Galactic Cowboys has always been a musical enigma.
Hailing from Houston, Texas, the band combined melodic thrash, progressive metal, and Beatlesque harmonies into a genre of its own creation. Blending these considerable musical chops with a quirky sense of humour, the band quickly distinguished itself from anyone else in the world, garnering fans amongst some of music’s biggest stars. Their first time around, though, they were the right band at exactly the wrong time. On this outing, they shoot for the moon again, and celebrate the journey back.
A year after forming, at the dawn of the 1990s, Galactic Cowboys was signed by the David Geffen Company as their Next Big Thing, for an unprecedented advance. Geffen already had the Current Big Thing: Guns n’ Roses. But sensing the end of that juggernaut (correctly), Geffen held off on unleashing the Cowboys until sales of Use Your Illusion set had tapered off, and groomed the Cowboys for mega stardom. Quickly becoming regular fixtures on MTV, including two videos in rotation, everything was going according to plan. But culturally, Generation X was coming of age, and with it, a whole new musical culture. Sensing this change, David Geffen sought out an equivalent to the Cowboys in this new genre, to be the vanguard there. That band was Nirvana.
Geffen released Nevermind alongside the Cowboy’s debut release, and let fate determine which way music would develop in the 1990s. From its place at the cutting edge of a nationwide cultural transformation, grunge ended the reign of metal, the world’s biggest band, and—before they had even really started—Galactic Cowboys.
Undaunted, the Cowboys released a string of highly acclaimed albums. The Cowboys’ most notable fan-base became other musicians—an exclusive club that included other 1990s musical misanthropes such as Jellyfish, King’s X, and Kevin Gilbert. Reflecting both the musicality and diversity of the band, Galactic Cowboys toured primarily with two music legends, Anthrax and Dream Theater, reflecting the Cowboy’s versatility.
“The Galactic Cowboys were (and still are) one of my favorite bands to emerge from the 90’s. Great songwriting, killer players and euphoric harmonies. They were always criminally underrated and overlooked, which led to their premature demise in 2000. My last 17 years have had a hole in my musical palate without them and I couldn’t be happier at the announcement of their return! Welcome back boys…I missed you!” — Mike Portnoy
The reformed Cowboys consist of all the original members: lead vocalist Ben Huggins, drummer/vocalist Alan Doss, guitarist/vocalist Dane Sonnier, and vocalist/bassist Monty Colvin. They descended upon Doss’ studio in Houston, Texas, through early 2016 to write and record.
“Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 1993. The vacuum tubes warmed up and once again, Galactic Cowboys were off on a new mission. There’s nothing like coming home.” — Alan Doss (Drums, Vocals)
The 11 new tracks (and two bonus tracks) included on the resulting Long Way Back to The Moon harken back to the Cowboys’ iconic songs, but are infused with a contemporary hard rock sound. In the tradition of Alan Parsons Project, Steven Wilson, and Periphery, the album is completely organic: engineered, produced, mixed, and mastered by the band—even all the artwork. One trapping of contemporary production set aside by the band was an over-reliance on studio trickery – no ProTool-ing, drum triggers, or even vocal tuning. Just real music by real musicians.
The album’s sound is alternately heavy, whimsical, charging, and crunching, combining inescapable atmosphere with the drive of a band on a mission. Old fans will feel at home, but hard rock fans who have never heard Galactic Cowboys before will also be instantly hooked. As with all Galactic Cowboys albums, the songs are emotional in topic, and often including a large dose of ironic humor. Each song is performed, sung, and written with intense passion.
“It was an absolute pleasure getting back together with the guys to record this album. I think we’ve all grown as musicians and as people since we first got together in ’89, and I think our fans will really love this new stuff.” — Monty Colvin (Bass, Vocals)
The tongue-in-cheek song “Zombies” is a tongue-in-cheek study on finding love on the last day of human existence, blended with social commentary regarding modern society’s obsession with its electronic screens. Timely topics continue with “Next Joke”: from kids sports in which everyone gets a trophy, to Disney telling kids to wish upon a star and all their dreams will come true, our unrealistic expectations have set us all up for failure: The Joke is on us. “Internal Masquerade”, the album’s first single, examines the turmoil endemic to the human experience and the difficulties in keeping self-generated darkness at bay, themes revisited in darker “Blood In My Eyes”.
A special treat for fans both old and new is “In The Clouds”, the album’s leadoff track and also the first Galactic Cowboys song ever written. Penned in 1989 by Doss and Colvin after the demise of their previous outfit, The Awful Truth, the song explores leaving the banal confines of this world behind and ascending to a higher plane of existence. It’s also the song Huggins sang to earn his spot in the band!
“We can’t wait for everyone to hear this, and it’s great to be back. Back from the Ranch on Mars and onward to the moon.” — Dane Sonnier (Guitar, Vocals)