Interviews

We talk music and more with Dave Foster of Gin Annie

Words by: Erik De’Viking

Ahead of playing as the opening act for Deadland Ritual on the UK debut in London, I got the chance to sit down with Dave Foster of Gin Annie and discuss opening for such a huge act, the band itself, the direction they’re going, as well as some of the key ingredients needed to be a successful act in the modern music scene.

ED: Thank you for seeing me…

DF: You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure dude, my pleasure…

ED: This marks the first time we’re covering Gin Annie on My Global Mind, so this will be a bit of an introduction for everybody. So for our readers, tell me a bit about Gin Annie, I know you’re from Wolverhampton, you’ve gone through a bit of a line-up change, you’ve got 100% Proof out – brilliant album…

DF: Thank you, thank you… It’s a tough one really, because we formed roughly five years ago…

ED: Yeah…

DF: And you’re quite right, we’re from Wolverhampton. We started off having a bit of fun, as a bit of a covers band, and then we decided we were going to try our hand at writing our own songs. We did that… We wrote the first song which is called ‘Damage is Done’ which is on the album, as you know…

ED: Yep

DF: And we took stock. We listened and we thought… “I think we’d like to go in this direction…” Now at the time we had a different line-up. We had a couple guys who were in the band, who started off with us from the beginning, but from their perspective, they were quite more seasoned… a bit older than we were, and they were like, “well boys you go do what you need to do.”

ED: Which is fair enough…

DF: Which is fair, yeah, exactly. So, that’s what happened, and we introduced Phil on bass, and Byron on guitar…

ED: And things kind of ratcheted up a notch…

DF: That’s it, exactly yeah, so things kind of progressed from there, but that’s more or less how we formed. Then we started writing again, and we came up with quite a few tracks, and we took it to Shredder Live Lounge, which is fairly near to us, and we made an album…

ED: Yeah, and it’s a good album… and especially, as I’m a bit of an audio-geek, so the production values on that are really sweet.

DF: Ah yeah, cool man

ED: It is the sort of album you can sit back with, with the headphones on and really hear everything and feel the depth and percussion… you can feel the bassline through there, and of course that opening drumline…

DF: Yes.

ED: To ‘Love Ain’t Here’

DF: Yes.

ED: The first time I heard that, I was like.. “hmmmm.. that’s a strong start… where’s it going to go from here?”

DF: Where’s it gonna go, yeah… That one really, it’s not kind of copied, but inspired by, funnily enough, the Matt Sorum drumbeat from ‘You Could Be Mine’. I’ve always loved the beginning of ‘You Could Be Mine’, and I always said that I wanted to start the song off with, like you said, a strong beat, that will sort of lead it in its own direction, and that’s how that came about, yeah?

ED: OK.

DF: So it’s good fun, and good to play live…

ED: Yeah I bet, and I bet the crowd goes mental, because it’s a stand-out track…

DF: Thank you…

ED: I mean it pretty much sets you up for what’s coming, and it stays consistent throughout…

DF: Yes, but there’s a couple curve balls in there…

ED: Yeah, obviously there’s ‘Haunt Me’

DF: Yes.

ED: Which is another stand-out track for me.

DF: Thank you.

ED: I like that bit of the curveball in there. It’s not quite ballady…

DF: No, not it’s not…

ED: But, it’s kind of Queensryche ‘Empire’ era. It has that melodic ballad element, but it still has that undercurrent of an edge, something to kind of…

DF: You still need a bit of something…

ED: To twist it when it needs to.

DF: Yes. It’s a funny one as well, because that track was written primarily as an acoustic track. And we sat there, myself and Byron, and we just thrashed about on the acoustic…

ED: Well the best always hold up on acoustic…

DF: Well this is what we feel, and this is our kind of process if you like, and the way that we write our music… So we need to be able to play the songs, in an acoustic form, and it makes it a bit old school..

ED: And then of course you’ve got it, that’s the thing…

DF: Yeah that’s the thing, because if you can’t play it like that, then it doesn’t work, does it. So that’s how we run with it really. So you’re right there.

