By paul

This interview was carried out with Lags from gallows in December 2006.

Paul: Hi, which member of Gallows are you and what do you do in the band?
Lags: I’m Laurent, play guitar and occaisionally provide some vocals in Gallows.

Paul: First things first – “the best UK punk band since The Clash!” High praise indeed. When you first heard about the Kerrang quote, what did you feel? Do you feel worthy of the hype that’s now been placed on you and do you believe it’s deserved?
Lags: We were flattered to see such a quote written about us as Gallows are big fans of The Clash. They were one of those bands that came out of the punk scene in the early days but explored different avenues and ultimately achieved lots of success. I think the phrase “the best UK punk band since The Clash!” has more to do with the state of the current punk scene. There is a tendency to either make your music as accessible and pop yet still give it the tag ‘punk’ or just play 3 chord Ramones rip-off songs. I’m not sure we’re entirely worthy of the hype but I definitely feel we’re doing some a lot different to many other bands and that’s where our similarity to bands like The Clash, Crass and Discharge come in. Just when you think the punk formula has gotten boring we come and fuck it all up for everyone.

Paul: Do you now feel there’s more pressure on you because you’ve become more in the public eye and an easy target for the kids who seemingly don’t like to see UK acts hit the big(ger) time?
Lags: Yeah, this is something we’ve spoken about within the band on many occaisions. We want people to be into the music before anything else. Having interviews in the music press helps get our name out there. However, even I can admit that I get put off a band if they start getting too popular. It’s totally stupid and I guess it’s because we all romanticise the idea of seeing our favourite band play floor shows in the back of some pub and being able to hang out and share some drinks after without hundreds of kids trying to get their autograph. Gallows are definitely a target for your typical hardcore kid on a message board but we’ve been lucky to the point that sensible hardcore and punk fans like our music enough they feel we deserve some praise. Your average ‘true hardcore’ kid doesn’t read Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Metal Hammer etc so in many of their eyes we’re still underground and can play bills with the smaller bands that we love.

Paul: What was it like to open a copy of the same magazine and see yourself as poster boys?!
Lags: Poster boys! haha. Again, it’s good for us to get out there and fulfill certain teenage dreams. What’s funny is how a lot or our friends who are hardcore purists and play in bands send us messages saying they have the poster on their wall. XUndead from the Paramedics has it framed in his toilet!

Paul: If that was enough K! declared you’d written one of the best 250 rock songs of all time. Again, surprised? Feel it’s justified?
Lags: It’s strange to be up there since it’s really early days for the band. That top 250 is more a contemporary list than ‘of all time’. They have some classics from back in the day then 100 or so songs are from the last year. Kerrang! have a duty to focus on new bands and they’re definitely doing their job well. We’re totally flattered that considering how small we are the magazine like us enough to include us on their pages.

Paul: Moving away from that, you’ve all been in bands before – what made you form Gallows and adopt the sound that you have? Who do you class as influences?
Lags: I’ve played in so many different styles of bands since picking up a guitar in my early teens. None of them really went anywhere and I realised that in the music industry it’s not what you know but who you know. Since I didn’t know anyone it was time to write songs for myself. I don’t follow modern trends and most of the stuff I listen to came out in the 80s or 90s, bands like Black Flag, Murder City Devils, Unbroken etc. When I got together with Frank his lyrics were personal to the point that you wouldn’t have a clue what we were screaming about unless you actually knew us. It’s fucking funny thinking about the songs on our album and the inspiration behind them. It was literally a case of ‘fuck, this shit pissed me off the other day let’s write about it’ as opposed to radio friendly unit shifters.

Paul: How did the deal with In At The Deep End come about?
Lags: Sent them our demo, got a phonecall the next day from Mark Swinney saying he loved the demo and wanted to release our album if we ever recorded one. The rest as they say is history.

Paul: You chaps tour a hell of a lot. What kind of ethic and ethos do you have in terms of touring – after all, a lot of bands tour a lot but end up playing the same venues every few months. With myspace so prevalent in young bands’ thoughts, do you feel touring is as important as it was say, three or four years ago?
Lags: Touring a few years ago would play a much more vital role in determining how successful a band would be. Having said that on myspace you’re competing in a popularity contest with so many other
shit bands. We’ve played with some fucking awful acts on the road but at the same time we’ve played with a lot of amazing ones too that we would never have heard of. We haven’t toured as much as people seem to think. We’re still yet to make it to Scotland so hopefully next year we will hit all the towns we missed.

Paul: What’s it like being the biggest band in Watford?!!
Lags: Don’t know, ask Captain Everything! That crown is most definitely still theres and we’re not even gonna try and take it.

