Walking With Giants. You read the name and you immediately think that it’s just a set of buzz words that somebody used to name a band. For Gary Noon those words make sense, Walking With Giants is the name of his music project and the name of his debut EP. He went from performing in church bands and on worship records to making an EP with Clint Lowery from Sevendust and Scott “Flip” Phillips from Alter Bridge. Gary’s a day-in and day-out businessman who’s first world doesn’t revolve around music. His second one though, the one where he gets to walk with the giants of rock, certainly does.
Gary’s story is fascinating. It’s kind of like a tempered version of Forrest Gump but with rock music. He started out in a big family with six kids and little income. With little ambition, all Gary really wanted to do was become a part of the church. After working as a janitor for years, he made his way to becoming a youth pastor and being heavily involved in his church. Maybe a little too involved. That’s where Gary met his wife and it’s where he spent the brunt of his time. He worked at the church, he went to church at the church, and then he came home and brought that work with him too. Because of that, Gary’s marriage fell apart and his wife became his ex-wife. For anybody divorce is a problem. For a youth minister it’s a bigger problem. It created a kind of stigma with the people Gary was working with. The people who he considered to be his friends didn’t completely shun him, but they kind of turned their backs on him. That didn’t cause Gary to change his mind about his beliefs but it did cause him to see people who are that into church a little differently. From there, he went on to work in the electronics industry, and during this time, he met a good friend who got him into rock music, REALLY into rock music, and then Gary’s career began to progress in the business world all the while developing his love for rock music and making some interesting friends along the way.
“After some time away, in 2008 I started picking up the guitar again after I got into Disturbed,” said Noon talking with Alternative Addiction. “I really liked the music. I loved the headstrong feelings and compassion. Then I started throwing up my versions of the songs on YouTube. That’s where it all began. I started looking at it as a serious pursuit instead of just a hobby that I really enjoyed. Through that I got introduced to a bunch of different guys. One of my good friends from work knows everybody. He’s two degrees of separation from everybody in rock it seems like. He started taking me to concerts and he introduced me to a couple of guys who in turn introduced me to Clint, Flip, and guys like that. Over time, I maintained those friendships and anytime they were in town they’d invite me to come to shows.”
Gary would come to the shows, after all who would really turn that down? But instead of coming to the show as a guest of whoever was in town and just walking in on the guest list, Gary firmly believed in supporting his friends and buying a ticket. Partly because of that, Gary’s developed some great friendships with guys over the years. He’s established a close friendship with Lowery and Phillips in particular. It was Lowery and Phillips who agreed to help Gary make his dream a reality and help him produce his EP. It was also Lowery and Phillips who have been among the most supportive of Walking With Giants.
“I met Clint in 2010 and I just gotten in to listening to Sevendust. That’s funny, but you can kind of figure that out with my background. I became a Sevendust fan and my friend took me to a show. We got to go backstage and Clint was introduced to us. We started talking and we figured out that we liked a lot of the same music growing up and we were raised in a similar way. We just kind of became friends that day and we kept up a relationship through email and texts. Whenever Sevendust was in town we’d hang out and we’d talk about guitar and musical projects and things like that. I got to the point to where I mentioned that I wanted to do a record. He said that if I ever decided to do it, he’d help me out. I talked about it for another three years and when I finally went to Clint and asked him to work on the album he jumped in with both feet. I thought he was just being nice, but he genuinely wanted to do it. It was kind of the same process with Flip and how he helped me out but I had asked Clint before so I had more than enough courage to just come out and ask Flip. I about jumped through the ceiling when they both agreed to it,” added an enthusiastic Noon.
There’s a big difference between having a dream and then making it a reality. It’s a night and day scenario between months of preparation for something to go down and then having it stare you right in the face. Gary learned that his very first day in the studio.
“It was terrifying,” he recalled his first day working on his EP. “Going into this process I had no idea what any part of it actually was. You always hear people talk about preproduction, demos, and arranging but I never had a true idea of what that looked like. The first day I was scared s___less because I thought I was in way over my head. We had six songs to complete and nine core ideas that I presented to Clint. He coached me up on the songs, but when we started none of them were completely written. We had to complete the songs, track all the parts and do all the vocals in six days for six songs. I was lost at first. I felt bad, I was thinking that Clint was too nice of a guy to tell me that I was nuts and couldn’t do six songs in six days.”
Clint actually motivated Noon and told him to enjoy what he was doing. And to enjoy being in the studio recording something for the first time. Phillips was the same way. They told him that they both wished that they would have taken more in of what they were doing for their first time. Noon took that to heart and really found himself bright eyed and enjoyed the process. Lowery and Phillips helped with other advice too.
“They both told me to take advantage of being in a studio as much as I could,” said Noon. They said, ‘if you mess up, don’t flip out you can go back in and rerecord it. That’s what’s cool about being in the studio. You can work things out and then go in and make the best version possible.’ After I got that perspective, I loosened up. On day 2 recording, we started arranging and doing things and it felt like we had been playing together forever. It was easy for us to follow each other, Flip would contribute rhythmic ideas, Clint had ideas all over the place and overall it was just cool. We got through five songs on that second day and it blew my mind. When we hit the moment to where the songs started to take on a really good vibe and we all started feeling good about them… I can’t describe how validating that was. These guys had been doing this for half of their adult lives and I had come in from a different world, but everyone was on the same page. It was great to see that our ideas and our work ethic from those two different worlds could come together and make a great song. Just thinking about it and the time we spent working on the record puts me back in the clouds, I still can’t believe that I got to do this.”
To his credit, not only did Gary get to make his music, it’s pretty good too. He’s working on putting a band together for live purposes and he’s also getting ready to head back into the studio in December too. Beyond that, who knows what Gary will do with his music endeavor, I do know that I wouldn’t bet against him. From humble beginnings to walking with giants, that’s the story of Gary Noon.