Interview: Ben, Alfie and John of Band “Gaoler’s Daughter.”
by Tanya Alexander
Gaoler’s Daughter’s sound is heavily rooted in the capital, as you’d expect from a band made up of musicians that have helped forge the sound of London over the past 5 years. Despite the fact that this uber-collective features ex-members of Larrikin Love, Littl’ans, No Picasso and Letters From London, they sound unlike any other band currently treading the boards. Their unique sound draws on a wide range of stylistic touch-stones, whilst avoiding categorisations and comparisons.
The boys ended 2009 on a high, with the release of their debut EP The Only Way To Travel followed by an exclusive launch party at London’s Pure Groove, a sold out celebratory gig at Camden’s Tommy Flynn’s, and support dates around the UK, on a Babyshambles mini tour.
Radio responded, with Steve Lamacq, Tom Robinson and Huw Stephens all playing the lead track, ‘Jumbo Jet’, followed by regional stations playlisting the track nation-wide.
June 6th sees the release of the second Gaoler’s Daughter EP, Alchemy, containing four new songs: Boomerang Boy (featuring Hole’s Micko Larkin on guitar and production duties); Meet You On The Other Side Of The World; Sun Coming Up, and Bad News. The band will be playing selected live dates until the release, when there will be some special shows, and festival appearances. Watch this space!
This is what happened when I caught up with them last week to discuss music….
Tanya: How would you describe your band in your own words?
Ben: Stomping Rowdy beats supporting hypnotic melodies.
Alfie: Four clowns from London town.
John: Quite concise, dark yet whistle-along-able.
Tanya: How did your band form?
Ben: Through a string of Sunday evening jam sessions In a squat in Camberwell over the period of about 6 months.
Alfie: It was a bit like Monty Python’s Holy Grail,the first bit when he finds his knights, not the bit when they’re on the quest.
Tanya: What would you say are your musical influences?
Ben: Bo Diddley, Bob Marley, Neil Young, The Pixies, The Smiths.
Alfie: 80’s action movie soundtracks.
John: Late 60s English folk mainly. Like Pentangle, Fairport convention, John and Beverly Martyn.
Tanya: Ok Gaolers Daughter is a cool band name, how did you come up with the name?
Ben: Thanks. The ‘Gaoler’s Daughter’ is a character from Kenneth Grahame’s novel ‘Wind In The Willows’. She helps ‘Toad’ escape incarceration. Our music is all about escapism. We don’t want to preach politics or act like gangsters.
Alfie: I sometimes wonder what happened to her after, they must of found out that she helped, her dad probably got sacked. She is an unsung hero of her environment.
John: I wonder whether Toad wore that dress afterwards. It suited him I thought.
Tanya: What are your musically guilty pleasures? (Music wise)
Ben: Rush. I got hooked when I was an impressionable teenager and I still struggle with my illness. Please don’t tell anyone about my secret shame.
Alfie: Massive Jungle fan.
John: Anything by Gary Barlow really.
Tanya: What bands or musicians are currently playing on your ipod the most?
Ben: Little Feat, Captain Beefheart, The La’s, Nirvana and of course loads of Bo Diddley!
Alfie: Don’t own an iPod, just another thing in my pocket. I have been playing this Soca compilation CD I bought off a geezer in the street in Dalston, I listen to it in my mate’s car when he gets home from work.
John: John Martyn at the moment. Dylan’s religious phase, and I love the soundtrack Karen O did for Where The Wild Things Are. Perfect for the nightbus.
Tanya: In three words how would you sum up your style?
Ben: Love-fueled rock.
Alfie: Hate-fueled love.
John: I wouldn’t say we have certain ‘style’, more a sound. We never sat down and said, “right, what do we want to be like?” ‘Twas a bit more organic perhaps, than that.
Tanya: If you could do a duet with any band who would it be and why?
Ben: Is Tropical. We love them and I think it would be a great combination of sounds as they share our love of uplifting beats and catchy choruses.
Alfie: Is this is on the same stage? At the same time? Like two drummers? It’s gonna take some rehearsing.
John: Travelling Wilburys. Looked like they had fun in that band.
Tanya: To be a successful band what dedication do you think it takes?
Ben: Mutual love and respect of your band mates. Also, you have to be in it for the music because the fame and money come and go. So, if you’re not in it for right reason (the music) you will be ultimately be disappointed with your life in a band.
Alfie: Not to lose sight of your target, and don’t give in, if you fall at the first hurdle.
John: The ability to accept nightbuses as par for the course.
Tanya: We are in 2010 now a new decade, and there is a lot of competition out there in the music industry, what bands would you say is your rivals?
Ben: Music is not a competition! It’s about freedom of expression and the sharing of ideas and influences. We are lucky to be living through a golden age of music. There are so many bands and fans out there with eclectic tastes and that can only be a good thing for us.
Alfie: I think rivalry does come in to it with some bands, but I think good luck to any one who tries to make it, because it is hard.
John: I think there’s enough space for every good band, so most of the bands we know, we help out. They’d do the same for us; if there is a rivalry, it’s a healthy one.
Tanya: If you were able to make up your very own ultimate band, out of any musicians in various bands, only choosing five members who would it be?
Ben: Gaoler’s Daughter was born out of just such a question and I’m happy with this band thanks.
Alfie: Am I the sixth member? I have to have five other members? I might have two drummers, I’m just going round in circles with this. Can I just have me and three others?
John: I’m pretty sure the guitarist from Dr. Feelgood would be in there. He’s got moves.
Tanya: What’s the craziest thing you have ever seen or experienced while being on the road? (touring)
Ben: What happens on tour stays on tour.
Alfie: Saw a stripper with bullet wound scars, a dog with only his two back legs, walking like a real human man.
John: Our tour van was pretty ridiculous
Tanya: And finally, where would you like to be in three years from now? (regarding your band)
Ben: Headlining Glastonbury.
John: To be in a postion to do it full time, without having to work in specsavers again.