Short of your own death or that of a family member, there may not be a bigger nightmare for a musician than the senseless murder of one of your bandmates. But that hellish scenario played out earlier this year for the Dead Revolt, the Houston prog-rock trio whose bassist, Spencer Golvach, was shot and killed early in the morning of January 31. According to news reports at the time, the gunman later killed another person and wounded another several miles away before being shot and killed himself by Harris County sheriff's deputies. Golvach, who had merely been sitting in his pickup truck waiting for a red light to change, was all of 25 years old.
Left to sort through the aftermath were Dead Revolt guitarist George Baba and drummer Dylan Golvach, Spencer's younger brother. When Spencer was killed, the band was in the middle of writing material for their fifth album, having released Psychedelic Wasteland barely three months prior. Baba, Dylan Golvach and HANDSOMEBEAST bassist Jacob Rodriguez went on to complete the album, which was released last month under the title Heart of the Moth. Baba says it took until May for the surviving members to be ready to move forward with Moth, and that although Spencer was not with them, the input he had already contributed was enough to give them the need to see the album through to completion.
“That was one of the reasons why we felt like we had to release it — because he was a part of these songs,” Baba says. “As a musician, I know that if I had passed away [while] writing songs with people, I would love for them to not stop these songs because of my death. In a way, it was kind of honoring him, because he was a part of the songs, and I think he would have wanted the album to be finished.”
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The Press reached out to Dylan Golvach for this article, but he declined to return our message. However, Baba figures that bringing the songs they had started with Spencer to fruition helped bring closure to both him and Dylan. According to him, Dylan even worked out his drum parts in a single day.
“Writing music helps me with anything, grief especially,” he says. “I definitely think it helped. And I know it helped with Dylan. It got his mind – he was able to focus on something else, but at the same time he really loved it because he of course played music with his older brother all of his life.”
Heart of the Moth begins with an 11-minute jam called “Machine God,” a prime example of the group's imaginative, almost free-association approach to songwriting. The Dead Revolt had recently marked their fifth anniversary as a band when Spencer was killed, and although their profile within the Houston music scene was always relatively low, certain online gathering places for the progressive-rock community had recently begun singing the group's praises. Awarding Psychedelic Wasteland 3.9 points out of a possible five, The Even Ground Web site said, “Even without the studio wizardry, The Dead Revolt has still crafted a concept album with the complexity to warrant many listens.”
Now The Dead Revolt are in a strange spot of having a new album out, but no real plans to play live to promote it. Baba has continued on by releasing a solo project called Death By Supernova earlier this year, and will be playing a set of Black Sabbath covers with local rockers RIVERS on Halloween night at the Alley Kat. He won't close the door on doing more work with the Dead Revolt, which sounds like it would at least partially be up to Dylan anyway. But Baba says that much more than playing live, his favorite moments with the group were the times the three members would be in the studio together, being creative.
“I think any band knows when you play with a certain group of people – not just anyone, but people you truly love – you have a sort of connection with those people on a completely different level than you do with anyone else. It's not an emotional level; it's a musical level, and having a musical connection with someone is a very special thing.
“Not a whole lot of people understand that or have even felt that, but with the Dead Revolt, I felt that we all understood each other on a musical level,” he continues. “Even if we don't even know what that kind of communication even means, you still feel it, and I really enjoyed that with my band.”
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A day or so after we spoke by phone, we emailed Baba a simple followup question: In his opinion, what would Spencer Golvach have thought about Heart of the Moth?
“I believe Spencer would have loved it,” Baba said. “I was lucky enough to have someone who perceived music as I do. We agreed about almost everything in terms of the composition of each album so I feel strongly that he would have been proud of it.
“We noticed that a lot of artists nowadays are regressing back to the old way of doing things, and I wanted to bring rock and roll into a new era,” he added. “All of a sudden people were attracted to bands that sound straight out of the '60s and here we were, writing complex, 12-minute epics with weird time signatures and stuff. We wanted to do the complete opposite of what we were hearing in the Houston music scene, which is why I think a lot of people didn't understand us. All I hope is that people recognized the effort.”
Heart of the Moth is available on The Dead Revolt's Bandcamp page.