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Gallows To Curate CTRL Birmingham Show

On October 29th, Gallows will curate a show at The Flapper in Birmingham and will included performances from Invasion, Shapes and Soni-Quella. The show is being sponsored by Topman CTRL, who recently interviewed Lags and Lee from Gallows, as well as Invasion.

Both interviews can be read by clicking read more.

Interview with Lags and Lee from Gallows.

Q: OK so new bands then, give us a few off the top of your head…

Lee: The first band is probably Sharks we’re taking them out on tour in November December… They’re a bit different you know, they’re like a mix of Joy Division and kind of a new….

Lags: ….Undertones.

Lee: Yeah, Undertones, a lot of like more Indie Brit pop influences, they put on a really good show too.

Q: Are they still quite heavy as well?

Lags: They’ve got a real new wave feel to them, which is cool cos’ there aren’t too many new wave bands around today, like they look as though they should be in the Smiths or something not Kings Of Leon like most other bands these days.

Q: Are they going to confound the expectations of the Gallows crowd?

Lags: I think what we’ve always done in the past, like when we took out Lethal Bizzle, is show our eclectic taste in music, we don’t want to be one of those bands that gets thrown in with every heavy punk hardcore band.

Lee: Also on this tour is Trashtalk - this Californian hardcore band, and you need to check out their live shows on Youtube because they are just insane.

Lags: I’ve got a feeling there will be some sort of competition - who can destroy themselves the most?

Q: What is the worst gig related injury sustained by Gallows to date?

Lags: Well I knocked myself out recently on stage, there are loads! Hit myself in the face with my guitar, Frank’s been knocked out…

Lee: …I broke a rib stage diving!

Q: Any other new bands? Anything else you’ve heard recently?

Lags: This band called More Than Life who are from the West Country - they’re farm boys. The thing about the UK hardcore scene is that I think a lot of it sounds the same whereas these dudes bring a bit more musical edge to it. The songs are quite catchy but are still really heavy and raw.

Lee: I’m gonna mention our bass player Stu’s band, this other band. They’re called Spycatcher. It’s actually 3 or 4 of our friends from back home are in that band. What does Mitch play? Guitar doesn’t he?

Lags: Yeah

Q: Can you see yourself shifting towards other styles as the band goes on?

Lags: Oh yeah definitely. I mean if you listen to our new record there is big piano and orchestration and stuff on it, which I wrote myself. I’m really into the idea of writing soundtracks and more epic soundscapes as it were

Lee: I think it could go any way really, I don’t really know what’s going to happen with our new record. It could end up even heavier!

Q: Shall we talk about places around the world - maybe its places you’ve visited, certainly venues that you’ve enjoyed playing around the world, or maybe scenes that you find inspirational.

Lags: One of my favourite places is Austin in Texas, we’ve done it twice, with south by south west, and we also played there again on our last headliner US tour. The atmosphere is electric and there is such a creative vibe and buzz about the town and we have so many friends there, and like all my favourite times hanging out with people have been in Austin. And the girls are beautiful!

Lags: Another place, which is just amazing, is Japan, if you want to go somewhere and feel like you’ve landed on another planet, then Japan is probably the ultimate place. Its just got such a crazy atmosphere, when we’re hanging out in Tokyo, and we’re going around all the shops and the cool parts of town, everyone is just dressed as if they are going to go on the biggest night out ever, but that is just how they dress everyday.

Q: What is the scene like for you out there?

Lee: It was actually really weird when we touched down the first time we went over there, like literally two or three minutes after we’d left our hotel a gang of Japanese kids came up to us, they knew who we were and they had all our records ready for us to sign, and that totally blew our minds, like no one recognises us in England.

Q: How do you go down in the rest of Europe, where about are the kind of hot spots for you?

Lee: Milan is also awesome.

Lags: I really like Berlin, I think Berlin is an awesome city, its quite a big place but there is a lot to do.

Q: Do you get much of a crowd in Berlin, it doesn’t really seem like that much of a rock city?

