As part of an assessment in my Musical Diploma course I was asked to find a local band and to delve into their world of musical pursuits and report my findings. Luckily my brother, a friend of Dave Griffiths of Gasfoodlodging suggested I head their way so I did.....
We conducted the interview via email and I'd like to thank Dave for his participation.
Gasfoodlodging are a 4 piece alt country & Indie band based in the Birmingham area of the UK. Members; Peter Robinson (Drums), Peter Taylor (Bass Guitar), Robbie Roberts (Piano/Keyboard), Dave Griffiths (Guitar/Vocals/Songwriter)
Do you find the local music scene accommodating for the style of music you guys play?
DG: Nope, it's pretty crap to be honest. We don't thrash out power chords and scream at you through the PA which seems to be the order of the day presently with many venues. Not that I don't like some of that kind of music, I do, but we don't fit that musical glove. Thankfully there's still some decent promoters around who sneek us in the back door so to speak and we have 4 venues that have taken us under their wing and give us regular gigs which has been good for us. Actually, we do pretty well out the local area and there's festivals and other venues that support us. I'm guessing many other bands are doing the same thing, you have to travel around and put the effort in.
So you guys don't rock out then?
DG: Yeah, we shoot Cocaine on stage and masturbate over women standing in the audience as we set fire to our equipment, I guess it's just not rocking out enough though..
Are you serious?
DG: Sure, come watch us play 'live'..
I'm sure you're joking with me there. How do you find audience reaction when you do play somewhere new and for the first time?
DG: It all depends who is in the audience. You get the older guitar lover guy who stands at the bar hoping for 5 minute guitar solos and those who are seated who want to hear some popular songs while they eat their crisps and check their Facebook status update along the way. I'm more interested in the guitar fitting the song and not the other way around. Sometimes we extend things a little on stage and there's several songs we can drag out to please the guy standing at the bar if needs be. Yeah, we know really popular songs we just choose not to play them! We're setting out to make my original songs and the more obscure cover versions we play popular. We usually get some people come up after a gig and ask us about the songs we've played and tell us they really enjoyed the show which is obviously what we're aiming for. I'm sure there's many people who go to pubs/clubs to hear a band play songs by The Beatles, Abba, Queen, UB40 etc but we're not one of them. The trouble is a lot of venues are more likely to book bands who play music by the artists I've just mentioned to get more people through their doors. But my argument is how is other music ever got a chance of becoming popular if people don't get to hear it? Some radio stations are good for promoting unknown and unsigned bands but they can be fussy about the recording quality of demo's and in some instances they have to be top class professional quality. Not everybody has that luxury of funding costly and expensive recording sessions, us included. That's where I find the digital world we live in really sucks! Everything has to be so sleek and perfect. A lousy recording on an audio tape could have been good enough to get you gigs and attention in years gone by but not anymore.
I like some of Bob Dylan's music as well, what do you think of him these days? Some people say his singing has become even worse.
DG: I love Dylan's voice and I'm sure he gave hope to many other people out there who realised that the high octave vocal ranges and perfect vibrato just weren't gonna happen for them. To my ears he's equally as emotive as the great technical singers out there and always has been. As far as criticism goes today, he's hardly gonna be singing in the same way as he did back in 1964 is he? His voice has aged but with it comes a fascinating historical journey that can be traced back to his beginnings. He still has a story to tell far more worthy than many singers and songwriter's these days. I was watching one of my favorite musical documentaries the other night, "Don't look back", which is a road movie of Bob's 1965 British Tour. In one scene he sings his song "It's all over now, baby blue" in some hotel room, it gives me shivers everytime..
Who are your own musical heroes as a musician yourself? I presume Bob Dylan is one?
For sure. But it was a movie called "The Last Waltz" that opened up my eyes to the world of guitar music. The "Last Waltz" was the farewell concert given by the group 'The Band' who had previously been Bob Dylan's backing band and had also recorded with him on studio albums.
Since then I've delved into a big love of The Rolling Stones and then onto the American band "Green on Red" who were considered the American equivalent of The Stones by many fans of theirs. As far as guitar players go nobody does it better to my ears on six strings than Chuck Prophet who was previously the guitarist in the band Green on Red. He's my favorite player by far. Dan Stuart the vocalist and songwriter of Green on Red is a real talented guy too, his singing and songs formed the soundtrack to much of my earlier life. I've met them both in real life and they are really approachable and give you their time which I really appreciate considering I'm a "nobody" in the musical world. I ended up on stage with Chuck Prophet as well which was a cool experience to be up there sharing the stage with him. He's a great vocalist and songwriter as well.
I don't think "Hero" is the right word to describe musical influences. The word "Hero" sounds too dramatic! They are just favorite artists and musicians..
Do you get on well together as members of the band?
Yeah, we all come from different backgrounds but we all have common ground musically and there's no egotistical attitude to be found anywhere.
What's your favorite gig been so far?
We played a gig at a street Carnival the once in a place called Bloxwich, Walsall. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and we were stuck between two rows of shops on a small stage. Still, there was a great Sound Engineer around that day and he mixed our sound really well. Even members of staff were coming out the shops and into the rain to listen to us play. It was just a great vibe from start to finish. That's my personal favorite gig so far, the other guys will probably have their own.
What's your least favorite gig you've played so far?
All of them apart from the Bloxwich one! Haha, I'm only kidding. We did play a festival the once where we were rushing around to set up, under rehearsed due to work commitments and had some technical issues on stage. We just about made it through a 2 hour setlist. It wasn't good but we still got paid and bizarrely the organiser said we sounded great! We took the money and ran!
What are your ambitions for the future?
We recorded a 10 track demo last year and we plan on doing an EP this year with Pete Williams of Dexys Midnight Runner's producing it. I'm still looking around at TV and other media formats to throw my original music at. I'd love to get involved in Film soundtracks and to get the band heard through that kind of area. It can just take the one person who can open a door or two and opportunities can present themselves. That one person is out there somewhere but we've got to seek them, they aren't going to come seeking us. We've recently recruited a Piano/Keyboard player too. Robbie is a great player and it adds a new dynamic to the band after playing as a 3 piece for sometime. We're looking forward to getting further recording done and I'm currently writing away at new material. Hopefully it will all lead to productive results.
What's the last song you listened to before this interview?
"Even a dog can shake hands" by Warren Zevon. Listen to to it, play it loud! It's a good example of what we're about musically.
What are your favorite films? Would you consider films an inspiration to your songwriting like other songwriters make reference to?
Sure, I think everyone takes a piece of a film at sometime and relates it to themselves or extracts certain pieces to use as an inspirational tool.
One of my favorite films is "Great World of Sound" which incidentally features the actor Robert Longstreet who starred in a recent video for the Chuck Prophet song "Wish me luck".
Other favorites include "One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" "The Executioners Song" "Blue Collar" "Dead Poets Society" "Sideways" "Crumb" "All the Presidents Men". I also love the 1970's TV series Kolchak "The Night Stalker" as well, I own the box set.
What's your favorite music video at present?
These 3 videos by Charlotte Church
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPeLKWQ2w5Y - Glitterbombed (live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-RPaH3KAPY - Nerve (live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4IT3aJ90aA - How not to be surprised when you're a Ghost
Roosevelt Booba Barnes...
Can I interview you again for free if you guys become famous?
Yeah, of course. But you might be waiting a real looooooong time..haha
Rebecca Harris, ©2015