It has been 2 years since Gasfoodlodging released their debut album, Blue Collar Rain. This Americana & UK Indie influenced collective fronted by Dave Griffiths of Sutton Coldfield could be compared to a valuable item that one might find at a car boot sale. You never knew it was there but what a great thing to find after rummaging around. In a time where new bands and music arrive on the internet at a frequency that is downright impossible to keep up with, its of no surprise that many interesting and refreshing bands fall under the radar and go undetected.
With their musical influences seemingly stemmed from homegrown America such as Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, through to the UK shoegazing jangles of Echo and the Bunneymen and The Kinks. They most certainly have an impressive portfolio of original songs tucked away under their guitar straps and belts already. They release their follow up album, All Trashed Out, later this month.
A busy 2 years since your debut album was released?
Yeah, for sure. I started putting pen to paper again before the first LP was released. I'm guessing most songwriters work that way, its an ongoing process that never stops. Although if lack of inspiration steps in you have no choice but to take a break for a while. Thankfully those periods are rare overall and I'd finished writing this album in the spring of 2018.
How do look back at your debut album, Blue Collar Rain now?
I still enjoy it, I wish I'd done a better job vocally on several of the tracks but hey ho, you live and learn. I'm still proud of some of the songs, We've Done Alright, Corporate Disease, Moving Along, Banging Drum come to mind. I did record another collection of songs with former members of the band that made it onto a demo CD called Happy Ever After, but we had issues releasing that online because there were cover songs on there. Still, one of my songs from that called Dirty Little Love Song was really fun to do and I made a video for that which made it onto on youtube. But yeah, Blue Collar Rain was officially our debut LP and contains all original material of mine.
Do you think the new album, All Trashed Out is an improvement on your debut?
Yeah, without doubt. You have to view music as a progression and taking constant steps forward otherwise what's the point of carrying on? I think a band will always view their next album better than their previous one when they're recording it. In time that view can change but in the moment that's the positive and common sense approach to have.
Before approaching the process of writing a new album do you spend a lot of time listening to the key musical influences you have?
I'm constantly listening to the music I enjoy anyway so I wouldn't say I listen to it anymore than I normally do when I start writing again. I'm never going to be as good as the people I admire anyway, so I just make the best of what I've got. The important thing is putting your heart and soul into what you do and in that respect I can't do anymore than I have been doing.
Are you politically motivated as a songwriter? Your song Corporate Disease from the last album was clearly a lyrical attack on the class system.
You need to keep in check with reality and what you see going on around you even if you don't like what you see. So naturally many songwriters will end up writing songs that are political and social issue related. But I wouldn't want to write an album of songs devoted to the war against terrorism or this current Brexit saga for example. People are angry and frustrated in relation to both topics but I think music still needs that escapism or fun quality for the listener too. However, the tangled web of relationships and the theme of love in songwriting is something that will always sell records because as human beings its what dominates our existence.
The new album title, All Trashed Out is interesting, what are you referring to?
You can look at it whichever you want really, but my thought behind it was related to people who've sorted or are in the process of sorting their lives out and are far better for it. Off to pastures new and all that. It takes a lucky person to travel through life without complications and dilemmas to deal with and I've never met anyone who has had that amount of good fortune!
For someone who was impressed by your debut album as I was, are we likely to be getting more of the same on the new album in respect of the mixture of musical styles?
Yeah, definitely. I've never wanted Gasfoodlodging to be restricted to one type of musical style alone. But equally, I don't think Blue Collar Rain or the new album suffer from poles apart musical differences that don't make sense from one track to the next. There's definitely cohesion there. I enjoy retro punk, alternative country, indie, blues and rock & roll and I think there's elements of all those to our sound.
For marketing purposes we've always described what we do as Americana/Alternative because under that banner it covers a lot of the above. We're definitely not a country rock band. Songs like Corporate Disease which you mentioned earlier are hardly country rock. But for our few fans out there I can assure them we'll be keeping things just the way they are as long as Gasfoodlodging carries on. Its a formula that I believe in because when relevant music fans do come across what we do, they more often than not enjoy it. The trouble we have constantly had is acquiring regular gigs because the whole live music gig scene is saturated with cover & tribute bands.
Did you use all your own musical equipment for the making of the album?
Yeah, pretty much apart from vocal mics. Every guitar part on the album apart from a small segment on the title track were miked up through a couple of Fender amps I own. The other guys in the band also used their own equipment apart from the drum mics that were already in place at the small studio we used for recording.
I presume Fender amplification is your favorite to use then?
Well it's the amplification used by many of the guitarists and bands I admire so it makes sense to stick to what sound you enjoy the most. Its no secret to people that know me that an American guy called Chuck Prophet is my favorite guitar player. I preferred his lighter sounding guitar tone on his earlier solo albums such as Brother Aldo and Balinese Dancer but they were Fender amps he was using even back then. Regardless, I love his style of playing and technique. He's a great songwriter, vocalist and producer too, it makes you sick! Haha.
I noticed on a video interview you gave recently that you mentioned having a dance music mixing page on soundcloud. Another musical passion of yours?
Yeah, I like to play around with drum loops and edit different vocal parts in by other singers to make something different. Just something I like to do from time to time if the mood catches. I had a thing going on with a track for our new album where I'd sampled some Lana Del Rey vocal parts in but couldn't quite get it to work. Maybe not the greatest disappointment seeing as I could of got sued!
Are you a big fan of Lana Del Rey then?
I like quite a lot of her earlier music. Reminds me of that whole Leonard Cohen type thing. I can hear elements of Lee Hazelwood in there too. She's seems to adopt that whole Nancy Sinatra thing with ease when it suits her.
Any other female singers you admire while we're on the subject?
I love the voice of Linda Thompson. The former wife of the UK guitar maestro, Richard Thompson for those who don't know who she is. In fact I'm a big fan of him as well. They worked so well together doing that quintessential British folk rock thing in the 70's. Richard Thompson is a crazily talented guitarist that anybody who likes guitar playing should be aware of. Obviously more widely known as a former member of Fairport Convention. He turns 70 in a couple of weeks and still going strong which is great to hear.
Do you get excited when a release date for a Gasfoodlodging album draws ever closer?
I would if I knew we were going to sell 10'000 copies of the thing! Haha. It's just pleasing that's it all wrapped up and done. There are times in the process of making an album that you think, "Man, is this ever gonna get finished!" due to various issues. Even when the music is recorded there's still the task of mixing, mastering, designing the artwork for CD's etc etc. It can all take a lot of time. It's definitely worth the effort though. I'm fully aware its not professional quality music we can offer people, we have to record on a tight budget like countless of other bands so professional recording studios are way out the question. But taking that aside I'm still proud of what gets done. If the quality of the music sounds decent through studio monitors, headphones, a car stereo, hifi system, through to a laptop and mobile phone etc then it's good enough quality to distribute out to sell in my opinion.
The time to worry about perfection is when you can afford the resources that can potentially create the perfection! I like keeping things raw anyway, a sickly over produced and professionally recorded album might attract more musical clientele and interest from the music industry moguls, but it will cost you 1000's to get done so you need to sell a handsome amount of copies to get anywhere near breaking even. Times have changed, record deals are rarely offered and recording artists are losing money hand over fist with illegal downloading and the physical music market being overtaken by streaming and digital downloads. The sensible approach in my view is head to the back street studios, do the best you can and at least have your music floating around the internet. Something is better than nothing after all. Be careful what you dismiss and throw away in recordings you do as well. You could potentially have an album worth of songs at a later date when your opinion changes.
All Trashed Out by Gasfoodlodging is released on April 25th.
©Phillip Jarvis 2019.