Phone interview with Lee (and Steph) by Sheraz Qureshi

Touted as the "best British punk band since The Clash" by the biggest rock magazine in the world. With their stunning debut record Orchestra Of Wolves Gallows have definitely made one of the albums of the year but with their chilling, straight-up, straight edge tales of date-rape and divorce they will blow your face off and away when you see them live. That is an absolute promise… (DiS)


Traditionally there has always been a link between punk rock and radical politics, but i haven't really come across any political rhetoric from you guys, is that something that you purposely avoid? What political issues are you passionate about?

Lee: To be honest we don't really have an interest in politics. We do what we do, we're just a punk band and we're just interested in the music.

Who would you vote for?

Lee: No-one

You've said that music should be ' exciting and dangerous' - what does that mean ?

Lee: When we started the band we were fed up of going to shows with bands who just go through the motions…

Well in what way are the gallows dangerous?

Lee: Have you not seen our live shows before? Our shows are one of those things where anything can happen. There aren't many bands around, especially in the UK, where blood is spilt on stage and band members are hospitalised.

How did you get into punk rock? What were the bands that got you started? And what bands are you listening to at the moment?

Lee: I started more by listening to metal bands and originally the Offspring - but obviously you have to question the integrity of a band like the Offspring now. What really got me into it though was Rage Against the Machine - when I went to see them live. Their live show was incredible…

At the moment I'm listening to Cursed from America, who will hopefully be over in the UK soon.

Black Coal as well - our singer and guitar player's little brother's band. They'll be on tour with us in September.

This may seem like a strange question to ask, but are you proud of being male? The reason why i ask is that a lot of your lyrics (such as orchestra of wolves) don't really paint masculinity in the most positive of lights....

Lee: You're probably better off asking Frank as he writes all the lyrics. But, yeah, I'm definitely proud of being male.

Related to that also, there seems to be a contradiction between the attack on testosterone driven excess in your songs, and the format of the live shows, which are very aggressive and in that sense also, male...

Lee: Well there's a lot of energy, and a lot of testosterone flying around. But we don't endorse people coming to the show just to beat the shit out of each other. It happened yesterday in Orlando, people deliberately beating the shit out of each other. If that happens then we stop the show until they sort it out

But you're quoted as saying that you let people get on stage to punch you? How did that come about? And aren't the majority of your fans their to have a good time?

Lee: Frank used to say " if you don't know the words then come up on stage and punch me" But that was mainly when we first started the band, it doesn't really happen that much anymore. But we had a few takers recently. One girl in Newcastle came on stage and hit Frank and she had a massive ring on her finger, it hurt quite a bit! Usually when he says it he doesn't have many takers…

What is a fake band? And what is it about them that makes a band like the gallows want to react so strongly against them?

Lee: Bands who play music where they're heart is not into it, and they're doing it just for money. That's what we think of as fake. It's playing something that you're not really into. You see so many guys at the moment who are in their 30s, who have got fashion hair cuts, and they play shit pop punk. They're just in a band to score chicks and to make money. And that's not what we think being in a band is about.

How have US audiences responded to you?

Lee: We started of and the crowds didn't really know what to expect when they saw us. Because we're pretty unknown over there, the album has only just been released. The crowds are starting to get bigger now, and more people are coming along who know the words, which is really cool. But we're still just getting our name out in America. We've had a few instances where the crowd have heckled us - but if people don't like you they don't and if they do, they do.

The reason why I ask I guess, is that there's a tendency within punk rock circles to automatically assume all Americans are thick…

Lee: I'm not sure - most Americans who we've met are pretty clued up when it comes to knowing what punk rock is. The audiences on warped tour are really diverse. You have really young kids who are into newer bands, and then older guys who are into bands like black flag and more old school stuff. I wouldn't say Americans are thick; they get what we are doing, but you do get a few meatheads as well.

You've said that you're not really fans of the sex pistols? I was wondering if I could get you to expand and that? And ask why you played a gig on the Thames?

Lee: We don't like being compared to them, because - well, for one, they were all a bunch of crackheads. Frank defiantly doesn't like being compared to Jonny Rotten. He doesn't even drink. Musically I don't even think we sound like them either. I think there's a lot more going on in our music then there was in the Sex Pistols.

What was the last great book that you read?

Lee: I haven't read a book in a very long time… I don't get the chance.

Who are your heroes ?

Lee: David Bowie

Any reason in particular?

Lee: I've just been into his music since I was really little, and everything else that he does. He's got so much going on - he's an actor, he paints, and he still looks great now even though he's in his 60s.. I think he's a legend.

Do you feel an affinity with bands like the horrors ?

Lee: No not at all.

Could you expand on that a bit?

Lee: Different types of music - They're just completely different to us. They're more about their style. I've got nothing against them at all. I don't know them as people - so I cant tell you what they are like. But to me they just come across as being more about the way they look then substance. And that's not something I like.

Do you think that punk rock can change things?

Lee: Yeah definitely - and The Gallows will change things. We've already done really well. For a punk band, we've got mainstream radio one airplay during the day. So I definitely think punk rock can change things, there are a few bands who have done it before in the past - and hopefully we'll be the ones to do it now.

So you want to change the musical climate at the moment?

Lee: We wanted to get more bands like us on the radio. Make sure that people are aware that there is good music out there - so people know that they don't have to listen to the shit that's played at the moment.

How does it feel knowing that you are so important to so many people?

Lee: I don't know how important we are to people. When we started the band we really had no idea that [it would come to be like this]. We just wanted to play music that we really enjoyed. It just feels amazing.

Could you talk a bit about being 'straight edge' - what was it about the movement that appealed to you, and how has it changed you?

Lee: I'm not straight edge, Steph is, would you like to speak to him? Hes' sitting right next to me.

Steph: It didn't change me.

Basically I don't like the way people become when they get drunk. I don't want to be one of those people. I can have a really good time when I go out - without drinking, without taking anything. I think people who need to go out and drink to have a good time; I think that's bullshit - and that's the reason why I don't drink.

It hasn't really changed me - I didn't really drink that much before anyway. My friends when I was younger would go out and get absolutely wasted - and that would never appeal to me. To be honest I think, the way my friends were, earning money and then just pissing it away on a night out - it didn't seem appealing, and it never will.

How will the second album differ from the first, can you tell us about any songs / works in progress? What will the lyrics focus on?

Lee: We're touring solidly until March next year. We haven't really had a chance to even rehearse or write anything new. But, expect the next album to be ten times better!

What was it that made you feel like the band couldn't carry on anymore…

Lee: We played a show in Sheffield and Frank felt as if he had enough. It was a hard time - but as we carried on doing that tour, he got through that. It does get too much sometimes - and we all have our moments - but we're having a great time at the moment.

Sorry for asking this (but we are a manics inspired zine). what's your favourite manics album?

Lee: I really like the holy bible. And I like everything must go to. The holy bible is a fucking awesome album.

And finally... chips of cream buns?

Lee: Chips. Chips definitely!

Thanks to Lee and Steph for their time and to James Sherry at Division for arranging things.


Pix by Steve Bateman - more of his Gallows pix here