Interview with BRAD CAMPBELL of GYROSCOPE
Perth rockers Gyroscope are back with their first studio recordings since 2010! Their double A-side single, Crooked Thought / DABS is out now. This is the first studio recordings since their fourth album Cohesion which debuted at number three on the ARIA charts, the follow up to their number one album Breed Obsession. They are also set to embark on a national tour in January next year. AMNplify’s Amy Smith caught up with bassist Brad Campbell to discuss the new tunes, touring and what keeps the fans loyal despite extended breaks.
Exciting things are happening in the Gyroscope camp at the moment. In the last week, not only was there a national tour announcement, but you released the first new studio recordings since 2010!
I know. Can you believe it? Someone told me the other day (it has been) seven years since our last release and I actually couldn’t believe it! I don’t know where that time has gone. We’re just happy to put something new out.
I can tell that the fans are really excited too.
Well, I wasn’t sure whether people would actually remember who we were! I was talking to someone the other day that was born in 1994. I said “1994? I think that’s when Kurt Cobain died” then she said “Who?”. If people don’t even remember Kurt Cobain, then they probably don’t remember Gyroscope.
That’s a worry. I thought that even younger generations would know who Kurt Cobain is!
C’mon! I mean who hasn’t heard… I said “You know, Nirvana” and they went “Huh?”. I was like “Nah! That’s not on!”.
No it’s not. Especially with all the Nirvana shirts that you see walking around these days too!
(Laughs). Yeah well, they sell Nirvana shirts at Target now, don’t they?
I dunno. I guess it’s just some cool brand now. That’s a worry. I don’t know what’s been going on since we’ve been away but maybe people aren’t into guitar music anymore.
Mmmm. Well, I think we should change that.
I think so. But you know what? There has been some good guitar music out there. Violent Soho, Dune Rats and all those sort of guys, so it’s good.
Why such the long gap between new Gyroscope recordings?
I dunno. I think we’ve just been getting on with life. We just kind of got to the end of the era back then when we thought that we’re just gonna go do some real-life stuff like get married, have babies and all that sort of stuff, and we just kinda got lost in all that. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to take that long, it just happened. It came to a time when we were all sitting around getting a bit bored and just thought ‘You know what? Let’s just get back together and write again for fun’. I think we kinda lost that towards the end, I felt like I did anyway. Not that we were writing stuff that we didn’t want to write, but it kinda got to the point where it almost felt like a job in a way. When we first started we were just a bunch of mates writing songs and having fun, and I feel like we lost that in the end. And now we’re back into it again, it fell into place and it felt natural. I think that’s what happened and we needed that holiday break. We’re keen to get on tour, play some shows, not take it so seriously and see what happens.
On behalf of the fans, thank you for coming back!
Yeah no worries! It’s good aye! We go up to Dan’s, he’s got a studio in his backyard and we just go up there, drink beers, get into a bit of a haze and just write tunes for fun, we love it. Now that we’ve all been working full time jobs and doing all that, we kinda realised what we had and got back for the fun of it all. So yeah, pretty happy with it all.
Speaking of new tunes, the first words that came to my mind when listening to Crooked Thought and DABS were ‘loud’ and ‘gritty’.
How would you describe the new tunes?
It’s been a long time between tunes, we didn’t want to come back with something that we weren’t totally happy with. We basically went into the studio writing songs that, the way I describe it is that I wanted to write a song that sticks the middle finger up musically. It’s something that we’re proud of, it’s something that represents the bands we grew up with and the bands we love listening to now.
I definitely think that you’ve achieved that.
Which is good. To be honest, with Crooked Thought, we’ve all kind of said that it’s one of our favourite songs that we’ve ever written. I don’t know what it is, it’s just got everything that we love in it. It’s got that, we kinda feel like a bit of Fugazi clashed with The Bronx sorta vibe. It’s just something that we’re really proud of. What happened was, about a year ago, Dan went on to the Gyroscope website, I don’t know if people look at band websites anymore, but anyway, we went on there and there was a video clip for one of our songs called What Do I Know About Pain. We looked at that and thought if someone landed on that page and saw that and that’s what they think of (the band)… we were like nah! Gotta change that. We didn’t have anything in mind, we just wanted something that we were proud of.
Are these singles an accurate representation of the direction you are heading in for album number five?
