It was the ’60s—an exciting time—and Southern California was developing its own answer to the “British Invasion, “San Francisco’s psychedelia, and Detroit’s Motown. L.A.’s scene was creating country/rock/folk with exciting newcomers like Jackson Browne, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Byrds, Gram Parsons, and Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys. The Eagles were soon to enter the picture, and Poco was paving the way.
What a band! There were Jimmy Messina and Richie Furay, fresh from their monstrously successful Buffalo Springfield, Rusty Young, steel’s new wonderboy, Randy Meisner on bass (soon replaced by Tim Schmidt), and George Grantham on drums. The music they were making was some of L.A.’s best.
George stayed with Poco through 11 years and just as many albums. In 1980, however, he parted their company and moved to Nashville. Not long after his arrival, he got the gig with Ricky Skaggs, one of country’s hottest tickets. George not only enjoyed Skaggs’ traditional country music, but appreciated the fact that Skaggs, like himself, is a Christian. It was an ideal working situation, until the only possibility that could drag George away from Skaggs materialized.
“Rusty and Paul [Cotton, who joined Poco in 1971] had been talking about coming here, basing out of Nashville, regrouping with me, and being a country group, which today isn’t much different from what Poco was as a country-rock group. We auditioned bass players and found the right fourth person [Jack Sundrud]. We’re going to tour, make records, and be Poco in Nashville.
“I had to leave Rick to do it, which was kind of hard. This was about the only thing I could do it for. I can’t think of anything more exciting I could leave to do. Rick and I are friends, and I really hope we remain friends. I think that, when you’re friends and something like this happens, it just takes time before wounds heal, even though no one was trying to hurt anybody. I want to be as close a friend as ever, or closer. I hope that happens.
“It feels good to be back with Poco. It’s going to take some time to get readjusted to it, because I’ve been doing something else for a while. I haven’t forgotten it, though. When we’re playing a song I did years ago with them, it feels like it was just yesterday.”
RF: I remember Poco when they still called themselves Pogo.
GG: The change happened within the first eight months. We probably would have kept it if we hadn’t been served papers from Walt Kelly, the creator of the cartoon strip. You’d think he would have been flattered to have someone out there to help him promote the name. However, he didn’t want us to use it, and we had to stay as close to the name as possible because of our following. So Rusty, who is into Spanish, suggested we change the “g” to a “c” and call the band Poco.
RF: As I was listening to the Pickin’ Up The Pieces album recently, I wondered what goes through your mind when you’re listening to that album?
GG: That’s the first album we did, and when 1 listen to it, I have a lot of fond memories—a lot of nostalgia. Then I listen to it as a drummer and vocalist and think, “Boy I’d like to do this again today.” For that time, it was really good. A lot of people think it was not only right in there with what was happening musically, but maybe ahead of some things. I listen to it today and think, “I’d change this and change that, rearrange this . . . .” An artist always wants another chance. If you ever become satisfied, you except an acoustic guitar on it—”Keep On Tryin’.” Tim Schmidt wrote it, and it’s one of my favorite studio memories. I sang on every song. It was either Tim and Richie or Paul and Tim, but whatever combination it was, I was always up on top. That was one of our marathon sessions—24-hour-straight things—and it just came together so nicely. Tim is such a sweet guy. As it developed, he got excited, then we got excited, and I like that a lot. I have a lot of favorites. It’s hard to pick one or two songs when you’re talking about 11 albums or more.
RF: Even just taking that first album, there are so many different musical influences on it. “Nobody’s Fool” was almost blues/jazz, a la Blood, Sweat, & Tears.
GG: We were trying to find our identity at one of our rehearsals at the Troubadour, and we just got into this jam. Jimmy Messina had only been playing guitar a short time. He played guitar a lot before that, but then he fell into engineering and playing bass with Buffalo Springfield. When Poco formed, one of the desires Jimmy had was to be on guitar again. He was kind of finding himself again through these jams, and we were all kind of figuring out how to play together. It just started, and all of a sudden it was, “This sounds kind of neat.” Richie [Furay] had a song with a kind of shuffle/ country feel called “Nobody’s Fool.” We changed it completely and made it into a song that led into a jam. Everybody just stretched out, and we learned to play together. We had some fun, and we found an identity as a group. That was like doing a live concert in the studio with all the mistakes or all the wonderfulness.
