Victim Culture: Gallows

"I’m kind of done with the human race..."
Gallows tattoos.png
There are many things a band cannot survive, one of them being the loss of a frontman. The lead singer, in essence, is the embodiment of the band; a prominent figure that leads the interviews, holds the crowd’s attention, glues the group together etc. Frank Carter was one of these men and his departure from Gallows left a noticeable grave-like hole in the band. But there have been a few artists that have survived and indeed made improvements on the original format: Genesis, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Black Flag.

Obviously it’s too early to tell if Gallows can be added to the big leagues, but with the overly ferocious debut of ‘Last June’ fighting against the riots around the world with a justified anger, the group have laid some steady groundwork. So, with the new self-titled record voiced by Alexisonfire’s Wade MacNeil about to drop, Clash speaks to the hardcore group to find out if there really can be life after (Pure) love.

How did you approach the new album? Was there any specific you wanted to achieve?

Wade MacNeil: We knew exactly what we didn’t want to do. That was essentially recreate ‘Grey Britain’ in any shape, way or form. Kind of using the polar opposite to a lot of those ideas: producing ourselves, going into a studio in Watford with dudes the boys have grown up with their whole life (Spy Catcher). To me a cohesive album is one that really flows, all the songs fit together and it’s not one huge compromising idea - it’s just a fucking punk record. We knew what we wanted to do in that respect. We didn’t really give ourselves time to over think things, we knew we had to meet certain expectations. The pressure was from us.

Lee Barratt: Writing ‘Grey Britain’ is the definition of over thinking. Whereas this is the complete opposite to that.

So what has changed since ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’?

Stuart Gili-Ross: It’s been a long time between the two records. It’s different now. ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ was written in Watford, no grand concept behind it. In a lot of ways that was a lot of fun to me, we were doing it on our terms. It was about the music and not the concept, we didn’t have a major label saying you should go here, spend this much money. In a way it might seem like a drastic change, but it’s just getting back to our roots, enjoying being in a band. You’ll see in our touring we’d rather platy small venues than the big ones, we’re more comfortable in the smaller setting where we’re in control. With this record we wanted to do it with our friends in Watford on our terms.

So is this a continuation of what you were, or is this a completely new project?

Stuart: Bit of both, really. It’s kind of a continuation of Gallows but it does feel like a new band. We’re hungry again. We want to make the most out of those opportunities that we had presented to us a few years ago that we didn’t really grab with both hands, because there was certain people in the band at the time that didn’t want to make the most of those opportunities. We just want to get in that position where these opportunities are presented to us again. So we’re just looking forward to being able to go Japan and Australia a lot more, and I think this record will allows us to do that. We have fun on tour, we used to sit around looking at bands...we toured a lot, Gallows was a heavy touring band, but we’d look at other bands and be ‘like how are they having so much fun on the road? They look like they are getting on with each other. What the fuck is that all about?’ Now I get it, we’re having a good laugh. That’s what it should be about, really.

Gallows - Outsider Art



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You’re releasing this record on your own label (Venn Records). Is this something you’ve been interested in doing for a while?

Stuart: Yeah, as soon as we got presented with the opportunity to do it we bit their arm off. It’s something we wanted to do outside of our own releases, we’re looking to put out other bands through them and just make it a really cool label to be apart of. This is just the first release on that label.

Any specific bands you want to recruit for your label?

Stuart: We’ve got a few, but nothing we can disclose at the moment. There’s bands we’re excited to work with, and at the same time excited to work with us. You’ll be hearing about that in the next couple of months.

When you released your first single as the new Gallows, ‘Mondo Chaos’, there was a lot of animosity surrounding it. But now, it has died down. What do you think has changed?

Wade: I think people just have a better idea of what the band is now. People have seen us play and they see it’s not insincere. I think ‘Mondo Chaos’ came out and they didn’t know what to expect. ‘What’s this bullshit? People riding around on motorcycles getting tattoos?’ Well, that’s my fucking life. What do you mean, what do you mean? A bunch of my friends from OC getting tattooed and riding motorcycles - that’s what my life is. It’s not some bullshit posturing. This band has always been about being really honest and they’ve seen us now and seen us live, and we live the songs we sing about.

Stuart: People will always have to throw their two cents into the hat and that’s just the nature of the world at the moment. When ‘Grey Britain’ came out people were like ‘ergh, using fucking strings.’ I’m sure we’ll get it for this, but it’s water off a duck’s back. If we paid any attention to what people thought of the band we wouldn’t be a band.

Wade: You’d fucking kill yourself.

Stuart: We couldn’t give less of a fuck what anyone outside of the band thinks about it. If they are into it that’s awesome, but if they’re not...really couldn’t give a shit.

‘Last June’ is obviously about last summer's riots. Why did you feel you had to write about it?

Stuart: ‘Last June’ was more focused on the riots in Toronto, but it was kicking off worldwide. We’re really angry about how things are going across the world, but the media will always find a way to take your mind off it: the Middle East and the Olympics. It’s no different really. I was disappointed from a London perspective in the way that people treated it as a excuse to loot JD Sports to get some trainers. Protest has got its place, but the way you go about it...we definitely shot ourselves in the foot with that one, because it totally made the whole purpose of being angry and the whole statement completely undermined. Fuck it, if you’re going to protest, there’s other ways around it than stealing some Air Jordans.

Wade: It’s not an overly political record, but I don’t see how you can see what’s going on in the world and not really talk about it. I’ll leave singing fake love songs to somebody else, it’s hard not to be influenced by stuff like that. There’s definitely political ideas in the record and discussing the state of the world and where we fit into it.

What do you think will happen to the world in the long run?

Stuart: Who fucking knows and who fucking cares. I’m kind of done with the human race, really. We’re going down the fucking toilet and it’s going to keep going down there till the end.

Wade: But whatever happens, you can listen to this new record.

Mentioning the shitty state of the world, that is generally when the best music comes out...

Wade: All the greatest records that came out of the UK was under Thatcher’s Britain. The Clash, The ’Pistols, The Medics, UK Subs, Discharge. ‘77-’83 had the most incredible wealth of music coming out of the country. Bands like us and other bands are looking at the state of the world and addressing it and using their music to push some sort of change. There’s a lot of amazing music coming out of that, and if you fail to address some of that I don’t know what fucking planet you’re on.

Words by Jamie Carson

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