July 11th, 2006
What are you currently doing?
A: These days I do around 200 shows a year with my own band Scurvy Dogz which is a kickin’ rock band featuring Gary Borden on guitar (formerly of Helix and Ray Lyell and the Storm and possibly the best axe man I’ve had the honor to share the stage with!) and Jamie Constant on drums (the skin man for Syre and a driving powerhouse on the kit).
I do all the lead vocals and front the band as well as play bass and keyboards. A lot of people don’t realize that up until I joined Helix in 1984 I was the lead vocalist and front man for all the bands I had played in. Helix already had one of the best so I was content to sit back and lay down a solid bass for the band and be as supportive as possible. I also do a large number of acoustic shows which take me back to my roots and also allow me to kick it up with my Celtic and Irish repertoire.
What has happened in the past few years since leaving the Helix camp?
A: I grew my hair longer. I had a nasty divorce and custody battle. One of the contributing factors in my decision to leave Helix was the need to take care of my kids as I no longer had a life partner to share those responsibilities with and no matter what blood is thicker than rider beer. That has changed over the last few years and I am lucky enough to have a “Red Haired Vixen” in my life now and full custody. On a professional level apart from Scurvy Dogz and the solo work, I have also recorded an album with Country / Rocker / Trucker, G.M. Paterson who ironically enough is a Helix fan whose favorite band is Slipknot. I play a few festival shows with him a year. I have also done some session work on various recordings.
Were you still involved in the music business during this time?
What was the reason for the split between you and Brian (Vollmer) after being together for so many years?
A: During the first sessions for what was to become the “Rocking in my own Outer Space” CD it became very evident that after 18 years with the band Brian and I had very different views and goals for how the next album should be recorded and marketed. We had a long and heated phone conversation after the first day of recording (where at one point I even told him that I wouldn’t want to have my name on the album) and the next day I received an e-mail relieving me of all of my management duties and repositioning my financial compensation for live shows. Brian had decided, as was his right as the owner and only remaining original partner of the band that he would take everything over himself and I decided that I did not like what was being offered to me so regretfully the time had come to part ways.
You never took part in the ‘Helix 30th Anniversary” show a couple years ago. With so many former members there do you regret not being a part of it?
A: I hear that a fun time was had by all and I would have loved to play the show but unfortunately Brian and I could not come to terms regarding royalties for any sales from DVD or CD recordings of the night. Who knows, there is always the 40th anniversary!!
Do you think you will ever be on stage with Brian or any of those guys again?
A: I’ve learned never to say never as you never know what the future can present and besides the bass position is currently capably filled by Jeff Fountain. I’ve always wished only the best for Brian and the band and have always had the best interests of the Helix name and legacy at heart. It’s good to see that they have had some high profile shows lately and I hope they can build on the momentum and re-establish a touring base in the US and European markets as well.
Tell the readers about your new project “Scurvy Dogz”.
A: As I said earlier it’s a kickin” Rock band, not so new though. I first put a version of the band together on a Helix touring hiatus in 1989 as we were recording the “Back for Another Taste” album. We weren’t doing enough live shows at the time to pay the rent, so I decided to keep a low profile in the Niagara area and play some shows in the local bars. It just kept on going from there like a rabid monster dog that wouldn’t die. Cujo Rock!!!
Over the last 16 years we have had some talented players in the band. Gary was my first guitar player and it’s great to have him back but for a brief period in the mid 90’s he was replaced by Greg Fraser from Brighton Rock. The drum throne has featured Phil Epp – White Wolf, Greg “Fritz” Hinz – Helix, Brian Hamilton – Panik, Mike McDowell – Tracy Kane and currently Jamie. This line up smokes and every night on stage with these guys is a howl!!
Will you be writing and recording new original material?
A: Yes. The Dogz have a few track in the can already and we plan to do more. I also have a number of different solo projects I am working on including a CD of Irish music.
What can fans expect from this new band?
A: Good high energy rock and a tight entertaining show.
Will the new sounds be heavier than what fans were used to in your former band?
A: With a three piece band the drums and bass carry the majority of the drive so it can’t help but sound a little heavier. Its 21st Century Rock…a little more keys… a little more bass in the mix…tight harmonies.
Do you cover any of your former bands material seeing how you were a big part of it?
A: We do a few of the songs that Helix covered. “Make me do (Anything you want)”, “Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin”, and we’ve even been persuaded by a few audiences to do a Dogz version of “Rock You”, but always a crowd pleaser is “Delilah” which was originally recorded for me to sing on the Helix “Rockin’ in my own Outer Space” CD. I understand Brian finished it up but I haven’t heard it.
Any plans to take the new band across Canada for some shows?
A: I’ve slept on the floor of the van and eaten from the deli try far too many times to want to rush back into that unless it’s to support an album, so until we have one out and the logistics make sense, not at present. I am also a hired gun these days and so you never know who I could show up in your town playing with.
On your site you are listed as playing some solo acoustic dates. Is it just you and an acoustic or is their a full band doing an ‘Unplugged’ sort of set?
A: Just me! All by myself, Naked and alone.
Is this the direction you will be taking?
A: As a writer and musician I believe that I can explore several directions simultaneously without compromising any musical integrity. The “In your face” rock of the Scurvy Dogz is just one color in my musical canvas. The acoustic music is actually where I started in Ireland many years ago. My first paying job as a musician was at the age of 15, doing an acoustic set as the opener for the country band in the local pub for which I was paid a whopping two quid and slipped a pint of Guinness under the table. This is like a homecoming.
Anything you’d like to say to the readers?
A: Check out my web site at www.darylgray.com or go to www.planethelix.com Go buy recordings by your favorite artists and go see bands live. There will be no Helix’s of tomorrow without your support. Keep it real and remember…..”You Keep Us Rockin”!!!!
Thanks for your time.