Interview: James And The Cold Gun

An interview with the punk powerhouse behind James And The Cold Gun.

Interview: James And The Cold Gun

By Katherine Allvey

Jun 23, 2023 12:05

With only a few short weeks to go until James and the Cold Gun’s debut launches, frontman James Joseph is feeling optimistic. “I’m well excited to get it out. It feels like we’ve been sitting on it for a lifetime! We finished recording at the end of last summer and as soon as it’s done, you just want to go ‘here it is, everyone, listen to it!’,” he laughed, and he’s not the only one to feel the hype about their self titled first record. ‘Something to Say’, the latest single drop at time of writing, is a jagged slice of distorted garage glory, designed to get your converse-clad feet off the ground. It comes hot on the heels of the punchier ‘My Silhouette’ which channels a scruffier version of the Hives through a desperate punk rock blender. They’re a band on the cusp of becoming the name of the summer with their easy indie trash tunes, somewhat defying comparison according to Joseph. “We don’t really know what we sound like, and it’s been so funny to hear what people think we sound like. We’ve had a few where they’re clearly buzzing, and they say ‘Oh you sound like this band!’, and they mean it as a compliment, but in the back of my mind I’m like ‘fuck! I hate that band!’,” he says with a smile.

Regardless of where they fit into the rock spectrum, James and the Cold Gun will be sharing the stage with the eclectic mix of The Pretenders, Larkin Poe and The Darkness in supporting Guns n Roses at their Hyde Park spectacular this summer. Their appearance will be the result of a tremendous shot in the dark for the newcomers, as Joseph explained: “I do this thing whenever I get too much time where I’m not busy, and I send these chance sort of messages – ‘firing shots’ as they call it. I never know if it’s a bit naive or childish. It reminds me of when I was in my first band when I was fifteen and you’re sending your links to everyone and most people want you to fuck off! I screen-shotted the poster [for British Summer Time] and sent it to our agent, and captioned it ‘this would be good’…well, fucking obviously this would be good! Then she was like, ‘I’ll see what I can do!’ What, really?  We’ll play for free in the car park!”  

Luckily, they didn’t need to resort to finding a spot between tourist coaches and waiting Uber drivers to put their sound out there as they’ve secured a spot on the main stage. However, while they’re bound to win more than a few new fans with their energetic performance and electric introspection, it’s still a potentially nerve-wracking show for the group. “Whenever we’re doing a bigger show, you’ll look out and it’s people just like doing this… [Joseph pulls a blank face with his arms folded]. The hard thing with that is sometimes that means that they really like you and they’re paying loads of attention. I’ve noticed, as I’m getting older, I don’t really go in the mosh pit any more. If there is a band I love, I probably will be that guy at the back looking really serious. At the same time, it could mean they really hate you and they’re waiting for Guns n Roses!”  Yet, only three weeks after this vast show that fills the biggest park in London, James and the Cold Gun will be launching their album at the four hundred person capacity iconic Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff. It’ll be a vastly different experience for the band, but which will they prefer?  Joseph reckons the album launch shows will be more enjoyable, at least from his point of view: “To be honest, from our experience, my favourite shows are always the smaller ones, because there is that ‘lightning in a bottle’ kind of feeling, being able to get really stuck in. You can sense if it’s going well and I’m feeding off the energy. These are all cliched things but it’s true!”

Part of the appeal of James and the Cold Gun, aside from their invigorating take on rough and ready optimistic rock, is their honesty. Joseph writes and performs without acting, or the pretentiousness that can accompany a band gathering critical praise like pick n mix. Their songs come from a place of sincerity, and he’s very honest about his own moments of insecurity such as those which occurred their big ticket single ‘Chewing Glass’. With that chanting opening that explodes into the kind of in-your-face tenderness that accompanied the Strokes’ first entrance into the collective alternative consciousness many years ago, there’s a thrashing greatness between the tinny piano touches and combustion engine guitar. “Me and James [Biss], who do most of the writing together, we’d hit a creative rut and… you have days when you’re writing music, and it is hard and those days are rubbish. You’re like ‘Shit, maybe I’m just not meant to do this’ but that was one of those songs, on a better day, that came out of nowhere and we were just like ‘oh, we can write songs!’.” Similarly, the process of waiting to release their record after months of delays in production caused some trepidation for Joseph, who explained that, “I almost feel that you just kind of pick it apart in your mind while you’re waiting for it to come out. I find that when I listen to it and I’m in a good mood I really like it and I’m really proud of it.”

He’s right, of course. The record holds the promise of a new spark to set the scene ablaze, and it’s only through making a committed leap during lockdown that Joseph’s energy became channelled fully into this new project. “I started this band as a bit of fun at the every end of 2019 with my housemate at the time, James B[iss]. It was just us mucking around in the garage and we were like ‘oh, we should record some of this…’ I was playing in a band called Holding Absence, a sort of post hardcore, pop rock outfit, and I was doing both bands alongside each other, then lockdown happened. Your taste changes over five years, and essentially staying in Holding Absence became a ‘safe bet’, but I wasn’t feeling creatively fulfilled….but then I realised that no band is ‘safe’. So I decided if I was still going to take this risk and shelve a ‘normal life’, it was going to be doing something I really, really wanted.  Cold Gun is the band I wanted to do when I was fifteen but never really had the guts to do.”

With their kind of talent and drive, it’s bound to pay dividends in the form of bouncing crowds and eager requests for signatures on vinyl, and they won’t need to resort to playing in car parks with the level of fandom they’re soon to acquire. 



‘James And The Cold Gun’ is available from July 28th 2023 via Loosegroove Records.