Lags: Last time we played Berlin we were supporting Korn and Machinehead so it was a bit of a weird gig, it was in some fort just outside of the city, some castle where you have to cross a moat to get in.

Q: Cool, shall we talk about albums that you either grew up with or there are stories associated with.

Lags: You’re going to say Bowie aren’t you.

Lee: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars! My dad is a huge Bowie fan and he took me to go see him when I was about 4 or 5. Its like 11 tracks of the best rock and roll music you’ll ever hear- the production is awesome considering it was made in the early 70’s and every track on that record is a classic and I’ll never get sick of listening to it. If anyone doesn’t have that album then they need to buy it or their house will fall down.

Q: What other Bowie albums come close?

Lee: A lot of his older one’s come close, like Hunky dory is great and I really like Low even though it is a bit more experimental, I like every record he’s put out to be honest. I think he is just one of the greatest artists of all time, well the best Britain has ever produced anyway.

Q: Which Metallica album stands out to you?

Lee: The Black album is the one I remember. I was in my early teens back then and I’d not really heard any heavy music. I remember going into Virgin Megastore in Watford and you were working there..

Lags: Right..

Lee: .. and I remember asking if I could listen to the ‘Black Album’ and you put it on for me on the listening post and I remember thinking this is the best thing I’ve ever heard. It was so heavy and sounded so tight. Being a drummer, I’d never even heard much double pedal, I took it home and listened to it everyday for about two years. I still listen to it every week - its one of my all time favourite. Its still not as good as ‘Justice For All’, but The Black album that’s the one with a story for me behind it.

Lags: I think the Beatles are such an inspirational band, they are one band who have created modern music to me anyway. They came just after the whole rock and roll boom but they just took music and made it pretty much unreachable for other bands at that time. For me I think ‘Revolver’ was that change and songs like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, and I just think that back then that was probably the craziest thing that any band could ever do and they were doing it and they were all the more successful for it, and so for me like that album definitely set the bar for every other band to follow them.

Q: Have you ever seen McCartney play live?

Lags: Our second Gallows gig was in London and we were walking past EMI in Soho Square, or Apple, well whichever office, and Paul McCartney was walking out and that was the closest…

Q: You didn’t run up to him then?

Lags: No there was already a million Beatles fans there with records.

Q: Was classic British metal important to you or not? You share management with Iron Maiden.

Lee: I think they put on one of the best live shows out of any UK band.

Lags: I’m a huge Sabbath fan. I know people have argued that the first heavy metal songs were The Kinks ‘You really got me’ or even The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’. But Sabbath, they created heavy metal as we know it from the imagery to the music and the first album. They recorded that album in like two days, so at the same time they are inspirational to other musicians out there to just get tight and play instruments and don’t rely on Pro Tools.

Q: Okay, lets talk about favourite things.

Lee: Well I’d start with my parents and my girlfriend, family. They are probably my biggest fans. My dad comes to near enough every show- he likes to think he’s the fifth member of the band sometimes.

Lags: I’ve got a mum and dad tattoo and then I’ve got family on my wrist. I can’t believe how supportive my mum and dad were, even when they had doubts that I was ever gonna get anywhere in life.

Q: How did you expect your parents to react to the announcement that you were jacking everything in to be in a band?

Lee: I think they were a bit resentful at first that I was sitting around some days when we were not on tour doing nothing. My dad was still going to work and I used to just laugh like ‘yeah I’m just sitting here getting paid for it you know’.

Q: Maybe that’s why your dad wanted to become the fifth member of the band!

Lee: Yeah but then they realised that the band’s an every day thing- that even when we’re not playing, the band is our lives. I think it’s hard for any parent really to understand that their son or their daughter is going to be in a band and tour the world. It’s just something you don’t expect!

Q: Better than working in an office then?

Lags: The problem with rock and roll is that there are so many vices connected to it - parents are bound to be scared that you’re gonna go on tour and come back a heroin addict or whatever. But they know us so well and they know that we’re not the kind of people to fall into any trap, whether it be drugs or alcohol or women.

