This coming Friday (15th September), Glaswegian rock bastions GUN unleash their eagerly awaited new studio album ‘Favourite Pleasures’.
To celebrate its release, singer Dante Gizzi has given Planet Rock an exclusive and highly insightful guide to every track on the album:
1. She Knows
Dante: “This was inspired by an incident that happened way back when GUN were touring America. We were in North Carolina and were due to play that night. At sound check we were having a few problems with the PA and our sound engineer was convinced it was on its last legs. Sure enough the PA blew up during a run through of one of the songs. The rep for the show was so apologetic, and as way of making it up to us asked if we'd like to hang out in the bar offering free drinks all night. We understood the situation couldn't be helped and obviously, we were quite happy to take him up on his offer.
“We're hanging out at the bar and as fans came in we told them what had happened and although they were a bit gutted they were quite happy for the band to be hanging out and chatting. My eyes caught the attention of this absolutely stunning girl sitting with some friends. She was beautiful and I had to go over and chat as I already had a bit of Dutch courage by this time. I can't remember what we were talking about but this girl mesmerised me with her beauty and we ended up chatting for hours talking about where we were from grown up music we liked hobbies etc. Music was still playing throughout the PA but at a considerable lower level and a bit less low end due to the blown speaker.
“Then ‘When Doves Cry’ came on by Prince and I suddenly wanted to dance with this girl. It would be my first opportunity to hold her. I asked her if she'd like to dance and she pauses staring at me and then suddenly in a matter of fact like way turns around and says she doesn't dance to n****r music. I honestly was completely and utterly gobsmacked I thought it was a bit of a sick joke at first. I'd never thought in my lifetime I'd experience these kind of views personally. Especially with someone so pretty who had no signs of showing Neanderthal tendencies throughout the entire evening.
“I got up from my chair, said "see ya" and continued hanging out with other people for the remainder of the evening. She kept coming up to me for the rest of the evening apologising profusely, saying that it's not her fault it's just the way she was brought up. I didn't know whether to hate her or pity her. I think I ended up feeling the latter.”
2. Here's Where I Am
“This track is very personal and intimate lyrically to me. I found myself feeling very closed in and I was finding it difficult to express how I was feeling in regard to my relationship. In a way, it was like musical therapy, being able to release what I’d kept to myself for a long time. It would be very easy for me to expand on this and say things that could hurt others but I don't think that's the right way to go as you’re only hearing one side of the story here. I look back and think we were both finding it difficult. It's so easy to blame each other. In the end, we both weren't happy. It's just how life pans out. I know in my heart we can still be friends.”
3. Favourite Pleasures
“For me this is the most dynamic sounding song on the record. It took what felt like an eternity to come up with the melody for the verse, as we already had this really cool backing track. Most of the time when you’ve got such an incredible backing track it feels like a huge strain coming up with a melody to match. I remember spending many hours going through ideas and ended up feeling tired and disheartened. After a much-needed sleep on the studio sofa I woke up with a sense of urgency and anger, so I sat down with the mic in front of me, put the headphones on and pressed record. The first line I sang was "what's your favourite pleasures" in an almost uncontrollable angsty screeching voice. I sang the line over and over throughout the verse, stopped recording and listened back - thinking this could work well.”
4. Take Me Down
“We wrote this along with Dave McCracken; best known for his work with Ian Brown and writer of one of Jools (guitarist Giuliano 'Jools' Gizzi) and my favourite songs ever: ‘F.E.A.R.’. We were set up at our new studio and started working on this tune from scratch, going on total instinct as soon as we picked up the guitars. It's quite challenging to do that from time to time and good fun because you just don't know where the song is going to go.
“We eventually get a good sketch of the backing track and we’ve pretty much got the melody nailed, all we needed to do was get a good lyric. I remember Dave asking us what I was thinking in terms of words. As we were coming up with ideas I can see Jools kind of laughing and in shock from what he was reading. There had been a private message sent to our GUN Facebook page. Someone was asking if we could sign his T-Shirt before he went into prison. We had to make sure this wasn't some crazed fan and with all respect we felt like we had to know why he was going to do time. Without going into too much depth he told us he had caught his wife cheating on him whilst his kids were sleeping in the adjacent room. He had drunk a bottle of Jack Daniel's beforehand and when he caught them he was overcome with rage and smashed the bottle over his wife's head and with the broken half bottle still in his hand he inserted in the guy’s rectum. This for me was the catalyst for the lyric. As funny as it sounded at the time it's also very sad, I'm not condoning in any way his actions but in a way, I could relate to it but he was going to do four years and I understood that it was his kids that he was gonna miss. Sure, enough he was at the show with some friends we got him backstage and got his t-shirt signed.
5. Silent Lovers
“This song came about very early on and was one of the first songs written for the new album. The idea came about just after the passing of David Bowie. I don't know why but when someone of that stature dies it can't help but reignite your love for their music. The one thing we noticed most of all when re-listening to his songs was his ability to completely alter the style of writing while maintaining that ‘Bowiesque’ feel. A unique and difficult thing to pull off. Something we've always wanted to achieve with GUN.
“Subconsciously I think Silent Lovers encapsulates the style and essence of the late great hero. During the recording, we were finding it difficult to get the same vibe as the demo as most artists will know. It's a case of ‘demo-it is’, where you can't recreate or better the demo in a proper studio environment. Most of the time the reason for that is you've created a spontaneous vibe that's raw and energetic, full of mistakes here and there. It's the feel that's most important though, and trying to recapture that can be very difficult. Thankfully though we were able to make it work, and it's now my personal favourite track on the album.”
