I've lived in cities in various parts of this country, as well as parts of Europe, but for some reason, after 17-plus months back in the D, it unfortunately strikes me that this kind of "controversy" would only be "controversial" in a place like Detroit (and certainly only on the blogosphere). I feel like I'm perhaps lowering the bar by even responding to it and taking the bait. Nevertheless, here goes:
Several weeks ago, I received two e-mails one afternoon, asking me if the Go -- one of my favorite bands in the city -- was indeed changing membership. One of those messages asked if it was true that Go members Marc Fellis and James McConnell were being replaced by Dan Kroha and Ben from the Readies. I responded by asking where they'd heard this... and one responded within seconds that "it's on the Internet."
So, I immediately did what any journalist would do, contacting Go leader (and my friend) Bobby Harlow, who responded that there was no truth to the rumors whatsoever; that he and John Krautner (who I also consider a friend) were playing a side project with the dudes from the Readies (they were calling themselves the Haunted Beat Band at that time) -- but that the project was totally separate from the Go, which was definitely carrying on as a unit. So, as any journalist would do, I posted what the guy who would actually know had to say on the subject.
Thought that would be the end of it... until last week when Go guitarist James McConnell stopped by the MT office to hand deliver a copy of his new solo LP, Walking Into the Light, as recorded by his side project, Ultraviolet Radio. Glancing at the credits, I saw Harlow listed for drum programming and synthesizer, and that Krautner is listed as bassist on one of the tracks (McConnell plays most of the instruments himself, although the ever-present Matthew Smith contributed trumpet to a song). Since I had James in front of me, I asked him about the rumors and what was up with the Go. McConnell responded that the band seemed to be "on hiatus" at the moment but that the Go still existed. Since I was just finishing two special issues in a row, I thought I'd save that info for when we review McConnell's album and, again, thought that was the end of it...
... Until I decided to foolishly check my office e-mail the first day of a much-needed vacation last week to discover an e-mail from a local blogger who, I now have determined, was the first person to report this "controversial" rumor, stating that he hoped I "could appreciate the snarkyness" [sic] of his latest post. (This, of course, presumed that I read his blog on a regular basis... when the truth is, I spend so much time in front of a computer screen every day, the last thing I want to do at the end of that day is read a local music gossip blog. Give me MOJO magazine, Vanity Fair, hell, even a lame TV show -- anything other than a computer screen during my off-hours.) So I really had no idea of what the hell he was talking about... until I saw an e-mail directly below his from my pal Chris Handyside, asking: "Did you take the bait? Sigh. Or is someone posting under your name on that site?" Since I still had no idea wtf was going on, I asked Chris to briefly fill me in (it was the first day of a vacation, after all, and, again, I did not want to spend it in front of a computer screen). Handyside wrote back that it was about the Go "controversy"; that the Go had apparently played in Lansing several nights before with the two Readies dudes in the band; and that the aforementioned blogger seems to have taken me asking Bobby for a statement as a personal affront, believing that, by posting that, I was calling him "a liar," which I, of course, didn't do (especially since I had no idea when I interviewed Bobby that the "controversial" rumor had originated with that blogger in the first place!).
So since I'm supposedly the "old guy" in the local music scene these days, let me put this in very elementary terms: In July 1968, Eric Clapton went into the studio with the Beatles to record "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" for the White Album. Since Cream was fracturing at the time, there very easily could have been rumors that Clapton was joining the Beatles. Let's say, hypothetically, a guy wrote an article (they didn't have blogs in those days), stating there was a rumor that Clapton was joining the Fab Four and asking if anyone could verify that. Now, let's say, hypothetically, that a journalist then interviewed John Lennon, asking him about the rumor -- and Lennon responded there was no truth whatsoever to it. If the journalist then published that info in an article, that would not mean that the journalist or Lennon were calling the original writer a "liar." They would simply be correcting misinformation and investigating a rumor in an attempt to verify or dispel it. Got it? (If that example doesn't work, then use Lennon, Clapton, Keith Richards, the late Mitch Mitchell, and Yoko performing as a band they called the Dirty Mac at the Stones' Rock 'N' Roll Circus show instead...)