RF: It seems that, in those days, perfection wasn’t as important as it is today. Sometimes I think that accounted for some of the excitement in the studio.
GG: Yes, I know what you’re saying. Today, it’s not accepted. I miss a lot of the spontaneity and a lot of the creativity that came out of the human element that was very present then. People weren’t afraid to take chances and let it stay on that record. Today, everyone is so concerned about everything being so precise. I can appreciate that, but at the same time, I wish it didn’t have to be quite so strict. I listen to Toto IV and just appreciate the heck out of it, and yet old Beatles or Hollies records came off great, even though they weren’t perfect.
RF: Did you have any drum idols when you were growing up?
GG: The Dave Brubeck Quartet once played on campus in Boulder, and I got together with Joe Morello for an hour before the show. He was the nicest man I’d ever met. He didn’t know me, and I was standing there watching him rehearse, just drooling. We got together with sticks and pads back in the dressing room, and I was just up on a cloud. Joe Morello was my favorite jazz drummer. Jazz doesn’t even describe Joe Morello that well. He’s one of a kind. When I got heavily into rock ‘n’ roll, I found myself leaning towards the session players like Jim Keltner, Russ Kunkel, and Hal Blaine. When I first went to L.A., Hal was doing everything. He was right next door at the old CBS recording studio in L.A., and he would come over to listen to us. Also, I would go over and listen to whatever he was doing. He gave me a compliment one day, and I don’t think 1 was worth anything the rest of the day. I had done some fill or something that was kind of fast, and when I went into the control room after the keeper take, he said, “Man, what you did out there was great.” This guy was somebody I idolized, so it meant a lot to me. I really respect people like Steve Gadd—the drummer’s drummer, to me—and Jeff Porcaro. Russ Kunkel is incredible. Now I’ve learned about the Nashville drummers, like Larrie Londin and many more, who I didn’t know much about in California, and I appreciate them as well.
RF: You seem to have adjusted right into Nashville life.
GG: I was born in Oklahoma, so it wasn’t a big adjustment for me in life-style, or even musically, really. For a lot of people, like my wife, it’s a big adjustment to live here, but I’m used to it. I grew up on cornbread, beans, and sweet-potato pie. I’m a country boy myself, really.
RF: What kind of music did you grow up playing?
GG: I started in high school and immediately fell in love with jazz. For a drummer, that’s the ultimate creative area.
RF: This was in Cordell, Oklahoma?
GG: No, in Cordell I learned to play, did the marching bit, the concert bit, and the competitions. But I got into jazz in Denver. I would practice jazz things like crazy. All I bought were big band albums, and whenever those bands came to town—which was rare—I’d go to see them. When I was 16 until I was about 21, jazz was all I really loved. I listened to the Beatles, and their music was enjoyable and fun to play, but that was a lot easier for a drummer than doing intricate solos, one-handed rolls, and 5/4-time things. I enjoyed the rock and I played it, but the challenge was jazz.
RF: When did you move from Oklahoma to Denver?
GG: I’ve lived just about everywhere. We moved a lot. I don’t think I was ever in one school for more than a year until I was in 7th grade. My stepdad was in the navy. When he left the picture, it was just my mom, my sister and I, and we moved quite a bit. Finally, I stayed in Oklahoma from 7th grade to 10th grade. That was really when I had a chance to solidify, and form some goals, dreams, and ideals.
RF: What were those?
GG: To be a great drummer, to try to be a good person, and to figure out if I should play football or not. I figured I shouldn’t, especially in Oklahoma. Don’t do that unless you’re much bigger than I am. I was trying to find my identity. The drums came so quickly and easily to me that I just jumped on it. My grandmother, bless her heart, who I was living with in Oklahoma, never complained once. I know I had to be driving her nuts. I would practice three to four hours a day. I loved it.
RF: What kinds of things would you do during your practicing?
