Tony Hajjar has been rekindling a potent musical fire in recent months: His most famous band, post-hardcore icons At the Drive-In, reunited in March for a massive world tour – even planting the seeds for new material. Now the drummer’s launching an equally intriguing new project: On April 27th, Hajjar will hit the stage at Los Angeles‘ Dragonfly to unveil Gone Is Gone, an experimental rock supergroup featuring bassist-singer Troy Sanders (Mastodon), guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age) and guitarist-keyboardist Mike Zarin.
The quartet will release an EP this summer via the band’s own imprint, in partnership with Rise Records/BMG. Lead single „Violescent,“ available to preview below, is a sludge-metal powerhouse, a balanced hybrid of their respective styles: the de-tuned guitar rumble of Van Leeuwen and Zarin, Hajjar’s hi-hat-heavy post-hardcore groove and Sanders‘ doom-laden bellow.
Gone Is Gone will unite for their first rehearsals one week before their live L.A. debut – and that whirlwind buildup reflects the band’s unorthodox formation. Hajjar and Zarin, who have worked on scores for movie trailers and video games since 2009, realized around 2012 that one of their compositions needed the thrust of a full band. Hajjar recruited longtime friend Van Leeuwen for some additional tracking, later booking sessions to write a full EP.
But they still needed a vocalist. „When thinking of singers, a few came to mind, but Troy Sanders‘ voice and presence kept on coming up in conversations,“ Hajjar tells Rolling Stone. „Both Troys had always talked about doing something together, so it was an easy connection. Sanders flew in and tracked some demos to the finished music, and it went from there.“
The EP was recorded and arranged through hours of jams with the trio of Hajjar, Zarin and Van Leeuwen, as Sanders flew in periodically to Los Angeles. The group wound up with 20 songs – enough for a planned 13-track LP and other compositions earmarked for scoring work.
„The thought behind this band is to combine what most of us know from many years of being in touring/recording entities and our love of scoring,“ Hajjar says. „Mike and I have had the privilege of being part of some amazing movie trailer campaigns and scored the game Splinter Cell: Blacklist together as well. Our goal is to be able to do more of this within this project.“
With each band member balancing Gone Is Gone with other projects, their biggest issue was carving out a clear schedule. „The timing is like a mother’s instinct,“ Sanders jokes. „We know it is now as this band was conceived a few years ago, and we have been holding onto this music far too long. The gestation period has to end. Doctor’s orders, we must birth this band into the world now!“
Hajjar is already eyeing the collective’s deep future beyond the L.A. show, the EP and eventual LP. „Gone is Gone is a project that can live even when we are working with our other entities as well,“ he says. „The goal is to be able to compose remotely, if needed, on film, trailers, or on anything else that comes up … It feels good to know that all this music will see the light of day soon.“
„The vibe from day one was, and has been, very therapeutic and refreshing for me,“ Sanders adds. „The chemistry was immediate. I can only dedicate myself to something that rewards me purely, and we are all in this for the right reasons.“