- Mon, 2005-11-14 17:20
Sheffield-based Gledhill comprise David Gledhill (vocalist & rhythm guitar), Tom Jarvis (lead guitar), Julian Gallagher (bass guitar), Tracey Wilkinson (keyboards & backing vocals) and Lliam Oliver (drums), who David defines as “the most fiercely loyal band member and friend you will ever have.”
Guitarist Tom joined original members David, Tracey and Lliam at the start of 04: “I had my eyes on him for a while,” David explains, “He’s the best looking, best dressed guitarist in Sheffield, but after seeing him one night with another band, we had to have him in Gledhill.’’ Last on board was bassist Julian, the only member of the band not based in Sheffield.
Tired of the fashion bands, and influenced by everything from The Psychedelic Furs and U2 to '80s Bratpack movies like The Breakfast Club, the five-piece soon set their sights on Top 10s and stadiums. “We want our music to sell on the strength of the songs,” says Tom, “David writes really melodic songs with big choruses that are made for radio – we hope.”
After support from Fierce Panda further industry support came via Owen Morris (Oasis), who was so impressed with their demo that he drove six hours to see them at their residency at The Grapes in Sheffield. Before long he’d marched the band into the studio and recorded forthcoming single Remain [released early October 05] – a fact that still overwhelms the band. David simply says, “I just thought, ‘Oh my god. I’m in the studio with the guy who made ‘What’s the Story (Morning Glory)’. That was weird.”
And to top it all, Owen has recorded their debut album over a period of five weeks at the Chapel, a residential studio in deepest Lincolnshire. I Like Music caught up with David Gledhill to talk about recording with a production legend, and how they create their stadium rock.
“I Like Music because… I don’t like anything else. (As most of my friends tell me).” David Gledhill
ILM: Your new single, Remain, is out now. It's about staying together through thick and thin. We adore it, and it resonates with me, but can you give us your own personal description of it?
David: You’ve hit the nail on the head really. The subject matter is sticking with somebody through thick and thin, and it’s a very personal song for me; actually based very much in reality about someone very close to me who has to go through some quite awful things. And it’s just that idea of solidarity and being there for somebody when something terrible happens. But it’s kind of weird because it kind of has the opposite effect as a song, because it cheers people up, because it’s got quite a positive slant I suppose. When we play it live I think, well it’s quite melancholy, but it always feels quite uplifting to me, so I hope that’s how it is for most people.
ILM: Of all the tracks on the album that Owen is working on, which one did you have the most fun laying down?
David: Well, I’d demo’d all the tracks anyway a year ago, so it was a bit weird as it was doing them a second time for me, but it was great because Owen was very respectful to what I’d done with them and hasn’t really changed much. He’s recorded it again and we did in a posh residential studio. And it was great, because there were a few songs that I’d not enjoyed doing the demos of, for whatever reason, and then doing them again with Owen was kind of like revisiting them again. There’s a song on the album called Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? Which is a very melancholic piano ballad. But we really enjoyed doing that one; it’s come out really beautiful on the record. It was one of those moments when everyone’s in the studio looking at each other thinking the same. Tracey, our keyboard player/backing singer, she does lots of harmonies on this record and it kind of sounds like The Carpenters as the harmonies are so beautiful. We were sat in the control room trying not to cry, because it sounded so pretty. So that would be the highlight of the record for me.
ILM: Owen Morris (Oasis) was so impressed with your demo that he drove six hours to see you at The Grapes and is now recording your debut album. How brilliant was it to be in the studio with the guy who made What’s The Story (Morning Glory)?
David: Owen is a very interesting character. I always describe him as the Oliver Reed of the music industry. Because he really is larger than life. He drinks a lot; he smokes a lot and is a very hard-living kind of person. He doesn’t look after himself at all. And we’re not hard drinkers, we’re more a cup of tea kind of band, so in the studio it was interesting, because I think he’s used to being around people who want to drink and do stuff as much as he does. But it’s weird because it just kind of works. I think because Owen didn’t change or mess with what we were doing and just tried to get the best version of what we were doing. I think Owen’s greatest skill is his motivation. He’s very enthusiastic and he loves the song and the band, so even when you’re doing a vocal take and you’re not in the mood he’s very good at motivating you and getting the best out of you. He’s quite intense in the studio and I’m intense too, so we did clash at times. But we only ever argued about the songs and the actual music, about stuff we felt passionate about. I think Owen has described me as the most difficult person he’s ever had to work with. And he’s worked with Richard Ashcroft. I think it’s because I’ve written the songs and demo’d them and can be quite controlling, but we got there and the album sounds great.
ILM: Owen has even said that you are the best songwriter since Noel Gallagher.