GG: I started as a rudimental drummer, so I would always spend a good 45 minutes on the rudiments. Then I would try to do other rudiments besides the 26—other stickings—and reverse some things, just to get warmed up. That way, when I sat down behind the set, I wasn’t stiff. I could do something and not drop a stick. If you’re not ready to sit down and practice, you should warm up some more.
RF: Do you warm up before concerts now?
GG: Yes. I carry a practice pad and sticks around, and a metronome. If nothing else, I go off to a room and do some stretches. I’ll spend 45 minutes on that practice pad. I think it’s become a psychological dependency for me. When I don’t do it, I don’t play as well, so there’s something to it.
RF: Do you still practice at home when you’re off the road?
GG: I do, and when there’s a little break, it gives me more time to settle into my practice room and really use it like I used to. I love practicing.
RF: Do you still do the same kinds of practice routines?
GG: When I was young, it was mostly reading and different stickings. Now the most fun thing I do is play with the radio or tapes. I play the part and learn how they thought when they played it. If I can tell another drummer anything, it’s to listen more. Don’t play so much; don’t jump in; don’t assume. Listen. You’ll learn a lot more that way. I’ll play with records and then, instead of playing that part, I’ll try to play a different part and take it in a different direction. I’ve done this for about the last ten years.
RF: What made you pick up the sticks originally?
GG: I think it was to get away from the accordion, which my mom had me take. I never could become good on the accordion. I sat with it for a few years and never did like it. I always loved the drums. I remember seeing The Gene Krupa Story. I wasn’t a drummer yet, but I said, “That’s great!” Something turned on in me, but I forgot about it until I got in the school band. The drums came so quickly and so easily to me. It’s hard to explain why, but when they said, “What do you want to play?” I said drums. I went from just hitting the bass drum on all the beats in 4/4 time, to playing first-chair snare drum in a matter of months. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but it came real easily.
RF: When did you decide that drums were what you wanted to do with your life?
GG: In Denver we had a band together, and we were playing all the sock hops and dances. Then we branched out, went to bigger halls, and started making some money. I said, “Wow, this is not only fun and I love it, but I can make money at this.” Then I slept through the 12th grade. I don’t recommend this for anybody reading this article since I didn’t make it through the 12th grade because of that. I was playing late every night and wasn’t getting adequate rest. During my senior year, I was playing six nights a week in clubs in Boulder, or Denver, or anywhere in Colorado, and it was my profession then. I said, “This is what I want to do.” My mom had to give up a professional career in music because she had kids, and she had to support us. I think somewhere in me, I wanted to do it for that reason, too.
RF: Was there any other training besides school?
GG: Very little. I had a few lessons just to learn how to read, but once it was explained to me, I just took it upon myself to do it. I believe that lessons are wonderful. With them, you probably can go further than you can go on your own. I was so busy, though, and just didn’t have time. I would have loved to have branched out and gotten into the other percussion instruments if I’d had the time.
RF: You went from the six-nights-a-week gig to the group Boenzye Creque?
GG: And then my first recordings. There were a couple of studios in Denver, and we had a producer who came out from Los Angeles. We thought this was the big time. We recorded a couple of Beau Brummel songs—”Still In Love With You Baby” and another one. We did the Beau Brummels and Hollies the best. That was my first experience recording.
RF: What was that like?
GG: I remember hearing the recording back and not knowing that the drums sounded like that. That was what I learned: You have to tune differently when you record. You have to play less. You can’t play everything you know. You have to simplify it, you have to use different mic’s and different drums, and you have to separate yourself from this instrument. All this was new to me.
RF: Can you expound on what you mean by tuning differently?
GG: There are a lot of different ways to tune. Most people in the studio want a fat snare drum sound and a real punch in the bass drum. If you have a double-headed bass drum, you have to put a hole in the outside head, put a pillow inside, use a wooden beater, and tune it down a little bit to get that sound they want. You have to de-tune the snare and pad it with some tape. I used to use a wallet to deaden the ring and then tune it down to try to get a real thick sound. Jazz sounds are not like that, and that was what I was used to. In jazz, the drums are real tight and live; they ring. So when I went in, learned all these things, and had to change, it took me by surprise.
