What is your performance name?
What is your real name?
That is my real name.
How long have you been making music and how did you get started?
I played piano when I was little. I played a fair amount until my Grand-Mother sold it! Luckily for me, my cousin, Marc Gravelle, got the idea to start a band together. We both wanted to play guitar, so that’s what we did. For what ever reason, I wound up doing the band thing while Marc became more of a song writer.
Who are the other members of your band?
The great thing about being a solo artist is that I have all sorts of great players to choose from. I am having a couple of the Ivory Knight guys play on my solo album, but there are a lot of other players that I’ve been working with.
My main partner in crime is an old friend named Andrew Turner. He’s a guitarist, singer, and what I refer to as a tone master! He can emulate famous guitar tones to a T! It’s unreal. He helped shape my guitar tone to something that suited my style well.
I also worked with a talented bassist named Gary Lauzon. He plays for a Prog Rock band called Rebel Wheel. They play festivals and headline gigs as well. They are a great band and I was extremely lucky to get someone of his caliber on my recordings.
Then there’s Fred Donkor. He and I go way back. We used to do guitar clinics for schools. He was a nutso shredder at the time in the vein of Racer X and stuff like that. Now he’s a bluesman! I know that some of the old fire is just waiting to explode on tape… and I can’t wait!
Another wicked guitar player is Paul Joanis. I first saw him playing in a Rush tribute band. He captured the nuances of Alex Lifeson’s playing down pat. Once I got to know him a bit, I also learned that he’s right into composing.
I have a drummer that I turn to when I need really solid heavy grooves. His name is Grant Moines. I remember when I used to Jam Maiden tunes with him at his house when he was only 16. He was the only guy I know who could play all the fills perfectly for the Nicko McBrain stuff.
What genre of music do you usually perform?
I’ve always been a metaller at heart, but I did dabble in hard rock and alternative during the 90’s. Then came Ivory Knight, and it was back to metal for good! My own style, removed from the band is technical metal. It’s not quite prog like Dream Theater of Symphony X – I wish that I could play like that – but it’s definitely not straight metal. A lot of people hear Rush, Zep, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth all mixed in there. I won’t argue with that!
Not using typical genre classifications, how would you describe your material in as few words as possible?
Woops. Looks like I already answered that one. See how I anticipate what’s coming!
Who is your inspiration?
Well I already mentioned some bands. Let’s talk about guitar players. The people who really got me interested in guitar were Yngwie, EVH, Alex Lifeson, Rik Emmett, Randy Rhoads, James Hetfield, Marty Friedman, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Waters. At this point, probably Jeff had the most profound effect on me, not only as a player, but as an artist. I was lucky enough to work in the studio with him as producer. He gave me a whole new appreciation of the dedication and discipline that it takes to be a great player in the pro world. I’ll be honest, I thought going in that I was in the same league as some of the top players. It didn’t take long before my illusions were shattered. But on the plus side, he forced me to take a long hard look at myself and decide what it was that I truly wanted out of music. That’s what led to my decision to quit Ivory Knight, and in fact, all bands, from here on in. I needed to focus 100% on writing and recording my songs because I want them to sound good, and that’s going to take all my time.
What was the name of the last song that you wrote?
The last song that I wrote was the title track for my solo CD: No Plan B. I am fascinated by the level of commitment that top pros have to their craft. Although I had a plan B and wound up living it to some extent, the moral of the story is that if you really want something, you can’t have a plan B, because when the going gets tough, and it will, you will be tempted to fall back on it rather that give it your all. Unfortunately, in a business like music, giving it your all is the only way to have a fighting chance at success.
Who or what inspired you to write that song?
It was my experiences talking to pros. I’m very fortunate in that, although I’m not a full-time pro, I have had the opportunity to work along side some truly great musicians and artists. Time and time again the same themes would come up about the kinds of sacrifices that they all made to get to where they are. I used to think that paying your dues meant to play a lot of shows. If that were the case, then I’d be ready for the big time a long time ago! The fact is, the average person could barely comprehend the extent of the suffering that pro artists endured in the name of their craft. When ever I’d hear their tales, I’d ask myself, why didn’t they just give up? That’s how bad they wanted it. They just couldn’t fathom any alternatives.
I got a diploma in computer programming in case the music thing didn’t work out. Problem is, I got so many offers in programming that I couldn’t refuse! I almost feel like I couldn’t NOT succeed in IT!
What new things do you have going on? A CD release, tour, etc?
The two main things on my plate right now are my solo album and my cover tunes project. I’m working on both simultaneously. My first cover tune is up on iTunes now. It’s Synchronicity II by the Police. It’s a blast to record some non-metal songs in my own style! I’m in the middle of Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet now. That is gonna rock big time!
Are you working on anything new?
Not yet. Once I have the solo album wrapped up I’ll move on to another project. Maybe a second solo album or maybe even a band effort. Who knows.
Where are some of the places that you have been playing?
I don’t do any live shows any more. I was recording with Jeff Waters for a while and then I went straight into my solo album. Although I will say that the other highlight of my career, besides working with Jeff, was opening for Sonata Arctica a few yeas ago. They are such great musicians. It was really a privilege to share the same stage as them. We were also blown away by our own fans. They showed up in droves and chanted our name before we went on. That was a thrill.
Where can people learn more about you? What's your web site?
My web site is www.robgravelle.com. Of course there’s tons of stuff on my work with Ivory Knight floating around out there as well.
What's your e-mail address?
If people really want to get a hold of me, my email is the contact page of my web site. Keep in mind though that I get a lot of emails. I try and answer some of them, but it really depends on my schedule.
What words of wisdom do you have for other musicians who are just getting started?
Make sure you know what exactly it is that you want out of music. I always wanted to make albums, but I had no idea that it would be possible to do that without going full-time pro. In fact, it would be very difficult for me to make a living at music because I have such a fixed idea of what type of music I want to play. To succeed as a pro, you have to be willing to play songs that you hate or make compromises for the band, record execs, etc. Luckily the music biz has changed so much in recent years that there’s no reason to suffer if you don’t want to.
Is there anything else that you'd like to share with the fans?
I just want to thank everyone for their support. Metal heads are very loyal fans. My music can be a bit self indulgent and "out there" in some ways. The fans have always been very supportive and positive about everything that Ivory Knight has done and that’s part of the reason that I felt confident enough to strike out on my own.
Indie Artists Alliance