Interview: Dante Gizzi (Gun)

An Interview with Dante Gizzi of Gun
Original Interview from the RockFusion Online Archives

Gun are easily one of my favourite bands. Finally after 15 years of waiting there’s a new album out and it really couldn’t have been better. Earlier this week RockFusion chatted with bass player turned front man Dante Gizzi. We talked on various subjects like Gun’s return, the new album, their appearance at Download 2012 and of course what we can expect from the band in the near future.

After 15 years the new album, Breaking the Silence, is finally out and it’s been released to high critical acclaim and Gun fans both old and new love it. Where you at all surprised by the resounding positive response the album got?

I kind of did actually. Working on that album, Jools and I, we didn’t want to make it an album that was a generic comeback album. That was our initial mind-set. We wanted to do something great with Gun musically, we wanted a fantastic album. It had to be good. And then looking past and the 0141 album, we wanted to make amends for that as well. It wasn’t an album that Jools and I were very comfortable with at that point. So really it was vital to come back with an album, not just for the fans, but for us as well, to have something that was really strong.

The whole process of that album this time last year was brilliant, it was a great feeling. There was no pressure, we could take our time and do what we wanted. It was like we were a new band coming out with our first album that nobody had heard of. So there was no pressure in that sense. We just wanted to enjoy it and have fun writing it and that’s exactly what happened. And I think that shows in the music itself with the energy of the recordings and the writing. I was hoping that everyone was going to love it, that’s what I’m meaning to say. I felt fairly confident about it.

Well I for one think that the hard work and determination paid off. One thing I’ve noticed when I listen to the album, there isn’t any “filler” tracks.

Cheers man! I really, really appreciate that!

Were there a lot of songs that maybe where written and didn’t make the album?

Aye, of course! We were really thorough about it. We weren’t messing around. We wanted to come back with a killer album, we had to especially with a new singer. It had to be a killer album and we didn’t want any weak songs on the album because we wanted to be able to play every song on the album live. When we go into the rehearsal room now all you want to do is play the new stuff, which is such a great feeling!

I think we had about 20 songs, 22 songs in total and the ones that we haven’t used are bonus tracks which will probably be coming out soon. But the people that have heard those ones are saying they should be on the album as well because the quality is still there. It’s a good feeling that so many people are liking what we’ve done.

Musically, Break the Silence, sounds a lot different from a lot of the older stuff from Gallus, Taking on The World and ever what was done a couple of years ago with Toby Jepson on Pop Killer. At times it is hard to remember it’s the same band, but Gun fans have accepted the change and embraced it. Was it a deliberate choice to go for a different sound?

Gun where never going to sound like Gun of old in 2012. As you age and get older your mind-set changes. Back in the day we were listening to Aerosmith, The Cult and stuff like that and that shaped us. But with the new album we were listening to stuff like the Foo Fighters, The Killers, White Stripes, a lot of contemporary stuff. I always listen to what’s happening now instead of what’s happened in the past. And I definitely think that comes across in the music, it sounds a more modern but inevitably I know that when people hear these songs live and they hear the melodies it’s always going to be the typical Gun melodies and cross over hooks. And I think that’s something that translates across every album.

For myself, I was a bit apprehensive because it was such a big gap between 0141 and Break the Silence. How did you judge it and know the time was right to release something new again?

As I said we have worked on about 20 something songs, most of them had been kind of written and we’d lived with them for a bit. Lost & FoundBad Things and Butcher Man where songs that where a wee bit older, about a year and a half old, before we continued with the rest of the album. Break the Silence was very current, that was just last year that it was written. And that’s what I was saying earlier, there was no pressure on us at all to get these songs out. And that made it such a joy to write and record the album.

That was another big thing, going into the studio with Dave Eringa. We had gone to producers and we had let them hear the new stuff and he came back instantly and told us how much he loved it. We had given him six songs and he said, “This is incredible, I really want to record you. You don’t realise how good these songs really are!” And he made us feel really good about it. I mean this guy has worked with Manic Street Preachers and Idlewild. He’s a brilliant all-round producer. It was brilliant getting his support. You’re always a bit apprehensive about letting people hear the music initially. The more we let people here it though the more obvious it became that there was people really digging the songs.  We did spend a lot of time deliberating what songs should go on the album.

