FALCON BIOGRAPHY

falcon-logo01

Written by Perry Grayson
Guitarist PERRY GRAYSON (ex-DESTINYS END, ex-ARTISAN, ISEN TORR) envisioned a ’70s style heavy rock project for years, and he finally found the time to start work on it in 2002. The band is called Falcon, and the sound is a total throwback to what was heavy in 1971. “I’ve been talkin’ about this for years, even before I left Destiny’s End,” says Perry. “I’m a huge fan of bands like Pentagram, Buffalo (Australia), Trapeze, Dust, Captain Beyond, Budgie, Bang, Thin Lizzy, Mountain, BOC, etc.—and I’ve had these song ideas floating around my head for a very long time. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to slow down and play stuff that isn’t goin’ a million miles an hour.” Joining Perry in Falcon is former CIRITH UNGOL multi-instrumentalist GREG LINDSTROM. Lindstrom handles the bass thunder in FALCON, and also plays some keyboard and guitar. DARIN McCLOSKEY from Pennsylvania doom metal merchants PALE DIVINE pounded the drums for FALCON on their self-titled album, while ANDREW SAMPLE played drums for FALCON live in Southern California from 2004-2006.
“Falcon is part of the power trio tradition—like Cream, Trapeze, Budgie, Dust, Bang and Rush,” Perry Grayson explains. “I had to keep things down-to-earth and involve only as many people as necessary. Greg Lindstrom is a real pleasure to jam with. He’s one of my biggest music heroes, and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to help make Falcon a reality. It goes without saying that I love Darin’s work with PALE DIVINE, and he was the obvious choice, despite the huge distance between us. Along with my original FALCON tunes, we’re doing some of Greg’s old CIRITH UNGOL songs that never got a proper studio recording. Greg’s tracks deserve to be heard!” Perry explains.
The members of Falcon are no strangers to the stage or the studio. Greg Lindstrom was a founding member of CIRITH UNGOL, which formed circa 1972. Lindstrom was last heard bashing out guitar, bass and keyboards on the classic CIRITH UNGOL album FROST AND FIRE in 1981. Greg also appears on the Cirith Ungol double disc rarity collection SERVANTS OF CHAOS (’01). Perry Grayson grinded his metal axe and was an integral part of the songwriting team in Destiny’s End for both of their Metal Blade Records releases, BREATHE DEEP THE DARK (’98) and TRANSITION (’01). Grayson’s tenure in Destiny’s End included a full-scale U.S. tour with Iced Earth and Nevermore, an appearance at the prestigious Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany in ’99 and a European tour with Metal Blade labelmates Sacred Steel and Wardog. Most recently Perry has been involved with multi-national metal band ISEN TORR, whose EP Mighty & Superior was released on Metal Supremacy Records in Germany in ’04. With Pale Divine, McCloskey has recorded the Crimson Tears EP, Thunder Perfect Mind, Eternity Revealed and Cemetery Earth.
“I’m really happy that Perry pulled me out of musical retirement, ’cause I’m having a blast playing with these guys,” Greg Lindstrom enthuses. “When Perry told me about his idea for Falcon and asked me if I’d be interested I immediately jumped at it,” notes drummer Darin. “I knew that a project involving Perry and Greg was going to be very special! I think there’s a kindred spirit among the three of us with regard to this style of music and I’m very excited to be working with them!”
“I started off by demoing a couple of tracks with a drum machine, doing all the vocals myself,” Perry continues. “It was the first time I’d ever tackled proper lead vocals, but I’ve really been working towards improving as a singer. It’s been a long journey since I bailed from Destiny’s End, but it was well worth it. In Falcon I’m playing the kind of heavy ass rock that made me pick up a guitar in the first place. This is stuff I can really put my heart into and stand behind. No frills, no cookie monster growling, no bullshit. My guitar tone for Falcon is very earthy—and loud—not overfuzzed.
In late March ’03 Darin flew out to Los Angeles for a weekend of Falcon jamming. After two 3 hour sessions, Falcon laid down the basic tracks for their four song demo live in the span of an hour the day Darin was to return to Pennsylvania. If there’s one thing about Falcon, it’s that the band thrives on being spontaneous and flying by the seat of their pants! Vocal, lead guitar and keyboard overdubs were finished over the next couple of weeks. By May ’03 the Falcon demo was making the rounds in the underground, receiving lots of positive reviews from zines both pro and fan—like Metal Hammer (Greece), Reflections of Doom (Belgium) and Metal Maniacs (USA). A fan and press favorite from the get-go was Greg’s Tolkien inspired tune “Shelob’s Lair,” which was a Cirith Ungol mainstay in 1976.
With the demo done, Falcon began planning their debut album recording. It was clear that Falcon needed an engineer/co-producer who is capable of obtaining the killer vintage tones the band was shooting for. So, the trio decided to go with Chris Kozlowski (Polar Bear Lair Studios), who mixed Pale Divine’s first album, Thunder Perfect Mind—in addition to recordings for The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Penance and Pentagram. The self-titled Falcon album was recorded in November ’03. Falcon banged this one out the way folks used to in 1971—in a mere 5 days, followed by another 3 of mixing in late February ’04.
Perry tackled vocals on all the tunes for the album, although the guys weren’t totally satisfied with how “On the Slab” turned out, so the possibility of having BOBBY LIEBLING from PENTAGRAM sing that tune was brought up by engineer Chris Kozlowski. Bobby gladly accepted to belt out “On the Slab,” a tribute to rock idol Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. The album was released to rave reviews in August 2004, and in ’05 the band was invited to play the Doom Shall Rise festival in Germany.
FALCON played many Southern California gigs following the release of the self-titled FALCON CD, sharing the stage with the likes of Fireball Ministry, Earth Ride, Slough Feg, Butcher, Shakey Mallard and others. Andrew Sample relocated to Kansas in early 2006, and FALCON played their first show with Darin McCloskey on the drum throne in April ’06. Plans were cemented at that time to enter the studio in the fall to record the follow-up to the eponymous FALCON disc, DIE WONTCHA.

