Sat in the beer garden of London’s notoriously DIY venue Blondies, we talked to Brighton’s GURU ahead of their Hard Of Hearing show with HUMMAH and Career.
Fresh off the back of their first “proper” single in ‘Consumer Helpline’, Brighton’s GURU headed to London to play a sweaty 60 capacity venue, as part of Hard Of Hearing’s ‘What’s a sweaty little punk show between friends’ night at new east London institute Blondies.
I pressed the band as to why it was important for them to release the riotous, yet short and snappy alt-rock nugget Consumer Helpline as an opening statement, instead of perhaps their psych-rock mind-melter Medicine Man. “You can move to it can’t you, you know what I mean.. it was our favourite collectively, it was our oldest in the set, apart from Medicine Man. It’s digestible, towards last summer we started writing different songs, faster and shorter“.
The band have clearly taken their first step into the industry world seriously, it’s clear from the nights show that they’ve got the live side of things down, GURU‘s set packs a serious punch, and few guitar bands will match their fierce and intense live presence. In this sort of in your face live environment, they’re in their element.
With an upcoming support tour with hyped Kent punk trio Lady Bird to look forward to, the band are cautiously optimistic about 2019. “Yeah we’re on that whole thing, 9 stops with a day off in Glasgow, I wanna get a battered mars bar or battered something..”.
The conversation flips to playing small venues such as Blondies, whereby the bands have to literally set up the stage themselves and are part of the whole night in every respect. “We love them man (intimate venues), right up our street, there’s a really small venue in Brighton called The Globe, RIP, a similar set up to this (Blondies), very intimate, DIY, sweaty, and since that place shut down you don’t really get that anymore in Brighton, except maybe The Richmond, they reopened The Globe, but it’s kind of a drum and bass bar which is annoying because we’re gonna be talking about the globe in years to come and talking about it highly, but it’s gonna be a different pub. We miss it dearly, it was our home, not just for playing, it was open late and cheap, it was opposite sticky mikes, RIP.”
“We wouldn’t have got a leverage if we hadn’t played at The Globe early on, we played some of our best gigs there. If we were starting now, it would be so much harder for us to get our foot in the door in Brighton, there’s less venues, less nights, seemingly less promoters. Not just for playing, but for punters.”
Brighton’s fertile new music scene has nurtured many talented band’s over the years, and today more than rivals London in terms of the sheer amount of quality bands the city holds. Yet within the current climate of venue closures, due to perhaps the lack of local government protection and financial support (and the world’s need of luxury apartments), even Britain’s golden, liberal city seems to be suffering as much as many.
“We were really lucky to have a really good and supportive group of people around for so long, that group has morphed a bit a changed over the years, that’s really important because behind every band you’ve got a group of people that make it fucking happen, mates and stuff, for newer bands who don’t have the live experience, and if they don’t have the mates and really small venues where its shit but its fucking great, its gonna be really demoralising, venues closing down is massively detrimental to everything.”
I sit on the fence and offer that perhaps the lack of interest in guitar music nowadays is aiding the lack of new British guitar bands having their time as festival headliners and ruling the airwaves. “Bullshit.. I don’t think that’s a factor in venues closing down, building houses next to venues that’s the thing, guitar music isn’t less popular, it doesn’t help that you have people like Roger Daltrey saying guitar music is dead, but what the fuck does he know, know what i mean, he was in The Who, great but, he’s not going to grass roots venues seeing what’s going on. It doesn’t help cos he’s such an influencer, you get someone who’s been nurtured from a scene like that 40-50 years ago and comes along and says something like that its mind boggling, why would you say that about where you come from? it doesn’t make sense. It is sad, you’ve got a lot of cultural leaders from the 60’s and 70’s who have turned around and said a lot of shit like this.”
Is guitar music still interesting or important? Does it serve itself best as the underdog? Are there any important guitar bands around right now, that are talking to a new generation in the right way?
“It’s the popular serge of stuff like Shame.. and Idles and doing real stuff man, but there’s more interesting bands like Squid, still using guitar but it a different way. Guitar music isn’t dead, it’s just transforming as everything does. I’m sure people said it in the 80’s when everyone was listening to pet shop boys, and then the 90’s rolled around and it all came back. West End girls is a tune though man, have you seen that video?”
One thing is for sure, GURU have more live fire power than most, it’s the frustration for change that makes great music, and guitar’s or not, the band seem focused on wreaking havoc on an unassuming new generation of music fans.
Suntrap, the new single by GURU is released on the 28th of February and is “.. a natural progression to Consumer Helpline, but with a bit more swagger”, you heard it from your boys first.
By Karl Johnson