The Gufs step forward from their 1996 self titled Atlantic debut with a dramatic new approach on their new Lava/Atlantic release, "HOLIDAY FROM YOU." Singer/Songwriter Goran Kralj reflects on the romantic crisis of a lifetime, while the band - Morgan Dawley: electric guitars; Dejan Kralj: bass guitar; and Scott Schwebel: drums, percussion - turn his expression of pain into inspired and inspiring Music. Produced by Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, King's X), the striking "HOLIDAY FROM YOU" rings true with honesty, confrontation, and poignancy.
"Its about taking a break from life," Goran Kralj says of both the album's title and content. "Getting away from all the people and the things that weigh on you."
Since their inception back in 1990, the Milwaukee-based quartet have grown steadily, from a series of independent CD releases to drawing ever-larger audiences to shows in the Midwest and throughout the country. In the year leading up to the "HOLIDAY FROM YOU" sessions, the band underwent a series of traumatic events, both professional and personal. They parted ways with percussionist Brian Pettit and took on new management, while Goran, Morgan and Scott separated from their significant others.
"A lot of these songs stem from that period." says Goran. "It's very personal. In each of these songs, I can see a persons face."
For Goran, the writing of "HOLIDAY FROM YOU" was a cathartic experience, with songs such as the pensive "Happily Ever After" and the turbulent "Lake 17" enabling him to express the deep pain and melancholia brought on by his divorce.
"Writing the album was so medicinal," he says. "I couldn't stop writing about certain feelings I was having. I asked the guys if maybe I should get away from some of those thoughts, and everybody said you can't deny what's in you head and in your heart. As a writer, I think it would have been wrong to deny myself the opportunity to put what I was feeling on paper.
The poignant "Give Back Yourself" features a powerful vocal contribution from Rob Thomas of Lava/Atlantic's own matchbox 20. The two bands first hooked up in January of '97 when they spent a few weeks touring together around the U.S.
"During the tour, we got a call from back home that a close friend of ours was killed in a car accident," Goran recalls. "She was so young and such a beautiful person. She was our biggest fan. I started working on "Give Back Yourself," basing the lyrics around the feeling that I was having about her passing away.
"Rob heard me playing it one day at a sound check and he started singing along. He said, if you ever record this song, I'd love to sing it with you. And sure enough, he kept his word."
Another collaborative effort found the Gufs co-writing a song with hit maker Desmond Child (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi). The teaming didn't quite work out as planned and the final product - the album-opening "Last Goodbye" - actually turned out more of a full-fledged Gufs song.
It was a very dark period of my life when we wrote the song, "Goran remembers. "I played Desmond an idea I had and told him what was going on in my life. He just took off writing, and I'd go back to my hotel room and work on it on my own. I basically kept the parts I liked and changed the ones I didn't."
The Gufs began "Holiday From You" at Toronto's Arnyard Studios in May '98, concluding the recording in January of '99. The actual making of the record presented a number of new opportunities to the band. Having produced all previous Gufs albums on their own, working with a professional such as Arnold Lanni offered the band new creative possibilities.
"Making a record with Arnold Lanni was a great learning experience," says Dawley. "it was like going back to school.
"Arnold pushed us out beyond out comfort zone," Scott says. "I remember thinking when we were recording it, "What the fuck is he making us do here?" Now I listen to it, and I understand he was hearing in his head."
"Arnold became the fifth Guf," Goran enthuses. "The passion that he had for the songs was real. It was like they meant just as much to him as they did to us.
The band certainly put in the time on the record, spending just under a year residing in Toronto.
"When we finally left, the hotel gave us gifts," Morgan says laughing. "We were their longest staying guests. Afterward we realized that with the money we spent, we could have bought a house."
The band's hard times and hard work led directly to the remarkably wide scope of emotions heard on "HOLIDAY FROM YOU." Though the Gufs certainly wouldn't care to relive the dark experiences of the past few years, they are indeed proud of the resulting music.
"It's a good feeling to know that such a bad period in our lives," smiles Goran, "could turn into something special."
Morgan Dawley, Dejan Kralj, Goran Kralj, Scott Schwebel
Goran Kralj, best known as the lead singer and songwriter writer of the Milwaukee based band The Gufs and national composer Peter Buffett were moved to collaborate on "Where Are You Now?"
The song "Where Are You Now?" be released commercially as a single for sale to Wisconsin music retailers and Awarestore.com.
All proceeds from sales of this song will go to charities benefiting the victims’ families and rescuers of the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. The main designated charity will be the "September 11th Fund" as well as others.