2008 – The Year of Die Wontcha

The power trio known simply as FALCON is back to rock the scene again with Die Wontcha, the follow-up to their successful self-titled debut. The raw, heavy and loud ingredients that made the eponymous 2004 FALCON album such a critical success are in abundance on Die Wontcha. Armed with vintage axes and massive amplification, PERRY GRAYSON (guitar/vocals), GREG LINDSTROM (bass/keys) and Darin McCloskey (drums) returned to the Polar Bear Lair in Middletown, Maryland to kick out the jams with engineer Chris Kozlowski (Blue Cheer, Pentagram, Internal Void, Penance, The Obsessed, The Melvins, etc.) behind the board.
Much like the spontaneous late Sixties and Seventies heavy rock platters of yesteryear FALCON committed Die Wontcha to tape over a span of 5 days in October 2006. Guitarist/vocalist Perry Grayson is ecstatic about the recording of Die Wontcha. “We only had three nights to rehearse in Pennsylvania before hitting the Polar Bear Lair to record. Greg and Darin busted their asses just as much as I did. The Die Wontcha sessions far exceeded my expectations, and I really have to thank Greg and Darin for a job well done! Chris Kozlowski surpassed himself in preserving the loud, raw edge of FALCON. I even played keyboard for the very first time on a recording! The whole experience was just killer. From the actual performances on the songs to hanging out with Chris Kozlowski and the guys from Blue Cheer and Internal Void and seeing Cactus simply destroy live in Virginia. Darin, Greg and Chris did their part to make sure Die Wontcha got knocked out before my move to Sydney, Australia, and that’s the best going-away present anyone could have given me.” Yes, you read that right. Though Perry Grayson relocated to Australia in December 2006, FALCON is still alive and will continue recording and gigging whenever humanly possible.
For those taking notes, the album title was conceived by Greg Lindstrom as a nod to West, Bruce & Laing’s 1974 LP. The cover of Die Wontcha features a full-color painting by renowned fantasy artist Virgil Finlay, an ominous illustration befitting the doomy page of FALCON.
Thunderous live performances and rave reviews and features in major mags worldwide including Vintage Guitar, Metal Maniacs, Terrorizer and Greek Hammer elevated Falcon’s soulfully hard rocking reputation. Die Wontcha is a massive slab that cements Falcon’s place aat the forefront of the real rock revival!

33057_photo

CIRITH UNGOL BIOGRAPHY-EARLY DAYS

cirithungol

EARLY DAYS by Perry Grayson (vocals-guitars of Falcon, a project with Greg Lindstrom-one of the founding members of Cirith Ungol)

1969-1972 Note: This is a condensed version of my in-the-works full-length bio of Cirith Ungol, which will eventually be published through Tsathoggua Press. –PG

