It’s worth mentioning, in a sense, that this week’s new band is made of up well-established members of British rock’s alumni, including as it does ex-members of Gallows, Sikth and Spycatcher among others. However, it’s best you forget what you think you know about what this band might sound like given that description, as Gold Key are absolutely nothing like any of the projects they’ve been involved with previously. Channelling moments of Queens Of The Stone Age, Pink Floyd and Muse in their creeping, unsettling alt.rock, they’re using Gold Key to explore areas of music they’ve never been to before.
“I’ve never wanted to be a stagnant musician,” explains singer Steve Sears on the band’s musical departure. “We’re constantly trying to push ourselves out of the comfort zone, whether that’s through learning to play the mandolin or using furniture for percussion.” So there you have it – exotic guitars and chairs for drums. Well, we did warn you!
We caught up with Steve for a chat about the band, their new album, and what they have planned for next. You can check out the video for their newest single, Creep In Slowly, below, but be warned: it’s NSFW.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
“I’m Steve (Sears) and I sing and play guitar. Lags (Laurent Barnard) plays guitar too, James (Leach) is on bass and Jack (Kenny) plays drums.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
“Lags and I went to the same school and our first bands played local shows together as did James’, so we’ve known each other for a long, long time. More recently I recorded a band that Jack was playing for and soon after he started teaching drums out of my studios in Watford (Titan Studios).”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
“Lags and I had been throwing ideas around for a year or so. I think that after I’d recorded a couple of albums for Gallows, we realised how much we were on the same page musically.”
You’ve all been in bands before – how has that informed this project?
“It definitely informs what we do, though it’s not a conscious choice by any means. Some of our music is maybe an extension of the ‘progressive’ elements of our previous efforts, stuff that we daren’t have done before. I don’t know if Lags would agree but to my ears, the stuff he contributes is the darker conclusion of what his music has hinted at before. I’d say the same goes for my writing too.”
What’s the story behind the name of the band?
“It sounds like a really good band name.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
“Dark. Claustrophobic. Psychedelic.”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
“We do everything ourselves and pander to nobody’s taste but our own. I record, mix and master everything, so we are all 100% involved throughout the whole process. The record is coming out on Lags’ label too (Venn), so I don’t feel like we are peddling a product to make kids go bat shit crazy, but documenting something we love instead.”
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What’s the story behind new album Hello, Phantom, and how did it come together?
“It was recorded over the span of a year or so. Every track was dealt with completely separately, in the sense that we started the recording process from scratch for each song. Some of my favourite albums have been made that way. It definitely gives every song its own unique feel. It was made at my studios, Titan, in Watford.”
What were your key influences on the album, and what drew you to the themes it covers?
“I find that writing darker, more somber music comes way more naturally to me than anything else. I think that stems from a love of Radiohead, Pink Floyd, not to mention pretty extreme metal and hardcore. It doesn’t mean our songs are all miserable, I just have more of a connection to the macabre than I do with love songs or party bangers. Those types of song definitely have their place, but there’s more than enough of them out there and we’re certainly not the ones that should be delivering it. There’s lots of lyrical references to demons and apparitions that you probably wouldn’t expect outside of heavy music. I just don’t feel like the world needs another song about how cute a girl or a guy is.”
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the album?
“One of the tracks, Crab Traps, was inspired by my wife’s shoes. I don’t have a foot fetish, FYI.”
What, in your opinion, is the stand-out track on the album?
“Well, Creep In Slowly came together last minute in the space of an hour, so that is still probably the most exciting for me. Mind you, the title track Hello, Phantom probably says what our band is about the most.”
What do you hope people will take away from the album, and your music in general?
“I hope people see it as a classic album. Not in a pompous ‘best album ever’ kind of way, I just hope that it will stand the test of time for them and that they can appreciate that we have made a bold piece of art that is more than just a product of its time – whether they like it or hate it.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
“Getting to play in Tenerife as one of our first shows. We took our good friend V Man (Slipknot) along for shits and giggles and had the best time ever. I don’t think we stopped laughing for longer than ten seconds the whole trip. It was a great way to get the ball rolling.”
What are you most looking forward to about the future?
“Touring with Arcane Roots is going to be awesome because I really respect what they do, particularly the new stuff. It is brave and unique. I think it will be a good tour for us and that their fans might ‘get’ us.”
What do you have planned for next?
“Album two. Half written already. You can sleep when you’re dead.”
Gold Key’s debut album, Hello, Phantom, will be released on October 24th via Venn Records. You can catch them on tour at one of the dates below:
5 Oct: Scala, London, UK
6 Oct: Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, UK
7 Oct: Academy 3, Manchester, UK
8 Oct: King Tuts, Glasgow, UK
13 Oct: Arts Club, Liverpool, UK
14 Oct: The Haunt, Brighton, UK
15 Oct: The Fleece, Bristol, UK
17 Oct: Key Club, Leeds, UK
18 Oct: Mash House, Edinburgh, UK
19 Oct: Rock City Basement, Nottingham, UK
20 Oct: Met Lounge, Peterborough, UK
21 Oct: Sugarmill, Stoke On Trent, UK
22 Oct: Boileroom, Guildford, UK