Gun Shy: “I like shoegaze. It’s better than being labelled as a pop punk band, right?”

An interview with Gun Shy's Josh Bannister

Gun Shy: “I like shoegaze. It’s better than being labelled as a pop punk band, right?”

By Ashwin Bhandari

Aug 10, 2017 15:10

We spoke with Gun Shy front-man and lead guitarist Josh Bannister to discuss living in Southampton, as well as the progress of the group since their formation 18 months ago.

The material Bannister wrote for Milk Teeth and in Gun Shy has a significant ’90s alt-rock influence, which he was introduced to through his brother’s dad. As he got older, he also started accepting that his mother’s music taste was better than his own. “I grew up with Soundgarden, Nirvana, and bands of that style, so I was surrounded by music from a young age and upon accepting it, my whole outlook just changed. That’s when I started to riff. I played bass to begin with and moved to guitar when I went through my singer-songwriter phase. I started by writing the shittiest lyrics and it just escalated from there.”

Following his departure from Milk Teeth and their busy touring schedule, Bannister’s new home in the South Coast allowed him to rejuvenate his passion for music, forming Gun Shy a few months later. Moving to Southampton has also given him the opportunity to attend university and a part time job that he claims he doesn’t hate.

“I think this is the most stable I’ve ever been; I have this idea that ‘the dream’ is simply to never wear a suit to work or falter on your ideas because this ‘punk rock’ thing that we all signed up to when we were kids that lead us to be in bands, can’t just die with age or with money or with security or opportunity. You can’t just go “you know what, that was fun but I think I want to settle down now, I’m going to give up on everything I believe in. What did that mean anyway, I was young”. So far this week I haven’t even got dressed let alone put on a suit.”

When Gun Shy announce shows on social media, they include which ‘Moon Day’ it falls on. Their music is rife with eerie samples along with their cryptic artwork, lyrics and symbols found in their music videos. Bannister claims that it is all part of an overarching theme that he hopes someone will look at and work out the meaning.

“The song titles from each record make up a sentence that all attach. We have things mapped out for the next record already. It’s all part of a bigger meta narrative, like most things we do. I don’t think any of us could deal with taking a word from the chorus about how sleepy and lonely we’ve been and make it into a song title that refers to the difficulties of being a government funded student sponge.”

Due to how small Stroud is, the nearest ‘proper’ venues are based in Cheltenham or Bristol. Bannister still loves his hometown all the same. “My family is there, the skate park rules, I owe a lot of who I am to that place and the shit we used to get up to there. Southampton is bigger, there is less wilderness, it rains all the time but I like living here. Everyone I want to be around is here and we’ve had some great opportunities because of living in this city.

The DIY scene here, however, has a huge issue – everyone involved loves it but if you aren’t involved at the deep end you can see the politics and all the cracks appearing. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it is far from this perfect entity that embodies everything wonderful about music. Just recently, for instance, a close friend of ours was told by someone that his band ‘weren’t cool enough’ to play a show. If that’s not an issue, then I don’t know what is.”

Gun Shy: “I like shoegaze. It’s better than being labelled as a pop punk band, right?”
Gun Shy: “I like shoegaze. It’s better than being labelled as a pop punk band, right?”

Earlier this year at So Punk 3, a small scale music festival in Southampton, Bannister and members of other local bands performed under the name Catholic Girls. The set proved to be one of the most memorable performances of the weekend, steering away from the shoegaze sound of Gun Shy, and embracing elements of noise rock and hardcore. “We did four or five practices, took some dumb promos and played a show. We may come back, we may not. This is the joy in all of this, none of it has any end game. It exists as long as it needs to, as long as we need it to.”

Whilst some bands who are put under the shoegaze label disagree with it or claim that it’s not a ‘real’ genre, Bannister is happy to embrace it. He feels as if the genre pushes things sonically and enjoys its associations: “I like shoegaze. As for being a band tagged with it, you can’t complain. It’s better than being labelled a pop-punk band, right?”

Bannister explains that the core purpose of a live show should be that you feel something more than what you’d hear on record. “Nothing is ever planned,” he says. “If you wanted to hear the songs played perfectly like they are on the record, then listen to the record on Spotify. If you want to experience something, go to a show. That’s why you go and that’s why we do it. Something in all of us needs those 30 minutes to be that way. ”

Arguably the UK DIY scene is more active now than it’s ever been. Bannister concludes by sharing the bands we should give our attention to. “Rope, Coldbones, Violet Mud, Never, Denim Chicken, Death By Shotgun, Group Of Man, Horseflies and of course, our Southampton sweethearts Good Boy. It’s tough because when I get asked this I don’t want to leave anyone out but these are some of the first that spring to mind.”

‘The Long Dance’ EP is available as a pay-what-you-like download on Bandcamp.

Gun Shy will be supporting Muskets in Southampton as part of their August tour with Weatherstage on August 11 at The Joiners.

Photos by Gingerdope Photography.