|Toby Jepson and Jools Gizzi - Gun|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Monday, 21 December 2009 19:23|
Gun are a band I've always had a lot of time for, I've been a huge fan of all of their albums (yeah, even the phone number one) and seen them live well over twenty times. So when Gaz and I were given the chance to interview the band recently at Hard Rock Hell 3, I was in interview paradise.
So true to Über Röck tradition we arrived at the Hard Rock Hell Media Centre armed with reams of questions for our intended targets, who today were Toby Jepson (TJ) and Jools Gizzi (JG) only to find the whole interview schedule programme running very late.
Thanks to everyone involved we soon got our slot underway albeit perilously close to the band's on stage time. So with one eye on our promotional 'Gallus' Alarm Clock we were straight in and Toby was the first to feel the pressure of the Uber question time spotlight.
Last show of the tour tonight guys, how's it all been going for you since the release of 'Popkiller'?
TJ - Right.....umm Lost for words
JG - Umm indeed,,, Tiring, the shows have been great, but tiring, we're twenty years older but with the travelling and hanging about etc was sort of a ...you know, but when we're on stage and the punters are out there and the you get the old songs being played again, and for me the new songs going down well with those guys out front is more convincing for me of why we are doing this.
Well it's been a hell of a tour; you've played something like twenty dates since you started the UK tour in November, but it all stated back in Spain right?
TJ - Well we started in earnest when we played a festival in Asturias Spain way back in July, then after that we had a few weeks off to do some writing and various things then we kicked off with some gigs in Paris then we did a Spanish Tour and onto Portugal and then Northern Ireland, and its all been great. That's' the interesting thing about this period though with classic rock being back people are loving it and people are realising that they can listen to what they want when they want and you're no longer press ganged into listening to Radio One anymore, and I think that's caused a fantastic explosion of interest in bands like Gun, or any bands really coz it allows you to just go out and play. We put the word out, or rather the agent put the word out and the promoters all come out of the woodwork. We didn't actually intend to do as many shows as this, this year, we thought we'd just test the water.
But what a hell of test guys, bands tend to do about three or four shows these days, you've gone out and straight off doing what we at Uber Rock like to call a proper UK tour taking in all the countries this great isle has to offer.
TJ- The thing is, we felt that it was important for the band with me being the new singer and having new music that we got into the corners, you know, and even if it wasn't a great turnout (which I'm happy to say wasn't the case) we wanted to let the fans know we were willing to work hard, and even now we have dates coming in for March now of places that we couldn't get to on this leg of the 'Popkiller' tour, and its just like Joolz said it's the recovery time we now need after doing this because we are twenty years older.
So to 'Popkiller' the EP; how do you guys fell it's turned out? Having only briefly heard snippets before this interview I have to say I think it sounds like a truly reenergized band.
TJ - Oh that's great man.
JG - Absolutely, from our past and from Toby's past, we could take the easy option and play anything that sounded like back then, but we wanted to try and find something that was about what's happening around a bout us right now you know, and just take wee bits of influences from here and there and add it to our sound. Someone said to me the other day that we now sound like a cross between The Killers, The Sex Pistols and The Buggles, (everyone breaks down laughing at this point) and I quite like that actually you know.
For me as an old school fan of Gun, the tracks on 'Popkiller' I've heard more than a few times like 'Seraphina' and 'Let Your Hair Down' sound like a natural progression for you guys.
JG - Yeah, Yeah (agreeing very strongly at this point).
TJ - Well that's music to our ears.
Yeah and to hear Toby being Toby rather than trying to be Mark is also something of a plus for me, as he's making those old songs something of his own now and making it sound more now, you know?
TJ - Well that is a complement, thank you.
JG - Well that's the thing Toby's had to sort of look at tracks like Shame (on you) and the low vocal and Tobe's stamps on now you know, and obviously he does a fantastic job on what's doing. He sings the songs doing it his way and with the new songs that's where Toby really comes to the front and that makes it all the more better you know.
So what was the catalyst that saw Toby join up with you guys in Gun? Was it that one off Rock Radio Birthday show in Glasgow that just went so well?
TJ - Yeah that's right, well, its just I'm really glad it happened that way because it wasn't like a couple of managers coming together and deciding with would be some sort of great 'opportunity' you know. So for me to sing with the guys there was no business discussed at all it was just I was doing an acoustic performance for the Rock Radio first birthday show, Tom (at Rock Radio) called me and my agent up and mentioned the guys were thinking of doing some tunes and would I get up and sing and I'm thinking "well I love the band why not you know", so lets try two or three tunes.
Well on the day we got bumped up to headliners because Alex Harvey's band for one reason or another had to pull out, so we ended up doing a headlining slot in front of a thousand people and I'm singing for one of the most renowned Scottish rock bands for twenty years. We got an amazing reaction and we only had one day rehearsal, and I often think the baptism by fire is often of making these things work, because you either know straight away if it's going work or if it's not going to work so. Um
Yeah and with a pretty neutral crowd as your judges as well...(Laughing)
TJ- Yeah and we had a couple a pints of 'heavy' afterwards, see I'm learning the dialect as well.
