We’ve just written about ‘Demons At Night’, the new single Greg Hoy & The Boys, which was dedicated to the late great Eddie Van Halen, so it’s as good a time as any to have a chat with Greg Hoy himself.
Hi Greg! Lovely to catch up with you!
Always great to chat with Essentially Pop!
We spoke to you back in March, after the release of your single, ‘Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell’. What have you been up to since then?
It all came to fruition through a dream! Although it wasn’t in the cards just yet when we last spoke, we decided to do a 2 week fall tour on the east coast to see the leaves change and enjoy ‘leather weather’. Then David E. Richman – my NYC drummer – reminded me we’d recorded a few songs during the pandemic that weren’t ever finished. That got my wheels moving to have an EP and video done in time to coincide with the fall tour. So one morning, I awoke from a dream where we called the tour ‘Demons At Night’ and dressed up in crazy make-up like the band KISS. We didn’t do the make-up part (well, except in the video) however we did finish the 4 songs!
You’ve dedicated your new single, ‘Demons At Night‘ to the late great Eddie Van Halen, and the video looks like it was a lot of fun to make. If you could go back and do it all again, would you have been a hair metal guitarist for real? Which musicians have inspired your journey and why?
I mean, it’s hard to say. So much of the 80’s hair metal thing was just pure comedy. Some of the songs were good. Heck, some of the songs were GREAT. Like any genre, there’s innovators, and then there are imitators. Van Halen, to me, are definitely not hair metal. Their early albums are a mix of punk, classic metal, dance, Motown-rock… almost their own thing, really. Now, did they *inspire* hair metal? Absolutely! I’d say they were the prototype for it. Every guitarist of a certain age wanted to be Eddie Van Halen, and a lot of singers wanted to be David Lee Roth. My first grade school guitar learnings definitely had a lot of Def Leppard, Poison, and Bulletboys peppered in with Van Halen, AC/DC, and the Beatles. Perhaps, if I’d been born just a little sooner, there would be more old photos of me in headbands and guyliner.
Back in March we asked what you’d taken away with you from the Covid-19 Pandemic. Now we’re faced with a financial crisis and the possibility of a recession (we’re probably in one now), on top of all the other existing world problems. What’s your take on it all and how do you see a way out of it?
Let me refill my coffee for this question! My father was a history teacher. He moved the family to western Pennsylvania in the early 1980’s. This was the tail-end of America’s industrial, post-World War 2 world dominance. Growing up, most of my friends’ dads were either ex-steel mill people or soon-to-be out of work manual laborers. When economic things started to rot in the midwest during the 90’s and 2000’s, it was regions like Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Detroit that were forced to figure out steep economic hardship first-hand.
So by the time the most recent economic stuff went down in the late 2000’s, these places were almost bullet-proof. I’m no economist by any means however to me the secret to survival has always been local community support and involvement. Is it cheaper to get it at Costco or Amazon? Maybe in the short-term. The more we support each other directly, the better everyone does. Communism is only a dirty word when people in power vilify it. Capitalism is a finite system that needs to constantly feed itself with cheap labor. At some point in the 20th century it was perhaps slightly more generous in its distribution of recognition of class and wealth. But human greed being what it is, it’s now an unsustainable, ugly system. It’s why we are at odds with our neighbors – everything from a stupid post on NextDoor to a nuclear threat across the oceans.
The way out is pretty simple, really: equity among everyone, and every *thing* – goods, services, species, class struggle. And you can do this experiment by yourself by supporting any small business owner, adopting a pet, cleaning up a beach. It feels really good!
OK, maybe I had TOO much coffee!
If you suddenly decided to change musical genre, what would it be, and why?
My 2 year old daughter’s favorite LP records are Dolly Parton, David Bowie, Sturgill Simpson, Jim James, and Nikki Lane. We are also looking to relocate out of California to the middle of the US. So I’d suspect a nice country/twang/chill period of albums might be on my horizon.
How did the Build Back Better tour go? When is the next one scheduled?
The last tour of the year is coastal California in December from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back. We did 2 other tours this year – Build Back Better was a 5 piece tour of California in May which was OK not great, and the east coast Demons at Night tour which we just finished. Something about being in NYC in the fall will always hold a special place for me especially as I spent over a decade living and working there!
What’s next on the horizon for Greg Hoy, with or without The Boys? What can fans expect?
There’s a whole kinda mellow LP about finished that we recorded at our cabin in Minnesota featuring my pals Tom Emmerling and Paul Labrise back in 2021. I started a series of piano (!) pop songs that could go somewhere. We played this fantastic room on tour in Lititz that we’d like to go make a record in. And the 20th anniversary of my first solo LP is next year so I’ve been toying with re-recording the whole thing all by myself and releasing it. Mostly I am excited to move and get my new studio up and running in the new year somewhere in beautiful middle America. Thank you for the lovely questions and have a fantastic fall!
‘Demons At Night’ by Greg Hoy & The Boys is out now.