The Gadsdens are something very very special. It’s no big surprise why they are on the up-and-up in the UK at the moment. I first heard of The Gadsdens through Temposhark around New Years and found myself instantly hooked on their brilliant and haunting track "The Sailor Song" which made it’s way around all the good music blogs. These boys aren’t just another "THE" band making a bunch of noise – they are deeper than that, more heartfelt if you will.
With just one listen to their cover of Bronski Beat’s "Small Town Boy" I instantly became a hardcore fan – and having said that, the "beautifully awkward" Gadsdens now have a permanent little place here at EQ and are card carrying members of the EQ Royale now! Which basically means I’ll be going on and on about them for months.
I got a chance to chat with Jody and Simon from The Gadsdens about some of their brilliant tracks, the artists that influence them, the loveliness of Sia and how they made one of the Bronski Beat boys cry…enjoy.
Hey guys, welcome to EQ. Now first of all, you really all aren’t brothers are you?
Simon: We’re not biological brothers, no. If I had my way we would all be called The Neilsons (Simon’s surname) and live under one roof like some weird all male musical family!
Jody: Thankfully, you wont have your way Simon and we will remain The Gadsdens and we will all live in separate houses in East London for all eternity!
Having said that, how did you all come together as The Gadsdens?
Jody: Simon and I have known each other for years, but had separate musical projects going on. About a year or so ago we were both at loose ends, musically speaking, so we decided to work together and the results have been quite magnificent. David joined us on the drums last summer and we’ve had various input from other talented musicians along the way.
So you’ve described your sound as "Tracy Chapman on uppers and Stevie Nicks on downers". I kinda feel like it’s more of a melodic Anthony & The Johnsons meets Coldplay kinda thing. Fair comparison or way off the mark?
Jody: I wrote that description at the beginning when I wasn’t sure what our sound would turn out like. I’ve always vocally been compared to Tracy and I used to shoot drugs up my posteria like Stevie, so it seemed like a natural comparison! I love Anthony and the Johnsons, and I can see where you’re going with the Coldplay comparison. A friend described us once as "beautifully awkward" – I really liked that description.
I have to admit, your cover of Bronksi Beat’s "Small Town Boy" really made me sit up and listen. I didn’t even realise it was a cover until the chorus – that’s how good it is! Do you feel a special connection to that song?
Simon: "Small Town Boy" was the first song we worked together on. It was recorded and produced very quickly for a film that my friend was directing. We knew it was essential to keep the sentiment of the original; we just did our thing and by chance it suited the song really well. I later contacted Steve Bronski and he said he almost cried when he heard it, which was incredibly humbling!
Jody: We’ve never performed it live, I don’t think I could ever do it justice – I’m very proud of our recorded version though.
"The Sailor Song" is something very special – you can’t help but get hooked into it’s melody straight away. I find myself humming it on the tube all the time. How did this song come about?
Jody: Oh gosh, I wrote the song about two years ago, my old band had just got dropped by a small record label and I was feeling very constrained and trapped musically – I think the song reflects that period. I was feeling a bit useless and controlled – not necessarily by a person but by a situation. I played the song to Simon and he added the amazing piano riff and it just went from there – it just seemed to work and fall into place. It’s one of my favourites, but I’m sure I’ll get sick of hearing it in years to come.
Probably my favourite song I’ve heard so far from you guys is "Trouble In Mind". This song is a little eerie – was that intentional?
Simon: It’s an eighties horror movie thing! I was totally inspired when doing the piano layers and had probably been watching "The Exorcist" or something. We aim to chill the bones!
Jody: We co-wrote/produced this song with Barney JC. We have some great ideas if this ever got made into a music video, churches and graveyards and deserted streets in New Orleans, and screams and blood and stuff – but it would all be very PG rating…
Sounds very cool if you ask me! Now you guys are gigging non-stop for the next few months and were beyond great at Blow Up Metro. How are you finding audience reactions to your music so far?
Simon: Reactions have been amazing. To start with we were anxious as to how our music would be received and are always continually surprised with the feedback we are given. We always hope to put the audience through a range of emotions without completely bumming anyone out! The start of our set is always the fun stuff though.
How is your first collection of tracks coming together? Is an EP or album in the works? Any surprises in store?
Simon: We have many new songs that we hope will make it onto the EP. All are very different from each other. Our production is also going to be very classically inspired with a whole range of instruments. One track will be centered around the harpsichord and strings, very "Dangerous Liaisons"…
Jody: We are very prolific which can be a nuisance sometimes because we tend to hop from one song to the other and abandon ideas for what we think is the next best song we’ve ever written. We’ve been working with Sean McGhee for the past several months, he produced and co-wrote Temposhark’s new album "The Invisible Line", and he’s been amazing in de-constructing our songs and making us think about the colouring and structure of each new song we perform to him. I really cannot wait to get into the studio and start recording these new tracks.
I have to admit, I’ve been stalking and re-visiting some of the fantastic artists you list as influences on your MySpace page. Are there some other artists that you’d like to recommend for EQ readers listening pleasure?
Simon: Oh yes, Vampire Weekend I love at the moment, we are very akin in style, and also Eugene McGuiness. He is so young it scares me. He could be our honorary Gadsden son!
Jody: I’m loving Sia’s new album. Her voice and lyrics are whipped cream to my ears and eyes.
Tell us about your songs "The Secret Diary Of A 27 Year Old" and "I Killed Love" – they sounded great live and we can’t wait to hear the final mastered tunes.
Simon: Both will hopefully have big brass and strings so looking forward to recording these for the EP. They are always fun to play as they just bounce along like good little pop tune should.
Jody: I always refer to "Secret Diary" as our Kelly Clarkson number, even though it really doesn’t sound anything like "Since U Been Gone". I love "I Killed Love", would it be narcissistic to have those words on an anchor tattooed on to my arm? It probably would, wouldn’t it?
Simon: Yes, Jody it would be lame.
If you could do a collaboration with any artist – who would be your dream artist to work with?
Jody: From a singing perspective I’d love to duet with Tori Amos or PJ Harvey – the obvious choices. Oh and Sia too – if you know her, introduce us to her. She’s smashing!
Simon: Id love to work with the producer Marius de Vries. He did wonders with Rufus Wainwright and every time I hear "Memphis Skyline" I get shivers. He should definitely get in touch!
That’s it – thanks guys. Any parting words for EQ readers?
Jody: Just thanks to everybody who has been supportive of us over the past year or so, and here’s hoping 2008/09 is our year!
Big thanks to Jody and Simon for taking the time to answer some of my burning questions! Let’s take a look at them live shall we at Blow Up Metro. If you get a chance to see them, definitely go out of your way do so! You can hear all of these brilliant songs we’re going on about now over on their MySpace page too – give them a whirl EQs!
||The Secret Diary
Of A 27 Year Old