Cirith Ungol was founded in sunny Ventura, California, by three junior high school and high school pals. Drummer (graphic artist and sometimes lyricist) Robert W. Garven Jr., guitarist extraoridinaire (and often space-case) Jerry Fogle (R.I.P.) and bassist/guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Greg Lindstrom in 1972. The three had begun playing together when they were in their early teens in a “band” called Titanic with another school acquaintance, Pal Galligan. With a desire to play heavier rock than Beatles covers, Garven, Fogle and Lindstrom bailed to form Cirith Ungol. Far from being scorned by their folks, Cirith Ungol actually found the support of the Garven family-their rehearsal room was set up inpage the Garven family’s house. Early on the band took to covering psychedelic heavy rockers by the likes of Cream, Mountain, Budgie (“Crash Course in Brain Surgery” over a decade before Metallica did it), Thin Lizzy (“Return of the Famer’s Son” and “Vagabonds of the Western World”), Hard Stuff and Ursa Major (about half of “Sinner”) and Freedom (“Dusty Track”).
The name Cirith Ungol was arrived at for the same reason Rob Garven and Greg Lindstrom had initally become friends. Both Rob and Greg were fans of British fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which they were reading in literature class when they first met in 1969. In Tolkien’s manufactured language of Middle Earth, Cirith Ungol translates out as “pass of the spider”. Cirith Ungol is the bleak place where Frodo and Samwise fight the giant spider Shelob in Tolkien’s second installment in the trilogy, The Two Towers. The spider Shelob was the inspiration for the tune “Shelob’s Lair”, which was written by Lindstrom around 1975. You can also see the spider motif repeated in the longsleeve shirt axeman Jerry Fogle used to wear at practices and gigs. Much like Rush, Sam Gopal’s Dream, Zeppelin and even Mountain (okay, so those were Gail Collins’ lyrics) before them, Cirith Ungol took the hippie’s favorite fantasy saga and exploited it in the rock world. Something to write about apage from fast cars and faster women. Not that our intrepid teenage proto-metallers were above penning tunes about those tried-and-true topics. The first Ungol song was, according to Mr. Lindstrom, entitled “Rock ’n’ Roll Hooker”, after which they moved onto even slightly dodgier subjects. One can only smirk at Garven’s lyrics for “Tight Teen” (circa 1976). Sure, they may owe something to Richie Blackmore and Ian Gillan, but it they wouldn’t exactly be up Tipper Gore’s alley.
She’s a tight teen, miniature queen / Not much more than a kid / She’s a tight teen, minuature queen / Seems I always rob the crib”.

1975-1977
Fast forward to 1976, and Cirith Ungol had found their first vocalist, who billed himself as Terry Dactyl (aka Neil Beattie). Neil’s biggest influence was Iggy Pop, and he often spent a lot of time rolling around the boards at gigs with very little clothing on. Pretty fitting for a band with tunes like “Neck-romancer” and “Flesh Dart,” wouldn’t ya say? Needless to say, the authorities at the Ventura State Beach were quick to tell ol’ Terry Dactyl to “keep his shirt on”. The truth be told, Iggy & the Stooges were a huge influence on Cirith Ungol as a whole. When interviewed for his Falcon website profile page, Greg Lindstrom relates that “Iggy is my Elvis”. Greg also remembers, “Robbie used to walk down the street singing ’Penetration’ off Raw Power.” Cirith Ungol Mark II (Beattie, Fogle, Lindstrom & Garven) would play numerous gigs around Ventura and Ojai at venues as diverse as the Foster Park Bowl, Louie’s Life, the Ventura National Guard Armory, the Catacombs, Huntington’s, the Ventura State Beach Pier, Ojai Art Center and the Dock.
Cirith Ungol’s earliest primitive recordings are the evidence that they were among the heaviest bands of the period. After all, in 1975 many of the heavies were lightening up. But the young Ungol stalwarts were fueled more by the loud early 1970s than the fluff corporate record execs were trying to force young bands to sound like. A rehearsal recording from ’75 blew the ears off your humble biographer at first listen (around 2002). Early renditions of “One Foot in Hell” and “Cirith Ungol” are doused with blasts of Greg fuzz bass, Jerry Fogle’s eerie guitar embellishments and wild solos and Rob Garven’s blood drenched drumming. “Shelob’s Lair” and “Half Past Human,” also found on these rehearsal room reels, are equal in both heaviness and epic length to anything on Frost and Fire or King of the Dead. Perhaps they weren’t Alice Cooper, but Beattie is said to have covered his hands and upper body with fake spiders while his Ungol mates played “Shelob’s Lair,” an ode to the giant spider in Tolkien’s The Two Towers. A pagenote: Falcon would later re-record both “Shelob’s Lair” and “Half Past Human.”
But Neil soon tired of Cirith Ungol, leaving Lindstrom, Garven & Fogle to continue as an instrumental power trio once again. This wasn’t too daunting to the three, as they still found themselves playing singerless gigs at venues like the Starwood, the Roxy and the Whisky in Hollyweird, as well as the Ventura Fairgrounds. By this time, Cirith Ungol had also recruited a bunch of their fellow rockers and school pals to be their crew. Brothers Dan and Tim Baker were roadies and Kevin “Dr. K” Sage (no doubt in charge of pharmaceuticals?!) was the stage manager.
With no suitable singer in sight or earshot, friend and roadie Tim Baker tried out for the vocal spot. Although not a trained singer, Baker boasted a unique screaching style all his own. His first stab at recording vocals for a Cirith Ungol song was a “duet” with Neal Beattie on “We Know You’re Out There”, a track about alien invasion.
Armed with their own Dokorder reel-to-reel 4 track recorder, Cirith Ungol whapped out a tape chock full of their blistering tunes. The cassette demo “album” had an orange cover, and it was distributed at gigs. Some of the tunes on the orange cassette included “Show You All” sung by Rob, “Route 666” sung by Greg, “We Know You’re Out There” sung by exiting Neal Beattie and entering Tim Baker and “High Speed Love” sung by Tim Baker.

232-bandpic001