RF: Have you found that the recording technique and what they want from you today is different from what it was back then?
GG: I’ve found that people doing your recording are a lot more knowledgeable now. They not only know that board, but they know music, too. In the beginning, the musicians knew the music, and the people inside the booth knew the technical aspect of it. Now both sides have come together. The musicians know a lot of technical stuff. I don’t know a lot of it, but Rusty Young does, and the engineers and producers know music, too. It had to happen for music to be as good as it is today.
RF: You met Rusty Young in Boenzye Creque.
GG: Yes. He brought the country influence in. We were a rock ‘n’ roll band. We were in the group together for about two or three years. He had been playing steel guitar in Denver since he was a kid. It’s funny, but he didn’t play steel guitar with us because people weren’t ready for it. He stood up and played regular electric six string. But he did play the steel towards the end of the group, and I’m sure we had to be the first rock ‘n’ roll group with a steel guitar. It was an experiment. He was kind of afraid, but he finally did and it was really something.
Rusty left that group to go out to L.A. He realized that he had much broader horizons to aspire to. He had a friend working with Buffalo Springfield, and they were doing Last Time Around. He was recommended on steel to do “Kind Woman.” That’s how Poco started, because out of the album, Richie and Jimmy wanted to start another group immediately. Rusty became the third member right away. Then he called me, because they wanted a singing drummer. It worked out great. We auditioned bass players and practiced at the same time for about six months. We couldn’t get Tim Schmidt, because if he had joined us, he couldn’t have gone to school, and he might have gotten drafted. Then we got Randy Meisner, who I knew from Colorado. And as they say, the rest is history.
RF: What year did you move to L.A.?
GG: The early part of ’68. We rehearsed and got things together. By the end of ’68, we played at the Troubadour in front of all these record-industry people. We were scared to death. The talk was all over town about what was happening. We got our deal that night, and then we started recording. I was having a great time.
RF: L.A. was alive in those days, too.
GG: I had led a sheltered life to some degree. When I got there, it just took me in. [laughs] I couldn’t believe a lot of things.
RF: What made you leave Poco in 1980?
GG: The time was coming. Tim had an offer from the Eagles, and I think that individuals started thinking about what was around the next corner. When Tim decided to go with the Eagles, it just kind of happened. We were doing our last album with Tim, and I remember having a meeting with Rusty and Paul about what the future was. Rusty and Paul had decided they wanted to try some things outside of the group. They had my blessings, of course, to do that, and I had time to figure out what I was going to do and to put some feelers out. Their experiment didn’t work. People still wanted Poco, I believe, so they called me and asked if I wanted to do it again. We had been separated for only six or eight months, so I said sure. We started rehearsing for the Legend album, and then something happened that I’d just as soon not remember, but it did happen and it’s all fine now. We had a meeting one day at our manager’s office, and some personality differences went down. When they had tried their own thing, it changed the way things ran—some of the business workings. I came back expecting things to be like they were, but they had changed. We were friends, so we realized we didn’t want to jeopardize that. We worked out an arrangement where they could keep the name and I would go on to do other things. I was a partner, so we negotiated. It was time for that part of Poco to stop and for our friendships to continue, which was more important anyway.
RF: When did you move to Nashville?
GG: Shortly after that. My wife and I settled in Santa Cruz for a while to think things over, get some direction, and pray about it. I didn’t really know how to do what I wanted to do. We kept hear- ing, “Nashville, Nashville . . . ” but it seemed so far away. I kept trying to put groups together and get deals in L.A., but they kept falling through. Finally, I realized the Lord was trying to tell me, “You know that Nashville thing you’re hearing? Go.” It took about a year for that decision to happen. I got in my car with my drums and came out here, without my family, to blaze the frontier. My family followed about nine months later. Once I was with Rick, I said, “Come on out. It’s okay now.”
RF: It was only nine months later that you joined Rick?
GG: And I thought it was an eternity. I’m used to things happening quickly. But now I understand it better. To break in somewhere, I don’t care what reputation or background you have, you have to give yourself a year to two years.
