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The Comedy of Errors


4 October 15 words: Sam Nahirny
With their debut headline tour imminent, we spoke to the alt-pop quartet about all things live, art and musical
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How do you classify yourselves genre wise?
I think it’s simpler if we call it Alternative pop music, cos we dabble in too many sub-genres.

You did an art exhibition in Hackney exhibition last month…
Yeah was amazing. The turnout for that was bigger than any of the shows we’d done. It was never intended to be a patronising, tell kids to go look at art kind of thing. But it was amazing to see how many of the younger lot, like even those younger than 18 were showing up to come and look at the stuff, cos that wasn’t something we’d ever really thought about before. The fact they got to see some of their favourite bands, Alt-J, Bombay Bicycle Club etc, and got to see their artwork, I think it was a bit different. Through touring last year we met Tom from Alt-J who did the cover artwork for their second album. So, it was gonna start out as a Gengahr art show, with live film and that, but it seemed a waste to not showcase all this great stuff our friends were doing. It was a relatively simple way it came together, and I think we’ll defo do it again once we find some more people who want to get involved.

Would you say the aesthetic of the band is as important as the music?
I think trying to create a sense of identity to go with the music is important. It’s something that we’ve never really done before in our previous bands. I think if you think about it in a “what kind of clothes you’re wearing” kind of way, maybe it’s a bit silly and not our kind of thing. When we originally set out we were adamant we weren’t going to do any press shots, we didn’t want to do photographs, we just wanted to put the artwork out there and have that represent us, and when we play live - that’s when you come see us. Which I think is a perfectly reasonable idea.

Unfortunately record labels, managers, press people etc disagree with that. Eventually we were persuaded into going to a photoshoot with Steve Gullick who shot a lot of Nirvana in the 90s. So we thought “if we’re gonna get photographed, at least it’s by a bit of a legend.” That was our gateway into it. But initially, it wasn’t something we wanted to do, we felt we could create a strong enough brand for the band. But, sometimes you have to work with what you’re given and embrace it. I like the challenge of working within it, like working with the label, trying to come up with ideas for videos etc. Artwork and all that. Our album launch was in a cinema for example. Hopefully people will be interested in the things we’re doing.

You have quite a hefty tour coming up…
I’m excited. We’re really looking forward to getting back on the road again now, we’ve done a lot of festivals, but ultimately it’s gonna be nice to go back into a controlled environment. We’re gonna get soundchecks, and hopefully it’s gonna look and sound good for everyone involved. It’s the first time we’ve been given full reign of the lighting and the backdrops etc, and a few little arty bits that we’re gonna put on stage to work with the light show, so it’s a whole new realm for us, a very exciting one. We’ve got some new songs that we’re putting out as well, so hopefully we’re gonna put on a headline tour to remember.

You played The Bodega back in early 2014 for Dot to Dot Festival…
That was one of our first shows.

Anywhere on the tour you’re really excited to be headed?
A lot of them are places we’ve been before, I think it’s more the excitement of going there on our own terms. We’ve been lucky to do a  bunch of support tours with different levels of bands.  We supported Darlia, and then we’ve gone on to support Alt-J, The Maccabees, Wolf Alice,  so we’ve done it on loads of different levels and in different sized venues. But it’s nice to go back for our own merit. We’re very excited to make that next step now and build from that.

Any crazy tour stories from those support tours?
The weirdest/worst one is when we went on that Wolf Alice tour. We went out on the first night in Sheffield and I remember getting a phone call at four in the morning, saying Dan and Huw were in A&E. I thought they were joking so told them to fuck off and hung up the phone. The next morning, turns out Dan had snapped his collarbone and they don’t even remember what they’d done. So he had to play the whole tour with one arm after that. So we learnt some lessons early on, and we’ve got our shit together now. Thankfully we haven't had any bad accidents since then.

Oh, and there was this time Woody Harrelson was knocking around backstage when we played the O2. Apparently he’s a big Alt-J fan.

What about new music?
We’ve got a new single out very soon, produced by Nicholas Vern who did the latest War on Drugs album. We’re a big fan of his work so it was great that he wanted to work with us.

Gengahr play The Bodega on Friday 9 October. 2015 Tickets here.

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