If punk had a MPAA rating (as if the Parental Advisory stickers aren’t enough of a blemish), the aggregate of punk releases would have gone from R-rated in punk’s early days to approaching a PG-13 or even a G-rating these days. Why? Well, like all cycles in art and commerce, a raw early idea may be artistically invigorating but commercially bankrupt, yet its later incarnation, after groupthink, marketing meetings, commercialization and mimicry, may be a commercial juggernaut but artistically sterile.
Returning to our MPAA analogy, it’s not as if punk absolutely requires anger, violence, filthy language and rebellion to be artistically viable, but it certainly fucking helps. To that end, Gallows shunned the docile Disneynified world of pop punk with the stellar Orchestra Of Wolves in 2006, a return to the kind of British punk that inspires you to protest outside a government building, run away from home, and ultimately, stage a beachside gang war with mods (one more The Who reference inside!). It is punk the way punk originally developed; as a vicious, simple and unrefined offshoot of working class rock and roll, with an early ‘80s hardcore edge that really gets the blood going.
And it got them noticed. Mainstream and underground press jumped all over them—rightfully so—and Warner Bros. picked up them up (a hardcore punk band on a major!) for Grey Britain, a loose concept album about their home country and how the government, corporations, religious institutions, et al. bled the color from the flag, to paraphrase leader singer Frank Carter.
Now on Warped Tour for the summer in support, guitarist Laurent Barnard phoned in for a talk about the album, its short film, and the state of punk on both sides of the pond.
The new record has been out about two months. How do you feel the response has been?
It’s been really good actually. We’ve been getting the usual kind of ‘it’s not like your old stuff’ from a few kids. But for me, it’s been about three or four years since we wrote those songs [on Orchestra Of Wolves], so there’s bound to be a time where you do something different. You can’t just do Orchestra Of Wolves Part II. On the whole, it’s been really well received from our peers and media as well. And our fans, obviously.
A lot of people do notice that it’s different than our older stuff. I think with Orchestra Of Wolves, it’s a bit more angular, none of the songs go together. I don’t want to call the album a mess because I love it, but compared to this one, we thought about this one a lot more. We spent a lot of time making sure the whole album, if you played it from beginning to end, it kind of rolled, as if it was just one big musical piece.
Tell me about the idea for the videos for the record. I’m under the impression there was a script written for every song?
Yeah, the whole idea is the whole album would have a video playing underneath it, just from start to finish, a visual representation of a record. It was mostly Frank’s idea. But obviously, we’re not at the stage yet where we can throw that money into doing something as ambitious as that. In the end, we ended up doing the four singles and the first track of the album, which is kind of an introduction to Grey Britain.
For us it’s cool, because when we did our first album, we did these separate music videos, and none of them really kind of went together. None of them were really what we wanted; we were just so busy on the road touring, we’d have to shoot these videos while we were going along, and it was a bit messy. For this, we had a lot of control over what we were doing, we chose the director [Adam Powell] who did a lot of punk and hardcore bands in the UK, someone we knew from our scene. It was good because they were videos that tie into the album, tie into each other, and it all falls under the Grey Britain perfectly.