Gallows recent history has been a turbulent one. Following the departure of frontman Frank Carter, the band drafted in Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire - causing the collapse of the Canadian band.
Now begining the process of proving themselves to fans all over again, we caught up with the new Gallows line up to discuss their 'f**king agressive' new album, what working with MacNeil has brought to the band and hit back at some seriously fierce criticism...
Hi Gallows. So your last EP (‘Death Is Birth’) has been described as the most aggressive thing you’ve done. Did you feel the need to prove to fans that you weren’t going a bit soft?
Stu: We had a lot of steam to let off for that record. Wade had seen the breakdown of his band, we’d been going through all this s**t with our old singer, so we were in a space where we just wanted to make some f**king aggressive music and get it off our chests. That’s what music is for us – it’s a release, and it’s reflective of what we go through in our lives on a day to day basis. I’m sure if we’d all won the lottery one day and we were all living in luxury all the time then we probably would have made a f**king chilled out album. But that’s not where we were coming from.
Wade: Every record we put out and every show we play is one step further away from what it was in the past. When we did that first tour of the States, I think maybe some of those people came to the show to watch us fail. We didn’t. We had our backs against the wall at that time and we came out swinging.
How have fans of both bands [Alexisonfire, Gallows] reacted to the change?
Stu: Like Wade says, we haven’t played everywhere yet and people are very quick to open their mouths before they’ve even heard or seen the show. We’re not trying to prove anything because we know people are going to talk s**t anyway.
Wade: And I think the fans have always been there. They never went away, the shows never got bad. I think maybe there’s a bit of a perception which is like, people love to talk s**t, people love to complain, you know what I mean? Complaining is an English tradition. So the fact that Gallows got a Canadian to replace their succinctly very British frontman caused people to go up into an uproar but I honestly think if it went down any other way – and I’m not just saying this because I’m the guy – but I honestly think if Gallows had got an English singer the band would be broken up by now. There’s no point in recreating something you’ve already done, you’ve got to push forward. The best bands challenge themselves and change their music, change the way they play, and those are the bands that have a legacy and that remain interesting, you know?
Stu: I think it’s f**king stupid anyway, I don’t know why we always got tagged with the British thing. There are countless thousands of other British bands. It’s not like we were the only band made out of all British dudes that sounded British, and I don’t know why we weren’t allowed that freedom to get a singer from wherever the f**k in the world we wanted. The British tag has always been a construct of the press and the media, we never sold ourselves as being this British band, we just are. And that was it, you know? It wasn’t a part of our music – I mean, it was the accent that we sang in because it’s our natural accent. The only reason it stood out so much is because so many British bands sing in a fake American accent. They should be the ones that get ridiculed.
And how do you think the band has changed? Has Wade brought a fresh perspective?
Stu: In a way.
Lee: It’s way more disciplined now.
Stu: We’ve had more band practices since Wade joined the band than we had in our whole career before. It’s the first time we’ve created a record where every member of the band is in the room at the same time. It feels like a new band again – like, I really couldn’t give less of a s**t what people think because we love this record. But we had a lot of doors and opportunities open to us in the previous incarnation of the band that we never took advantage of, because not everyone wanted to do the band, if you know what I’m saying. We’ve hardly spent anywhere near as much time in Japan, Australia and North America as we want to. We had those opportunities before but because of the attitude of people in the band at the time, we didn’t do it. And I think now we’re willing to do that and to see the world again.
Listen: Gallows 'Last June'
How has the recording process been for the new record?
Wade: It was really good! Looking back at it, it doesn’t really make any sense but we’d go play this crazy show in Belgium or something like that, and then we’d come back the next day so excited with the energy from the show that we’d have some crazy day and write for fourteen hours. I think that energy really made its way onto the record and into the songs – I don’t think the record would’ve sounded the way it did if we hadn’t done it like that.
So what should we expect to hear from it?
Lee: Stu’s described it very well before as kind of like ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ older brother. It’s a bit leaner, meaner. We tried to incorporate a mixture of the two records so far and the aggression from the EP and I think it’s turned out to be just that, you know? They’re actually just eleven really good songs, there’s no filler on the record at all, and it sounds heavy as hell.
You’re releasing the new album through your own label. Do you think the DIY ethos is important as a punk band?
Stu: I can’t speak for any other band but for us, it’s important to be happy and just be able to do what we want, when we want to do it. DIY works for some bands and some bands it doesn’t, because they need to be told what to do, whereas we’ve been around a bit and Wade’s got s**tloads of experience from being in his previous bands as well. We’re not little kids, wet behind the ears anymore, you know? We had a very clear idea of how we wanted to make the record and we just went and did it.
You’ve had some bad press in the past, and one reviewer actually called you one of Britain’s ‘most hateful bands.’ What do you think it is about you that provokes such an extreme reaction?
Wade: What I like is that no one’s middle of the road about it – the band makes people react and I think all good music and all good art should. You know? So people either f**king hate it or they absolutely love it, and that makes me really happy. Like even if when people come see the band now and they’re f**king irate and think it’s ridiculous, I’d rather people walk away furious than walk away going ‘eh, it was okay.’
Stu: I think the comment about being one of the most ‘hateful’ bands is because we’ve always been quite honest and outspoken, so interviewers pick up on that. They’ll say, ‘oh, so what do you think of this current trend of such and such bands?’ knowing that we’re going to go, ‘this is dogs**t.’ I’ll say it again, 90% of the bands that seem to be doing alright right now are f**king s**t. And it’s just watered down, doesn’t provoke any kind of emotion – in me, anyway. They’re just out there selling t-shirts and a hairstyle. I think in the space of time between between our last record, ‘Grey Britain’, and this album, we’ve kind of gone away a bit and it’s allowed the s**t to float to the surface. This new album is just going to be a big almighty flush. We’re going to do what we always do where we just put good music at the top again and let people realise that these bands aren’t going out performing with passion every night.
Do you think now, with Twitter and Facebook and artists being more accessible, that this makes people more willing to, like you said, talk s**t and sort of say offensive things directly to bands?
Wade: It’s a free platform for people to be able to do it with no repercussions, right? So you can get some absolutely mental kid messaging me directly on Twitter and he knows I’m going to see it. But at the same time, you know, by and large I think it’s a great way to communicate with people that do care about your music. So it’s good and it’s bad.
Stu: Two sides of the same coin, really.
Wade: I mean, obviously some fourteen year old isn’t going to come up to Stu in a bar and be like, ‘new Gallows album f**king sucks!’ because Stu would bottle him. No one would ever say the things that they comment under our YouTube videos to us because we’re a bunch of nightmares.
Stu: You just have to take it because at the end of the day, you always open yourself up to criticism whenever you release a record. It used to be like that in the old days, it’s just that now when people have the conversation with their mates about how much they do or don’t love your record, they put it out there for the world to see. We just silence all those people by making a great record.
And indeed it is. Thank you very much, Gallows. The band's self titled new album is released 10 September, 2012.