The words “We’re Gallows from Watford” coming in Wade MacNeil’s Canadian voice to an outsider would sound puzzling, but to anyone who knows the history of hardcore punk band Gallows it’s not that strange. On the third day of Slam Dunk, the festival to be for hardcore and pop punk fans new and old, we caught up with the bands guitarist and one of the founding members Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard.
How are you finding the festival? Third day, how have the crowds been?
It’s been hard man, because there are so many people, trying go navigate to all the different stages and dressing rooms bit of a mine field. Just finding press was difficult! But it’s been cool, the best thing about Slam Dunk for me is hanging around with a bunch of dudes that you only see once a year, the guys in Comeback Kid, The Bronx, Bane and Trash Talk.
It is a really relaxed atmosphere isn’t it.
It’s a good social event for both the kids coming to the shows, and the bands. You can hang out and have a few beers and stuff, it’s fun.
You’ve named a couple of bands, are they the guys you’ve been catching?
Yeah! I want to try and catch Lightyear today, I’ve know those dudes for maybe twenty years so I’m looking forward to seeing them play because today’s probably their last show ever.
The new album came out in April, are you happy with how it turned out and how it’s been received?
It’s cool, it’s a very different record but then every Gallows record is different from the last. We’ve tried a lot of new ideas on this one, and it’s been really well received, reviews have been great. Everyone I’ve spoken to they get it, which is cool. It’s one of those albums though you either get it or you don’t, if you don’t get it it’ll go completely over your head but if you do get it you’ll enjoy it basically.
When it comes to playing live, do you play much of the old stuff because Frank had one sound and style and Wade has another. Does it make it hard to play the older tracks?
We do mix it up, today is predominately Wade era songs but we always play ‘Belly of a Shark’, ‘Misery’, ‘Orchestra of Wolves’ what I consider to be classic Gallows tracks. It’s fine man, Wade’s a versatile singer, and it’s not like those songs require anything that special, the musics the same underneath. It’s no different to when Comeback Kid changed singers, the same but different.
How does the recording process work these days? Do you record separately?
Well Wade is based in Toronto, Canada, Stu our bass player lives in Orange County, California. Me and Lee are kind of local, just outside of London so it’s really hard. Basically what we do is get together for a month write, record and play some shows and then we separate, wait till the album comes out then we get back together again do a bit to promote the album. It’s really hard with everyone living so far away, but I think at the end of the dat it’s the music that brings us together. It’s a good time making music that we love, as soon as that desire goes there’s no point doing it any more.
Are there plans to do a bigger headline tour on this album, because you played Scotland on Friday and then you’ve got another two nights following the festival, or is it a case of seeing what happens?
We take everything one step at a time. Essentially we are all adults now, I’m getting a mortgage, we’re doing grown-up shit. Yesterday Wade was finding out that there was something wrong with his house, we’ve got grown up problems to deal with. It’s time to focus on that for a bit now.
You’ve taken Baby Godzilla out on tour with you, now they have a release on your record label. Are they officially on the label, are you producing there album? What’s happening there?
Basically we put out a 7” on Venn Records which is our record label. Baby Godzilla are an amazing band, amazing live band and really good dudes, and everything we do on Venn Records it’s got to have like the right vibe to it. It’s not about picking something that is easy to market, it’s about picking something that is going to spark interest, we’re not doing it to sell millions of record, although that would be nice. It’s a brand, and we want that brand to create something people associate with a certain type of music, whether that be electronic, punk or hardcore, it’s got to have an edge to it something original and different. Baby Godzilla represent that completely!
Is that the same with the MetalMania show?
The MetalMania show came about because I’m really good friends with the dudes from The Hell, and they basically fucking got on my laptop and found all these dodgy photos and they were like “either you put on a show for us or we’re going to make them public on the internet” so I’ve got to put on a gig for them, so that’s how it has come about?
Are you a wrestling fan?
I’m a massive ‘old skool’ wrestling fan, so that’s why I came up with the old style WrestleMania sign.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For a speed round, that’s an intense question. Let me think! I think I just want to be remembered for Gallows, Gallows has been the most important project I’ve been involved with it’s definitely been something I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy and put all my heart into. It sounds like an obvious answer, but I’ve got to say Gallows.
Dream dinner guest (dead or alive)?
That’s a tough one, this quick fire round is hard. I’m a Libra, so I’m really bad at making decisions. I honestly can’t think of one, I’ll come back to it maybe.
If you could only play one venue for the rest of your career, which would it be?
I’m a huge fan of the Underworld in Camden, I’ve been going to gigs and seen all my favourite hardcore bands there, it’s a fun vibe to play it’s a proper London club, so yeah Camden Underworld.
Favourite swear word?
You can’t go wrong with fuck can you?
What was the last song that proper made you stop and listen?
Recently it will be Jack U which is Diplo and Skrillex, their new track with Justin Bieber is an absolute banger, check it out.
What did you have for breakfast?
Today I missed out on breakfast, but I had some chocolate left over from last night. It was like a salted caramel Galaxy bar, so I had some of that.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
What album are you embarrassed to own?
I can’t remember, there are loads of times I’ve toured with bands who I think are terrible but they are really nice dudes and they’ve give me their record, I don’t want to shame them but probably one of those guys.
Massive thanks to Lags for taking the time out to speak to us, you can catch Gallows on their remaining UK date in Manchester on 27th May (depending on when you are reading this) or you can catch Lags performing with Krokodil at Download Festival in June, or check out Gallows latest album ‘Desolation Sounds’ which is out now on Venn Records.