News Column

Longtime Charleston rock band still on the road

May 29, 2014

By Zack Harold, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.



May 29--Back in high school, Greg McGowan was kicked out of a rock band for being too ambitious.

He wanted to get the band out on the road, play some shows outside West Virginia and try to build a following. His band mates didn't want to, so they gave McGowan his walking papers.

He went on the road anyway. And more than 10 years later, he's still going.

McGowan's pop-rock band Time and Distance is headlining this week's Live on the Levee, the summertime concert series held each Friday at Haddad Riverfront Park along Kanawha Boulevard.

Time and Distance has played a lot of shows all over the country but McGowan said he's especially excited about this one.

"We've prepared harder for this show than we ever have for another show," McGowan said. "It's the biggest thing we can do in our own city."

It's a big gig that has been a long time coming.

After his old band kicked him out, McGowan started doing solo acoustic shows in 2002 under the name "Time and Distance."

When a friend asked him to contribute a song to a compilation disc, McGowan found a bass player and drummer to back him up in the recording studio.

Time and Distance suddenly went from a solo effort to a full band, much to some fans' surprise.

"People would see us live but then they'd get the CD and it was just me, acoustic," McGowan said.

McGowan toured with that band for several years but members eventually parted ways. McGowan relocated to New York City and took time off from playing music, working instead as a tour manager and merchandise salesman for other bands.

He eventually came back to West Virginia, however, and in 2009 reformed Time and Distance with an all-new lineup to record the album "Gravity."

The group played a few shows but just didn't have any chemistry onstage. McGowan traded out bass players, drummers and guitar players until he finally found a combination that worked.

One of his former bass players recommended Adrian Crowder, whose previous band had recently broke up.

Then drummer Chris Thompson sent McGowan a message on Facebook.

Thompson's old band had recently broken up, too, and he was in dire straits: if he didn't find another band soon, he'd have to go back to high school.

McGowan brought him in, and Time and Distance's latest incarnation was complete.

"None of the three of us knew each other before. We were just kind of kicked into being best friends," Thompson said.

McGowan, Thompson and Crowder have now honed an up-tempo power pop sound, akin to early '00s groups like Jimmy Eat World or the All-American Rejects.

The band released its latest record "On" in late 2012 and has spent the last couple years on the road supporting the release.

It isn't always easy, but it's usually fun.

Some nights Time and Distance plays to sold out crowds. At a recent gig in New Hampshire, the only person in the audience was the sound guy.

"We rocked it out. Had a blast, but no one saw it," McGowan said.

"We were Kiss for a half hour," Crowder said.

Time and Distance completed a two month coast-to-coast tour in April. They returned home late on a Friday night, and on Saturday morning McGowan woke up to an email from the organizers of Live on the Levee, offering them a spot in this summer's line-up.

"I go to sleep every night thinking about it and I wake up going 'oh, it's so soon,'" McGowan said. "If we kill at this . . . that could take our shows at home to another level."

McGowan said he's glad Charleston is supporting local musicians.

"There's been a resurgence in the last couple years. I think it's cool there's a community of people trying to nurture the arts."

For McGowan's part, he plans to keep making music and trying to find an audience for it. His dream is to sell a bunch of records, gain a big fan base and be able to keep making music. But he's also OK if that doesn't happen.

"If nothing else ever happens, I'm proud to have sustained something I started for so long."

This Friday's Live on the Levee begins at 6:30 p.m. with opening act Beggar's Clan, a local funk and reggae group. Time and Distance will take the stage around 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.liveontheleveecharleston.com. For more information about Time and Distance, visit www.timeanddistance.net.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or zack.harold@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

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(c)2014 the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.)

Visit the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.) at www.dailymail.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)


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