Q: Okay that’s a good entry, what’s number two?

Lee: I’m gonna be really geeky and say my collection of Batman comics, they are a favourite thing of mine because I’ve spent about the past 6 months to a year building up my collection so I now pretty much own them all. I’ve got a batman tattoo so, it’s just a personal thing to me!

Lags: Definitely my music collection. I remember when I was buying CD’s growing up my mum would go spare that I’d be spending all my pocket money just buying music. Even today I’m not the kind of guy who would download something, I have to have the physical format.

Lee: My season ticket to Tottenham is probably one of my favourite things. I’ve had it for about 10 years now. Football is my main passion other than the band.

Also, I think our laptops should probably be in there somewhere..

Lags: Yeah everyone has got to have an laptop, I don’t think I could survive without it, if you’ve got it on tour its just the ultimate tour accessory; you’ve got movies, music, you can record guitar riffs, you know it can do everything, you just compile all the things in your life into it. If it could cook for me, it’d be amazing. If I could just press a button and sushi rolls started coming out!

CTRL Interview with Invasion

Q: Can you start by describing the music?

Yeah I guess we’re drunk metal. Or wizard metal. Drunk wizard metal! We’re like early Sabbath meets early Metallica. With short songs and a soul singer, which gives it a different, retro vibe really.

Q: What is your singer’s background? She sounds like she’s got a soul sound to her voice.

Yeah she’s from a singing family. Her aunt is PP Arnold - a famous Motown artist that dated Jimi Hendrix and had a couple of hits you would recognise. She was born in America and both of her parents are singers, so Motown, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner that’s where she comes from

Q: Tell me a little about the album.

We did it last year – but it takes a while for these things to come out. It was really fun and super retro and analogue - the whole thing didn’t touch a computer at any point. We recorded it in 4 days then mixed it in a day and a half.

Q: Did you work with someone from Simian Mobile Disco?

Yes, he produced it and mixed it. James Shaw. I never really understood what a producer did until he came and helped us. He listened to our songs and gave us some tips on structures. He got us organised and ready to record and then was the calm hand guiding us through the recording.

He was really excited about using things in the studio like the analogue flange effects – effects you can only do in one or two studios. Its got the raw out of control feel he wanted to keep.

Q: You mentioned a trend towards over produced metal. Are there bands you feel more aligned with?

Electric Wizard are a UK band but they are just getting their credit now, getting more popular by the month.

In all honesty at the moment I’m more excited about bands coming out of the States they really know what they are doing. I don’t know why we are so far behind here. Bands like Saviours, The Sword and Blood Ceremony.

Q: You know how the Topman CTRL works. Gallows chose the line up for the gig you’re playing at in Birmingham. Are you a fan of Gallows? Did you know they liked you?

I’m surprised and honoured that they picked us. Our drummer is massively into Gallows – she is excited about their rise and went to a lot of their early gigs and turned me onto them. I really like them – I think they are an amazing live band. They really know what they are doing and have an amazing raw feel.

We couldn’t compete with their performances live, but we try to put on a heavy show with lots of intensity. There are broad similarities between us, despite the genre difference.

Q: Metal has always been the thing for you?

Yeah I started when I was very young, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were the bands I got into at 14. Then I got into Metallica, and then I got into extreme metal like Morbid Angel, Electric Wizard and Sleep. I’ve never grown out of it. Its quite a few years later now and I’m still excited about those bands. That’s what I grew up on and that’s what excites me still.

Q: Who would be your dream to support?

The Sword are the perfect band – incredible riff followed by incredible riff for 45 minutes. Everything about them is perfect really. A full tour with them would be incredible. Or if Metallica wanted to headline it then that’d be fine!

Q: I see you’re playing at Pure Groove. That’s right next to our offices.

Oh yeah, pop down.

Q: That’ll be interesting, its tiny in there. I don’t know if they’ll be able to handle hard rocking in there.

