a video for the song Bronx Motor Inn. Can you tell us a bit about the video and it’s themes?
It was filmed entirely in David’s neighborhood and mostly utilized one take of large train passing by while taking advantage of the unique lighting. The still shots I made of squalid hotel hangs and assorted basement dweller junkies in hopelessly dire circumstances. All self-inflicted from a lifetime of gangster/hustler life.
The video for the title track of End Is The Beginning features actor Vincent Pastore, how did the you hook up with him to appear and what does he bring to the video?
I perform often in his band The Gangster Squad. It is much like a bar band plying timeless classics. I asked him to do a cameo in my video. He said yes and wound up acting and directing the entire opening scene. That set the pace for a violent rampage of madness that continuously followed. The video was by Tyler Adams and directed by Tyler and myself with post effects by David Brenner.
You are based in New York. How does the city inspire you and your music?
When I first moved here there was a surplus of amazing players and venues. Even as it has changed over the years there is still enough intrigue here to keep me going, but always searching.
What are your favourite films and score that define New York for you?
Goodfellas. State of Grace
What music reminds you most of New York City and why?
Avant jazz. Almost solely of NYC influencers. Most other music genres had equally shared origins.
You released the immense Dismemberment Cabaret album with Gridfailure last year. How was the experience of doing that album and how has it been received so far?
That was an amazing record. A pandemic collaboration with Gridfailure that will stand the test of time.
Will you be working with David and Gridfailure again on any new projects?
Yes, I play on the Harbinger Winds collaboration between Gridfailure and Megalophobe which is nearing completion and will see release through Nefarious Industries in the coming months.
Have you talked about the collaboration being taken to a live arena at all?
It is an absolute priority once the pandemic dies down.
Will there be any new material from your Hispanic Mechanics band in the near future?
Yes, a full LP mixed and mastered, and David (Brenner) is completing the cover artwork now. It’s a monster! It will see release in early 2023, also through Nefarious Industries.
You played on Let’s Dance by David Bowie. How was it working with him and what are your favourite memories of doing so?
That became his biggest selling record. He was very enthusiastic and knew what he wanted. He mentioned that my sound gave it a big band vibe such as the solo on Let’s Dance. He was a great guy and a visionary artist.
What are your memories of working with Duran Duran on the Notorious and Skin Trade albums?
Love those guys! A class act! My “Skin Trade” solo was a standout, and the record was an important pivot point for them.
You have also worked a lot with Chic. How was that experience?
Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were an awesome team. When they went separate ways I played on dozens of records with both of these talented guys over the years. Many of the tracks were fabulous and some were simply game changer prolific.
You have also worked with everyone from Blondie, Chaka Khan, and Onyx to Grace Jones, Buddy Guy, and Al Jarreau. Who have you loved working with the most?
I enjoyed working all of these greats but in different ways and for a variety of reasons, both personally and musically.
Who would be on your dream list to work with in the future?
Anyone that is an absolute monster that’s got a take-no-prisoners attitude in making music. When I was a teen, my goals of who I wanted to hit with was very specific. I achieved a large number of my goals and the intent is to continue the course.
Do you love to stay busy with your music?
Yes, especially when it sounds good.
How did your musical journey start in the first place?
My dad was a big influence. He played trumpet and was a band director.
What have been some of the proudest moments of your musical career so far?
Many big moments. One that stands out for me was returning to NYC from doing a three-week tour in Japan, stepping off the plane and running straight to The Blue Note NYC to record my record Mac’s Smokin Section Live at The Blue Note. The line wrapped around the block and I had to force my way in to get to the stage on time to start the live record performance.
Thank you so much for spending time with Gavin and Circuit Sweet. You can listen to the new record streaming in full above, be sure to check out the following links:
Words: Gavin Brown