Gun played Download this year, it was the 10th anniversary of the festival. What was it like to play Donnington for the first time?

Brilliant! The last time I was there I was 17 years old selling t-shirts. It was 88 or 89, it was still the Monsters of Rock and it was Guns N’ Roses that where opening. It was unbelievable. For all I could see and hear of it was amazing. I think Status Quo headlined that year but to get offered to play this year was amazing. We were added late on in the build-up to the festival. We played the Pepsi Max stage with about 10,000 capacity and to see it completely rammed was amazing. From a stage point of view you could see outside, people still trying to get in. It was brilliant. The only drawback is that we only had a 35-minute set, it was incredible. A great reception from the audience, especially having it jam packed like that. And it wasn’t even raining at that point! (laughs).https://www.youtube.com/embed/ct2M5kUmjvg?feature=oembed

And you’ve been touring with The Cult this year as well haven’t you?

Yeah, we’ve just came back from being out in Europe with The Cult and we’re going back out with them again in September. We’ve had a lot of chances this year to expose Gun to people and places that maybe have never heard us before. So when we’re playing the new stuff to these kids that have never heard of Gun before and are getting such an incredible reaction to the new material is an amazing feeling. When you go to places like Croatia and Slovenia, territories that we had never, ever been too in the past with Gun was incredible. The new stuff went better than the old stuff.

When you’re playing a live set, does it ever get to you that you have to include stuff like Word Up and Taking on The World in the set?

Oh, aye! I do know a lot of bands out there who take the old stuff out of a show. But in my eyes, it’s a mistake. Fans are paying money to come and see a band perform all their great songs. It’s like me, if I wanted to go and see Prince, I want to hear songs like Kiss and Purple Rain. I want to hear all the big songs. But I do get bands that do it. Because sometimes you do get that feeling. What takes you over though is the buzz of playing the old material because the fans react to them in such a special way. You will always play songs like Word Up though, because it is such a crowd pleaser.

As you say though, the new stuff is really strong as well. So it’s great to play that as well. That’s another thing, although you don’t realise it at the time because you have played these songs for so long, it does get a little bit… Not stale but you just loosen off a bit. But when to comes to playing the new material there’s a buzz about it because it’s fresh. Best of both worlds in a way.

With the exception of the upcoming shows with The Cult, is there any plans for later in the year touring around the UK on your own or maybe even venturing back out into Europe?

There is talk. We’re working on that just now. I can’t say much but there’s talk of maybe trying to go out to Europe again and there is talk of a tour around the UK at the end of the year to tie in with the album and stuff like that. But at the same time I’m just enjoying writing again. Being able to continue writing when you’ve got that spark. Back in the day you were always out on tour because the budget of the record companies would allow that but it’s nice to be able to get some time and write. But the money isn’t there anymore to support constant touring. You’ve really got to pick and choose where you play and who you play with. I really am enjoying writing though, and writing towards the next album.

Does that mean we can expect a new Gun album in the next couple of years?

Definitely! Next year! The end of next year hopefully. I think that’s what will make people believe more. You come back with a new album and people think it’s just a nostalgia trip. I don’t want that to be the case. I want to maintain this because we’re enjoying it, we’re absolutely loving it. And why would you want that to end? The feedback has been so positive about the new album, I think that there’s still a lot left in the gun barrel so to speak. (laughs)

Now apart from Gun, you’re also know for your time in El Presidente. How different being is it being on the road with Gun and the time you spent on the road with El Presidente?

(laughs) Better eye candy! I think you can be more of a bloke with Gun. There’s a bit of etiquette involved when the girls are about. I’m not saying that it’s unpleasant or anything, because sometimes it’s nice to have female company when you’re on tour but yeah, it’s very difficult. They’re both really cool in their own right it’s just having five guys in a van is very different than being on the road with the girls.

Is there an element of you that misses the El Presidente days?

Johnny who is in Gun now was in El Presidente as well and we do talk about it and just think about the time. I loved playing those songs as well. I miss the dance element of it, it was a good feeling. But I’m really, really happy doing what I’m doing now. Really happy. This is where I wanna be!

by Edward Laing

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