GuilFest 2011 - Lineup

The Sound Of Guns

The Sound Of Guns story starts with three big problems - tests, if you will - and begins in a disused social club on a street you may have heard of: namely Penny Lane, Liverpool.
Glamorous, to begin with, this place is not. There's no water or electricity to speak of, but it is here that singer Andy and drummer Simon, having been donated the space and fresh from the disintegration of their previous band, slave for months over converting it into a rehearsal and recording studio. Soon, they begin working on new songs. They invite along their friend Nathan, who plays guitar. Things go well, quickly, and they put together a song called 'Alcatraz', which will turn out to be a key moment in the formation of their sound: it is big, powerful, unashamedly epic, melodic and beautiful. After this everyone is excited, not least Nathan's Australian friend, Lee, who comes down shortly afterwards for a jam and adds his own guitar parts. Things are clicking, but there is the first of the problems. That being that Lee has a ticket booked on a plane back to Australia.

"I was literally leaving when they asked me to come down," he remembers. "But I was so into it, I sold my ticket and stayed on in Liverpool, put my life in turmoil, all for this band..."
This should be adequate evidence of the conviction that lies at the heart of Sound Of Guns. They are an all-or-nothing kind of band. More evidence of this comes shortly after this turn of events and some suitably intense rehearsals at the foursome's first gig, which takes place, not in Liverpool, but at Oxford Street, London's now-deceased Metro club. In attendance that night is the final piece of the puzzle, Coley, a friend of Lee's who has come down for the gig and watches the band play the show with bass parts programmed on a laptop. At this point he is in another Liverpool band who are more focused on getting wankered every single night rather than rehearsing or writing world-beating songs. On that stage, he sees his future, and the next day he keeps texting and texting his friend, asking whether they have got a bassist.
"Basically," he says, "I knew that if I didn't join their band, I'd be fucked."

'Fucked' is one way of describing what happens to Sound Of Guns next when they encounter Problem Number Two. One night, after a particularly productive writing session, the band lock up and head home, with only Nathan taking his instrument with him. On returning the next day, they find the door busted open and all of their guitars gone. Every single one of them. This is not good news, and not the last bit of not good news either. Shortly afterwards, the studio is completely burned to the ground by local hooligans. Many bands might by now be thinking about taking the hint, but not Sound of Guns. In fact, if you look at the cover of their debut album, 'What Came From Fire', the pile of rubble to the left of the offices you can see is what remained of their studio.
A permanent visual reminder that nothing - nothing - will get in the way of this band getting where it needs to go.

Problem Number Three arrives again in Wakefield in May of 2009. The band are readying themselves for a show when, on returning to their van, they find themselves surrounded by dozens of police, including armed response officers with guns. They are ordered out of the van with their hands up, and informed that there have been reports of a bunch of Scouse lads talking about guns, and the sound of guns. Which is true, of course, but takes some explaining. Fortunately, this will be the last time this mistake is made.

Soon, the world gets it first chance to talk about Sound Of Guns rather than the sound of guns, thanks to a four-song EP called 'The Elementary of Youth' on Distiller and a packed show at their hometown's Barfly. People have hooked in quickly because the sound is undeniable: giant, bold music that feels as though it should be reverberating around stadiums, played with conviction. This may all be being created on Penny Lane but, Echo & The Bunnymen aside; there is little trace of the lineage of their home city. "One of the first things people say about us is that we don't sound like a Liverpool band," says Andy. "But we didn't have any boundaries. I love The Coral, and The La's and bands like that, but in terms of the music we wanted to make, that sound didn't really appeal to us. We were all right into The Walkmen, for example, who make a big noise. The others are all big on Led Zeppelin as well and soul music. The Doors.  I think people were expecting this, like, typical Liverpool band, and that's why people got interested so quickly. People seem to connect with the choruses, we can see that." 
And the songs continued to flow, taking this aesthetic further and further. Steve Lamacq, on hearing single 'Architects', tells them that they were "a band with ideas above their stations". Sound Of Guns take this as a compliment. "We would play Wembley next week if we could," states Andy, not joking at all, "and that reflects in the music."
"We have always been clear about the fact that we want to play big venues," continues Lee. "We're not ashamed of that fact. We've made no bones about the fact that we want to appeal to, dare I say, the masses."

Andy: "I definitely expect to be playing Knebworth in six months time."
This time he is joking, slightly. And yeah, it probably won't be happening in six months. But on the evidence of the debut album they have just finished recording, it is not out of the question. The record was created almost entirely by the band themselves, with the help of about "nine or ten grand's-worth" of gear that Sound Of Guns bought with their recording advance. Si is "a genius" when it comes to recording techniques, so the production was all handled by the band themselves. After all, when you're so assured and confident about what you want to do, there is little point in falling in to the trap that so many young bands do of surrendering their sound to a producer suggested by a label. They enlisted the help of Chris Potter (who played a major part in creating The Verve's 'Urban Hymns') to mix it, but this was the only head outside the band involved. "The way we did demos, from the earliest days of the band, has always worked so well," says Si. "We just thought, 'What's the point of going in to a big studio and changing what we do? You know, you might not come out sounding like your own band. You want your debut album to capture what you're about."
"I don't even like studios, really," Andy continues. "You feel pressured. It's too clean. I like singing in, like, a bin! It's about creating a place where you feel comfortable in."

"We've got our own studio," adds Lee. "So we can make two, three, four, five, six... seven albums now. We're in this for the long term."

"We'll be writing and recording for life now," concludes Andy. "We're putting everything into this."
And when you look into the eyes of Sound Of Guns, as you soon will, there is no way you can doubt them. Put another problem in their way if you dare, because there's no chance in hell that it will stop them. Thieves, arsonists and the police have all tried and failed.
Next stop: Knebworth. No problem

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