“Alcatraz” By Sound Of Guns
Sound Of Guns are
Andy Metcalfe – Vocals –Lee Glynn – Guitar-Nathan Crowley – Guitar
John Coley – Bass –Si Finley – Drums
You’d think being from Liverpool originally, I’d be forever extolling the virtues of the cities most famous musical sons, explaining why they are the greatest band in pop history, forever droning on about how innovative they were and eulogizing about how they “broke the mould”. Problem is I don’t really like The Beatles. It may come as a shock to many, but, not everybody from the city conforms to the stereotype and worships at the altar of Lennon and McCartney (although I admit, some stereotypes are true and perms are never far from our consciousness.) Of course such a statement is regarded by many within the city as heresy, but the truth is, many years ago I had arrived at a point whereby the only way I could envision feeling the inclination to play a Beatles album in its entirety would be if the warm barrel of a “revolver” was pressed against my temple. I had reached saturation point, my patience eroded by incessant Beatles-inspired nostalgia, and both the band and their slightly self-satisfied fans became inexorably linked in my mind with all that has been wrong with the Liverpool scene ever since. Shocking eh? But let’s face it, the “best band in the world” tag seemed a rather obtuse assessment to somebody who’d been brought up listening to the glorious splendour that was “Pyschocandy“.
My aversion to all things mop-top peaked, when I started to suffer from vivid, recurring nightmares in which “The Fab Four” made regular, if rather unwelcome appearances. One in particular harrowed me to the very core of my being and went something like this; ….. I am descending into the ninth circle of Hell, I note my guide, Virgil has surreptiously secreted cotton wool into his ears, this I fear, is not a good sign, and then…. I see…the abomination… for waiting below is Lucifer himself. The atmosphere is polluted with a tangible evil and fills me with the sort of desolation I had only experienced once before whilst inadvertently tuning into GMTV . The pestilent one observes me coldly, malicious glee flickering in the foul dead lights of his pitiless eyes. “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” he snarls, as he slowly and deliberately extracts a small golden harmonica from a bag bearing the logo “The Cavern Experience”. He carefully presses the instrument to his putrid, rancid lips, and winks slyly before embarking on a totally uncalled for sonic assault on my ears in the form of a particularly jaunty rendition of “Love Me Do” … Arrrgh !
I’m over it now of course, but as a one time punk The Beatles hardly resonated, they seemed irrelevant and decidedly “safe”, the sort of music my Uncle Colin would describe as “proper music” whilst performing a funny little dance. Only now I can appreciate that they did actually change the face of music, and probably wrote some decent songs in the process, although I’d still take The Jesus and Mary Chain over them any day of the week ( 8 days a week in fact). There’s no denying The Beatles phenomenal success put Liverpool on the musical map, which was great, but for every up there is a down. It could be argued that The Beatles legacy also meant that (aside from the bands that emerged from the “Eric’s” scene , The Bunnymen, Wah Heat, Teardrop Explodes, etc ) far too many seemed intent on replicating the Merseybeat sound. The results were often tragic, unoriginal and spirit crushingly dull. As a consequence Liverpool seemed a city forever locked into it’s past, a prisoner of history. …Happily over the past few years, the times have been a-changing ….
Finally bands and artists are emerging from the City and its environs, who don’t want to follow the well trodden Merseybeat path. One of the most exciting to surface recently is Sound Of Guns, a band whose reputation has been based upon their electrifying live shows, infectious chorus’s and a singer who exudes an edgy charisma and expends more energy on stage than an entire Olympic sprint team on amphetamines. They are a band who clearly acknowledge and draw upon influences from the past but aren’t defined by them. Their music is an incendiary anthemic mix of swirling guitars and impassioned vocals which looks set propel them far beyond their Merseyside base. Sound Of Guns have also created a huge stir within the industry, with pasty faced A& R men flocking into Liverpool to see what all the fuss is about. They are set to embark on a nationwide tour, release a single as well as play Liverpool’s “Soundcity” festival (which has been another motivating factor in helping Liverpool became, musically at least, far more outward looking.) We had a chat with guitarist Nathan about how things have unfolded and what the future holds.
VP: How did the band meet up and how long have you been together?
NATHAN: It’s an incestuous music scene in Liverpool so we all kind of new each other anyway and the band came together really easily…except for Coley. Andy and Si placed an ad on a local music forum. I came down for a jam, I asked my mate Lee down and things just clicked, the chemistry was there straight away. We couldn’t find a bass player at first so we played a couple of gigs with bass parts recorded onto a Macbook. Coley, a good friend of mine, was just leaving a previous band and was in the crowd at our first Liverpool show. He said he was blown away and joined the next day. That was in July last year.