Paul: You’re going on tour with As I Lay Dying and then Bullet For My Valentine in the New Year – big shows. Are you planning on doing anything differently for these gigs – maybe going for an expensive Enter Shikari-esque light show?!
Lags: Maybe we should’ve thought about this before we said yes to the tour! Do we have to have a stage show planned? Hopefully not. Compared to the metal of the other bands we’re going to be standing out enough I think.

Paul: You’ve got a 7″ out in january on Holy Roar – why have you now decided to re-release the demo?
Lags: A lot of people have asked if they could still buy the demo and we also get a lot of people asking if we will ever release some vinyl. We thought it might be a good idea to combine the two. We’re still really pleased with how the demo came out. It’s what got us a lot of attention in the first place. A few of the tracks were re-recorded for the album but some people still prefer the early versions. We’ll leave it up to you. We didn’t play many shows selling the demo so this will definitely be well worth checking out. It’s gonna look amazing too. We’re just vinyl junkies at heart and want to keep our roots in the DIY scene. There will be only 500 pressed on coloured wax.

Paul: On the subject of 7″s, you’ve a split with November Coming Fire – how did this come about and what can we expect from it?
Lags: We’ve been big NCF fans and friends for a long time. One of the reasons we approached In At The Deep End was because of NCF doing so well. Dungeness is probably my album of 2006. Again, they’re a UK band doing something slightly different in hardcore. It seems the cool thing to do now is posi, 80s influenced punk rock. Like us, NCF aren’t about sticking to trends so we’re happy to be doing a split with these boys. We played some shows together and just got on really well. They’re amazing live and awesome songwriters. We’re also including some covers on the split. We want to make it something truly special.

Paul: If you could do a split with anyone, who would it be and why?
Lags: So many bands would be amazing to do a split with. Nation Of Ulysses, sadly defunct, would be my choice. They’re one of those bands that had it all; the look, the lyrics, the sound, the ideas. They’re just really fucking cool.

Paul: Going back to the myspace thing, do you think bands are taking their eye off the game a little bit and concentrating too much on building up a legion of PC-warrior fans rather than doing the hard work like the good old days? Are you big fans of myspace and other similar vwebsites to spread the word?
Lags: I totally think that too many bands base their success on how many friends they have on their myspace. We get add requests from certain bands that have about 20,000 friends yet the worst recordings I’ve ever heard (and needless to say the songs aren’t much better either). You still need to put in the time and effort to tour the country if you want your band to get known. I think anyone who is in a band will have to say they’re a fan of myspace. It is the most user friendly way to find out about shows, merch, news, listen to music, watch videos etc. It plays a key part for any up and coming band.

Paul: Downloading – a good thing for music or something that’s slowly killing music as we know it?
Lags: I started a thread on the punktastic forum a while ago on this very subject. The one thing that pisses me off, coming from a DIY angle, is when we get messages on myspace saying ‘your album is amazing, I just downloaded it xxx’. My usual reply is ‘Thanks, how about buying a shirt or something xxx’. I’ve downloaded music in the past but if it’s something I really like or listen to often then I go out and buy the CD. Buying stuff online or from the band itself is relatively cheap. Plus it keeps the band on the road. We put a lot of effort into the artwork to make sure it’s something worth having in your CD collection.

Paul: In April you had a lot of gear stolen – did you ever manage to trace the culprits and get the stuff back? What exactly was taken?
Lags: We had our money box (inc £400) and most of our merch (shirts, cds, badges, stickers) taken from a venue. Luckily our equipment remained safe. We weren’t hit as bad as other bands who have had entire backlines taken but it was definitely something that nearly forced the end of Gallows. We were oweing a lot of money to rehearsal studios and shirt printers so the timing was pretty bad. I’m sick to death of reading about bands getting their equipment stolen by absolute dickheads. Getting through shit like that makes you feel thankful for being in a band though and how lucky you are to be able to play music to people that enjoy it. We think we know who the thieves were too, these little shits who ‘worked’ at this boxing ring that was used as the venue. They get regular kickings in Watford probably so it’s fine.

Paul: 2006 has been a pretty impressive year – can 2007 realistically top it? What do you have planned? A new album, maybe?
Lags: 2007 we’re hoping to take the band over to the States and show them what the UK have to offer. We’re still going to be pushing the album Orchestra Of Wolves as we’re into the songs on the record and reckon there are heaps more people out there who need to know who we are and what we do. Just more of the same really.

Paul: It’s Christmas and you’ve all been good boys for Father Christmas this year – what’s on the Gallows present list?
Lags: Well, at the moment all my guitar equipment is falling apart and I’ve been borrowing friends’ set ups for tour. So I would either say a whole new rig or heating for our van. Never tour in the winter without heating in your van. Its not big and it definitely isn’t clever!

Paul: If you have a festive message for our readers, please leave it here!
Lags: Just because he’s in a Santa Claus costume it doesn’t mean you have to sit on his lap.

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