The Ringmaster Review ever since being seduced by The Gaa Gaas debut single Voltaire has eagerly and persistently tried to convert all and sundry to their psyche punk/post punk beauty through word, voice and with the kind help of The Reputation Radio Show. Neglectfully we have not actually got the band to sit down for an interview so we remedied that by grabbing the time of singer/guitarist Gavin Tate from the band to catch up on all things The Gaa Gaas as well as taking a look back on their early days.
Hello and welcome to The Ringmaster Review
Please introduce the members of the band.
Hoorah! We’re the artists formerly known as Gavin, Chris and Mark.
How did The Gaa Gaas begin?
It all started in my Mum’s garage, got some amps and a drum kit in there and put loads of posters over the walls and ceiling (a couple of nude lady ones as well, I’m not going to lie much). We began just jamming as an instrumental trio and then soon found a poor excuse of a P.A system for the vocals and that’s when the Police started showing up every night!
What inspired the band name?
We were a bit off the rails in our younger days, so when deciding on naming the group, The Gaa Gaas seemed like the ideal title and it still has relevance even now.
Was and is there a vibrant music scene over in Jersey?
Yes but it’s long gone now, an amazing garage punk night called BOMP kicked off around 2002 held at the best venue in Jersey which was called The Q Bar now The Live Lounge. It was a 7 night a week place and BOMP was on Thursday nights; they would bring some really good bands over and have local support. There were a few other great nights there as well, an indie night called Moroccan’roll and some great Drum&Bass/Motown/Reggae nights.
There seems to be a more frequent emergence of strong and very diverse rock bands from Jersey in recent years, besides yourselves we have come across Top Buzzer and Hold Your Fire to name a couple. Is there less distractions to take youngsters away from music there than elsewhere in the UK for example do you think?
I think most towns with not a lot produce the best bands and I’ll be honest in saying Jersey didn’t offer a lot to musicians aged 17 – 25 apart from a long fight to play your own material in clubs, most club owners always wanted bands to play covers which was rubbish if you wanted to play your own songs to people. In a way it made us want to escape!
You moved away from the island, relocating to Brighton. Was this a necessity for you and is for all bands really hoping to make progress?
You can’t do anything more than play the big local festivals in the island. You’ll get promises but they never happen. The only way you can do it properly is to move somewhere else, not just the UK. I know bands from Jersey who have started up in Europe and are doing really well; it just takes a lot of ammunition and a few massive guns!
As distinct as your sound is anyone who hears it can name some of the influences, for the record though what are the major influences musically which have shaped or flavoured your creativity?
There are so many. I’d say The Fall has really shaped us, I love every era and they’re still producing great records to this day!
Many I have introduced your music to fail to notice the ‘Almost Red’ era Killing Joke sounds whereas it seems obvious to me, is it them or me? Haha
We’re always getting compared to either Killing Joke or Bauhaus and when I told my Dad about it he said (in a scouse accent) “Think of it as a massive compliment Son” so I think you might be right on that one! 😉
There seems a definite revisiting back to the post punk era with bands recalling inspirations from the likes of Joy Division, Wire, Pil, Gang of Four etc, do you think you may have instigated that a little yourselves?
I hope so. I was gutted when groups such as Twisted Charm and Neils Children split up ‘cos there were lots of bands just trying to sound exactly like Gang of Four because it was in at the time, though I thought both those acts were really on to something and had produced a great sound that was their own by experimenting with those type of influences. There are some other really good bands instigating it at the moment like… Wild Palms, O.Children and Disconcerts.
We’ve never really felt part of any movement. We originally started because of bands like The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and the whole garage revival so if we’re part of anything I think it would have to be that. It’s been slow for us being from Jersey and having to relocate but I’m happy with everything we’ve done so far and the debut album is going to be a reward to everyone who has helped us along the way!
Your debut single Voltaire was unleashed in 2010 on The Playground Records, how was that initially received?
People couldn’t believe the transformation of the band. We were always trying to look like a band and always ranting about being in a band but after the single was released we actually had it written in stone. There were 8/10 reviews, some reviewers hated my voice and some loved it but I think the statement was made and I always wanted the first release to make a strong impact!
The single was produced by James Aparicio (Nick Cave, Mogwai) and mastered by Robert Harder (Brian Eno, The Slits) , how did those link ups come about?
We were put in touch with James Aparicio through our former record label and when we signed to The Playground team we were introduced to Robert who we plan to continue working with, the man is a genius!