6. Black Heart
“Again, this is a track that was quite difficult to nail in the studio. I think this song totally captures the spirit of GUN. The recording of the drums was very exciting, experimental and fun (not so much for Paul [McManus]) to create. We wanted to get a lot of ambient reverb on the kit without using plugins (artificial effects). We had the space to generate it naturally as we had a massive warehouse just behind the studio. The reason for Paul not enjoying so much was that we were in the middle of winter and the temperature in the building was -5 degrees. I remember having to come out from time to time with a wee dram in hand to keep him warm. I'm sure at one point he was wearing gloves whilst playing.”
7. Without You In My Life
“This is another song that was penned in the early stages of the writing process. It's a track that's very close to my heart as it's about my eldest daughter Olivia. From the moment she was born to now, 17 years on I can't help thinking about how time has flown. I remember when she was a lot younger and people with grown up kids use to say to me try and enjoy every minute as it passes so quickly. I didn't really take that in at the time but now I know exactly what they meant. When we got the first mixes in I was listening to it on the computer at home late at night. Olivia came in asked what the new song was about and I told her. She was desperate to have a listen so I gave her the headphones pressed play and watched her face turn from excitement to emotional. She couldn't hold back the tears. I was a bit shocked with her reaction as I was expecting a more positive happy one. I think I thought for a split second she might not be liking it. Once the song finished she got up and gave me the biggest warmest cuddle ever. ‘Thanks dad’.”
8. Tragic Heroes
“Once again on this track we collaborated with Dave McCracken. It came quickly as he was only in Glasgow for a few days and we wanted to do something spontaneous along the lines of Take Me Down. I remember Jools, Dave and I sitting in the studio trying to come up with fresh ideas. When you know there's a time limit you either churn something out quickly (which tends to be a bit average) or begin to feel the burden of having to write something you wanna feel proud to have on the album.
“We ended up in the latter category and we had just run out of fresh ideas. We needed to get away from it for a bit and Dave asked us if we had any tracks on the computer that he could mess around with. We had a whole pile of rough stuff and gave him total control, while Jools and I called it a night. The next morning Dave was really excited to let us hear what he had done. He played a very rough version of the song and I noticed he’d taken bits from different songs on the computer and compiled them into one track. It was a bit unusual and it shouldn't have really worked. The more we listened though, the more it made sense to us, and we began to get so into it. By the end of the day we had Tragic Heroes.”
9. Go To Hell
“This is a funny one. This is probably the oldest idea we've ever gone back to. It dates back to circa 92'. Every time we've started to record an album we’ve listened back to this, feeling like we needed to do something with it but nothing ever really transpired.
“We thought long and hard about how we were going to incorporate this one. We knew we loved the riff, the hooks on the verses felt hypnotic and quirky but the sounds were all over the place as it was taken from an old 8-track recording. We set out to find the original loop we’d used on the song but it turned into an absolute nightmare as I couldn't remember which sample cd it was from.
“Thankfully I eventually found it, and we got the track up and running. It was imperative the guitar sounds and vocals had that edge that the demo had, so we spent a lot of time working on that. We got the track finished and I think we were just happy the song finally came to fruition after all these years.”
10. The Boy Who Fooled The World
“This one started as a full-on band idea - with some big ambient drums and a repetitive guitar riff running right through it. We used Rise by Public Image Limited as a point of reference but as we tried to layer it we got a little lost, especially within the melody, which was becoming obscured by the big sound.
“We stripped it right back in the studio with Simon on piano and I began singing the verse. Something clicked and suddenly the track felt purer, with the lyrics becoming sincere and heartfelt.
“Lyrically I wanted to wright about how I got into music in first place. I began to reminisce about the past, I remember finishing up school on a Friday afternoon, having this religious schedule. Sitting down to watch Cheers, before finding a blank cassette, turning on the radio and listening to the Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance from 10pm, then Tom Russell's Rock show from midnight. I'd listen to songs that they'd play and in the first 10 seconds I'd decide if the song was worth recording from the intro alone.
“Some songs I remember recording were ‘Run To You’ (Bryan Adams), ‘Boys Of Summer (Don Henley), ‘Why Can't This Be Love’ (Van Halen) and ‘We Built This City’ (Jefferson Starship), to name but a few. I did this religiously every Friday night and then at the weekend, I'd play the songs to my friends. They’d ask me how I’d managed to get these songs. I didn't say much at the time. I felt like if I let them hear these songs for the first time, that I was the main guy that introduced them to the music I was into. It almost became personal, like I’d written the songs myself. It's nice to think that this was one of my first introductions to music.”
Following an intimate show Gullivers NQ in Manchester last night, GUN play an acoustic show at The Big Red in London tonight (12th September) which they will be streaming live from 7.25pm on Facebook. They will then play a free album launch show at St Luke’s in Glasgow on Thursday.
In addition to the shows this week, GUN play a trio of headline gigs in December. Tickets are on sale from Planet Rock Tickets now.
Glasgow Barrowland – Sat 2nd
Manchester Club Academy (co-headline with InMe) – Fri 8th
London Electric Ballroom (co-headline with InMe) – Sat 9th