We’ll see. I’ll probably need to have the amp on 1. My one gimmick which shouldn’t be affected is I tend to throw my guitar into the crowd at the end. I don’t like encores, so it’s a rock n roll finale.

Q: I think I read somewhere about a perspex guitar – could that be right?

Yeah I did have one but it’s the worst guitar ever. I need to get a good guitar, I use Squires but if I break a string I’ve got this Perspex one that’s like £100.

Q: But it looks the part!

I guess so yeah.

Q: So we’re going to have to ask you a bit about Sabbath. It sounds like they are THE band. Did they start it all off for you? Gallows, when we interviewed them, said that they were the ones that started heavy metal all off.

There were heavy bands around before them, like Led Zeppelin. But the track ‘Black Sabbath’ on the album Black Sabbath is still just the most amazing track ever. The pacing of it…the dynamics. Their first album is the template for heavy metal. The four of them did everything. Every riff. Every idea. They invented the universe.

Q: Explain about the fantasy side of Invasion. Visually it is there in the artwork, and how you dress on stage. What are the influences behind that? Is it an abstract notion of fantasy, or something else?

For me it’s a genuine passion of mine that is intrinsically linked to the best metal out there. At the risk of repeating myself, there’s a track on the first Sabbath album called The Wizard, which is about the band. Led Zeppelin had a song about Lord Of The Rings. When rock and metal was kicking off in the 70s, most of the bands had a fantastical identity. That is metal to me. Even Metallica had it in their lyrics. It’s a fantastic connection, genuine escapism, and heavy music - it just seems to fit incredibly well.

I used to run the Dungeons and Dragons society at university, and I just have a genuine, unapologetic, un-ironic love of fantasy, literature and role playing.

Q: You’ve been explicit in saying it is not an ironic thing. And that’s obviously important. Do you see trendy people wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts and worry that people may see it as ironic?

Not at all. I want as many people to listen to what I consider to be decent metal – I’m not saying that we necessarily are. I also think a key thing is heavy metal should be fun as well. I’m not saying it should be slight or insignificant. But it should be good times.

That’s the eternal fine line in heavy metal. The line between Spinal Tap and credible.

That’s true. Ultimately the music should be about good times, driving round in a car with the top down 80 mph, head banging.

Q: Can you tell us a special album that has influenced your music career?

Probably Sleep totally mountain. I was about 15. I saw two reviews, one giving it five stars and saying it was amazing and ground breaking. The other gave it one star and was saying it was the biggest stoner, waster, piece of dirge record ever. I thought ‘Oh my god, I need to get this record’. I’m wearing the T-shirt now!

Q: On a slightly more frivolous note, can you name some of your favourite things?


Q: Any specific kind of wizard?

I’d say Tolkien nailed the modern representation of wizards perfectly.

Q: So you’re not a Harry Potter man?

Not particularly. Every wizard since then has taken elements of the form Tolkien solidified. His wizards are.. pipe-weed, immortal, grumpy, all-powerful but benevolent…with great beards. It’s a good look – as I find at festivals!

Q: So plans have all been about the album. What’s going on now? You’re going to tour?

Yes, a quick UK and Ireland tour. We’re going to record a new EP to come out early next year – which will be really heavy and slightly more dynamic. Then we’re going to tour Europe next March.

Q: Have you got any favourite places to play in Europe?

We played Paris, which was amazing. And we’ve done Germany before. Basically anywhere in Europe is great, they really look after the bands - and they appreciate heavy music. We seem to have a lot of fans over in Germany. They like stoner rock, but they appreciate that we are doing something slightly different.

Q: Anything that we haven’t covered that you want us to mention?

Just to say that we are really honoured that Gallows have chosen us and it means a hell of a lot to us.

Q: Its shaping up to be a really good gig. The local band Soni Quella are excited and it’s a great venue, The Flapper. A classic rock venue in Birmingham – the home of rock!

I can’t believe our luck at the moment. Every day is incredibly exciting. Having played the same stuff for so long I’m definitely allowing myself to enjoy every moment of it.

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