HARD-ROCKERS Gun are about to fire the starter pistol on the next phase of their career, writes Ed Power
The cult Scottish group have a rollicking new album, Frantic, and will tonight make a long-awaited live return to Ireland. It’s part of a reboot which sees the outfit carry on from where they left off with a hot streak of 1990s hits, including ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Shame On You’.
“When you look back, it’s amazing how much was achieved,” says frontman Dante Gizzi. “Ten top 30 singles, touring with the Rolling Stones. We were young and signed a major label and assumed this was normal. Only as you get older do you realize that, actually, it was pretty special.”
With the rise of grunge and Britpop, Gun’s no nonsense heavy rock fell from fashion and by 1996 they accepted the inevitable and called it quits. But their straight ahead sound continued to attract devotees and by 2010 they were riding a new swell of popularity. So they reformed and haven’t looked back.
“We were determined to connect with new and old fans alike,” says Gizzi, explaining the thought process behind Frantic. “We didn’t want to do a record that sounded like the stuff we were playing 20 years ago, though that might have pleased some people. You’ve got to follow your instincts.”
While Gun put themselves under pressure, they also had a blast in the studio, he says. “We did some of our new album in Rockfield Studios, the same place Queen recorded ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’,” says Gizzi. “When a space has that kind of history, it weighs on you. As a musician, you want to rise to the occasion and achieve your best.”
They also recorded in a vintage studio in Belgium. It was, Gizzi chuckles, a little too vintage for some in the group.
“The mic stand had a Swastika on it,” he says. “It was weird — the studio was absolutely gorgeous. At the same time, it felt a bit odd singing into a microphone with a Nazi symbol.”
All in their 50s, the five members of Gun have been around long enough to have witnessed seismic shifts in the business. When they started all you needed were decent songs and a modicum of stage presence. Nowadays things are so much more complicated.
“By the time we had broken up in 1996 changes were already underway,” Gizzi recalls. “Even then it had completely spun on its head. Pop was the big thing, bands weren’t getting as much record label support. They weren’t signing big contracts anymore. For us, the biggest change was the arrival of groups such as Nirvana and Alice in Chains. Honestly, we didn’t know where we fitted in. That scene didn’t suit the band — there was a lot of politics.”
The low point was the recording of the 0141 632 6326 album, which they now judge a disaster. It was produced by Andrew Farriss of INXS. Gun had gone into the project hoping for a crossover smash in the vein of INXS’s Kick. It didn’t quite work out.
“The record was the complete opposite of what was intended. Before we knew it, £150,000 had been sunk into the project and the record company was going ‘You should push on with this’. An awful lot ended up being spent even though we knew from the start that it wasn’t right. That he wasn’t the guy for the band.”
As they look back on their triumphs and reversals, do Gun consider themselves older and wiser? “At the time you get with it and don’t question anything,” says Gizzi. “I think every musician wishes they had the brain they had now 25 years ago. Or that they still had the youthfulness they had then. We’ve had ups and down, experiences good and bad That’s the same for everyone, though, isn’t it?”
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