Gary HoeyGuitarist Gary Hoey is celebrating the new year with a new collection of songs dubbed 'Only Human,' due in stores in February. "It's a non-Christmas album," Hoey told Noisecreep via telephone from his New Hampshire home. "It's a studio album. We're playing some new stuff [on our Christmas tour], trying to test it out on people to see what they think. The single, 'Only Human,' that's actually on my MySpace page ... It's kind of a power ballad. The rest of the album is definitely more rockin'."

Hoey played a few riffs from selected tracks on the album, including 'Walk Away' (it's kind of heavy when you hear it with the band) and 'You're Killing Me,' "a phrase I hear people say all the time, 'You're killing me.' I always start with the riffs," Hoey said. "I try to find a riff that I can sing to. Something that's going to get people's heads banging."

For Hoey, it really is about searching for what comes out naturally. "I do a lot of noodling around and just playing around with stuff and I stumble on things. I'm a stumbler. I don't walk in a room and say, 'I'm going to write a hit song today.' I'd be frozen. I try to think back when I was 19 years old in my room rocking out. I let tape recorders roll and I just jam. I go back later and I try to find the stuff that sounds good. I found with songwriting, if you sit down and try to create music, if you try to figure out if it's good while you're creating it, you're actually going to stifle yourself.

"I find that what I tend to do, I record a lot of just blabbering, stumbling, goofing around. Then I wait at least a couple weeks before I listen to anything I did. If I come back to it two weeks later, I totally forget I played any of it. It sounds fresh to me. I'm able to kind of go, 'That sounds really cool. I like that section there.' Then I edit it down to the piece I like. That process works well for me. If I try to judge it the minute I write it, if it's any good I'd just kill myself."

The basic tracks for the new album were recorded on a mountaintop at a New Hampshire millionaire's studio. Hoey said it was inspiring. "I live here in New Hampshire and there's a lot of mountains, a lot of granite and a lot of trees," Hoey said. "We found this studio on a top of this mountain that this guy built. He's a millionaire. He built this beautiful studio. We recorded all the drums and the basic tracks there.

"I have a studio in a barn next to my house that I converted into a studio. I have Pro Tools, all the digital stuff. I'm a maniac with Pro Tools. We did all the vocals and guitars at my studio and then I flew to Los Angeles to hang out with a few of my friends who have better equipment than I do. We did even more recording. Now we're just finishing the mixing. It's been a long process. It's taken a couple years to get this album done. I think the songs are probably the best songs I've ever written in my life, really."

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