I mentioned Voltaire as your debut but there was the Repulsion Seminar EP before that. Tell us about that and are the tracks are still available in some form?
The only hard copy releases we have are the Voltaire 7″ vinyl that we had to get pressed up ourselves as we were messed about by the label. There were 200 copies of each of the EP’s but they sold out pretty fast!
You took a long time to release anything officially was this down to the band striving for the exact sound you wanted or merely lack of opportunity and finance?
I think a lot of it was to do with relocating. Brighton isn’t the easiest place to get known. When we first arrived there you couldn’t get a gig, demos would be put to the bottom of the pile and we were looking at a 3 month wait just to play The Prince Albert but soon we managed to gig quite vastly and the name was getting more popular in London, it was a case of waiting for the press to take notice and then soon label interest started. We didn’t have the funding to be D.I.Y; I was stealing food every day to exist and putting my equipment in Cash Generator to fund touring. I don’t regret any of it though we’ve had some amazing times!
You have also had tracks featured on various compilations, with a new one out right now I believe?
Our first ever release was a psyche-garage cover of Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi” released by Filthy Little Angels Records. It was for a compilation titled ‘1978’ with lots of bands covering songs from that year. Our cover got the best reviews and is a signature to our early sound. The Peter Out Wave compilation CD was released last week on Swedish label Peter Out Records, a 17 track album by bands from all over the world. They asked us if they could include Hypnoti(z)ed (Alt Version) on the album and we gave them the nod!
How does the song writing work within the band?
It’s made up of jams mostly. We got heavily in to The Stranglers ‘The Raven’ album and loved the improvisation they had so we started working on songs with the same analogy and it’s really worked out. I think bands that just go in to a room with a song wrote 2 hours before at home are really missing out on the musicianship that can be worked. Listen to (The Stranglers) and throw your Arctic Monkeys albums in the bin.
Drop Dead Festival was an amazing experience. Great bands and great ideologies! We’re due to play Fave Rave in Berlin again, that was one of my favorite European ventures, such a great city!
Do you get a distinct audience for your hypnotic and intrusive sounds or is it generally varied at shows?
A lot of the people that come to our shows are dark wave kids. They like the darker element of our sound and the groove that goes with it but we’re trying to mix it up a bit. The album is going to have a dance feel to it! The dance element in bands needs to come back and we’re hoping to revive that!
What have you lined up for the rest of the year gig and festival wise?
We’re relocating to London and starting to write and record the album in full, having a bit of time off over the summer but will begin playing shows again in August starting with a festival appearance at Vale Earth Fair in Guernsey with bands such as Roots Manuva and then we’re due to play some come back shows for a certain band later on in the year. We’ll announce a 12 date UK tour at some point as well, really looking forward to getting back out there!
Is performing live the most rewarding aspect of the band for you?
It’s definitely the most fun part of being in the band but I’d say the most rewarding aspect is when we have written a track, recorded it and hear the response from the fans. It’s all about the fans, they’re what keeps us doing it as well as our own passion to write, record and play. If they don’t like it then we give them a massive slap! 😉
Going back to compilations, I think you will correct me I am sure, it seems that your songs have been on more compilations than your own releases. Is that right and was it planned or just how things worked out?
Yeah I’d say that is true but I think it’s a good thing, I don’t know many other bands who get asked to be on a 2000 pressed compilation CD released in Europe without an album out. We’ve been quite lucky in that respect, completely fluked it!
What is next song wise in regard to releasing something?
Our next single is called ‘(SYS)’ and it sounds like the second chapter of Voltaire which is what we were striving for. It’s a faster pace and it’s a bit Twisty, people are gonna think of bands like Joy Division on this next release. The B-side will be Statues, a song we made available as a free demo download but has recently been mastered by Robert Harder who has made it sound FAT.
Any chance of an album or multi track EP sometime soon?
We may release another EP but we’re concentrating more on writing the full album, we want to get it out there next year for our 10 year anniversary, god we sound old!
Have you any words for you’re the readers?
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And finally tell us the song or tracks which made the deepest impact on you as people leading to the choice of music as your life.
Gavin: The Count Five – Psychotic Reaction
Chris: Black Flag – TV Party
Mark: Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
Listen out for an upcoming special Bone Orchard show from The Reputation Radio Show featuring the new remastered by Robert Harder version of Statues.
The Ringmaster Review 22/06/2012