So anybody who'd think I was calling them a “liar’ and casting aspersion on them by publishing a quote from the person the rumor was about in the first place... and then is still dwelling on it weeks after the fact... well, the said person is either a) being kinda silly; b) begging for attention; c) seemingly obsessed with me and what I write; or d) a combination of all the above. (Now, on the other hand, when someone posts that they met me last year at the Magic Stick during a holiday show that took place on a night when I was actually out of town and in a completely different U.S. state, well, that could be considered a "lie" or perhaps just too much alcohol clogging up the memory... but let's not go there today... although that's not a promise I won't go there next week...)
At any rate, I contacted Bobby Harlow, John Krautner and Go manager Howard Hertz Tuesday (my first day back on the job) to -- once again -- get the straight scoop on this "controversy," which surely will stand alongside Kwame Kilpatrick's resignation as one of the great Detroit scandals of 2008 (after all, as Christine Beatty said to a reporter: "We do things differently in Detroit"... or something like that).
I really don't believe that Bobby is going to lie to me because a) he's a friend; and b) I helped arrange a meeting earlier this year with an A&R person at a major label in Los Angeles that was very interested in the Go at the time. I firmly believe this band deserves a much wider audience outside Detroit.
So -- for the final time -- this is Mr. Harlow's official statement regarding this very "controversial" subject:
"The Go is very much alive and well. In fact, we're working on a new album. We've already got two songs finished. Our next performance will be at Dave Feeny's holiday spectacular at the Magic Stick in December. We will also have a new single out on the record label April '77 this coming March. There will be a custom designed T-shirt to go with it, as the label is a subsidiary of a clothing designer. The b-side is a cover of a Serge Gainsbourgh song called 'Scenic Railway' and it's sung in French!
Dan and Ben from the Readies will be performing a few shows with me and John as well in December. But this is not the Go. We're now calling this new band the Skies Above. Last week's Lansing show was originally scheduled to be a Go performance. Unfortunately, James [McConnell] has decided to move out to California. He's been back and forth for the past six months and it looks like he's finally planned a permanent move there. So Dan and Ben went to Lansing with us for fun and nobody in the audience seemed to mind.
Just to clarify: The Go is NOT "in limbo" or "on hiatus." We're working diligently.
The truth is that the Go has always consisted of John, Marc and me. We have a very strong respect for each other and plan to make music for as long as the current of inspiration runs steady. So far, we're not bored.
Concerning Jim's album: John and I had absolutely no hand in the making of it whatsoever, but he's given us credit just to be nice, because he's a swell guy.
John, Marc and I have a lot of fun doing what we do. Sometimes we do it with another guitar player, Or a piano player. Or a saxophone player, or...well, you get it. If you notice all of the guest star credits on the back of the Tracking the Trail... LP, it's like a frickin' cult! In other words, we've always enjoyed working with new people. Already, on this new album, we've got a guest piano player on it. So, I guess the way of putting it right now is that the Go is currently just a three-legged table that likes to have a lot of talented people feeding off of it. Gross? Well, I mean, you know what I mean.
Through all of our ups and downs, squabbles and moments of clarity, we've never felt we had a reason to stop making music together because we actually enjoy each others process. Marc's an amazing, gifted musician. Johnny's an ace songwriter. We're all very happy together.
Thanks for checking in. There's far too much gossip out there. And stop reading blogs! You'll only get depressed!
So, that's that. If you, the readers, have any other problems with this scandalous "controversy," then, please, by all means, take it up with Mr. Harlow. And then get a life...
By the way: Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. I'm off to celebrate with my family. See you next week.
This did not mean the Beatles and Stones were breaking up or that anyone was being called a "liar"...