Alt.Rocker Gary Edward Allen Reaches Out To His Inner Child on “First Day of School Part 1”

Bluesy, twangy and reflective, Gary Edward Allen’s “First Day of School Part 1” – available now – is an ode to one’s inner child and the immutable person within us.

“I like the idea of being true to yourself and knowing that the core of you is just as true at seven as it at 27 or 54 or however old you are,” Allen says.

If I could run away …. but not to follow
I’m so easily led astray …
Once I passed a note to the child I once was…

The lyrics are sparse, with the music – introspective, brooding, and then sunny – conveying most of the feeling and message. Allen originally wrote the song for a band he was in called Ottaway Broder Allen, and it was written as an homage to childhood and reincarnation. It’s a song about feeling like you’ve been here before, as well as about true love – with a bit of an apocalyptic twist.

“I remember when my old band recorded it, I explained, ‘Yeah, it’s about living many lives, constantly searching for your soulmate, finding them, and then the Rapture comes and you look at your soulmate and say, ‘Ok, we’ve been searching for each other for many lifetimes, we finally found each other, and now we need to get the f*ck out of dodge before the Rapture comes.’”

That was back in 2014, and Allen’s bandmates looked at him like he was more than a little bit crazy. However, now in 2024 on the heels of a pandemic, “First Day of School Part 1” seems pretty darn prescient.

For the song’s “new and improved” version, Allen recorded the track with Tim Bovaconti and AJ Ottaway, and the song is split into three separate sections. The wholly instrumental “First Day of School Part 2” was released on YouTube a little less than a year ago, and Part 3 might also eventually be in the works. “Stay tuned,” Allen says mischievously.

“I didn’t deliberately record it out of order, but after I did the rough tracks for the entire thing, I was very much in a lead guitar frame of mind, so that [Part 2] got finished first,” he explains.

Gary Edward Allen started playing guitar at seven years old before falling in love with it as a teenager after listening to Queen and KISS. After a brief stint in a music class, he taught himself different guitar playing styles using his love of different music genres. By his early 20s, he gradually overcame his performance shyness by playing live in Ottawa at various clubs.

After moving to Vancouver in the mid ’90s, Allen took a hiatus from performing live, but never stopped playing the guitar and singing. When Allen entered his 40s, he decided to return to performing music after meeting indie artist Robb Hill. Not long afterwards, he would record his first songs with producer Doug Fury before meeting AJ Ottaway and Jake Broder and recording their debut album Ottaway Broder Allen. This would lead to a local tour in Vancouver as well as a second album, Invictus, that was made and released in 2015.

Sometime after Allen moved from Vancouver to Toronto and met his partner Tara (also from Ottawa, but as fate would have it, they didn’t meet while in the city), the band called it quits. By 2017, Allen would become a solo artist that collaborated with his former bandmate AJ mixing new songs and recording with producer Tim Bovaconti.