When I first came to Nashville, I was a singing drummer. I came here to do both. The strangest thing was that I got more calls here in the beginning to sing than to play. I did some background vocals on some recordings with Barbara Mandrell, Steve Warner, Sylvia, Joe English—who is a great drummer by the way—and various other things. I probably would have developed both areas given a little more time. I remember talking to Larrie Londin, because I was discontented with how long it was taking. I said, “I’ve got some kind of background here. Why aren’t I getting as much work as I want?” He said, “How long have you been in town?” I told him a few months. I told him what I’d done, and he said, “You’re doing great. What’s the matter with you? It took me a long time. I have no sympathy for you.” I sat back and looked at it again, and I didn’t feel sorry for myself anymore.
RF: Nashville had to be a pretty big commitment for you, since your roots were in jazz and you ended up with country-rock. That was certainly a far cry from pure country. What was the plan here?
GG: I started listening to country music, and I had talked to people about it while we were up in Santa Cruz. I realized that country music was changing. There weren’t a lot of people like Ricky Skaggs doing what he was doing, and it was progressing. What I had been doing all those years was where it was going. Country rock or pop, or whatever you want to call it, was what I had been doing all the time. I wanted to be part of that change. I didn’t want it to become rock ‘n’ roll, but the evolution of Poco and the changing of country seemed to mesh. It was hard just to pick up, go out on my own, and do something like that, because I was married with a family. Things worked out great and I’m real thankful.
RF: Considering the fact that you have the same moral beliefs, you were lucky to have met up with Ricky.
GG: When he called me for the first four-date gig, I had seen him, but he didn’t really know me. He was trying to tell me in a very polite way that he didn’t allow people to do certain things. He was treading lightly. I said, “Rick, you’re a Christian, aren’t you?” And he said, “Yes, I am.” And I said, “I am too.” He just about dropped the phone and said, “Praise God. I’ve been praying for this and wanting this,” and he felt okay after that. That’s a neat memory that I have.
RF: How did you actually get the gig with Ricky?
GG: It was really by chance. I met Ray Flacke, who is no longer with the group, at a demo session. Three days later, Rick called me because he needed a drummer. I did not come here to get back into a group and go on the road; I came here to get into the recording community. After Poco, I had been trying to form three other groups. I wanted to do it again, but every time we would get the right combination and get the record deal, one of the guys would leave. I finally got fed up and thought, “I can’t do this anymore. I want to pursue a recording career.” I had always kind of wanted to, anyway. Then, a few months later, I met Rick and went out on the road. I did it because I had seen him on a television show, and I respected the person I saw there, although we’d never met. I remember that image of seeing him and knowing that he was Christian; it meant a lot to me because I’m a Christian too. So I was looking forward to it. After four days, I became part of the group, and I stayed for nearly three years. I wasn’t in town much since we averaged 200 days plus on the road a year, so needless to say, I wasn’t able to do much recording. It was good, though.
RF: It must be difficult to be away from your family over 200 days a year.
GG: Yes, it is. You have to have the most understanding family in the world to be in this business and to be touring a lot. It’s hard. It’s almost harder on the family than on me. You get out there, you may get sick a lot, you may be tired and not sleeping, but they’re sitting back there holding down the fort and having to go on with things that you’re not there to do. I do wish that could be changed somehow. Just make sure you have a real understanding with your family. Hopefully, before you have a family, you’ll have worked that part out.
RF: Did you miss singing when you were with Ricky?
GG: Yes, I did. I understood why it was better for the other guys to do the vocals with Rick, though. I didn’t grow up with bluegrass, but Lou Reid, the guy who sings most of the harmonies, did. I understood it, but, of course, I missed singing.
RF: Did you find it difficult when you first began to sing and drum?
GG: I can barely remember when I first started doing it. I vaguely remember it being hard in the beginning. Harmonies have always come easily to me, because my mom was a singer and I’d hear that. Luckily, I had the high range that was needed. It’s coordination. It’s another part of being a drummer. If you can coordinate your two hands, your two feet, and your thinking at the same time, why can’t you sing? It’s phrasing your vocal against a different rhythm with your hands and feet, but it’s just one more thing. It’s real simple. People would come up and ask, “How do you do that?” I would have loved to have made it sound very difficult, but it’s really not if you work at it. It might have taken me a few months to get comfortable with it, but it’s just another coordination thing you have to work out.
