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

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Salford based collective Gnod have been making music in all manner of styles and configurations for over a decade now, embracing everything from psych and doom to techno, and at the same time becoming key figures in the development of the community of artists and musicians working within the now essential Islington Mill complex. At the end of March, the band released perhaps their most astonishing and uncompromising album yet, the bluntly titled Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine, a five-track howl of anger delivered in a particularly ferocious style. But as Paddy Shine, one of the central members points out, it’s not necessarily what people imagine it to be.

it’s not just about Trump, you’ve got to take a look in the fucking mirror. Change starts at home, doesn’t it?

“The album tracks and the title were all written pre-Brexit, pre-Trump. Everything was already decided,” Shine explains. “And the album is as much introverted as it is screaming out about things. It is definitely calling out what’s going on around us, but the title was as much a poke at our collective apathy. How the fuck are we supposed to change the situation here? It is a political statement but it’s also taking the piss a bit too, and I think a lot of people have missed out on that side of it, because the album got released after Trump got inaugurated. All of a sudden we started getting all these emails from people going ‘Yeh! A fucking anti-Trump album’, and we’re like ‘yeh, alright, it is that but it’s not just about Trump, you’ve got to take a look in the fucking mirror.’ Change starts at home, doesn’t it? That’s the point we were getting at, and the last three albums that we’ve done have been this progression. Infinity Machines was a very introverted look at our living situation, and how we felt we were contributing to our community. Mirror was sheer rage, basically…it’s nice to finally tell someone what the album is, because a lot of people think we’re jumping on some sort of political bandwagon, whereas to us it was a continuation of what we already do, really.”

Shine is also keen to explain that the album’s shift in sound to something more abrasive and punk than much of their output wasn’t in any way contrived. “We started writing those songs well over a year ago, eighteen months even, and that’s just how they were when they were written. How we always seem to work is that we start writing and a developing a new set before we go on a new tour, hone it down on the tour, and as soon as we get back we go straight into the studio and record it. So there was no great agenda, it was just a constant natural process, no ’okay, let’s get angry and make some political stuff’, that’s just how we roll.”

For the current UK tour, which hits Newcastle on Wednesday 24th May, the band will feature a stripped-down line-up for the Just Say No… material – the four core members, a new drummer and Fish (aka Neil Francis, also of Terminal Cheesecake) on vocals – but there will be some electronic elements too. “We’ve been getting more interested in electronic sets, so we’ll be doing some of those on this tour, which is nice because hopefully people are starting to get into the weirder electronic things we do.” The band initially met some resistance when they started exploring less rock-based forms. “At first, we had so many weird reactions, people throwing things at us and shouting, ‘where’s your fucking geetars, what is this shit?’. But we love that, it’s great to do people’s heads in. I love going to a gig and getting my head done in by a band, I might have some expectations and I want them blown out of the water!”

It had always struck me that the manner in which Gnod conduct themselves – their independence, their generous involvement in underground communities – had some parallels with Crass, and Shine certainly sees that band as a key influence on him at least.

“When I was about 12, 13, I discovered Crass through a friend’s uncle’s record collection that he gave us. Ever since then Crass, Penny Rimbaud and Dial House have definitely always been hugely influential, the way Crass went about doing what they did and pretty much changed the record industry and showing young punks that there was an alternative to big business. I don’t think they get enough credit for doing all that: they set up spaces, and a lot of the bands I love from the late eighties and the early nineties, the weirder stuff, that all comes from Crass somehow.”

Typically industrious, Gnod have another new album out through Rocket next month, written and recorded with Radar Men From The Moon as The Temple Of BBV as part of a residency at last year’s Eindhoven Psych Lab, and Shine explains that BBV refers to “brain, blood, volume, which is directly linked to trepanation.” As Shine elaborates, “I’d be well up for giving trepanation a go if I could find somebody to do it. I just want the right medical procedure, you can do it in South America for a couple of grand. It’s only in western Europe where it’s taboo. It’s the oldest surgical procedure in the world, and it still gets practiced. So this album was themed around BBV and… I don’t want to use the word ‘enlightenment’, but something like enlightenment through trepanation, or the idea of it, freeing yourself and regaining some kind of paradise lost, you know?”

Just Say No is out now on Rocket Recordings. The Temple Of BBV album, also on Rocket, is released on June 9th. Gnod play Newcastle Cluny on Wednesday 24th May with White Hills.

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