Loveless .1. (pronounced “Loveless One”) was Chris Gray’s solo band’s name. It is perhaps one of his most obscure endeavors. The name was used briefly from 2001 to 2002, between periods when Chris Gray performed under his own name. I unfortunately don’t have all of Chris Gray’s demos, but I do have a few of them. Since this post focuses on Chris Gray, let’s review his career.
Chris sang in Solace (1993-1994), New Day Rising (1994-1997, 1997-1998, 2000), Montgomery 21 (1995-1997), The China White (1998-2000, 2001), Zyon (2000-2001), Loveless .1. (2001-2002), The Black Maria (2002-2007) and We the Vicious (2013-present). In addition to singing, he played guitar in Montgomery 21, The China White, Loveless .1. and We the Vicious. He also provided guest vocals on two Ignorance Never Settles songs: Cacophony, recorded in July of 1995 and which appears on the band’s full-length Cycles of Consumption; and In Closing, recorded in October of 1999 and which appears on their 1999 demo. He also provided guest vocals Mare’s song, Lucida, which was recorded in the summer of 2000 and appears on the band’s first demo; on The Sneak Preview song Until the Music Ends, recorded in March of 2001 and which appears on their demo of the same name; and on the Neverending White Lights song Ending of a Story which appears on the 2005 album Act 1: Goodbye Friends of the Heavenly Bodies.
After The China White broke up in June of 2000, Chris Gray started writing acoustic music, which he planned to perform under his own name. That month he recorded a four song demo tape entitled “Songs from a Dead Man’s Heart“, featuring the tracks “Starqueen“, “Spring Mystery“, “The Dead Man’s Heart” and “Last Call” (I do not have this). However, before anything could be made of this demo, he joined, that same month, local post-hardcore band Clown Jerks as their new vocalist. Within days the band changed name to “Zyon”, immediately taking up Chris’ full time and leaving “Songs from a Dead Man’s Heart” utterly undistributed and little replicated.
In the spring of 2001 Chris got the itch to write his own material again and bought himself an 8-track recorder. During Zyon’s time off he recorded a nine song acoustic demo in the veins of Tim Buckley, Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. This demo too was poorly distributed and remained within the hands of close friends, as Zyon remained Chris’ priority. This would change, however, in July of 2001 when Zyon disbanded, having only been with Chris for twelve months.
Now band-less, Chris decided to focus on a solo acoustic singer/songwriter career, yet he liked the idea of having a backing band. And so he called on Jeff Legris, who was at the time still playing in Ellington, a local emo band that had gone to the same high school as the members of Clown Jerks and played many shows with Zyon. Jeff and Chris realized how much they had in common and got working on new material for the project together. This worked out so well that they abandoned the idea of using Chris Gray’s own name and opted for a band name. The first idea was to name the new project “The China White”, thus reforming Chris’ old band. But that idea didn’t last very long and apparently only played two shows under the name.
Through out the summer of 2001, a lengthy list of revolving band members came and went, trying out for Chris Gray’s new band. Practically every week Chris or Jeff brought in an all new cast to fill positions, including Gary Rugala on bass, another Gary (whose last name is still missing, previously from The China White) on bass, Derek Patrella on drums, and various other members of Zyon, Ellington or local bands that Chris had met.
The “Chris Gray Band” (performing simply as “Chris Gray”) played their first show in the fall of 2001 with Chris on vocals and acoustic/electric guitar, Jeff Legris on guitar, Gary (from The China White) on bass and Derek Patrella on drums. By the end of the year, Dan Arcari from Ellington had replaced Gary on bass and the line-up was expanded to include Sonny Ciufo from Zyon on keyboards. It was with this line-up that Chris Gray’s solo project became known as “Loveless .1.”. In an interview, Chris explained the band’s name as coming from: “[…] a vulnerability to the music that we play. And when is there more of a time of vulnerability then when you feel loveless and by yourself? Hence the decimal one”.