And those Glasgow crowds don't suffer fools gladly, so after one rehearsal you did well.
TJ - Well it was the vibe, as much as the band wasn't tight, we were all a bit rusty, EVERYBODY knew the songs. And that was the vibe it was just...phew, and there were a couple of moments where I felt like this feels as good as to me doing this as it ever did when I was in Little Angels doing big shows, and that is what I'm after. I mean I spent a few years being a solo artist and playing with Eddie (Clarke in Fastway) and doing various other things and it never really felt like it should do, but this did and I just thought "guys we should try this again sometime" and there was no pressure, or if we're going to do we'll do it our way.
OK, being as I said a bit of a Gun nerd, I'm looking forward to Seven O'clock, what's going to be in the set? Any surprises? I mean 'Coming Home' (B Side to 'Better Days') how about that one.
TJ - Everyone mentions that song, what is it about that song?
JG - (after quite a long pause) 'Coming Home' you know, people do always mention it and the reason for that is I think is it's a great song in fact a brilliant song. So by the time we had recorded the whole album ('Taking On The World') we started thinking, right we to start making some B Sides, and we were getting such a great response from our Record Company (A&M) who were saying this is a great record that it makes you feel better, you know, and we went in and wrote 'Coming Home; and it was as simple as that.
The last time I saw you play that song was at Wembley Stadium supporting the Rolling Stones so you couldn't have felt much better at that time eh?
JG - Is that right, yeah, so you know once we wrote it people started saying you should put it in your set its fucking great.
Apologies I've got you going off at a tangent here so back on track what is in the set, singles, new stuff?
JG - More or less as you said there's two new tracks 'Let Your Hair Down' and 'Seraphina' in the set and then it's the singles you know.
Joolz having seen your brother sat over in the corner (Dante Gizzi Bass) with your drummer Alan Thornton, what was it like watching him doing it fronting El Presidente whilst you weren't doing it.
JG- Firstly I have no idea what he's doing over there as he doesn't even like doing interviews, on the other thing to be honest when Gun had finished Dante had always had this thing about fronting his own band, and if he ever got the chance that's what he'd want to do you know. So the songs he wrote Sony/BMG picked up on it and signed them, but Dante and I we wrote all the songs you know.
And you were working very closely with them from what I heard.
JG - I was driving the van for them, road managing them and stuff, you know, it was good. It was good at the time and they fell into the Scissor Sisters market when that was about, and they achieved a fair enough amount of success you know.
So to you Toby, (and a question just added last minute by an Uber Rock colleague) and how the hell did you find yourself being an actor?
TJ - Me? (Shocked) well not acting more like glorified standing about, ummm well it was just one of those things. I took a hiatus out of the music after Little Angels split up and I just needed to get away from it all, because I'd done a solo record (The Whole Truth), which had bombed and for a whole number of reasons was not good. I'd made that record and was really really proud of it and it was very well supported by Sony and for a number of reasons it just didn't happen you know. I just thought "I need a break", so I got out of that and I was doing various things but I've always been a huge movie fan and always will be and just ended up working in 'Gladiator' but only as an extra, and then I ended up working as a stand in for Christopher Lambert on that last 'Highlander' movie, and then 'Band of Brothers' which was like a years work. It wasn't really acting as such, but you've seen my hands checking Handgrenades, its things like that.
Back on track then to the music, and you have already alluded to the touring in 2010, what is next for Gun? A full album maybe, what does 2010 hold in store for Gun fans?
TJ - Do you know what I don't really know if we'd be looking at it like that, I know we are going to write some more stuff; it may come out as a mini album. It maybe that we continue to make mini albums for ever, and we just keep putting them out to give us a reason to go out and play. It maybe we decide to make a full-blown record, I just don't know. We're thinking more about the her and now, we've got 'Popkiller' we're really proud of it and we want to go out and continue to promote that next year, we've also got a lot of festival things lined up. And loads of things lined up in that respect, so think its gonna be about playing, getting the new music out, because it takes a long time for it to drip feed down, without pluggers going to Radio One so I think this really is about playing lots of gigs, having a good time and hopefully discovering Gun again.
JG- And that's what its all about the energy we get from the fans.
So with the band about to hit the mainstage at Hard Rock Hell 3 we beat a hasty retreat to allow the guys to get ready for their show, and take up our places in front of the stage for their show stopping live set (which you can read the review of here).
You really couldn't ask to meet a nicer bunch of guys than Toby, Jools, Dante and Alan and true to their word they have already announced dates for March 2010 in support of the excellent 'Popkiller' EP.
These dates can be found here http://www.gunofficial.co.uk/.
2010 looks like its going to be a great year for GUN, now go out and get yourself a copy of 'Popkiller' and 'Let Your Hair Down'.