RF: Many drummers tend to speed up or slow down when they sing.
GG: You’re definitely concentrating on more things. Let’s say you learn it and get to where you can do both. Then you have to do both well and not sacrifice your playing for your singing, or your singing for your playing. Most importantly, don’t sacrifice the tempo, because the whole band revolves around you. I think you have to accept some speeding up, and I think sometimes there’s some slowing down. If it’s a real slow two-step, you might tend to slow down a little bit. If it’s an upbeat thing, you might tend to speed up. That is the one area I have yet to say I’ve conquered in live performance, but I’m certainly working on it.
RF: Was it difficult going from a partnership, as in Poco, to being an employee with Ricky?
GG: I’m sure it was a good growth area for me. It was humbling to be an employee. I had never been one. I had always been a partner in a group, and then I became an employee. It was hard at times, but I can’t think of a better employer to work for than Rick. Even with that, though, it was still difficult to adjust. It was good for me, though. I needed to see that and learn that. It’s different. I kept wanting to say things, and I couldn’t. It was a little frustrating at times. Rick did want a lot of feedback and input, and he gave us the freedom to create. He would draw a line at a point, but he wanted the guys in the group to create. I’m not saying he put any limits on it, but it is his thing. There are a lot of gigs in town—in any town— where you can’t be any part of it. They don’t want to hear from you. Thank God that was not what this was. I wouldn’t do that. While learning how to be an employee, I couldn’t have asked to be put in a better situation.
RF: How did you learn to be a good employee?
GG: If I had gone from school into a normal work situation, like most people do, which is being an employee somewhere, it would have been easier. I never knew that, so the hard part for me was to come from a situation where I was equally involved in all the decisions for all these years into a situation where it was Rick’s career. He expected things from me, and I wanted to give him what he expected. I want to do the best job I can for who I am too, but I had to allow him to draw lines and to make decisions. In order to be a good employee, you have to please your employer, and you have to realize that the most beneficial thing is not necessarily saying everything you feel about how things should be done. Be supportive if you are asked. Otherwise, do your job as well as you can.
RF: What does Ricky’s music demand of a drummer?
GG: Simplicity without being boring. You have to create excitement there, but you definitely can’t overdo it. Doing that with Rick helped me a lot in tuning in to tempos more than I ever did before. Mainly, it’s the simplicity. But when you do that one thing that’s a little different, it really stands out, whereas otherwise you could be playing a lot all the time and nothing would stand out.
RF: What about some of the bluegrass things you played with him? That’s really different from your background.
GG: Most of the bluegrass things were brush tunes, and usually they were fast brush tunes. I had a lot of fun with them, and I’ve learned to play with brushes real hard, too. In jazz, you don’t play brushes hard. It’s touch. And in rock ‘n’ roll, they don’t use brushes. So for bluegrass, I tried to do what Larrie or anybody does who is a good drummer. If you’re playing a “train” brush thing, make it solid. If you’re going to create something, you can’t get too far away from it, as far as the brush technique is concerned. But think about it. Don’t just start doing some sort of jazz-riff thing that is going to throw the band off. It’s not going to work. There are some accents you can do that aren’t just the regular backbeat thing, and it’ll still sound good. It works well, and it’s a little different. I thank God for Blasticks. I used to go through brushes like crazy; I’d go through a pair right through the outside to the inner core at almost every show. Blasticks came out, and they worked great.
RF: Can you explain what a train pattern is?
GG: A train is a pattern of 16th notes. Depending on how fast the tempo is, it can be fast or it can be medium. It’s hardly ever slow. It’s just a rhythm thing with brushes: 16th notes in 4/4 time. The backbeat is in the same place as it would be normally. It’s just that you’re playing a lot more beats on your drum.
RF: You did some of the recording with Ricky as well. Do you know why you were asked to do certain songs and not others?
GG: On his newest album, Country Boy, he did some different styles, and we had never played songs like that together. We had played mostly two-steps and the bluegrass things, so he didn’t know I had done those other styles before. I just think he needs to get to know someone well. I didn’t mind sharing the record with Eddie Bayers.
