Where Are They Now? Bill Gaal of Nothingface
Nothingface were one of the most popular metal bands in the late ’90s and early ’00s. After lighting up the metal scene with their now-classic 1998 release ‘An Audio Guide to Everyday Atrocity’ and two albums on TVT, the band broke up. There were several attempts at rebooting the band, but as of now, Nothingface remains in the rear view. While guitarist Tom Maxwell continues to slay faces with Hell Yeah, former bassist Bill Gaal is an incredibly successful songwriter with irons in several musical fires.
Noisecreep recently caught up with Gaal at his new GMG studio space in the famed Sound City complex in Van Nuys, Calif., where albums by Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, and Metallica were recorded. He filled us in on what happened before the final splintering of Nothingface, as well as his In For the Kill project and recent studio work.
When the other core members of Nothingface, including vocalist Matt Holt, reconvened to see if the magic was still there a few years ago, they embarked on a road trip to visit drummer Chris Houck in North Carolina. They weren’t tying to relaunch the band or to pick up where they left off. Their split had always felt like an unfinished, jagged edge. “It was always our goal to crush everyone and to be the best, whatever what we thought the best was at the time,” Gaal told Noisecreep. “This time, we were beyond that at this point, and thought, ‘Let’s just get together and create a great Nothingface record’ since none of us were satisfied with how it ended.” With that noble goal in mind, the band wrote together for about a week or so and came up with two songs, one of which was ’1000 Knives.’ Gaal returned to Los Angeles with designs on working on the songs, but they were never finished. Another public split occurred, and it looked as though the band was done for good.
“It just didn’t work out,” Gaal said diplomatically, conceding life as we know it as the culprit. “It was just things going on in everyone’s life and the timing.” While fans (and the band members) were bummed, it’s a fact of life that as we get older, life goes on so you go on with it.
However, Gaal and Houck have continued to work together with In For the Kill, which is Gaal’s fluid rock project. “When I played that stuff for Chris, who grew up on rock music like I did, he thought that these are just good rock songs. He tracked drums for 12 songs. Chris and I talked all the time and I had sent him music, he recorded quick drums and emailed them back to me. Then he flew out here.”
While Gaal and Houck continue to create together, the door remains open for Gaal and Maxwell to one day partner up again, even if not in Nothingface. “I do think Tom and I will work together again,” Gaal said. “We’ve gone back and forth, where we have been close as brothers, and then might be pissed at each other, but everything is good. We’re older and there is no more bulls—. We’ll write something together, sure. It will be heavy. When Tom and I talk about doing music again, like one more last hurrah, it’d be heavy!”
Gaal’s inclination to keep playing heavy music comes from his life-long love for rock. “It just comes from my history. Although I write rock music generally, heavy music is a big part of me; it’s just not where I am right now. I could write 800 super heavy aggressive riffs tomorrow, then a bunch of rock riffs after that. I am a songwriter.”
Now that Nothingface seem to be a permanent part of the past, Gaal, who has more or less switched from bass to guitar, has been placing his songs in film and television, including the show ‘The Ghost Whisperer.’ “It’s always in great scenes,” he says. “Every time they use one of my songs, someone is either getting attacked, or walking around naked!” One of his In For the Kill songs was used in an indie horror flick called ‘The Caretaker,’ where a dude gets offed while listening to the song on his headphones.
While Gaal had a brief detour in management, working at Morey Management Group and even guiding the career of Maxwell’s Knives Out project, he has mostly written songs for placement in film and TV and for other artists. Not too shabby for a hard rock musician with roots in Maryland, right?
Gaal’s studio space is earthy, inviting, cozy, and organic. He even put the floor in himself. While he is still finishing the “live” room, the studio a welcoming space for songwriters and artists to convene with him to write.
Gaal enjoys working with other musicians and penning songs, revealing that he likes to get into the emotional context of the people he works with. “I want to know what the artist wants to put out there,” he says. “It’s art, but it’s commercial art, so I want to guide them in a way that will help their song be successful without feeling like they sold out.”
Watch the video for ‘Ether’ by Nothingface