VP: What have you released so far, what’s the plan for 2009?
NATHAN : We released ‘Alcatraz’ in December last year as a download single through iTunes and pressed up some limited edition CD’s which sold out pretty quickly. The track made Radio 1, 6 Music, Myspace Radio, Radio 2, loads of local stations and the XFM evening playlist. We also had Virgin Radio in France and some other random European stations playing it. So far we have recorded and produced everything in our rehearsal room.
The plan for 2009 is to gig as much as possible, release more records and ride the wave of what comes from it! We just singed a deal with Distiller to release the next single, I think it’s going to be ‘Architects’ and it’ll be out before the summer. We’ve just done some NME Awards shows with Tricky, we’ve got a UK tour in March/April, some dates with Detroit Social Club and a big Liverpool gig with The Zutons at St Georges Hall in May. Were on the main stage at Lattitude Festival and will hopefully we’ll be getting on a few more festivals too. There’s lots of things in the pipeline we can’t tell anyone yet.
VP: Last year you played one of your biggest gigs @ Michael Eavis’ Village Party. What was that like and how did it come about?
NATHAN: I think it was only our 3rd or 4th proper gig. A few weeks earlier we played a gig in Pilton, and from that got asked to play at the village party. It a big annual event, Scouting For Girls were headlining so there were loads of screaming girls. It was our first big stage experience and a crowd of 1,200 in Glastonbury, it was a really good experience. We met some great people and a lot of things have happened for the band as a result.
VP: What sort of music would you say has influenced you as band?
NATHAN: We have different personal influences but when we get together we naturally share the same ideas about what our band’s sound is. And the sound is developing all the time. We like good songs, good musicianship and bands with substance and longevity. There’ll always be a fight for who’s Ipod is going on in the van so for an example I’ll want some classic rock, Coley will want The Who, Si some Foo Fighters, Andy some Doors and then Lee will put some Australian band nobody has ever heard of. Give it up Lee.
VP: Do you think the music scene on Merseyside tends to be a bit retrospective and inward looking? Is the Liverpool legacy a burden to young upcoming bands who don’t want to do endless covers of ” Penny Lane ” and “There She Goes”?
NATHAN: There is no denying that in many people’s opinions Liverpool + Music = The Beatles and I can only speak for our band, but we obviously don’t feel any pressure ‘cos we don’t sound like that. Over the years there probably should have been more bands with more ambitious sounds coming out of Liverpool but there is a pretty diverse scene in Liverpool now with Eugene McGuinnes, Ladytron, The Wombats and new bands emerging all the time. I think there will be a lot of good stuff coming out of Liverpool very soon.
VP: What would you say are the major problems facing a band in today’s music climate? Illegal downloads? Simon Cowell’s flatulent corporate karaoke pop? Labels playing it safe?
NATHAN : Well everyone wants it in the first 30 seconds and great bands of the past probably wouldn’t survive in the industry today, which doesn’t give much hope to the possibility of another Pink Floyd or Bob Dylan coming along anytime soon. With illegal downloading, ultimately as a band you want people to hear your songs so I would rather 1000 people downloaded it illegally than only 100 people paying for it. Then we can fleece them at the gigs!
VP: What where your highlights from 2008?
NATHAN : Well apart from forming the band, the response we have had from people all over, winning new fans, getting on radio and playing some brilliant gigs.
VP: Individually, pick one album that you’d say had the biggest effect on you growing up, and why?
SI – Nirvana – “Nevermind” – The first time I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I was blown away by the sheer brutality of the sound. It was so different than anything I had heard before. And of course their drummer was quite good.
NATHAN : – Oasis – “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” – The Gallagher brothers were so influential to me as a youngster, they are the reason I picked up a guitar.
ANDY– The Doors – “Morrison Hotel” – My uncle gave me it on a tape when I was 13. I got caught listening to ”Roadhouse Blues” in assembly in school on my walkman and the teacher confiscated it for two days, so I confiscated all the air from his car tyres.
LEE – Everclear “So Much For The Afterglow” – This was my foray into the darker side of lyricism and unashamedly raucous guitars. It is still, even after all these years, still on high rotation on my stereo. This album shaped me as a musician and taught me that the guitars have to bring out the best in a song, not just sit as a backing track.
COLEY- The Beatles “Abbey Road” – I’m not ashamed to say the Beatles are one of the greatest bands of all time just because its an obvious choice or because I’m a Scouser, but “Abbey Road” for me really had an influence on how music could be put together piece by piece, to make some sort of flowing musical journey.
VP: Any upcoming bands you’d like to see do well in 2009?
NATHAN : Sound Of Guns
VP: Five words to describe Sound Of Guns…….?
NATHAN : An Experience Of Epic Proportion