They burst onto the scene with the barnstorming rocker Better Days and won worldwide accalim for their cracking cover of Cameo’s Word Up – they are, of course, the mighty Gun.
But these days the Glaswegians have morphed into some kind of Brit Rock supergroup after adding Little Angels’ frontman Toby Jepson to their ranks.
Ahead of their Newcastle o2 Academy show this Thursday, rushonrock caught up with the charismatic singer…
rushonrock: How good does it feel to be back on the road with a great band?
Toby Jepson: It’s the first time I’ve played a lot of these places in 18 years and it feels great. It’s a brilliant opportunity to visit a of old haunts with memories from the Little Angels days. With Gun on this tour we’re right back to square one and I’m loving that.
rushonrock: Was there a rivalry between the Little Angels, Gun and the other British bands breaking into the big time 20 years ago?
TJ: There were a lot of great bands emerging from the British rock scene in the late 80s and early 90s but I don’t think we realized we were part of any scene back then and so we didn’t see ourselves as rivals. There were a lot of young guys influenced by the big US acts of the time and I was a case in point. As a kid I was brought up on a diet of the Beatles, Elton John and Queen but as a teenager it was all Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. We were all desperate to be those guys.
rushonrock: How do you explain why so many quality homegrown guitar bands made their mark?
TJ: It was probably the last era of the record industry being flushed with money – a lot of bands got signed at the same time and were developed as potential major acts at the same time. It was the last gasp of the music business as we knew it. There were big cheques, big advances and costly recording sessions and I don’t think we could see it ending. Now it’s strange when you see bands like Gun, Thunder and the Quireboys doing things themselves – we’ve entered what used to be called the indie scene but these days it’s the only place to be. The business has changed beyond recognition and people look back at the way it used to be through rose tinted glasses. These days there are those bands that are still standing and those that have ceased to exist but for the original Gun guys and myself we’ve never stopped working – we’ve just been doing different things.
rushonrock: So how did the singer from the Little Angels become the frontman with Gun?
TJ: It’s just a happy coincidence that I’ve found myself back in a band and back gigging across the country. I’ve found some common ground with the Gun guys and I suppose my career’s come full circle. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen Gun and Little Angels working together back in the day – I know people never saw that coming!
rushonrock: Were you a big Gun fan back in the day?
TJ: I never saw Gun play live but I do vividly remember the time we both put our debut albums out. I remember driving along Park Lane in the Little Angels’ van and Better Days came on the radio. I just couldn’t believe what a great record that was and right there and then I knew Gun had a big future. I was a fan and I knew of them but we never played together.
rushonrock: So after several years in the wilderness and then as a solo artist are you back for good with Gun?
TJ: Right now Gun is, absolutely, my focus. It was important for me as an artist and an individual to do the solo stuff. I’d had enough of the music business and when I came back I wanted to do things on my terms. I just didn’t fancy the idea of going out with anyone else. Supporting Thunder a few years back was a great way of kicking off that chapter in my career. It was a necessary part of my life’s journey. But for a while I had such an anti-music business hat on that I couldn’t see myself in the situation I’m in now.
rushonrock: Was the Gun gig fate?
TJ: To hook up with Gun really was one of those magic moments. I was invited to sing as a guest with them at a charity show but honestly never expected it to be more than a one-night thing. I had planned for one day, one night, a few drinks and some good craic. But we soon realised when we got together that it wasn’t just a case of dicking around – we really enjoyed working together and thought we should do some more.
rushonrock: But is this coming together really the start of something?
TJ: The reason why Gun will succeed in its current guise is that there was never any big plan in terms of where we were going or what we should be doing. There’s no record label pressure and the reason we’re doing this is because it feels great. So yes I’m sticking with Gun and sticking my neck out when I say we’ll survive. It just feels so good.
rushonrock: Fans of both the Little Angels and Gun are desperate to hear some new material. What’s the score there?
TJ: We never really knew when we would be able to record some new songs of how we would record some new songs. We all said that we don’t care how long it takes for that to happen – we just want something that we all feel positive about. We’ve all experienced the pressure of major labels telling us when we needed to write songs and how they should be written so we decided from day one that we’d be very relaxed about the issue of new music. But during the summer we started to feel really positive about five or six songs and earlier this month we went into Abbey Road and recorded and mastered them. The new EP is available to pre-order now but I think the Newcastle show will just come too soon for over-the-counter sales.
rushonrock: Talking of the Toon, how excited are you to be back in the North East?
TJ: I love playing Newcastle. When the Little Angels started out the North East was a big area for us and we played Newcastle all the time – the Riverside, the Mayfair, the universities and then, when we got a bit bigger, the City Hall. There’s not a venue in the city I don’t know!