ED: OK. So in terms of writing the songs then, is it kind of an organic process that just develops?

DF: Yeah initially, I would say that at first 75% of the album was written by myself and Byron. But when we recorded it, we sort of came together and we had a few different ideas, and the songs did evolve. But now everything that we write tends to be…

ED: A collective

DF: A collective, right.

ED: So I’m guessing that means there’s already the beginning of a follow-up in play?

DF: Very good. Yes. Good detective work there…

ED: Yeah, a difficult one to crack that

(laughter)

DF: So yeah, it’s one of those where we sat there and we enjoyed the first album, and we looked and thought, “ok we need to up it a level,” which you do, you know?

ED: Yeah

DF: And as a debut album goes, we were pleased

ED: Yeah, I’d be very pleased with 100% Proof. That’s a very strong offering for a first album…

DF: Thank you sir! And that’s the thing, and the funny thing that people don’t understand is, those tracks on the album are the first ten songs we’ve ever written.

ED: And they don’t sound like that. That’s the thing, you can… you mentioned Matt Sorum, yeah if you listen to the album enough, you can kind of hear where your influences are coming from, but it’s not a case of this is an analogue to that… or this is a case of… well there are some bands out there that are clones. And Gin Annie is not a clone.

DF: No, not we’re not…

ED: That is one of the things that I found very refreshing is that you’ve got an old school, hard rock feel – yeah it has it’s melodic bits, yes it has its very crisp, clear vocals, and it has its power chords and everything else, but it’s a proper old school rock album, which we are desperately in need of more.

DF: Yeah definitely…

ED: So when you have someone come along like Gin Annie, it’s a bit like… whoa, hold on a second, I’m back on the Sunset Strip back in the late 80s. It’s that kind of stand up and listen moment, where you go, OK I need to hear more of this.

DF: Yeah I think you’re spot on there. So again with Byron, is very much 80s based, so he loves Motley Crue, Tesla, and all those kinds of bands. So introducing Byron, gave us that sort of… not hard rock, but…

ED: It gave you a harder edge

DF: Yeah precisely

ED: It’s almost like, although it’s not overt, there’s like a punkiness.

DF: Yes.

ED: It’s not in your face, it’s really subtle, like really far in the background… but there’s this punk sort of element there that when it needs to the welly goes in…

DF: Yeah that little lift… yeah… So you’re quite right. Our tastes are very different… very very different as a band. We’ve got myself and Byron who are very  much into our classic bands, you know, I’m a massive Paul Rodgers fan so I love my Free and my Bad Company. But then I like Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses. And Byron is very much 80s, and very much Metallica mad. Phil is a punk man, and Jack is a bit of a mix.

ED: So you get all those disparate elements together and you have the perfect ingredients…

DF: Yeah to avoid sounding like a clone. So yeah I think you’re spot on there.

ED: Now you guys do have a fresh feel, and I was very happy to see, having looked at your touring schedule… now obviously you’re here tonight, with Deadland Ritual…

DF: (loud exhale of air)

(laughing)

ED: I mean does it get much better than that?

DF: Yeah how do we explain that one?

ED: Yeah, I’m sure when you heard the news it was quite a shock, but also an amazing thing to be told.

DF: Well we went and asked the question… we said “we’d love to get on this gig”, when we heard the guys were coming over. And it was like” do we really stand a chance of getting on there?” So just ask the question…

ED: Yeah because the worst thing they can say is no.

DF: Absolutely, and then we were like… “ok… shit just got real…”

(laughing)

ED: Yeah like now it’s a case of “gotta start working guys…”

DF: Yeah…

(laughing)

DF: So yeah there’s quite a few things coming up. Obviously we have the Deadland gigs…

ED: Ugly Kid Joe, Ramblin Man…

DF: Yeah exactly, and Rock N Blues, Geoff Tate tour…

ED: Yeah I’ll be seeing you again in August for that…

DF: Yeah? Cool. So there are quite a few big gigs, or at least what we’d call big…

ED: Yeah but when you look at it in the microcosm of the short time that you’ve been here… You know, you’ve put in the hard work, you say you started off as a covers band… so you’ve slogged for it. It’s not a case of you went on some show…

DF: And got handed it…

ED: Exactly. You have grafted.

