On the eve of the release of their self-titled record, we sat down with Laurent 'Lags' Barnard, Stu Gili-Ross and Wade MacNeil (arriving after a brief chat with Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem) of Gallows ahead of their appearance at Leeds festival.
First of all, welcome back to Leeds. How does it feel to be back on site?
Lags: It feels great. I missed out on Leeds last year but you (to Stu) played with SpyCatcher...
Stu: Yeah, I've played six years in a row but, you know, Leeds has always been a home from home for Gallows. Festival aside, it's where a lot of our best club shows have ever been, we've got a lot of friends up here and the festival has always been one of the highlights of the year for us. So, yeah, taking that year off last year as a band we can't wait to go up there tonight, we might even drop one or two new songs. We're really looking forward to it.
Have you been on site all day?
Lags: We've literally just got here and came straight to press, the traffic on the way has been pretty intense and we were joking on the way up going like, "You know how we're always the last band to show up at festivals, we always show up last minute?" and, true to form, we did it again today.
Are you sticking around afterwards to make up for it?
Lags: Some of us are staying in Leeds tonight so we'll probably hang out...
Stu: We're not playing Reading until Sunday so we've got all day to hang out and see who's playing after us.
Looking at the line-up, is there anyone in particular you'd like to catch if you get the chance?
Stu: I want to go see Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, they're playing a bit, well, straight after us. The fact that Mike (bassist, of NOFX fame) is an old friend and I haven't seen that guy in a while so I'm looking forward to them.
Lags: I might watch... you know I've seen all these bands so many times already, it's crazy. I might go and see Justice again, they're good. Definitely a good party atmosphere.
You mentioned you might be dropping one or two new songs and the record is out in a couple of weeks. How are you feeling about that now?
Lags: Really happy. It's been really well received with press and people who do have copies of the album. I just want the fans to get hold of it.
With Wade now in the fold, has the new international element to Gallows changed the recording process and dynamic in the studio?
Lags: Well Wade's very involved with writing and stuff, it wasn't like that when Frank was in the band... that was more a case of the musicians would write the music and he'd sing on top of it. These songs came together a lot more like... as a band.
Does that translate live as well? Do you feel much more together?
Stu: I think people have noticed in live reviews since Wade has been in the band that we're much more of a unit and that we're much more confident in our instruments. It's kind of hard to tell, when you're the guy with the guitar looking at the fret board and trying to play the songs but people seem to think so.
And of course, it's just passed the first anniversary of Wade joining the band. Has it all settled down now? I can imagine it was quite hectic...
Lags: It's just normal to me now...
Stu: It's been normal for a while.
Lags: It's weird how there are people out there still asking questions about "when this happened..." and, you know what I mean... This is Gallows. Get used to it or don't bother.
For you especially, Lags, has what you've been through the last couple of years influenced your sound on the new record? It's almost much more a raw punk record than Grey Britain especially...
Lags: That's what we're into; we're into making awesome heavy music. That's what Gallows is all about.
Absolutely. This weekend is almost the start of your extensive tour running to the end of the year, taking Feed The Rhino out as part of what is a fantastic bill, how are you feeling about that?
Lags: Yeah, it's going to be good. Feed The Rhino are a great band, as are Brotherhood Of The Lake. It's good to take out up and coming British bands... you know what I mean? I still think Gallows are one of those bands that have a say in who they take out on tour. You get a lot of bands that are told "you're going to go out on tour with this lot" and no one really gives a shit, whereas we really care to make sure we're packing strong.
Definitely, especially considering that the British Hardcore scene has grown hugely in the last 6 years with yourselves at the head of it, accompanied by the headlines you've grabbed. To see people like Feed The Rhino playing the venues with you... it must give them a boost as well?
Stu: It's going to be really good for them. We've always been a band, as Lags said, that care about our support bands and people that we've taken out in the past have gone on to do really well. We helped out the likes of Ghost of a Thousand, Rolo Tomassi, Cancer Bats, Fucked Up and they've all gone on following those tours to go on and do good things so we hope that we can do the same for Brotherhood Of The Lake and Feed The Rhino.
-Cue Wade joining the group.
Wade, thanks for joining us... Can I ask you a couple of quick questions?
Wade: You may.
Has it all settled down now, in the year you've been part of Gallows?
Wade: Yeah, you know... we have a tendency to shake it up every once in a while and everything gets awfully complicated but it's been good. I think we feel justified and we feel that were doing exactly what the band has always wanted to do. I couldn't be happier being in this band; before, I was a big fan of them and we've managed to come together and write the record that they've always wanted to make and I've always wanted to make. We can't wait for it to come out.
Obviously you've been the contributing factor to Gallows' international dynamic... how has that been for you?
Wade: It's been good, it's been a lot of time on a plane but, I mean, it's just a case of making it work. Now that the record's done, everybody has just got to show up on that first day of the tour.
Looking at the line-up for the weekend, you're not the only Canadian export. Cancer Bats are playing tomorrow and Billy Talent on Sunday...
Wade: Absolutely, there are a lot of Canadians here. There are some other ones... Crystal Castles are playing tomorrow as well. I think it's an amazing festival. There are a lot of really eclectic bands and I think that's what's great. This really doesn't happen in North America. We don't get this massive wide array of bands like this. Punk bands playing with the likes of Florence + The Machine, stuff like that is great because it exposes people to a lot more and it makes them much more open minded about music and, if you come to this festival to see Gallows, maybe you walk out BEING a fan of Justice... and that's great.
Gallows has become almost an institution, more than the sum of the people in it. How does it feel for you to stand up on stage and say "we are Gallows" personally?
Wade: It feels good. I think we're all on the same page with a lot of stuff and pretty much I think that collective total release in the shows and leaving everything out there. I don't think there are a lot of bands out there that play like that, with that much conviction. The five of us have that and it's hard to find.
Excellent. One final question for all of you... you're on stage in a couple of hours. What can we expect from the set this evening?
Stu: It's going to be a classic Gallows Leeds festival set. There'll be some classics, some new songs in the mix, a lot of crowd interaction... us lot breaking our necks.
Lags: There's going to be a couple of tent poles getting dislodged I reckon.
Stu: It's going to be loud, raucous punk rock, you know what I mean? It's a hard one to answer... business as usual, a couple of curveballs. You know what to expect.
Gallows played Leeds last Friday, the review of which can be seen on the site. They are returning on a UK tour this autumn with both Feed The Rhino and Brotherhood Of The Lake. The dates are as follows:
October 3rd: Brighton Haunt
October 4th: Exeter Cavern
October 5th: Bristol Fleece
October 6th: Manchester Club Academy
October 8th: O2 Academy Newcastle 2
October 9th: Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
October 11th: Nottingham Rock City Basement
October 12th: Sheffield Corporation
October 13th: Stoke Sugarmill
October 14th: Wrexham Central Station
October 15th: Leeds Cockpit
October 16th Peterborough Club Revolution
October 17th O2 Academy Birmingham 2
October 19th London Underworld