RF: How many of Ricky’s albums were you on?
GG: I did a little bitty vocal thing on “Heartbroke” when I first joined. On Don’t Cheat In Our Hometown, I recorded “Uncle Pen” and “Wound.” On his last album, I think I’m on six tracks.
RF: Did you have favorite tunes you liked to play with Ricky?
GG: I liked “Country Boy,” because that was about the fastest thing I’ve ever played in my life. And all of the other musicians were playing their little tushes off. Drummers are used to playing fast, but these soloists are not, and I loved watching them. It was a lot of fun.
I liked “Head Over Heels” a lot. We hadn’t worked that into the show, but I liked that song. There’s a fine line there between country-rock and rockabilly. It’s a fun place for a drummer to be playing. That reminded me a lot of Poco, and it felt at home to me. I liked “Rendevous” and a lot of the stuff off his newest album. There were things there that I liked for reasons that had nothing to do with the drumming part of it, like “Brand New Me,” which I liked for the message. It’s a beautiful song. There were a lot of fun things, like “Heartbroke” and “Uncle Pen.” I could get off on playing a good medium-tempo two-step, too, like “Something In My Heart.” It felt good. Those weren’t demanding drum parts, but I enjoyed them.
RF: Would you still like to get into recording more?
GG: I will. It’s a plan I have and something I pray about. As I mature as a Christian, I’ve learned that, if I wait, the Lord tells me and guides me when it’s time. Whenever I try to push something to make it happen, it doesn’t. So I just listen a lot and try to be content where I am. I spent a lot of my life being discontent with who I was, and I realize that I wasted those years. I don’t want to waste any more time.
RF: Have you still kept up with reading?
GG: I’m not as dedicated as I’d like to be, mainly because of the demands of touring. You don’t have your practice set in your hotel room, there’s no time, and all this other stuff. I do it when I can, but I do try to keep up with what is new and current.
RF: How do you feel about electronic stuff, having played with the most traditional of artists?
GG: At first, it was a threat to me. When the electronic drum was a little box, and anybody could push a key to play the snare drum or the bass drum and that became the drummer, that was a threat to me. I was really put off by it. But then I realized that, if you’re going to keep up with the times, the best thing you can do is take hold of it, so just anybody can’t be called to do it. Let a drummer do it. I’m real excited about the Simmons, because it takes a drummer to do it. It’s the best thing I could ask for in electronics for a drummer. There’s a set, and the drummer plays the part. That excites me. Who knows what is going to come next? As long as the drummer is not passed over, I’m fine, because no one is ever going to convince me that a machine can replace the player.
RF: What does your equipment consist of?
GG: My basic equipment is a Pearl set with a 22 x 14 bass drum, 10×8, 12x 10 and 14x 12 mounted toms, a 16x 16 floor tom, and a 14 x 8 maple-shell snare. I use the Aquarian mic’ system, which makes it so much easier. My cymbals are a combination of Zildjian and Paiste.
RF: Have you any advice for young drummers?
GG: It’s so easy to get sidetracked. You’ve got to be so determined and make up your mind that you’re going to stick with it when the practicing isn’t fun. You have to sacrifice going out to play ball every now and then. This is old stuff. We’ve all heard it, but it still happens. I see it in young musicians today, and they need to know that they’ve got to put in those early years of dedication. In the end, you may be a professional or you may not, but you’ll be the best at what you’re doing. If you don’t do that, you may as well not do it at all.
RF: Speaking of dedication, do you find it difficult being a Christian in the music business?
GG: Yes, I do. Although I’ve met some wonderful people and made some great Christian friends in this business, it leans toward a very worldly, hard, demanding life, because it’s just that kind of animal. You’re talking about one-nighters, and you’re talking about not eating or sleeping right sometimes. You’re dealing with people who are so concerned about the business, and dollars and cents. Some people will sacrifice ideals to achieve a certain goal. If you’re a Christian, you’ve got to base every act you do and everything you say on that. You have to be there all the time. You have to be responsible for your actions. It is hard in this business, but I do the best I can.