Interviewed by Francijn Suermondt
And if any band knows a thing or two about curveballs – and, more crucially, how to knock ‘em out of the park – then it’s Glasgow’s favourite hard rockers GUN. Hit albums and singles, break-ups, line-up changes… GUN have done them all and more, and at each turn have come back stronger and better than before.
Fran from myglobalmind.com had a great time getting to know Jools and having a good old natter about LA in the 90’s, controversial videos and Mick Jagger!
FS – I am here today at Ramblin Man with Jools Gizzi from ‘Gun’, how are you today?
JG – I’m good, I’m fine….
FS – Are you buzzing after your set?
JG – Absolutely, you know with the sunshine, the gig, friends, some beers!
FS – It couldn’t be any better, could it! It is the first time that I have seen you guys play today and I have to say that you really stonking! And the crowd were just loving it!
JG – Yeah and actually we were supposed to play this festival last year and something happened and we couldn’t. So we came here last year just to hang out you know and watched ‘ZZ Top’, ‘Extreme’ and all the other bands and we got a vibe for it here. From when Ramblin Man started, it was a festival we always wanted to do. It really reminds me of Sweden Rocks, do you know that one?
FS – I have never been there no …
JG – It is a very similar setup and I just know that from last week we have been really buzzing about playing here, we knew the weather would be nice. And when we got up on stage and saw the audience there, we thought wow, there is a lot of people here to see us play! And that really gets your adrenaline going you know!
FS – You guys were buzzing! And I think this festival is perfect for your genre of rock too ….because it is such a positive sound that you have, and I think in the sun today the crowd really felt this. I have to say you are a very positive band, but your new video is a bit controversial isn’t it? And it’s for the song ‘Take Me Down’? It reminded me of something like that movie ‘Natural Born Killers’ …..
JG – Yeah, that was the kind of vibe we wanted for it you know, some bands like performance videos and stuff, but for us, we wanted to get a little story going with this one. Yes, you are right with the ‘Natural Born Killers’ but we were also thinking of a ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ feel to it too.
FS – Yes it definitely reminds a bit of that video too …awesome, awesome video by Prodigy!
JG – Yeah we just wanted to take it that wee bit edgier, some people might like it and some people may not. But hey, you know it’s only a video you know!
FS – Yeah and I think it is interesting that you guys do that, it’s unusual for you isn’t it?
JG – Absolutely, absolutely unusual for us, I like, we all really like the video though, we like the idea and the concept of it, so take a chance with it! If you feel good about it, take a chance on it!
FS – You guys reformed in 2008 and you seem to have a new army of fans coming in. you are still traditionally ‘Gun’ but really amended for the modern time, that is how I feel about it ….
JG – Well Fran I tell you, I think in the past when we brought out our first album and our second album, they progressively changed. When we brought the ‘Swagger’ album that was different again and I just think where we are now I just think if you can capture, as well as all the rock fans, but other fans too, but by maintaining the rock sound, that has to be a good thing. You know I am probably one of the biggest ‘Queen’ fans out there …
FS – I was going to ask what your biggest influences were?
JG – Yeah ‘Queen’, and I just loved the way they have moved in their career, and I always speak about ‘Queen’ because one minute they are a heavy rock band and the next something else, And I just think it is healthy this way, if you made the same record you made 25 or 30 years ago then it just gets a bit boring. We are not shy of trying something new.
FS – And it keeps it fresh for you!
JG – Yes that’s right and I have had lots of interviews about that, you know, I believe that you should kind of move with the times.
FS – Yes but still be true to yourself at the same time …
JG – Yes, thirty years ago we had records, concerts and reviews when people came to see you. Now we have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube ….and that’s where it’s at you know.
FS – That was actually going to be one of my later questions, as to how you have seen it change in the music industry, and if you had to start all over again, would you rather start when you did or now?
JG – There are two things to that, I don’t want to talk about the politics side of the music industry, but it’s all about selling records. Of course, it’s all about the music, but record companies put so much pressure on you…..you need a hit, you need a hit, you need a hit! And I totally get that, so what record you made people could go and buy it, it was easier, just pop to the record shop or whatever, but now you’ve got Spotify and everything like that kind of dilutes the sales. But, there are still music fans out there and that’s the thing, it’s just a case of moving with the times. And you have to accept it and just get on with it.
FS – Well you guys obviously thrive off it …
JG – The sad thing is the young bands that don’t get signed because I think it is very difficult for a young band today. I would hate to be a young band trying to get a record deal now.
FS – Well there is so much competition as well, with all the social media platforms and everything else.
JG – But at least now you can write all your music in your room and you can get it out there on your YouTube channel or whatever. I have to say I am not a massive fan of Ed Sheeran but that young guy, all he did was Facebook, Twitter and pushed himself, and he worked really hard before he got signed. It can be done and that’s the thing.
