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The Sonic Adventures of Gary Dranow & The Manic Emotions

The Sonic Adventures of Gary Dranow & The Manic Emotions

The Sonic Adventures of Gary Dranow & The Manic Emotions

Gary Dranow has experienced a life filled with adventure and intrigue. A young equestrian turned motocross champion, a clothing line entrepreneur turned mortgage broker, a renowned ski instructor, and an academy founder. Gary Dranow has undoubtedly grabbed life with both hands and squeezed a lot out of it.  It is something that is reflected in his approach to music, too. He has been a musician such the age of 12, and he now performs with the latest incarnation of his band The Manic Emotions. Now at 70 years young, Gary Dranow continues to create and entertainment with a ton of passion and conviction.  Gary Dranow has just released a new EP entitled Never Give Up, and it’s a dynamic collection of songs well worth seeking out.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed Gary Dranow to find out more about his sonic artistry, his inspiring history in music, the story of his very own Golden Child, and a whole lot more!  Read on…

Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Park City, UT. We have a mix a smaller Bar Venues and much larger event venues, both in Park City and in Salt Lake City, just down the canyon. Currently I have a residency at O’Shucks Bar and Grill, Quarry Village, which is exactly a mile from my house down the hill. I typically play for about 100 people there and we Livestream our events on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

What was the name of the very first song you wrote, how old were you, and what was that song about?
Johnny was A Driver is the first song I wrote, I was thirteen when I wrote it. I still have the original stems and I have it on my Destiny Road album as a bonus track. It is on my This is Gary Dranow Spotify playlist.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the title of your just released Never Give Up EP?
Not really, each song has its own message and story. I am motivated to write songs about current events, social issues and injustice, my own personal experiences or even something I hear on the news. Black Coal Lung would be an example of a story I took right off of CNN.

Select two songs from Never Give Up and what inspired the lyrics.
Bodywise, my number one song. I wrote from the viewpoint of my sister as she grew up and freed herself from the cultural and societal pressures she had to contend with growing up in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. Ripping is a song I wrote about how time seems to speed up as you get into your seventies and beyond. I just turned seventy this last March and I am experiencing things coming at me at light speed, which I never experienced until I approached seventy years old.

What could one expect from a live Gary Dranow & The Manic Emotions Show?
A lot of energy and a show with multi-faceted genres. No two songs sound the same or have even remotely close story lines. Musicianship is also something we pride ourselves on. The whole band is world class.

Tell me about the Jimi Hendrix tribute show you did and what that experience was like?
I have been doing Hendrix Tribute shows for almost forty years. When I do a Hendrix show I like to play many of his more obscure songs like Third Stone From The Sun or Are You Experienced, or Stone Free would be another example. My favorite Hendrix song to play is Axis, Bold As Love because the chord changes are so lovely and the extended solo at the end is so fun to play with the band.

Have you played out here in the Los Angeles or Orange County area, or is that something you would like to do in future days?
I played the Southern California music scene for at least twenty years, maybe more. I played venues like Rusty’s At The Peer to the Santa Monica Civic Center when we opened for Frank Zappa in the early eighties. I played from Santa Barbara down to San Diego. This was with the first iteration of Gary Dranow and The Manic Emotions with Jerry Manfredi on bass (Andy Gibb’s musical director), Jethro DeFries on drums (Sly and The Family Stone), and Tommy Mars on keyboards (Frank Zappa Band). It was also with this group that I recorded my Destiny Road album in the mid-nineties.

If you could open up for any band or artist either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
If it were the past Jimi Hendrix (Obviously) or Jethro Tull. Currently I’d like to open for John Mayer or Joe Bonamassa.

On your previous album Destiny Road, you have songs dealing with the subject of Bipolar 1 Disorder. Where did the title of the album come from and what was it like writing and signing about a topic so personal?
Destiny Road album came from a very vivid dream I had in the early nineties. I remember waking up and rushing to my Tascam four track cassette recorder to get the song out of my head and on to tape. It took me just under two hours to get the song, as it is in its present mix, down. Then each of the thirteen songs flowed from that experience. Mellow Drama, still my number one all time song, which I perform currently with my Park City band, the second iteration of Gary Dranow and The Manic Emotions, at all my local gigs and on my Tuesday night livestreams. Mellow Drama was written in the third person of what it was like being a friend, lover or wife of mine before I was diagnosed and treated for Bipolar 1 Disorder. I think I captured my friends, lovers, and former wives experience very well in that song.

Tell me about your song Golden Child and the inspiration behind that song.
Golden Child is all about us adopting our Goldendoodle, Bellatrix from the Salt Lake County Animal Services. My wife, a CCP Photographer, volunteers to shoot pictures of dogs coming up for adoption. Because of her relationship with the staff we got a heads up that Bella was coming up for adoption. It was a Saturday, we got there a hour early to be first in line. We took her straight home, she was a big hit with our other two Gooldendoodles, Daisy and Lucy-Fur. The majority of the song is about her systematically taking over the household.

What’s up next for you and your band?
Hopefully finding our way into the mainstream and FM air radio play. We maybe going to Europe to tour as there is a whiff of a record deal from a German Label in the offing. Regardless I look forward to touring in the US or Europe with my international band mates, Chris Zoupa, guitar player Extraordinaire and my writing partner of three years, Jason Jones, our fantastic drummer, mix and mastering pro and vocalist on songs like The Cry of War and Tom Foolery, which just came out today, and yes, it is about Donald Trump.

Any final words of wisdom?
Yeah, very simple. Never Give Up!

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Gary Dranow & The Manic Emotions on Instagram

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