Monday, March 30, 2009

Chris McGill - Vision Part III

Dave Franklin with Vision at CBGB, NYC, Photo: Ken Salerno

The third and final entry with former Vision bassist, Chris McGill. Thanks to Chris for answering our questions and of course thanks to Ken for all the great pics. Remember this coming Saturday April 4th, Vision take the stage at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick NJ with Chris to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut LP, "In The Blink Of An Eye". Be there... NJHC. -TIM DCXX

What are your thoughts on the "Just Short Of Living" record and how did you feel about the direction the band was going in at that time?

Just Short of Living was a great recording. It was not given the respect I thought it deserved. I am not sure why. Yes, the label stopped pressing it, but enough went out and the negative reviews came in. The record is chock full of good riffs and catchy lyrics. At the time there were all the crossover bands coming around and they had that whole metal-hardcore sound. Well our sound was heavier on this recording, so people started throwing us in with those bands.

I don’t think it was fair or accurate.

I personally have two issues with Just Short Of Living:

1. It was overproduced. We lost our ability to play it live with the extra guitar tracks and effects.

2. I was not happy with the bass levels on this. I played my ass off, but not much comes through.
Also, I believe the album would have been better received if there was something else released between ITBOAI and JSOL. There was too much progression between the two recordings. Again, I love the album and wish it had done better.

McGill and Fanklin at CB's, Photo: Ken Salerno

What were the circumstances revolving around you leaving Vision? I remember some sort of controversy between you and Randy Now at City Gardens and you being banned for life. Did any of that feed into your exit from the band?

I didn’t leave Vision. I had been banned 3 times for life from City Gardens (I am not sure how that is possible), but it never seemed to matter to Randy Now. If he could book us he would. I knew we had a show at City Gardens coming up, but didn’t realize it was to be played without me. So I found out the hard way. I don’t know if Randy told the band we can’t play if I am there or not. I have no knowledge of that.

Once you were out of Vision, did you stay friends with those guys and what did you end up spending the majority of your time doing?

I didn’t stay friends with them, nor did I speak to Dave, Pete or Matt for at least 10 years with the exception of a “hello, how are you” when we ran into each other. I had nothing to say. It was not an easy split, and both sides have different opinions on what went down. So let's just say it was a mutual decision. I will say that, every story has 3 sides, so we all move on and get over it.

Since the split, I’ve had 3 great kids and was able to move forward with music via my bagpipes. I have been playing forever and competing in the States and Canada. I even opened up for Rod Stewart. That really consumes most of my time, from April to October. My kids, Liam, Hannah, and Riley play in the band with me, so it takes the stress out of it a little. They are pretty talented and manage to take medals at almost every competition. We are going to the World Championships this year in Scotland. We are looking for sponsors...anyone?

When I put my bass guitar away in 1993, it did not come out again until 2005. I was bitter and depressed about not playing. I should have found a band or started a new band back in 1994 and continued, but I didn’t. It was my own fault. It was a lesson learned about life, and the little time we have before the lord calls us home. I won’t make that mistake again.

Pete Tabbot with Vision at CB's, Photo: Ken Salerno

What brought about your return to Vision for the April 4th, 2009 "In The Blink Of An Eye" show?

I started speaking with the boys a few years back and even recorded with Matt for my band Johnny Seven. I started talking to Matt first. I ran into him at a Father Daughter dance that the Girl Scouts run in March every year. It is actually one of my favorite events of the year. My oldest daughter Hannah went for 4 years and now my youngest Riley goes. Then I started talking with Pete. I don’t remember where or why, but he probably had a martini in his hand and a good band was probably playing. Sometimes we meet up for dinner. I run into Dave every once in a while in a random place. I was asked, and I played a few songs with them a couple of years ago at a show at the Court Tavern and that went well.

Pete contacted me a couple months ago and ran the In the Blink Of An Eye show by me. I thought it was a good idea and let's face it, it should have been years ago. We had a practice last week and we will have a couple more before April 4. We also are talking about doing a couple of all ages shows. I hope this happens because my kids would like to go and I know Matt’s daughter would like to go. Not to mention the kids' cousins. We’ll see.

Matt Riga with the most famous mullet in hardcore and the drum skills to pay the bills, Photo: Ken Salerno

Tell the readers about your latest band endeavors.

I am still playing bagpipes. We have a concert March 15 and we are recording it for a CD. In 2006 I was asked to write bagpipe parts to songs with a band called Convict Orange. I recorded 4 songs with them and played out live with them many times. It was fun while it lasted but they parted ways soon after. As far as guitar and bass, I got together with Brian McCarthy in 2006 and started writing and playing. We recruited Matt Riga and Mark V from Shades Apart and started Johnny Seven. Mark, Matt, and me have been friends since 1987. We recorded a 6-song CD and played 1 show together, and then it all fell apart. Mark didn’t have the time to commit every week so it became difficult. We could not find a guitar player to replace him. If anyone is interested in playing guitar or drums, please go to the myspace page and let us know. Brian and I want to release the 6 songs in some form or another. We just need to get it mastered, but we will release it somehow.

I currently play guitar with Slowburn. This band formed in the spring of 2008. The 5 members bring different styles from not so different backgrounds. We recorded 4 songs and we are getting ready to play out soon. The members are:
Chris M. – Guitar

Bill H. from Floorpunch – Guitar

Gerry D. from Steel Toe Solution – Bass

Jim Smith from CC4J and Spirit - Vocals

Rich Sunyak from Steel Toe Solution – Drums

Well it's been a long hard run. 44 years of jazz, R&B, rock, ska, punk, and hardcore with many memories and many friends. I could go on forever and offer up a thousand stories to make you laugh or cry. I could write a book, but even then I would not know when to shut up.

Thank you for the interest in what appears to be my very small contribution to the scene. I was absent from it for too long and it feels good to be playing again.

Congratulations and continued success with Double Cross. You are making an important contribution to the scene.
All the best, - Chris McGill

Chris takes a rest on the City Gardens stage, Photo: Ken Salerno


Benj said...

Totally agree with his comments about Just Short of Living. It is a great metallic hardcore record without being "metalcore." I still listen to it. Also agree that there is a huge musical gap between In the Blink of an Eye and JSoL, but hearing the JSoL songs live always fit in perfectly with their older songs. Wish I could make the show this weekend, it's probably been about 15 years since I saw Vision.

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Tony said...

I can't believe you left out the most interesting part of the story.. Why did he get banned three times from City Gardens?

Johnny P said...

^ Yeah, I wish he talked about that and also more about Sinn Fein.

Anonymous said...

"Congratulations and continued success with Double Cross. You are making an important contribution to the scene."

I second that!
Always a joy to read -a guy from Winnipeg.