Yeah, I think so. We’ve probably written about 12 songs. We just went through the list the other day, there’s about 7 of them that have potential. And yeah, they’ve all got that sort of heavier, back to our sort of roots sort of vibe. So that’s kind of where we’re heading. To be honest, with every record, with every song that we’ve ever written, we don’t go “Alright, we’re going to write everything like this…”, we write songs that we are feeling at the time. I guess we’re old angry men now (Laughs). You know what though? We just get all that negativity and turn it into positivity through our music.
Gyroscope live SOTA Festival 2017 – Photo William Buck
Yeah well, that is exactly what music is for. It’s used to express those feelings and get it out there.
Oh yeah, totally. I think that we’re pretty lucky that we do have that outlet. A little while ago, I’m doing an apprenticeship at the moment, but I went through this period where I was going to work every day, I was working long 60 hour weeks, and I was just getting down. I thought nah! There’s gotta be more to life than this! That’s what spurred me to pick up the bass again and get in touch with Dan and the boys and just start writing tunes. Even though I was working those long hours, I was going up to Dan’s on a Friday and Saturday night and staying up ‘til four in the morning and just ruining my whole week with of lack of sleep. But you know what? It’s an outlet and it makes me feel so much better, so I’m happy to have that outlet.
How did it feel to get back in the studio to write and record new material?
Yeah, it was good! It was pretty natural. For the last few records we got all these big, hot shot producers from overseas and went to London and LA and all that sort of stuff. This one was done in Osbourne Park in Western Australia, in an industrial area like five minutes from my house (laughs). A good mate of ours Dave Parkin produced it, who’s an absolute gun! We were pretty happy! It was all done in about four or five days. We did two songs, did all the pre-production and recording. Yeah, that was it. We didn’t really want to think too much about it, we just wanted to get these songs out there.
Yeah, I guess that’s what contributes to that gritty feel.
Yeah. That was pretty conscious. We just wanted something that represents our live show and something that we can play live and replicate live and turn the guitars up and just smash it out basically.
It’s funny you say that because as I was listening to the songs, it felt like they were written specifically for the live setting.
Yeah, well I mean, that’s something that we love doing. Overdubs and that are cool, all these different layers and making it sparkle. But at the end of the day, we’ve been listening to bands that get in there smash it out, release songs and tour. Do it the old-fashioned way really.
Speaking of tours, over the past few years you’ve treated WA to a few shows, here and there, but what are you looking forward to most about getting back on the road for a national tour?
Well, I don’t know what the stats are of when we’ve been over to the East coast, but it’s gonna be fun playing to people that we haven’t played to in a long time. Hopefully, people remember us and come out to the shows. It will be good to catch up with some old mates. Each of opening bands are mates of ours. So it’ll be good to just get out there, drink some beers, play some music, hang out with mates and connect with people who come out to our shows. Hopefully the passion is still there, cos we still got it. We’re just gonna get out there with a bit of blood and sweat and hopefully no tears. There’s definitely going to be some blood and some sweat, so we’ll see what happens after that.
Great! Brad, I think that people will remember Gyroscope because you are known for your high-octane live shows. It’s what keeps us fans coming back show after show. Because you never know what might happen!
Yeah, that’s true. We’re all pushing our late 30’s now, but that’s not gonna stop us. We’re all fighting fit; We won’t need any oxygen tanks on stage. That intensity will definitely still be there.
What have been some of your most memorable on-stage moments over the years?
Oh, there have been a few. But, I do remember a time where I somehow dodged Dan’s guitar with some sort of matrix move. He swung it ‘round, I was right behind him and he didn’t know I was there, he swung it ‘round and somehow time slowed down, I saw it coming and bent back like 90 degrees. I remember thinking ‘damn I’m gonna have to go to hospital now!’(laughs). but yeah, there’s been lots of cool shows.
You really do need to watch out for those swinging guitars! I remember being right up the front at a show and Zok almost hit me in the head with his guitar!
(laughs). There has been a few incidents! But I guess that’s part of it. Maybe people gotta wear stackhats. Look, we’re conscious of people sometimes (laughs). But yeah, there’s gonna be guitars flying around for sure.
Sounds great! In the live setting, you breathe new life into your songs, even the softer material, such as Baby I’m Getting Better, get turned up about 100 notches! Have you ever considered releasing a live CD or DVD?
