Scene & Heard

Gozu lightens up the heavy

Gozu (pictured playing the Sinclair) is (from left) guitarist Doug Sherman, drummer Barry Spillberg, singer-guitarist Marc Gaffney, and bassist Joe Grotto.
Gozu (pictured playing the Sinclair) is (from left) guitarist Doug Sherman, drummer Barry Spillberg, singer-guitarist Marc Gaffney, and bassist Joe Grotto.

Gozu takes its rock ’n’ roll seriously, but not too seriously. Using indelible guitar riffs, churning rhythms, and a mystical air in the vocals department, Gozu’s new album, “The Fury of a Patient Man,” chips the calcified crud off of a classic guitar-rock sound.

But masking this assertive push are song titles “Charles Bronson Pinchot,” “Signed, Epstein’s Mom,” “Traci Lords,” and “Snake Plissken,” a who’s who of ’70s and ’80s nostalgia.

“The genre can get a little pretentious,” says Gozu guitarist Doug Sherman. “I can’t write a song called ‘The Dragons Within.’ I can write ‘Here’s Ron Jeremy.’ Some people search for the meaning of the songs in the song titles. It’s just not there.”


Singer-guitarist Marc Gaffney says not only will the titles reveal little meaning, but the lyrics themselves are purposefully abstract.

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“The titles are kooky, but there’s a heaviness to the lyrics. I’m getting stuff off my chest,” Gaffney says. “I try and make it so that people can get what they want from the songs.”

Drummer Barry Spillberg and bassist Joe Grotto complete the Gozu lineup. The band celebrates the release of “The Fury of a Patient Man” with shows Friday and Saturday at Radio in Somerville. Each night will boast a different lineup of bands playing with Gozu, and not all of the guest acts are coming from the local loud scene.

Though heavy, Gozu draws from varied sources, which stems from Sherman and Gaffney’s previous work in funk, soul, and R&B.

“I’ve always been into soul music and singers like Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley,” Gaffney says. “This is a fun contrast. A lot of the time I have no idea where I’m going to go with a song, and I’m just vibing off the crowd. Some of the stuff just comes. I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just basing it on how I’m feeling, or how my throat is feeling.”


And Gaffney can get away with that approach because the rest of the band provides a safety net. When Gozu recently performed at the Sinclair, Grotto and Spillberg put down a relentless boogie that Gaffney worked off of, sometimes soaring, sometimes murmuring.

Sherman says he bases the guitar leads on a Helmet-style “less is more” approach, so even though Gozu has its fan base in the stoner rock camp, the band itself has a tougher, more angular sound than the typical stoner band.

In producing and directing a music video for Gozu’s “Bald Bull,” Tim Catz capitalized on the band’s willingness to step outside the norm, going so far as to use a pink-and-black color scheme for the shoot.

“They’re not a heavy band singing about the devil or doing drugs. I wanted to work with vague imagery they use in their songs, make all of the evil implied. There are no upside-down crosses. There are no big-boobie girls,” says Catz, who also plays in Roadsaw and White Dynomite.

Sherman says that Gozu spent more time crafting the songs on its second album in hopes of shaking off the lazy comparisons it often draws.


“Every review mentions Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. As a band, we’re not turning to that for inspiration,” he says. “I turn to Slayer.”

Maybe Gozu’s covers of D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” and Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years” cut for the vinyl release of “The Fury of a Patient Man” will set things straight. Or confuse them more.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe
“A lot of the time I have no idea where I’m going to go with a song, and I’m just vibing off the crowd,” says Gaffney.


It’s going to be hardcore heaven at the South Shore Music Hall in Quincy on Monday as Slapshot, a reunited Wrecking Crew, and Converge top the bill of a 10-band benefit concert for the One Fund, helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Keith Bennett didn’t intend to make a cross-generational heavy-music summit; it just happened once the PanzerBastard bassist started making calls. Though he did know he’d resurrect Wrecking Crew for this event.

“I’m not about, ‘Hey remember me from 20 years ago?’ but I knew PanzerBastard couldn’t do it,” Bennett says, noting that he and Wrecking Crew guitarist Ralph DiNunzio made the trek to Copley Square every Marathon Monday as kids, so reviving the Crew seemed a personal response to the attack.

Jack “Choke” Kelly is also working with a new band, Stars and Stripes, but knows that Slapshot still has its following. “I said, ‘Why are you even calling me? Of course we’ll do this,’ ” Kelly says of being part of the benefit.

“The punk, hardcore, and metal community usually takes care of itself. But it’s full of intelligent, compassionate people who’ll naturally want to help out when something like this happens,” says Converge’s Jacob Bannon.

And while Converge has vaulted beyond the local hardcore scene, Bannon owes up to being totally enamored as a kid by Bennett and to having the following reaction when seeing Slapshot at the Channel in 1990: “It was an Agnostic Front show, and Jack Kelly walks in wearing the Slapshot Boston jacket, and my jaw dropped.”

The “This Is Boston” benefit starts at 5 p.m. and also includes Dropdead, New Lows, the Revilers, Doomriders, For the Worse, Insult, and Sexcrement. Tickets are available via

Scott McLennan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ScottMcLennan1.