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Preview: Gallon Drunk/Kazimier

James Scanlon gets down dirty with the legendary swamp rockers

Published on November 21st 2012.

Preview: Gallon Drunk/Kazimier

WITH  demented, howling vocals,  hard, gritty guitar riffs, contorted sax and menacing vintage organ, Gallon Drunk thrive on using good old primal rock ‘n’ roll as their base sound.  

Taking their cue from everybody from The Cramps and The Moodists to The Stooges and Suicide and mashing it all up into some absurd new concoction, the London-based foursome redefine swamp rock with a whole new identity.  The chaotic wild abandonment of their live shows is something that has to be seen to be believed.

“Chaos is certainly a large part of what we do,” admits vocalist James Johnston. “That’s the aspect of it that I’ve enjoyed doing – I think we all do.  It’s about control and release – it’s not about total chaos.  It’s roughly within a song format, but when there is a sort of release or madness or chaos, it should be as long as possible so you lose yourself in it.”

Gallon DrunkGallon Drunk

Apart from Johnston on vocals, guitar and organ, Gallon Drunk’s latest incarnation comprises of Terry Edwards (sax/ organ), Ian White (drums) and new recruit Leo Kurunis (bass), who replaces Simon Wring, who sadly died last year.  Their latest album, The Road Gets Darker From Here, is dedicated to the memory of Wring, and has been road tested to great effect for just over a month now.  

“It’s been great to play the new songs live, and they’ve developed a lot through the gigs, especially with Leo, our new bass player, who’s just great,”  enthuses Johnston.  

Asked if there had been any major incidents or gossip to report, he says, “To be honest it all becomes a blur after a while, which venue was which?  It’s been great though, really full-on gigs and great audiences again.  The record really seems to have got through to people this time, the label have done a brilliant job with it.  Thank God!”

Recorded directly onto two-inch tape at Clouds Hill in Hamburg; the same place where kraut rockers Faust laid down their 2010 album, Something Dirty, it seemed the ideal place to record the new album, particularly with Johann Scheerer  (Faust/Robots In Disguise)  in the production seat.

“I’ve also played in Faust for about five years,” says Johnston, “and recorded an album with Faust in Hamburg, that’s where the record label is based and we got to know them there.  It’s a predominantly analog studio, like something you’d have found realistically about 10 or 20 years ago – large rooms and pianos, Hammond organs and that sort of thing.

"Cloud’s Hill is a comparatively small label, but they’re just very into it, creating something that people really want to keep.  Johann encouraged us to try out things we’d never done before.”

High points include The Big Breakdown and current single You Made Me.  

"The Big Breakdown’ has come quite a long way from the album version live.  I really wanted to do a track with an endless John Lee Hooker groove and thought it might sound really Stonesy, the rest was us improving in the studio.  I’d been listening to Exile On Main Street a lot of the time.”  

As for You Made Me,  he pauses, “I’ve no idea where it came from.  I was at home and just started playing that riff and quickly taped it.  It was pretty fluky.  It sounded so catchy that at first I didn’t play it to the others, but when we played it as a band it just took off. "

Apart from Faust, Johnston also raised his profile as a full-time member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds between 2003-2008.   He says, “I got to know the Bad Seeds through my brother, Ian, who wrote a book called ‘Bad Seed’ in ’92 – ’93.  I knew them first socially when they were based in London for gigs, and Nick was living in London.  I did my first tour with them in ’94 in the U.S. playing guitar when Blixa (Bargeld) couldn’t make a tour.  I stayed in touch with them, so when Blixa left I was asked to join playing organ, then we went into the studio to record Abattoir Blueswhich ended up being a really great album.”

For their show at the Kazimier, the band will be joined by Girl Sweat, Bootle’s very own, Sidney Bailey’s No Good Punchin’ Clowns and Zombina vs. Doc Horror DJ Set.  Starts at 8pm and will probably never end.

*Gallon Drunk, The Kazimier, Wolstenholme Square, Thursday November 29. 7.30pm Tix £8 from usual outlets.

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Joe FlorekNovember 22nd 2012.

Real, actual paper tickets in Probe records, Liverpool. Cheaper there, too.

Unreal, virtual (but equally valid) tickets online here:


Joe FlorekNovember 22nd 2012.

And a link to the event page. Boo Ya!


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