One year on from Gengahr’s hugely successful debut album, A Dream Outside, Impact had the pleasure of catching up with Felix Bushe, frontman of the London-based psychedelic-indie band.
Impact: Hi Felix, how are things?
Felix: I’m a bit under the weather but I’m doing very well otherwise!
We’re glad to hear you’re alright, How are you feeling about the tour?
I’m excited, I really enjoy winter tours, we’ll be hitting some towns we haven’t played before. The responses [from the last few festivals we played] were amazing, maybe even better than the headline shows after the album last year, so it’s really exciting!
“We never tried to change our sound; it’s an entirely organic process, and a progressive one”
When is the new album out?
We haven’t finished it yet, the date is still to be confirmed. We [have been] working on it for months now and it’s really getting there. We’re hoping to keep at it until we have something we’re super happy with, but we hope it’ll mean it’s finished by the end of the year, and released shortly after.
Do you prefer it to the first one?
I prefer it, personally. We’re at the stage of tweaking songs to become what we think should be the sound for the second album. We’re trying to incorporate the energy we gathered from live shows, but also trying not to detach ourselves from what it is that we did effectively, and love from album one.
It’s a really interesting conversation to be having as musicians, and with producers, trying to put together and collaborate all our thoughts into something we’re all really pleased with, and feel is an improvement on the first album.
How does the album compare musically?
We’re trying to push things. Sounds are heavy, livelier, and raucous in some places, yet weirder and more soulful at other times. I feel there’s a lot more range to this album. We’re improved as musicians and songwriters, and this bleeds into what we’ve created. It isn’t like we’re forcing anything either… we never tried to change our sound; it’s an entirely organic process, and a progressive one.
“As a songwriter your job is to create a pastiche of all the ideas you’re absorbing and enjoying around you”
So, can we expect new tracks on the tour?
Definitely. It’s one of the main reasons we’re doing it – we wanted a chance to tour a lot of the songs before we finalise in the studio. We’ll probably record some of the live shows also so that we can re-listen to those tracks when it comes back to working in the studio. So yeah, there’ll be plenty of the new songs but we’ll be chopping and changing it up from night to night, so each gig will be slightly different.
Your first album was entirely studio produced wasn’t it?
Yeah that’s right, we made the album before ever playing a live show. So it’s something we really wanted to do on the second album. We’ll try and strike a balance though, by taking what was good about the first album, and then adding the positives of the live shows and from there getting the perfect balance for the album, hopefully.
When touring, do you find time to do things away from music?
Yeah we always try and get out and about on tour, especially in new places – but there’s a strict time schedule. However, I think we all enjoy being on tour. Even when it gets grueling, there’s always something exciting coming up and I get to do those exciting things with essentially my best mates – I went to school with these guys.
I’ve noticed Gengahr create all the artwork associated with the band; do you take influence from other forms than music?
I draw inspiration from everywhere; I think as a songwriter your job is to create a pastiche of all the ideas you’re absorbing and enjoying around you. Whether that’s film, literature, paintings or other music – we all steal and borrow and recycle ideas in various different formats. I think that’s the beauty of it though, there’s never anything truly new.
Fan question from Molly: what are the lyrics to ‘Heroine’ about?
With ‘Heroine’ in particular, I wanted to explore the ideas of fairytales, and Disney characters. This role of a heroic man as the protagonist… and from there drawing on where this courage comes from, for example the idea of a damsel in distress. And also how these scenarios aren’t real world occurrences, yet they’re what we are taught as children – that girls are pretty and men are heroic and that’s all there is…
How do you think the new album will be perceived?
Commercially or critically?
I don’t really think we’d feel comfortable with being a commercial band, because I can’t really think of many corporate or commercial albums that I can honestly relate to. There are albums that have done well which I really enjoy, for example Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile, they’re very popular and they’re actually credible artists who make great music. I hope things are received well, but I want to make music I’m proud of, enjoy listening to and making. And hopefully this transcends beyond us and into the public, whose enjoyment is our main concern.
“We aren’t about things being staged, like the boy band stuff”
You formed three years ago. What do you hope to have achieved in three years time?
Hopefully we’ll have a few more albums in the bag, extensive touring, playing festivals, exploring new parts of the world with our music and still putting together albums that we’re proud of and happy with. Albums our kids could pick up in years time and think their parents did something meaningful and cool, you know? Not something tacky.
Another fan question: I enjoy the videos, are they self-directed?
I write them and I write storyboards for them. We film bits ourselves but we’ve been lucky to work with really good directors also. I think if you write the song it’s important to be involved in the videos as much as possible, in order to make sure you have something that connects to it. We aren’t about things being staged, like the boy band stuff. We want to make songs with a genuine soul to them, and we try and bring this into the videos too by giving them a narrative and linking them into the songwriting itself.
OK, last thing before I leave: describe the new album in four words.
Something a little different.
Catch Gengahr at Nottingham’s Bodega on 18th November. Tickets are available here.
Image courtesy of Sonic PR