We never even thought about that! That’s probably not a bad Idea. You do all that recording stuff and polish it, but when we get on stage it gets the adrenaline pumping. Drum beats get a little bit quicker, guitars get a little bit louder and heavier, you get caught in the moment. So yeah, a live DVD would be pretty cool! I guess that’s something to look into. It’s probably something that we thought of in the past but never happened. Like our plans to go to Japan one day. We always thought that we would do that but it never happened. So maybe that’s something that will pop up, hopefully.
I hope so.
I know that you have mentioned that you are worried about people forgetting about you, but over the years you have formed a strong connection with your fans. I noticed that even during your break, the band remained interactive through social media outlets, particularly Facebook. How important is that relationship with your fans, to you?
Oh, it’s crucial really! I mean, without the fans we’d be playing to empty rooms! We’ve always had a pretty loyal and awesome fanbase. We always see the same familiar faces come back show after show and we really appreciate that. We understand that without them, we are just a bunch of old guys playing music in a shed! We are very grateful and we do try after the show to hang out and meet people that, really, let us do what we love. That’s going to be another part of this tour, seeing all the familiar faces, if they come back, and catch up basically. They’re our mates at the end of the day.
I’m sure that the fans, in return, appreciate the time that you take to connect with them. Because, not all bands do that!
Really? There’s no need for all that being too cool for school, I don’t think.
At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of guys who play music. There’s plenty of other professions out there with more important jobs than us. So, we do appreciate it and are looking forward to seeing everyone again.
Having being a band for 20 years, you would have seen a lot of changes in that time. What are some of the biggest changes that you have seen?
When we first started, we put out cassette tapes. I dunno if you remember them? So that’s how old we are. We missed the 80’s and the big money that record labels were throwing around. Got into the 90’s where they got a bit more cautious with their money, which is fine by us. Then we saw the rise of Youtube and all that. Yeah, it’s a different ball game now. Social media is a big part of it. There are people who are good with that sort of stuff, I don’t know if we are at all. I remember we made a video for a song called Take This For Granted years ago and we wanted to put blood in the video. And the label was like “Oh no, you can’t do that, Rage won’t play the song”. Now you’ve got bands who smoke bongs on video and get pissed and do all of that. So that’s changed a lot. Now you’ve got Youtube, you don’t have to worry about TV or anything like that. You can be a Youtube star or Facebook star or something like that. I don’t quite get all that stuff, but it’s important and I guess you gotta go with the flow with all that sort of stuff or you get left behind. Yeah, so a lot has changed. But at the end of the day, we just gotta keep making music that makes us happy and if it makes other people happy then so be it. If not, it’s not gonna stop us from writing tunes.
Yeah. And you do have to write stuff that you are happy with because if the passion is not there then how can you expect other people to connect with it?
Exactly, and that’s something that we’ve always said. There is some stuff that’s kind of… I wouldn’t say that we’re not proud of, but looking back… it’s hard to say. We have always written stuff that we’re happy with, we wouldn’t write it otherwise. We don’t write for anyone but ourselves. Like with these two new songs; They represent where we’re at. We could’ve come out and written a power ballad; If that’s where we were at then we would’ve released it. Yeah, we always write for ourselves, first and foremost.
Great! Is there anything that you feel that I’ve missed throughout the course of today’s interview that you would like me to cover?
No, that was pretty comprehensive. I think we’ve talked about a lot. Basically I’m just hanging for this tour! I’m hanging to get back out on the road and play these shows and do what we love doing. I’m looking forward to it.
I look forward to hearing more new tunes. See you at the Rosemount in January!
Thanks. See you there!
Gyroscope are touring nationally in January 2018.
Don’t miss them when they visit a venue near you!
THE TOUR OF CROOKED THOUGHTS
With Special Guests Horror My Friend + Local Acts
Tickets on sale now
Wed 10th Jan – Woolly Mammoth – Brisbane
w/ Horror My Friend and Crum
Thur 11th Jan – The Corner – Melbourne
w/ Horror My Friend and Sweet Gold
Fri 12th Jan – Oxford Art Factory – Sydney
w/ Horror My Friend and Hatakaze
Sat 13th Jan – The Gov – Adelaide
w/ Horror My Friend and The Best Extras
Fri 19th Jan – The Rosemount – Perth
w/ Horror My Friend and The Faim
Crooked Thought | DABS
is out today through Universal Music Australia