Ferndale, Michigan

Bars of Gold have had two feet on separate shores, you might say, for more than a year. Like, say, shores of the Detroit River and the Potomac River.

Drummer Brandon Moss had to move to a suburb outside the District of Columbia at the start of 2010 on the cusp of the band completing its debut album Of Gold.

This was a considerably wrenching development, however inevitable, since Moss was so close with his Ferndalian collaborators — Scotty Iulianelli, guitars; Ben Audette, guitars; and Nick Jones, bass — with whom he formed and developed Wildcatting, his “favorite band ever.”

Wildcatting was an instrumental band known to strike awe with their propulsive, intricately layered squalls of feedback roiled, noisy, noodling space rock.

“Wildcatting was only instrumental because we didn’t know anybody who could keep up with the way we work,” Iulianelli said.

“Which is crazy,” Moss chimes in.

“We don’t really write, per se,” said Iulianelli, “we record it while we’re doing it.”

Moss adds: “Find something and then just keep going with it, meshing with it, playing with it like play-dough and it morphs into something.”

And Wildcatting, so it goes, “morphed” into Bars of Gold. ( Have a listen!)

Meanwhile, Marc Paffi, Bars of Gold’s vigorous singer and guitarist, had begun hanging around Wildcatting practices through 2008.

“We roped him into playing,” Iulianelli said with a wink.

Moss, who played with Paffi in the late ’90s and early ’00s via the post-punk noise rock group Bear Vs. Shark, said that Paffi wasn’t comfortable with assuming the role of Wildcatting’s singer.

“Wildcatting is just nuts, anyway,” Moss explained. “But, he didn’t want to interfere with what we had going. Why don’t we have a new band, then?”

Bars of Gold’s debut album took Wildcatting’s initial raucous tidal waves and focused them, sluicing the gnarly guitar hooks and spasmodic percussive explosions into a more melody-conscious rock ‘n’ roll, still flitted with flexing guitar roars and jittery rhythms, but now lead by Paffi’s imposing and inspiring, throaty yowl.

But with Moss out of town since their album’s debut, the other four have had to do their best to noodle out song skeletons without the luxury of drums. “We almost became like a folk band,” Iulianelli admitted. “It was a bit frustrating because we’d always get a song up to a point: ‘Okay, we should stop here, because once Brandon hears it, it’s gonna become something completely different.’ …

“We’re almost like a new band now,” Iulianelli continues. “Still, Brandon couldn’t be coming back at a better time.”

Moss, who has a background in teaching, was at orientation at American University-Washington D.C. He was scheduling classes for what could have been the start of fulfilling his dream of one day becoming a sociology professor, when he got a call from a recent employer in Macomb County to essentially retain his former position as a social studies teacher. And Moss came back.

So, Iulianelli said, it feels like there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel and that the band can finally settle back down on one shore.

It’s a shore that all five men, Moss particularly, appreciate – that being the now verdantly musical village of Ferndale.

Moss reflected on the area as he looked forward to the musical event, the DIY Street Fair.

“Moving out to D.C. has been a nice little lesson, like when something’s taken from you,” Moss said.

He answers, indirectly, referencing the Ferndale and Detroit music scene. “It’s not like when I meet musicians or people in Michigan, down here (Washington D.C.), up there I was a peer. We’re all kind of riding this weird wave together and it’s above material things. It feels like it’s about what can we, as humans do, to contribute … many of us find music to be kind of spiritual, around here. That’s not the best word.

“But, down here, I feel like I have to explain that feeling and it never sounds right.”

– Jeff Milo, Ferndale Patch (original article)