Last summer saw Watford punks Gallows shock the music world by announcing the departure of vocalist Frank Carter, who’d helped spearhead the quintet’s rise from UK underground to international success.
But a change is as good as a rest, as they say, and in December 2011 the boys burst back with a new EP, Death Is Birth, and a new frontman – Wade MacNeil, former guitarist with Canadian post-hardcore crew Alexisonfire.
Their third, self-titled album was released this month and with UK and North American tours looming, Gallows – dubbed “The best British punk band since The Clash” – are on the rise one again.
Richard Holmes caught up with bassist Stuart Gili-Ross to chat about the new release, their forthcoming tour and life after Frank…
rushonrock: How does the new album stand up to the band’s previous work?
Stuart Gili-Ross: I think it’s better than everything we have ever done before really, we are all much happier with it. We feel like this one captures the sound that we have always wanted to lay down on record the most successfully, which is why it’s self-titled.
rushonrock: With Frank leaving and Wade coming in, does it feel like ‘Gallows Mark 2’, or simply an evolution of the band?
SG: It’s an evolution – it feels like a real band for a change. It’s great having Wade in, he makes everyone work a lot harder. It’s definitely cool when you are writing songs and you have a singer who is actively involved in the way songs are written and put together. We are having lots of fun.
rushonrock: How long did it take Wade to bed-in, in terms of the song writing process?
SG: As soon as he joined the band we hit the ground running. It’s been a year since he has been in the band and in that time we’ve recorded an EP and an album. That’s the quickest and the most prolific we’ve ever been in terms of writing and getting stuff released. Wade came in as a fan of the band, he knew what our sound was, he knew the guys anyway and he’s a very creative dude. I think it’s quite easy for him to get into his creative stride.
rushonrock: Wade is a very charismatic, energetic frontman – how does it feel to share a stage with him?
SG: In terms of the live show it’s great, but it’s not really that different to how things have been before – if you have seen Gallows, you know what to expect and that is the kind of show that you still get. But Wade is really professional in the way he holds it down, he’s an amazing singer live. He’s just awesome, he’s the consummate professional and it feels good!
rushonrock: Death Is Birth and the new album have an even more ferocious, aggressive sound than your earlier work – is that something you’ve wanted to get across for a while?
SG: We’ve always enjoyed stuff that sounds raw and nasty and we wanted to capture how we sound live on record. That’s why we recorded this new album in Watford with our friends (Spycatcher’s Thomas Mitchener and Steve Sears) who’ve seen us live loads of times and know exactly what that live sound is all about. We didn’t over-polish it, we didn’t spend loads of money on it in a ridiculously expensive studio, we didn’t get in a 33 piece orchestra on this album… it’s just pretty straight up and gritty.
rushonrock: Are there any new musical influences that rear their heads on Gallows?
SG: There are the same influences we’ve always had, like a lot of Scandinavian hardcore bands, but we’ve also been listening to a lot of older British stuff like The Cockney Rejects – there’s a little bit of an oi! influence in there.
rushonrock: Do you have a favourite song on the new release?
SG: My favourite song on it is Austere, I love that one, it’s just got the best riff. I’m looking forward to playing that one live as we’ve not played it live yet. I’m also looking forward to playing the two singles we’ve put out, Last June and Outsider Art – I think they’ll kick off!
rushonrock: The album has been released on your own label, Venn Records, in the UK and Europe – how have you found that experience?
SG: It feels good to be able to do what we want – that’s the bottom line really. It’s in partnership with (PIAS) Recordings, who give us a lot of support with distribution and stuff. At the end of the day you don’t really need a label for much these days so it’s better to cut the crap and do what we want.
rushonrock: You’re touring the UK in October on the back of the new material. What kind of set can fans expect?
SG: We’re aware that people want to hear songs from previous records as well as the new stuff. By the time the tour comes around we’ll probably be playing about five brand new songs.
rushonrock: You’re heading to the US and Canada later this year too – do you think Wade’s presence will help broaden your fanbase in North America?
SG: I think it will make a huge difference. It’s hard for us over here in England to understand what Alexisonfire were in Canada – they were a big deal, they had several platinum selling records. When Alexisonfire were doing their reunion shows and when Wade joined Gallows, that was mainstream news to them – it was in all the papers and on TV. That’s something totally alien to us, to try to comprehend that. I think it will have a massive impact on our shows and the kind of people who pick up a Gallows record in Canada for sure.