Gindrinker’s debut release consists of five songs: ‘Bacon Pt 2’, about a man photographed in a compromising position with some ham; ‘God Of Darts’, about Jim Bowen and ‘Bullseye’; ‘Hey! Greengrocer’, about an errant purveyor of fruit and veg; ‘Reilly’, about a local pub for local people; and ‘Ian The Dog Murderer’, about an animal rights activist with unorthodox methods. Obviously, you need to own it. Ben Woolhead
Ben speaks with Gindrinker’s DC Gates (vox/trumpet) and Graf (guitars/beats)
>Who or what inspires you?
DC: I thought about being facetious here, but I don’t want to be a twat, so (in no particular order): William Burroughs, John Cooper Clarke, Big Black, Les Dawson, Flannery O’Connor, Whitehouse, The Fall, Godflesh, Black Sabbath, Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, Butthole Surfers … I could go on. Lots of stuff, basically.
Graf: Apathy and the aversion of. I am really pleased that we are seen as a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” type band. I would much rather people paid any kind of attention than being a middle-of-the-road plodding indie band that people forget in an instant.
>You're the sort of band that people relish describing. Who's come closest to capturing what Gindrinker are all about and how did they describe you?
DC: Probably the various descriptions given by Lesson Number One [Cardiff promoter]
e.g. “Improbable tales, dry Northern wit and messy post-punk tuneage”, “Gruesome closing-time cabaret”, “If Ballard and Bukowski were barmen, and couldn't play bass.” Etc. Although I still like “Like Pop Will Eat Itself, only shitter.” Still haven’t heard PWEI.
>How would you describe yourselves?
DC: Personally, I’d say industrial garage rock, although I wouldn’t lump the band in with either camp. We keep being compared to The Fall, that’s a lazy comparison in my book.
>The sociopathic violence of your songs is tempered by humour, but there does seem to be real bile behind much of what you do. How much of your act is just that – an act?
DC: Well, it’s entirely an act. Nearly every song is from a viewpoint of a fictional character, either based on personal experience, or something I was thinking about. ‘Ian The Dog Murderer’ was based on several articles about the ALF and other groups, and one about urban dog owners. A lot of the music I listen to is heavy or weird, and the songs reflect this. I am a libertarian socialist, but a lot of our songs don’t necessarily reflect this viewpoint. ‘Tax Exiles’ is our only political song so far, and I endorse it – tax heavily those that can easily afford to be heavily taxed, and totally reclaim the wealth of those who refuse to pay and do so through offshore accounts. Meanness, wilful ignorance and narrow-mindedness irritate me greatly, just as much within music as in everyday life. People who talk loudly over quiet music that they have paid to see, just to say they were there, should have their legs broken.
Graf: I’m more sociophobic than sociopathic hence I tend to keep quiet and face the back a lot.
>Complete the following sentence: “Cardiff is...”
DC: “... both a shithole and a glittering palace of delights.”
Graf: “... interesting.”
>What influence has Cardiff had on you as a band, or your songs?
DC: Having worked in bars for five years has added to my gloomy and misanthropic lyrical output, and moving to a city meant that I got to encounter people who introduced me to different types of music. This has been a pleasure.
Graf: I’m really enjoying the current culture of support and collaboration in Cardiff. It can only be a good thing that people in bands go and see, support, promote and even play in other people’s bands. I hear stories of “The Great Cardiff Indie Wars of circa 2000” where (allegedly) due to a few egos getting out of control a lot of people got burnt. I really really really hope that doesn’t happen again. The current happenings have often been described as a community rather than a scene which I think is very apt.
>What impression do you think the This Town Ain't Big Enough For The 22 Of Us compilation gives of the city's musical culture?
DC: An unfortunate side-effect has been an over-emphasis on a certain type of indie music. There’s a lot of other stuff going on. That said, it’s been a leg-up for many people.
Graf: It is unfortunate but then again Twisted By Design is an indie disco so it is inevitably largely going to attract people who like and play the indie music. If I made a compilation of my 22 favourite Cardiff bands it would be different, if DC made one it would be different again, as would yours, as would anyone else’s. It is a very healthy sign of current musical goings-on that I can easily make a whole list of other bands that I believe deserved to be on there as well. Maybe it should have been a double album! Also, it’s worth remembering that it’s a compilation of unsigned bands which automatically excluded a lot of the city’s bigger players.
> ‘Hey Greengrocer!’ features a lot of inventive name-calling. What’s your favourite insult?
DC: “Whey-faced popinjay” is a good one, as is “brain donor”. I nicked “Falstaffian rampart of beef” from Wyndham Lewis and “Fray Bentos pie of a man” from my good friend Dan Onions. Thanks, fellas.
>What's next for Gindrinker?
DC: Hopefully some proper recordings, and some more dates outside of Cardiff. Reaching out to new people. It’s been awesome to have been doing this for two years, but we need to get stuff done this year. Our Great Leap Forward, if you will, but hopefully without the massive loss of life.
Graf: We’ve finally got our CDR demo finished (two years in the making!) so next begins the arduous process of sending that out to anyone who may be remotely interested and seeing what comes of that. I also agree that we need to get out of Cardiff more. I love playing in Cardiff but it does sometimes get a little disheartening to be playing to the same faces (as beautiful as they are!) all the time. We need a fresh challenge.