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Gone Cosmic Defy the Odds and Embrace Their Fear of Flying

After surviving a near-fatal skydiving accident, the heavy psych-rock quartet achieve optimal orbit.

by Christine Leonard

Photo by Mario A. Montes

Defying gravity and soaring through the clouds came all too naturally to Gone Cosmic’s intrepid vocalist and resident daredevil, Abbie Thurgood, when she developed her dangerous addiction to skydiving. But one twist of the elements was all it took to set Thurgood and her bandmates on a collision course that no one could have predicted.

As if a rampaging global pandemic wasn’t enough to challenge the Calgary-based quartet and their plans of heavy psych rock domination, Mother Nature had another tempest of fate in store for Thurgood as she ventured deeper into the world of rip chords and seemingly irrelevant helmets. 

“A turbulent wind burble caused my skydiving canopy to collapse close to landing,” she explains. “I fell the remainder to the ground and this caused an L3 burst fracture and L2 spinal cord injury to my back. The medical term is ‘incomplete paraplegic,’ as I lost movement in my legs and feeling. I underwent major back surgery and intense rehabilitation to learn how to stand, balance, and walk again.”

The group rushed to support their frontwoman in every way possible. Guitarist Darty Purdy (Chron Goblin, Musings), bassist Brett Whittingham (Chron Goblin) and percussionist Marcello Castronuovo (Witchstone) made frequent visits to Thurgood during her painful recovery, bringing her edibles and much appreciated visits from her King Charles Spaniel puppy to keep her spirits high during the rough patches. “We were always confident that Abbie would bounce back,” affirms Castronuovo. “She is a very resilient and strong individual and we will always have her back — pun intended.”

Their patience and affection paid off as Thurgood was soon back on her Crocs, walking out of the hospital with an acoustic guitar slung across her back. Repairing the collateral damage of having vocal paralysis from the breathing tube used during her surgery proved to be another life-altering hurdle that had to be surmounted before Gone Cosmic could return to their former glory. The outlook was hazy and amorphous, but that’s exactly the environment where the trippy beatmakers find their sultry groove and room to shine like a bluesy supernova.

“With each show we’ve played since returning to stage I’ve seen a significant difference in my body’s ability and strength,” says Thurgood. “When we first got back on stage I used the mic stand, ‘Cello’s symbol stands and Brett’s shoulder to maintain balance. Incrementally, I’ve been able to be more independent and have found more freedom on stage. There’s a whole new level of excitement that comes through with every performance.”

Replenished by that radiant crowdsourced energy, Gone Cosmic just released their new album Send for a Warning, The Future’s Calling via Grand Hand Records. The accomplishment comes as a relief and serves as a milestone that marks the courage and badassery that allowed them to overcome adversity, as well as being a testament to their evolution as a rock and roll entity of epic proportions. Ascending the slopes of Olympus Mons, Mars’ rocky behemoth, and freefalling through the icy emptiness of time, Gone Cosmic’s new work is an action-packed thrill ride that veers and swerves with breathtaking boldness and undeniable style.

“I love to strike a balance between melody and heaviness,” says guitarist Purdy “Those components stand out so much when a song features both ends of the spectrum. Our best songs capture these dynamics, particularly with this album. There was an intentional focus on serving the overall song and the guitar writing reflects that. I know it’s right when it captures the groove and melody, and has a sprinkle of complexity and progression.”

Mining the deepest mineral pockets this side of the Khyber Belt, Gone Cosmic’s airtight rhythm section is a special ops team that’s hard to deny. A lethally complementary and competitive duo, Whittingham and Castronuovo often seemed locked in their own atomic war of wills.   

“Rhythm is super important to me as both a bass player and a drummer,” Whittingham confirms. “I’m always a sucker for something that will groove well, whether that’s on the heavier, head-banging side or the more chill, melodic side. It makes writing and playing live much more exciting when there’s diversity within the setlist in the types of mood, atmosphere and energy each song possesses.” 

The result is a jaw-dropping and exhilarating collection of songs that hangs on the tension between headbangable down-strokes and savage, yet beautifully sung, lyrical narratives.

“I always try to complement my bandmates’ performance and what will hopefully best serve the song,” says Whittingham of the interplay between the band’s sweet and serious attributes. “I also really like to try and find space where Darty and I can play unique parts simultaneously. There are times when we need the power and heaviness that comes with playing the same lines together, but more often than not we try to weave different bass and guitar parts together to create more dynamics and syncopation.”

Gone Cosmic’s on-stage presence is a strange and intoxicating brew that leaves observers scrambling for adjectives to put their experiences into words. For those already familiar with their mind-blowing live shows, there’s no greater pleasure than watching others discover what Gone Cosmic has under the hood of their titanium shuttlecraft. Calculated manoeuvers executed at high speed may seem like byline from a Top Gun trailer, but in the case of these wind riders breaking the sound barrier is just another cakewalk on the moon. Or in the case of the band’s own Lazarus, Abbie Thurgood, one giant leap for womankind.

“In terms of both innovation and challenge, I think we really pushed ourselves to new dimensions. The new album’s closing track, ‘The Future’s Calling,’ is one hell of a journey from start to finish,” enthuses Castronuovo. “We combine a number of different styles within the same song, including a defined apex. “The Wrong Side of Righteous” is also another standout track. The first half of the song is focused on the mood and Abbie, while the second half, particularly the outro, is much more technical, complex, and chaotic.”

Captured for immortalization in coloured vinyl at OCL Studios by owner/producer Josh Rob Gwilliam (Ghosts of Modern Man, JJ Shiplet, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald), and mastered by Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Brian “Big Bass” Gardner (Rush, The Melvins, David Bowie, Outkast, Dr. Dre), Send for a Warning, the Future’s Calling is built to delight and astound. A simultaneously well-rounded and unpredictable combination of tracks that pledge to take you by the hand and hurl you out the airlock, Gone Cosmic’s sophomore release is the perfect companion for space cowboys, gangsters of love and self-proclaimed daredevils across the galaxy.

Send for a Warning, the Future’s Calling is out now on Grand Hand Records.