DF: Yes.

ED: And now you’re being rewarded.

DF: Yeah we did it like… when you listen to successful bands, who say “I remember playing at such-n-such in 1988 to six people. And we’re like, well we’ve done that… not in 1988, but obviously (laughing), but we’ve played these gigs where there’s been a handful of people.

ED: And now you’re at the O2 Islington Academy, and you’ve got an album that’s fit for arenas and stadiums….

DF: Yeah things are going really well…

ED: So now it’s just getting into that environment

DF: Yes. It’s what we want, and we work hard. We don’t take ourselves serious…

ED: Which is very important…

DF: Yes, which a lot of bands do. We just do it because we enjoy it. We love doing what we do. It’s just that simple.

ED: So…. Tonight… bricking it?

DF: Well…

ED: Or is it one of those things where it’s almost too real, so it’s kind of put you into some kind of weird fugue state?

DF: Yeah it’s a weird one, because we pulled up outside in the van, got the gear ready to come in, Matt Sorum walked by, and I’m like… “that’s Matt Sorum from Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver.” Massive fan. And you know, GnR, I’m mad for them, and when I see him walking across, I’m like “whoa, actually we’re on the same bill as this dude…”

ED: Exactly, and he’s also an extremely nice guy, very laid back, wicked sense of humour…

DF: Yeah…

ED: Very… dry sense of humour… sometimes you don’t know if he’s being serious or not…

DF: That’s it, yeah…(laughing) So for us, this gig tonight is by far our… maybe not biggest achievement, but it’s certainly made us sit up and take notice of how far we’ve come, and realise we’re progressing, we’re working hard…

ED: And if you’re being noticed by bands like that, you’re doing something right…

DF: Yeah, we’re getting rewarded…

ED: Yeah that’s the thing…

DF: And from that, like I said, we’re humble and we’re grateful…

ED: And that’s good.

DF: That’s what it’s all about.

ED: Moving forward then, you’ve spoken about writing new songs, you’ve got a number of gigs lined up, and then I’m guessing a break at the end of the year… And then back into the hard slog in the New Year?

DF: Yes. That’s correct. The second album, we are working on at the moment. It’s being produced by a really cool producer by the name of Romesh, and he’s exceptional. We’ve got two new tracks in the bag, and in fact we’ll be playing one of them tonight.

ED: Excellent, I look forward to hearing that

DF: It’s the third song in, it’s called ‘Dying To Live Again’ – one it’s about the current state of things surrounding mental health issues, and the whole stigma of that…

ED: No stranger to that myself…

DF: Yeah, so we’ve been writing a little bit on the serious side, but you’ll see in the way we perform…

ED: You’ve gotta have some fun…

DF: Oh, we have some fun…

ED: So with the music industry as it is these days, how do you tackle building a fanbase?

DF: That’s a very good question. I think you tend to have your nucleus of your fans from the beginning. Then you get the word of mouth, you know, we’ve been to such-n-such… and you do sort of get that knock-on effect, but from our perspective, what we need to do is get out there, play different places, play with different bands, completely different areas where we’re not known, and that is how you pick people up. Yes social media plays a massive part nowadays, but in the way it used to work, is you go out there…

ED: Yeah it was word of mouth, local rags…

DF: You slay your gig, and on you go. And people like yourself, people like you, who do the interviews, who actually spend the time to converse with us. It’s a big thing. It’s a big thing for us. So it does go a long way.

ED: I’m glad to help out however I can.

DF: It’s appreciated.

ED: Well thank you very much for your time, and I wish you all the best for your set tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

DF: Yeah cheers, and thank you again. It’s been a pleasure.

Written by: Erik De’Viking

My Global Mind – UK Editor

Erik De’Viking is a London based freelance music journalist. His musical interests include music in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.

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