INTERVIEW: Gnarwolves | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I had the pleasure of catching Brighton gruff punk trio Gnarwolves for the first time at Groezrock Festival in Belgium this year, and it’s safe to say they were one of the best bands of the entire event. Despite it being a festival, it felt intensely intimate; they played in a tent with no barrier between the crowd, and it was one of those rare life-affirming shows where you find yourself almost wanting to cry a little bit at how awesome it is. There were stage dives and fist-pumping sing-alongs aplenty, and the best part was how genuinely thrilled Gnarwolves looked to be playing, with huge grins on their faces. And then I got dropkicked in the head by some beefcake who thought it was cool to stage dive feet first while watching Trash Talk, and it put a little bit of a dampener on the day after that…but, anyway, I digress.

You see, Gnarwolves are one of those rare bands that could play a tiny house show or a huge festival and make the audience feel connected to their music no matter what. Originally from Cornwall but formed in 2011 in Brighton, Gnarwolves have become a staple of the UK punk scene, touring intensively and releasing a handful of EPs before debuting their first proper album, the self-titled Gnarwolves in 2014. It’s an absolute stormer of a record that’s filled with infectious punk hooks, with the likes of Bottle to Bottle and Smoking Kills making for perfect, scream your lungs out, sing-along anthems. Though they’re an insanely fun band, with a well-documented love of skateboarding, drinking beer and smoking weed, there’s way more to Gnarwolves than being just a ‘party band’: their sheer unbridled passion and introspective, often poignant lyrics set them apart from the rest.

I spoke to bassist/vocalist Charlie Piper about exhaustive touring, house shows and more ahead of their show at Newcastle’s THINK TANK? this Sunday. It’s a live gig punk fans should simply not miss. You never know, Gnarwolves may even change your life.

You guys tour pretty intensively, does it ever become exhausting being on the road all the time and playing such intense shows? A bit nosey of me, but do you still have day jobs? I’m always curious as to whether bands who tour lots still have ‘normal’ jobs and manage to keep a balance.

Yeah it can been exhausting, but we love doing it. Especially the intense shows, that’s what keeps us going. I think it’s more exhausting when the shows aren’t crazy and interesting. Thom [Weeks, guitar/vocals] goes back to working in care when we get home from tours. I don’t have a job but I run a zine called Heshones. It’s a zine based around skate culture and I like to get all my friends involved. I also sell patches and tees. Max chills and skates.

You’ve played some pretty big tour slots, but you also used to play house shows – any crazy house show stories?

We still play house shows! We’ve played a couple of house shows where the light gets completely mashed up and we’veĀ got to play in the dark. Everyone’s just flashing their iPhone torches at us so we can see our guitars. It’s pretty funny.

Which do you prefer, intimate shows like house shows or larger shows like Leeds and Reading, Groezrock etc?

I like both. When we book tours we try to stick to no barrier venues to maintain that intimacy. We like stage dives and stage invasion. Some festivals are just as intimate as a typical Gnarwolves headline show, and if they aren’t the crowd make the effort to make us feel comfortable and welcome. Groezrock, for example, has two tents which can hold thousands of people and there’s no barrier. It’s incredible and for punk bands it’s a dream. Having the opportunity to play on one of those stages was awesome.

What would you say the Gnarwolves ‘ethos’ was?

Don’t take us too seriously and have a good time.

When Gnarwolves first began, did you have any goals? If so, have you achieved those yet?

We just wanted to write some songs and play some shows. So yeah, I’d say we’ve achieved that!

How does skateboarding influence your music? Do you still get time to skate?

It influences our lives, not just our music. The reason I got into punk was through old skate and surf videos. There’s always time to skate!

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“We just wanted to write some songs and play some shows. So yeah, I’d say we’ve achieved that!”

You’re often referred to as a ‘party band’. Does that ever bother you or are you happy to be the party dudes?

I don’t believe in this whole party 24/7 bullshit. Sometimes we are serious and sometimes we just like to have rowdy nights and be nutters. I think if you know us then you know enough already.

Are there any specific lyrical themes on the Gnarwolves record?

I don’t think there’s ever themes. Just whatever affects us in life and just coping with our modern age. Thom writes 90% of the lyrics on the album.

What are your thoughts on the UK’s DIY/Punk scene right now? Any bands to recommend?

The DIY punk scene is strong. Check out Great Cynics, WOAHNOWS, Land Speed, Boxkite, Crows An Wra, Hindsights, The Flex, His & Hers, Broadbay and Moodhoover. Also check out Cheap Drugs from Belgium and Public Domain from Austria.

What are your plans for the future? Are you guys working on a new record?

We’re touring America with Every Time I Die and writing a new record, yes. That’s all I’m gonna say though!

If David Attenborough was to make a nature documentary about Gnarwolves, what would he say about them?

If it wasn’t for Frozen Planet we wouldn’t have thought of the name Gnarwolves, haha!

Gnarwolves play THINK TANK?, Newcastle on Sunday 21st June. Support comes from Pure Graft and Shades.

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