Galactic Cowboys guitarist Dane Sonnier walks us through Long Way Back To The Moon

IT WAS Super Bowl weekend in 1990 when the Galactic Cowboys — frontman Ben Huggins, bassist Monty Colvin, guitarist Dane Sonnier and drummer Alan Doss — got their first record deal: a multi-album commitment from Geffen Records. The band was on the doorstep of greatness, but then a funny thing happened on the trip up the sidewalk. At the listening party for their self-titled debut, Geffen was playing music from other artists on the label, including some new material from upcoming releases. The band, nervous but confindent, had been mingling in the crowd, all the while listening to the tunes being piped into the party.

Legend as it, at one point, one member leaned into another and remarked “This is good.” referring to the album playing in the background. Turns out, that album was the as yet to be released Geffen debut of a band called Nirvana. The album? Nevermind. In an instant, the Galactic Cowboys destiny had been transformed from potential next big thing, to footnote in the aftermath of the grunge music movement that would grip the first half of the decade. The Cowboys’ stellar debut would be released in 1991, but would never gain much traction. A follow-up, 1993’s raucous Space In Your Face, would suffer a similar fate and Geffen would drop the band. Two years later, Sonnier would leave the Cowboys.

The band, with guitarist Wally Farkas, would go on to release four more albums on Metal Blade Records before calling it a day in 2000 shortly after the release of Let It Go. Now, 17 years later, the Cowboys are back, as is Sonnier, with a new label, Mascot Records, and a new album, Long Way Back To The Moon. The new album is everything the band’s fans would expect in a Cowboys record — heavy riffs, soaring harmonies and hook-filled choruses.

Gearphoria was able to corral Sonnier a few weeks before the album’s slated mid-November release and get his track-by-track analysis of the new one.

IN THE CLOUDS
THIS WAS actually the very first Galactic Cowboys song… ever. This was probably early 1989. Monty and Alan had just left The Awful Truth and they were trying to put a band together. They started writing and this was the first song they came up with. So, this was the song that Ben and I kind of auditioned to. It was a Tascam four-track mix. We recorded it, I think, for the first album — the self-titled, but for whatever reason it didn’t make the cut. As we were sitting around thinking about doing this again, we thought about old songs that were never released that could still be in the mix somewhere and this one was definitely on the top of everyone’s list.
We kept the arrangement the same and just re-recorded all the parts. Mascot (the label) wanted to hear four songs at the beginning of this. This was one of them. When we went back to do tracking on the record I think we only re-recorded a few things on that basic track because Alan did such a great job with the demo. Ben did add a second verse this time. I played my American Strat HSS into a 100-watt Soldano Avenger through a 4×12 Marshall cabinet.

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