Loveless .1. was already eyed by a local independent record label. Back in early 2001, Re-Define Records started distributing Zyon’s debut, self-released CD, “The Wishing Star“, which had come out in November of 2000. Re-Define Records owners James Hamilton and Scott Willemsen then approached Chris Gray about releasing a Montgomery 21 discography CD, which led to Chris attempting to reform the brit-pop-emo band with a new line-up. The Montgomery 21 anthology was in the works for nearly a year before it was finally dropped, Re-Define Records offering instead to sign Loveless .1.. The new signing was made public on March 20th of 2002.
A week later Re-Define Records booked Loveless .1.’s studio time at BWC Studios to track their first full-length with Greg Dawson, set for release on July 2nd 2002. The band also landed an article and interview in the March 21-27 2002 edition of Hamilton’s View Magazine. In the magazine article, it was announced that Loveless .1.’s upcoming show on March 23rd 2002 at The Hudson, would be filmed for a first promotional music video. Unfortunately there are no traces of this video ever being put together.
Re-Define Records were such fans of Chris Gray’s music that they offered to put out more of his back catalog while Loveless .1.’s album was ready. Their first idea was to release a two-song CD single, using material from the 8-track acoustic demo recorded in the spring of 2001. This was to be part of an acoustic series for the label. To help promoting this, and his entire solo career, Chris Gray got himself a website (www.chrisgrayonline.com). But Re-Define Records’ entire acoustic series didn’t end up happening Chris Gray’s demos remained unreleased. Instead Loveless .1. spent March and April demoing five songs; “45“, “Comatose“, “Cut the Cancer“, “One Foot in the Grave” and “Sunday’s Soldiers“.
Re-Define Records was doing well with Canadian distribution but for the European market, Winter Recordings was the first to approach the band. Winter Recordings had re-issued Zyon’s “The Wishing Star” back in the spring of 2001 and wanted the same deal for Loveless .1.’s upcoming release. When Chris Gray signed with Winter Recordings he also promised that Loveless .1. would play a series of shows in Europe that summer.
Through out May of 2002 more footage was filmed at their live shows and it was finally revealed that “Sunday’s Soldiers” had been selected to be the first single. But problems occurred within the band, caused mostly by varying levels of commitment from the members. Before the end of May, both Derek and Dan were out of the band. A show was already book at C’est What in Toronto on June 1st of 2002, and Chris decided to perform it on his own, as an acoustic set. It is unsure if more shows were performed as “Loveless .1.” featuring Chris only. Needless to say, Loveless .1.’s album was never recorded nor released.
Chris Gray continued playing solo shows that summer, often re-arranging songs acoustically from his previous bands. Some of these included The China White’s “The Dark Child” and “Until the End“, Zyon’s “Believer” and Loveless .1.’s “Comatose” and “Sunday’s Soldiers“. He also covered Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees“. He performed at C’est What again on July 12th and then at another venue in Hamilton in late July.
Re-Define Records quickly found a new proposition for Chris Gray: they would fully finance the recording, pressing and distribution of his next solo album. This time, Chris wasted no time and in mid-July he recorded five songs at Gatesgill Studio. The session was done on the basics: live off the floor with only one mic. Chris Gray sang and played his acoustic guitar in single takes. This recording session yielded the songs “Phase Out“, “Stereo“, “Race Car“, “Sunday’s Soldiers” and “The Ones“. At least some, and possibly possibly all, of these songs originated from the planned Loveless .1. album. The limited edition CD (500 copies), appropriately titled “Live @ Gatesgill“, was quickly hand-packaged into a digipak and was ready by August 1st of 2002. But Re-Define Records only started selling it on August 5th.
