AN INTERVIEW WITH GAL GUN
Gal Gun, a Chicago garage pop band finding solace in the unique, focuses on how they can make an engaged dynamic through staying true to the DIY-mindset, mixing inspirations from many different genres, and channeling that energy and inspiration into their new music. In early January of 2018, Gal Gun released their first full album on Dumpster Tapes, equipped with juxtaposed powerful riffs and apathetic lyrics. Gal Gun is able to include the sadness of relationships and the rush of human connections all throughout their album; essentially, this band is not only unique because of their vast influences, they are unique because of their rare ability to include themes of attachment and devotion at the same time that they include themes of aversion and alienation.
WHO ARE YOU? ARE YOU, IN ANY WAY, INSPIRED BY “GAL*GUN” THE 2011 XBOX GAME? HOW, THEN, WAS GAL GUN BORN?
COLIN: Hey, GG is myself (Colin Burns), Anthony Vaccaro and John and Thomas O'Brien - just four weird guys trying to make the best music we can. As far as "GAL*GUN" the game, no comment… ;) Gal Gun the band was born when Anthony and I sat alone at a party and talked to each other about music all night and quickly decided that we should do something together. Anthony and I recorded a few demos of songs I'd written, showed them to John and Thomas and that's really all there is to it. Anthony, John and Tom had been friends and playing music together in another band for a long time but it was easy for me to integrate myself into the group. We all clicked right away and the dynamic has remained much the same to this day.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER INSPIRATIONS? DO YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES GENERALLY FORM YOUR SONGS, OR DO YOUR SONGS GENERALLY REFLECT IN YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AFTER WRITING THEM?
C: Inspirations are 90's video games, tight pants and Morrissey. I grew up listening to nothing but Weezer, Nirvana, and The Pillows thanks to my older brother. My music listening today almost exclusively consists of Belle & Sebastian and Morrissey. I do aim to write music and lyrics based on life experiences and I can remember noticing the change from the music I wrote when I was 14 versus the music that I write now due to the fact that I've lived longer and have broader experiences to pull from. I'm also always surprised when a song I wrote so specifically about one thing or one person can be translated to still have meaning for my more immediate situation. It's even more nuts when other people are able to relate. It's incredibly flattering and humbling.
ANTHONY: I grew up in a household where you either listened to Tom Petty, Old Jazz Standards or 80s Hardcore Punk. Both my father and grandfather are musicians. My grandpa, Sam, taught me simple jazz progressions and the importance of melodies over chords. My dad was a punk drummer so he was all about being fast and loud. Colin and I relate in the sense that we both love great vocal melodies, but still wanting to maintain that ferocious intensity of a heavier band. Sometimes songs can be pretty and reflect our lives currently. Other times, the lyrics can be made up or something cool we just want to put in a tune. Everyone goes through struggles and hardship so that's a common theme we press a lot. Without pain, there is no growth.
TELL US ABOUT THE EXPANSIVE GARAGE ROCK SCENE IN CHICAGO. HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR MUSIC? WHAT HAVE YOU TAKEN FROM IT + MADE YOUR OWN?
C: We have all played in bands in Chicago for years now and the garage rock is beginning to wear a little thin. It's wrong to lump everyone together under one label, there are still some amazing garage rock bands around (Son of a Gun, Troy Anderson Band) but I always wanted Gal Gun to be different. We love playing sweaty house shows but instead of Rolling Stones-y swagger, we want people to leave our shows and remember our melodies.
THOMAS: I'm pretty sure we ripped off the chords to “Tom's Song” from a garage rock band I saw at a house show.
A: We all agree that the scene does not truly reflect how we make music. I would not say we are totally ‘garage rock’ but more ‘power pop’ or ‘pop.' It's easy to do what everyone else is doing but that's just giving up. Being comfortable and in the same space always hinders creativity. People have to break out of their little bubble to make something of substance and worth, something you want to show someone and be hyped on.
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE RELEASES TO SOUND LIKE? WHAT IMPORTANCE DOES BEING UNIQUE HOLD WITHIN YOUR MUSIC?
C: The next recordings you hear from GG will undoubtedly be more focused, tight and hi-fi. As long as we are doing the best we can to make recordings that we are proud of instead of just hiding under a "lo-fi" filter, we'll be happy. And like anyone else, I'd hope to continue doing our best to be unique and original. I want people to listen to Gal Gun because they like Gal Gun, not because we're a half-baked copy of some other "real" band.
T: Purple Rain era Prince production value crossed with Plastic Ono Band era John Lennon songwriting and Hemispheres era Rush musicianship.
A: Steely Dan Aja…. haha. We do all the recordings ourselves on Colin’s 2006 MacBook Pro using Logic 9. We started with simple scratch guitar tracks, drums and then we built from there. It's similar to making a cake; You need that strong foundation of good drum takes and clear sounding tracks. You don't put frosting on before you make the cake itself. A lot of people go frosting first, and then the music is all aesthetic and has no substance.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECENT SINGLES / ALBUM?
C: The album took nearly two years from the day the first tracks were recorded to the day it was finally released. We couldn't be happier with and it wouldn't exist without the help and support of friends and family, especially my older brother who completely remixed the recordings. I'm excited to finally be able to share it with people and I really hope they dig it. I'm as proud as I can be but it's always scary to have something with your name on it out in the wild. It's funny when people ask me about songs written two years ago and I'm super grateful for their support but in the back of my head i'm thinking, "Those songs are old! Wait 'til you see what we have coming up!"
A: “La Niña Winter” is the lead single off our record Special Music of Emotion. It was done in Colin’s mother's basement, his bedroom, and mine. Similar to the whole record it captures time and feeling. I can smell the rooms we did the song in when I listen and I feel the lights on my eyes. It is very personal. The B-Side, “This Boy,” is a song by The Beatles. This was done at my close buddy Brad's home studio. We did it in two days when he was out of town. We hope to make the next record at his space because he rocks and has better recording gear. It also helps when someone can press record, and we can just worry about playing.
WHAT’S IT LIKE MAKING MUSIC IN THE 21ST CENTURY? MORE SPECIFICALLY, WHAT’S IT LIKE MAKING DIFFERENT MUSIC IN THE 21ST CENTURY?
C: The biggest difference with creating music in this day and age is the pressure to be good or important. Any kid with a laptop can make a pretty good sounding recording so you have to put forth any and all extra effort you can muster to make sure what you're doing is as good as it can be. There has never been more music in the world and I'm thrilled and honestly confused when anyone would choose to listen to GG.
A: We just do what we think is right. No one should ever think they are so special and unique. At the end of the day, it's rock 'n' roll. So for us, it's all about doing music with each other and having a good time as best friends. Some people go play cards, or go bowling together; We record and write songs when we're together.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GAL GUN?
C: The next two Gal Gun records are pretty much written. We need to regroup and start on some demos so we can hopefully get another album out by the end of the year. We'll keep doing it as long as it's fun and I can't see that changing anytime soon. Oh, and we'll probably get one million dollars and go on tour with Weezer so Rivers and I can be best friends and talk about Japan. . .
A: Hopefully, a new record by the end of this year/beginning of next. Looking forward to meeting more great people, playing more fun shows and growing as writers and people. We are young. Anything can happen.