Gay Against You Interview (Part 1 of 2)
Glasgow's Gay Against You is (I hope) the best and most important of the Hardcore/Happy Hardcore bands from the UK. The duo certainly stands for the most in terms of developing scenes on the other side of the pond, and -- in my humble opinion -- has the most artistic and creative potential behind their work. That's to say, I guess, that they don't ever end up bugging me as so many energetic/hyper hardcore groups do.
Just the way in which they responded to all of my questions in this interview reflects their style and sound ... read on for their story before they explode!
(1) Hey guys ... thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me! I definitely feel like you've a unique and creative style, so I'm glad to be able to do this interview with you before you're completely booked.
JOE: We like doing interviews over email because you can't tell we are lying because you can't tell that we look to the side or scratch or cough whenever you ask us a question.
LACH: Also we can rework our answers and are not just blurting out the first thing we think of, so it makes us seem cooler.
(2) I guess my first questions will be the simplest. I'm curious to know ... where you got the name, Gay Against You. It's bizarre, and I cannot figure out any reference, so please, explain it to us!
JOE: I love that people have come up with all kinds of apocrypha and theories as to our name - it's really great that everyone has their own take on its connotations etc. - we don't want to tell anyone they are wrong, it's completely open to interpretation! The name was a mishearing of something my girlfriend Emma said, possibly the name of a special tea. People so far have described the name as: a challenge to homophobia, a piss take of another semi-well known band name, an attempt at a silly acronym, a sort of "fuck you" to everyone else (I like that one!) and many more. Keep them coming please!
LACH: We don’t even really remember how it happened...it’s a funny name because I have always thought that the best band names are the ones that sound offensive but actually don’t mean anything and this one fits the bill almost perfectly!
(3) People have described your music with a wide array of descriptors. You're generally "unpredictable," but definitely edging on hardcore and noise, always resulting in a "big, happy mess." Additionally, there's been mention of parallels between your sound and others like Atari Teenage Riot, Les Savy Fav, and DEVO. So how would you describe your music and what would you say you're shooting for sonically with the band?
LACH: Hmmmm, it’s kind of difficult, our records are, I think, very poppy but our live performance is totally shambolic and all over the place. I like that people might see us live and be surprised by our records and vice versa. I always hate going to gigs and watching people just get up and play their songs like they would rather be anywhere else and expect me to care.
JOE: I think a lot of people get the idea from our live shows that we are untrained and untalented musicians, yet I would hope the same people would at least be able to appreciate (if not necessarily like...) the musicality of our composed work. The other criticism we seem to get regularly is that our songs have no structure. Again, this isn't true; it's just that the structure we use generally dispenses with the constant repetition involved in most pop music. We see it as sort of “condensed pop” - like all the good bits you'd expect, except all happening only once, rather than ad infinitum. This is also why our songs are so short I guess. We shoot for making records that we would enjoy and we hope others would enjoy.
(4) Since I'm not from/living in the U.K., it's always hard for me to get a realistic idea of the music community over there. I do, however, get the impression that a lot of stuff happens in clusters, phases. There are a bunch of bands that jump on some stylistic bandwagon, and then hype and such builds from there. Would you say this applies to you (if it's true at all)?
LACH: Yeah! that's true to some extent but I think that its mainly to do with the way the commercial industry over here watches for scenes that reach critical mass of popularity, then sign all the bands involved and package it as the new thing, i.e. new rave. So it kind of looks like there are lots of bands hopping on a wagon but really they probably all were doing their own separate thing at the same time. Around here the music scene is pretty incestuous with lots of bands swapping members and mostly being friends, so it is hardly surprising that they all sound similar.
Joe: I think Lachlann is right, the NME etc. have this terrible addiction to claiming they invented every new trendy type of music and to refute their claims, they cobble together a load of stuff which is in someway linked (generally image wise actually, rather than musically!!!) and then called it whatever they have come up with. I think in reality things are much more fragmented. I think we jumped on the bandwagon of "we haven't been in a band for a long time, let's form our own one, since we live together already and see what happens." When you have that as an agenda, there's not really much that can go wrong!
(5) Tell me a little bit about ADAADAT Records, the label that released your record, Muscle Milk ... what sort of relationship do you have with the label, and how did you get connected with it?
JOE: I set up a show in Glasgow for Adaadat at the end of 2004. Me and some friends used to run an overambitious and rarely successful club night and the Adaadat showcase was one of the few events we actually managed to pull off. It turned out the two guys behind the label, Bjorn Hatleskog and Angus Keith are both Scottish also. After playing that night, we became firm
friends and we've done a bunch of stuff together since. I released an album under the name “Germlin” with them also and Lach has contributed tracks as "Yoko, oh no!" all the artists involved with Adaadat are pretty great! Hello to Edmund OMMM, Dan 100,000,000, Alex Silverlink, Topgear in Singapore and Ove-chan in Osaka!
LACH: Angus is naming his first born child after me! Bjorn defends himself with loafs of bread.