For a local band that's only played a handful of shows in the last year, Maryville hair-metal hotshots Gun*Slinger seem to have a knack for getting publicity. First they broke up, then they got back together, then they got shut down during a show at a West Knoxville bar, and now they've parted ways with charismatic lead singer, main songwriter, and band founder Cole Graham.
By the time last week's profile of the band—a preview of their show last weekend at the Longbranch Saloon on Cumberland Avenue—was published, they had, according to guitarist Marcus Ott, already fired Graham and replaced him with guitarist Ott's younger brother, Daniel. It was a lot of drama for a period of less than a week between the interview and the press deadline. (It was also a reminder that the seven-day news cycle we're used to around here isn't exactly how the world works anymore.)
According to Marcus Ott, the band members had grown increasingly frustrated by Graham's explicit language on stage, especially during a recent show at Big Daddy's in Maryville. "We're all about the rock 'n' roll image, but he was taking it a little too far at times," he says.
Graham was unavailable for comment, but he told The Daily Times in Maryville that he wasn't fired. "There's nobody out there who's doing rock 'n' roll right, representing what rock 'n' roll is the way they should," he said in an interview with Daily Times entertainment editor Steve Wildsmith. "And people who try it are gonna get condemned for it because it's more than what the industry will accept immediately. The guys didn't have the guts to stick with it, so I told them to get Mr. Rogers for the frontman."
Daniel Ott was initially selected as a temporary replacement for a recent show in Nashville, but he's been added to the permanent lineup based on that performance.
"He comes from a country and blues background, like me," Marcus says. "It's going to be really interesting to see him grow into a rock 'n' roll frontman. He has the ambition, the drive, and the talent for it."
Gun*Slinger's next show is on Nov. 13 at Patrick Sullivan's, where they're opening for White Lightnin' Burlesque.