Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Interview: Gallows

Gallows have had one hell of a year and it’s beginning to take its toll on bassist Stuart Gili-Ross. The release of their second album, Grey Britain, in May of this year has meant their feet have barely touched the ground. Stuart is looking forward to Christmas for the simple fact that it means he gets a break. Sitting in a small room above Bournemouth’s Old Fire Station, where the band will be playing later that evening, he says “We are on the home stretch now and looking forward to just wrapping up the tour. I know that doesn’t sound very enthusiastic but as soon as the first note gets played tonight it will be business as usual. In the build up to going on stage all you’re thinking is ‘I want to go to bed’.”

It is perhaps for this reason that the punk rock group from Watford recently announced that they will be pulling out of next year’s Canadian tour with Billy Talent. Pouring himself a glass of JD and Coke, Stuart says “It was gonna be a long tour so we decided to just go to the West Coast of the States and do a short headline tour of our own instead. Then we will come home and write new material”.

Gallows, who broke the Guinness World Record for World’s Loudest Band back in 2007, have been touring non-stop since March. For ten weeks this summer they travelled around America with the Vans Warped Tour. “It was wicked fun but it all just blurs into one, you don’t really get to see much of America because you just wake up in a car park of some big amphitheatre, you play a show and then you drive over night to the next one.”

Nevertheless, Stuart’s New Year’s resolution for 2010 is to work even harder and the band already has plans to play festivals in Europe and Japan next summer. “We will be talking to all the big festivals you can think of. I’m not sure about Reading and Leeds yet though. We’ve done it three years in a row now so it might be time to give someone else a chance”.

In February, Gallows will be visiting Australia to play the Soundwave Festival and despite not looking forward to the flight, Stuart is excited to play with ‘tonnes of good bands’ such as My Chemical Romance, Faith No More and Brand New. Never afraid to speak his mind, he adds “There will also be some shit bands too. Like Escape the Fate, they are absolute dog shit”. Gallows, who are known for their aggressive and emotionally charged live shows, also ‘fell out’ with American crunkcore band Brokencyde on Warped Tour. “Basically we think that they are a joke, so we told them. Simple as that”.

Bands that Stuart does rate at the moment include his own side-project Spycatcher, hardcore group TRC, and Sharks and Trash Talk, the support acts for the UK tour. He also recommends Blackhole, the band of Gallows’ Frank and Stephan Carter’s little brother. When asked what it’s like to be in a band with two brothers, Stuart answers ‘annoying’. “They’ve always got each other’s back so if anything ever goes to a vote, their one will count as two. But it’s fine really. They get on really well so it means there aren’t usually any awkward rows. They are more like mates than siblings.”

Stuart’s most memorable moment with the band was signing a one million pound record deal, which was the ‘last traditional big record deal in the world’. “We have been told by the label and some lawyers that it’s going to be put into text books, so we are quite proud of that”. He also feels lucky that the band got to play the London Astoria before it was torn down this year and lists it as one of his dream venues, along with The 100 Club on Oxford Street.

The bass player graduated from the University of Surrey with a degree in Sexology and Criminology. “I went to a traditional grammar school where everyone was expected to go to university, but I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t know what to study so I thought ‘what am I in to?’ Sex and crime seemed like a good way to go.” He remembers his student days as ‘one long party’. Graduating with a 2:1 despite doing ‘absolutely no work’, he says “It just goes to show that you don’t have to do your homework.”

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Album Review: Grey Britain - Gallows

If Gordon Brown’s nightmares have a soundtrack, then this is it.

Grey Britain is not an album for the optimistic. In fact, it should probably come with a health warning.

If there is one word to sum up this record, it’s ‘brutal’. Lead singer, Frank Carter doesn’t mess around with his lyrics, perfectly demonstrated by the particularly cheery line ‘So kill yourself, cos there ain’t nothing else, go on and fucking kill yourself!’ (Death Voices).

Sounding a lot more polished than debut release Orchestra of Wolves, the use of air-raid sirens only contribute to the sense of impending doom and gloom and I can’t help but feel this punk rock band are subtly hinting that World War Three is on the horizon.

The first track, The Riverbank, could easily be taken from the opening credits of a horror movie. Ominous violins and crows cawing build up suspense until the guitars and drums come crashing in like Jack Nicolson through a bathroom door.

What comes next may sound nostalgic to all those Gallows fans, easing them in before gradually breaking their spirit with some of the bleakest lyrics ever put to paper.

A sombre piano interlude provides a welcome moment of calm, leading nicely into The Vulture Act I, Gallows first ever acoustic track. The fact that Frank Crater can do something other than screaming and growling comes as a pleasant surprise but, let’s put it this way, Charlotte Church has got nothing to worry about in terms of competition.

Gallows are a band that like to shock and if you have ever seen them live, you will know that they are actually a bunch of mummy’s boys at heart. Wouldn’t think it of a band that features the sound of a pig being slaughtered on their album would you?

An appearance from Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil in Graves serves as a soothing break from the somewhat exhausting The Great Forgiver, arguably the heaviest track on the album, before storming straight into the merciless Queensbury Rules.

Grey Britain is a powerful album and proves to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, ranging from scary to depressing and back again, with the creepy xylophone music at the end creating an unavoidable sense of despair. Unlike most ‘albums with a message’, Grey Britain won’t leave you with even a glimmer of hope as when Carter barks the last few lines of final track Crucifucks - ‘Great Britain is fucking dead, so cut our throats and our lives, lets fucking start again’ – it’s enough to leave even the sprightliest of kids’ TV presenter reaching for the Prozac.