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GAL GUN. An Interview.

by Hector Castro

Back in February, we got to talk with the boys of Chicago rock group, Gal Gun. Keep reading to get a full breakdown of some of their tracks, a little backstory, and Rivers Cuomo’s meme account?

Alright! So first off, Who are/is Gal Gun?

GG is myself (Colin Burns) playing guitar and singing, Anthony Vaccaro playing drums, Thomas O’Brien playing bass and John O’Brien playing guitar; just four dudes who like rock guitars!

Is Gal Gun related in any sort of way to the game Gal Gun? Either lyrically or aesthetically?

Nope! I just liked the name and I think in a weird way it suits the music. The game is over the top, stupid, harmless and fun. I guess you could describe the music that way too. But no, none of us in the band are actual fans of the video game.

This came to me based on your colorful album ‘Special Music of Emotion’! As I listened to it, it made me picture a battle between epic robots in space fighting over the love of some girl they crushed on? That being said I love the fun upbeat tunes that are brought by this album. How did you guys get to pick up this sound?

That’s tight! Thank you. The “sound” originates from some of our obvious influences like Weezer, Blur, and Pavement with big crunchy guitars and hooky melodies. I’m also a huge fan of Belle & Sebastian and Morrissey so we try to offset the big flashy stuff with more understated complexity and sentimental lyrics. We usually describe ourself as power pop, which to me means punk with pretty melodies, or slightly more aggressive pop music.

I caught Weezer instantly! I noticed songs like ‘Hang On’ and ‘Heartbleed’ were written toward similar situations regarding heartbreak? Is the album directed in that theme?

Is there anything better than happy songs about being sad!? The lyrics are my least favorite thing to write and what I’m most self conscious about because they’re generally very personal, as apposed to writing the music which is more technical. Heartbreak sucks and it takes a lot out of you, so it’s easy to write about.

It resonates with a lot of us who have lived with such discomfort, which also reminds me why we listen to Morrissey respectively… What’s the process when writing songs like ‘Late Heavy Bombardment’? Do you contemplate, or does it come to you based on how you feel at that time?

Songs like Bomb aren’t really about much, and the lyrics are more perfunctory. The music though started with the riff and then developed into the Blur-ish bouncy chord progression, and we all contributed to the back half of the song. Every song is written differently though; some are written in 10 minutes, and others are months of trying tons of different ideas.

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When composing songs, are riffs brought to the table by every other member in the band, or do you guys have that one genius who cooks up these delicious riffs?

I write the majority of the music but the other dudes are always quick with a sweet idea when we need it. Thomas is the best bass player I’ve ever seen, and John is a million times better than me at guitar. Most of the solos on the album are either me just letting John rip or me sitting next to him, humming an impossible guitar line and him nailing it.

How long have you known each other for? How did Gal Gun come to be?

I met Anthony when he was dating the drummer of a band I used to play in, and we bonded right away over music. We recorded a few very rough demos in his mom’s basement, and when he showed them to John and Thomas, who had been his friends for years, they were into it so they came on board right away. That was back in 2015.

When looking back to how you all formed in 2015, compared to now with a LP, how much of a change did the band make in terms of sound? I notice ‘Heartbleed’ was released in bandcamp back in 2016. It’s common for bands to grow from their initial sound, have you guys changed or added anything that wasn’t in before?

Of those early demos that Anthony and I made, the only song that made the album was ‘My Life Is Exhausted.’ Songs like ‘Heartbleed’ and ‘La Niña Winter’ really started to steer the sound in a different direction, and the next album will be leaning even heavier into that style. I’m not sure if I can pick out specific elements that have changed, but I think the more we play together, the better we all understand how we sound. Keeping that in mind makes it easier for me to write.

Growing as a band and understanding the sound that’s fit for you all, are any songs experimented on or are they played the same way as the recordings when performing them live?

We stick to the recordings pretty consistently but the playing and singing is a lot looser. Anthony may play a slightly different drum beat, or Thomas will take a gnarly bass solo, but the core songs and structures are the same. We do test new songs live though and the way those are played can change from show to show until we finally nail down how they’ll sound on the next album.

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Being from Illinois, is the music scene centered around power pop and garage rock?

“There are local artists playing every kind of music imaginable so I wouldn’t say Illinois or Chicago has one sound that every band finds itself under. There are definitely styles and bands that take influence from their surroundings, but I feel like Gal Gun would sound much the same regardless of where we were located.”

What do you want people to take from your music?

“People are free to take whatever they want from it! I’m really only writing it for myself and if, for some strange reason, it helps a stranger the way it helps me, then that’s awesome.”

When performing live, do you convey those same emotions you felt when writing, on stage?

“Not really. We’re too busy laughing at our friends in the audience and focusing on not messing up! We try not to take things too seriously when we play live.”

I saw you guys covered ‘This Boy’ by the Beatles. Who is your favorite beatle?

“My personal pick would always be John but they’re all crazy aliens from space and no one will ever be that good again. George and Paul have tons of amazing songs but John has the most unbelievable ones”

Are there any jokes you guys have as a band when writing or jamming together? I bring this back because of the big friendship you guys seem to hold with each other. In addition to the anime beauties and robots holding your cassettes.

“We like to joke about booking a show and then showing up and only playing Nirvana covers. If we go see our friends bands we always pull up pictures of Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl on our phones and show whoever’s on stage to try to make them laugh and mess up!”

That said, what are your thoughts on Rivers Cuomo’s meme account? Could it hold up the hype? He’s been playing with the Foos!

“Yes Rivers is the ultimate meme lord. That dude rocks everything he touches.”

What should we expect from the new album?

“Better recording quality and more songs that get straight to the point. We’ve already played half the new album at shows and we are stoked to start recording.”

I’m personally excited for that! I was told about you guys from PureNowhere and I was hooked by what you guys have released. Are there any media platforms people can reach you through?

“Hell yeah thanks dude. It’s still crazy to me that people outside of our immediate friend group are listening to the music. People can find out what we’re up to on Facebook and message us on there if they have to.”

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Huge thanks to Gal Gun for taking the time to talk with us!
You can find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Bandcamp!

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