FS – See I’m very old school and I used to love saving up my pocket money and waiting two weeks for an album to come into a record shop, but that’s just me showing my age I guess! How did the public respond to the change in your vocalist, as obviously, your brother became the vocalist …
JG – Well, it took a wee bit of time to convince people that Dante could fill Mark Rankin’s shoes. And obviously, with the change in the sound, it took a bit of time to convince fans and the press. But we kind of believed in what we were doing and now Dante holds his own. He does what he does best and Mark was just a different time. And now people are just seeing the fruits of Dante’s labours …..
FS – My husband said to me when he knew I was interviewing you “Don’t you remember, the first time we saw the name ‘Gun’ was written on the front of the Whisky A Go Go” this was when we live in LA in 1991 I think it was?
JG – It was 1990 …were you at the gig?
FS – No I was doing reviews and I was doing a review of a gig at The Roxy the same night. My husband was a drum tech over there in LA for a band called ‘Julliet’.
JG – Well, in 1990, we were halfway through an American tour and wow some of the venues were shitholes, you know those ones that have the chicken wires up? When we started that American tour, we got a phone call saying “By the way, there is a chance you could open for the ‘Rolling Stones”. And we were just yeah, right, ok, not even thinking that would ever happen. Then halfway through the tour, we got a phone call saying that it really looked like this was going to happen and that we needed to put a plan together if it did. So we said let’s just finish off the tour and we were told no we couldn’t finish off the tour. The last two dates were meant to be two nights at the Whisky. Two weeks before this we were told we had the Stones slot! The Friday and Saturday nights were already sold out at the Whisky so we had to change these to a matinee and an evening gig. So the first show we played 7 pm on the Friday and then the second show was at 10 pm on the Friday because we had to fly back to Rotterdam on the Saturday to open for the Stones on the Sunday.
FS – How cool is that!
JG – So that was the story about that gig in 1990!
FS – Thanks for that as that is a really great part of me and my husband’s history as well!
JG – It was amazing going from the small gigs we were doing to playing in front of 55,000 supporting the Stones! We were like little chickens thinking oh my god! Trying to deal with that, it was a bit full on, I mean they are the most famous band in the world, aren’t they!
FS – Were they cool, the Stones, nice guys?
JG – I remember after we got to Rotterdam we were sitting backstage in a Portakabin and I was sitting with my back to the wall and I was looking at the window and the rest of the guys were facing me. And I said “Mick Jagger has just walked past and I think he is coming straight in here right now” he was with our manager, and the guys didn’t believe me. And sure as god, he walked in and introduced himself to us and told us that he loved our record and loved us.
FS – What an experience!!
JG – Absolutely phenomenal!
FS – You have toured extensively around the world, as we have just been discussing, I spoke to Deen Castronovo recently from the Dead Daisies and he said that the European fans were a lot more open-minded than the fans in the USA. Here today we have all sorts of bands playing on the same bill, but in the US this does not seem to happen as much ….you would never have full-on metalheads listening to Journey for example over there.
JG – Absolutely, you know America is a very, very difficult country to break in to. I have always witnessed, every time I played in Europe, a warmth .. people want to know your band and know your music. In America, if they don’t know you or you try too hard to get them to like you, it can be difficult. I don’t know what it is, whenever we play in Europe, the Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese ….no matter how young or old you are, if you are up there playing your heart out and they like it, they will really love you. And they are really loyal fans too. I just think American fans can be a little bit difficult to please sometimes. But I think in America you are either a Van Halen, a Bon Jovi or a Springsteen or a Prince or else you are a nothing. There is no in between.
FS – I remember all the young rock bands had to work so hard with flyers on the Sunset Strip and I sort of miss the innocence of those days really …..
JG – Yeah right!
FS – So do you have any ‘Hot Off The Press’ news for our readers?
JG – Our tour is coming up in November/December. There will be about 12 British dates, then a week scheduled to play in Europe such as Germany, Scandinavia, Portugal places like that. And then we will be back in the studio to record an EP, just to kind of bridge the gap and keep the momentum going for the fans. And then maybe later on a new album. Every day we are writing, writing, writing…we just love doing it!
FS – I’m from Torquay, not that many people play down here in Devon, will you be coming that far south?
JG – Plymouth is where we last played in Devon, but we will be in Bristol this time…
FS – Oh great I will come and see you there then!
JG – Yeah, yeah … come along! We will definitely know the dates for sure in the next couple of weeks….
FS – When they are out, myglobalmind will spread the word for you guys!
JG – Oh that would be great Fran, thank you!
FS – And your EP …. Get your guys to send it over and we will review on the site too for you …anything we can do to support you guys we will do so.
JG – That would be fantastic!
FS – Thank you so much for giving me your time today