Chris felt terrible about not keeping his promise to Winter Recordings, two years in a row. In 2001 he promised that Zyon would tour Europe, then in 2002 that Loveless .1. would do the same. He took his vacation time from work and planned a solo two week European tour. Chris left on August 2nd 2002 and played at least seven shows in Europe:
- 2002-08-03 Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 2002-08-07 London, England
- 2002-08-08 Leverkusen, Germany
- 2002-08-09 Hanau, Germany
- 2002-08-11 Bellinzona, Switzerland
- 2002-08-14 Koksijde, Belgium
- 2002-08-?? France
In late September of 2002 he decided that the full band idea may work again, under his own name. So he brought back Sonny and Jeff from the original line-up and added Alan Nacinovic (also from Zyon), on bass and Dave Cairns from The China White, on drums. This line-up, under the name “Chris Gray”, played their first show on September 25th of 2002, followed by more shows through out the fall and winter of 2002. One was a memorable show on October 11th 2002 at the Grog Shop in Cleveland, Ohio with Leo and A Colder Year. They also started recording more demos for a planned album, again for Re-Define Records, but this time under the “Chris Gray” band moniker. Another show took place on October 26th 2002 at C’est What with Charley Beck Band.
But all these plans and hopes were soon to decrease tremendously when Chris, Derek and Alan started up a new, untitled, post-hardcore band, in November of 2002. That band would be announced as “The Black Maria” in March of 2003. After this, Chris Gray would appear live as a solo musician far and few in between. However there were peaks, such as playing a full acoustic show, live on 102.1 The Edge, a famous Toronto radio station, on February 7th 2003. Chris also played in Hamilton in the spring of 2003, where he recorded the entire show and put it up for download on his website.
In August of 2003, Gregg Wolfe and Mike De Eyre, who were attending the Harris Institute and taking a class in audio production, invited Chris to record some of his new solo material for a school project. Also in the class and part of their four-way production team were Paul Filippelli (who had played in a reformed lineup of New Day Rising) and Shaun Staples. While Chris was responsible for singing and guitars, Greg handled bass, Mike keyboards and drumming duties were divided between Paul and Shaun. During the day of recording, four songs were tracked and produced by the four students. One of these songs, “Are You Out There” would be used on a benefit compilation for The Montreal Brain Tumor Research Center titled “SOLO” and released in November of 2003. On November 28th of 2003, Chris Gray played an acoustic show at Moe’s Tavern in Waterdown.
I was not able to find any information concerning shows played from December 2003 to January 2007. If he ever performed during random off-dates from The Black Maria heavy touring schedule or during empty spots while back home, I am not yet aware of it.
When The Black Maria recorded their second album, “A Shared History of Tragedy” in April of 2006 with Mike Green in Los Angeles, California, Chris started thinking about moving out there. During his time off from touring, he started his second professional career as an MMA fighter, which he pursued full time after The Black Maria’s breakup in the spring of 2007. Chris came back to Toronto in early 2009 and didn’t waste time getting back to playing shows. He performed his first show (that I could find) back in Ontario on February 26th 2009 at The Bovine Sex Club with The Cavaliers and Chris Cresswell and DJ Adam Kreeft. A month later, on March 20th 2009, he performed at Holy Joe’s in Toronto, accompanied by Jeff Legris on guitar and Mike De Eyre on keyboards for a notable cover of Montgomery 21’s “The Hero Trilogy“. Chris was so excited about playing shows again that he hired a young new photographer, Heidi Ram, to take a photoshoot on April 3rd of 2009, promoting his acoustic guitar. Chris felt that he had aged quite a bit since the days of playing in The Black Maria and didn’t want to use dated pictures to promote his new solo comeback.
I wasn’t able to find more dates for 2009, but by the end of the year, Chris had composed and compiled four new songs which he wanted to document. On January 9th 2010 he recorded this new EP with producer Vanya Drakul, which was released as “Into the Flood“. Weather it was to promote this new release, or simply for fun, Chris met up again with Heidi Ram in May of 2010 to do a second photoshoot, this time without the guitar. The EP never received any promotion or an official release. Chris Gray would only send mp3s, with no art to a select few.
On March 6th 2011 he played at Lou Dawgs in Toronto as part of the Friends Fest, accompanied live on second acoustic guitar by Nelson Sobral. Over a year later he participated in the Friends Fest, when he performed alone, acoustically, on May 14th 2012. Chris Gray’s live appearances have remained quite rare, and usually kept on the low profile. Many more demos may have been recorded over the year, but few have surfaced outside his circle of friends. Since November of 2013, Chris has been singing and playing guitar in a new band, We the Vicious.