David: He did say that to me once, but I think he was probably drunk. When Owen’s drunk he’s either very nice to me or very horrible. But yeah, he did say that, and he loves the songs. But he says things to me like, "David, your songs are genius, but you’re a cunt!" So it’s a bitter-sweet relationship. He’s a big working class Welsh bloke from the hills and very rough and ready. The best thing I can say about the record is that it sounds nothing like anything he’s ever done.
ILM: Please describe the Gledhill process of making this big uplifting anthemic songs?
David: Generally, the songs start with me demoing them. And with Gledhill, my vision was always that we’d do very big anthemic music. Tom, the guitar player, is my right hand man creatively. We tend to like albums rather than bands, so INXS – Kick, U2 – Joshua Tree, Fleetwood Mac – Rumours, we like those huge records. So when we sat down at the beginning of this we were thinking, could we do that? Because not many people are doing that at the moment, so it’s that stadium rock in the ilk of those eighties bands. So that’s the premise and then I demo the song and then we take it to rehearsal, and live we just try to play everything as big as possible. Subtlety is not something we’re massively into. There are some beautiful ballads on the album that we’ve not been able to play live yet, because we tend to play quite an aggressive up-tempo set. But as we build an audience we’ll play them more. So it’s a nice organic process, because I get to do the first bit and then the band get involved. Most people who come to our gigs say it’s kind of like having your head taken off, like some kind of religious experience. And the album is very much like that. A friend of ours said it was like listening to a Greatest Hits album. We generally tried to view each song as if it was the best song on the album, no fillers whatsoever. We’re not trying to be trendy or fashionable, we just view it as timeless classic music and realize that people might not like us to begin with, but think the songs are good enough to get through to everybody.
ILM: Your demo was played on Radio 1 by Zane Lowe, and you’ve been working hard for years. What advice would you give other bands trying to get heard and make it?
David: First of all you have to be playing the music you want to play, rather than playing the music that you think will get you a record deal. Generally a lot of bands try to affix themselves to a scene, like the punk-garage scene or something. But the best attitude is to just do what you do. A lot of bands get preoccupied with the acquirement of a record deal, but I think they’d be better off spending their time doing gigs, building a fanbase, doing demos; doing stuff yourself rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you. We play The Grapes every month, and it’s a lot more fun because you can see friendly faces, and they bring more people along, and you build it up. And they’re not there because Owen Morris has produced our record or any other hype, they’re there because they genuinely enjoy the music.
ILM: You supported Keane at Fierce Panda birthday party and have this monthly residency at The Grapes in Sheffield. What’s been your favourite live experience?
David: We supported Tears For Fears and hadn’t even signed to MX3 but were with Fierce Panda at the time. But Roland and Curtis heard our demos and invited us to play. And that was great because the venues were 3000 capacity. And, they were all good, but the best one for me was Manchester Apollo. Manchester audiences are really cool. It was a great gig. We went on stage at some ungodly time like 7.30pm or something and the place was full and they loved it. The track I always enjoy most and the track we always open our set with is Constellations. It’s the name of the album and the first track from the album. It’s like Psychedlic Furs meets U2 - a big 80s stadium rock song and, when we start with it people go crazy. I wrote it as an opener, so that’s great. You don’t mess around. It’s very up tempo and intense. There’s no slowly bringing people into the gig, we always kick off with that one first.
ILM: You must have been pleased with Fierce Panda agreeing to go with your chosen producer and artwork and so on. Do you have the same kind of control now you’re with MX3 Records and Sony BMG?
David: It’s different because Sony are like the bank ultimately. With Remain we made a video ourselves with an artistic kind of director and Sony weren’t impressed so made us do it again with someone posher, so you have those little creative battles. But generally we’re fairly happy to compromise on most things, apart from the music. I chose Owen to produce the album. We did the Fierce Panda single with Andy Green who produced the Keane album. We kind of looked at other options and then I decided to go with Owen for the album and Sony backed us to the hilt with that and they’ve heard the album and love it, so it’s all worked out. But when it comes to picking singles… I’m a massive control freak by nature and I’m learning to let go, because they don’t make or break a band. Singles come and go, but an album is an all time statement. The thing I like about records like The Joshua Tree is it still sounds good when you put it on today, despite being made 20 years ago. When we were making the record we didn’t want it to date and fortunately Sony and MX3 like the album and are backing us all the way, which is nice.
ILM: As a group you’re close and loyal going through loads together. Describe each band members best quality and most annoying habit?
David: I can yes, because we are really close. And most people we come into contact with can tell that. Tracey, the piano player, I’d say her best quality is saying it as it is. She put Owen Morris in his place on a number of occasions and he took it actually, which was really funny. Lliam the drummer, his greatest asset is his loyalty. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me or the band. He’s a bit like the drummer from the Commitments, so if anyone messes with you... He’s not really somebody you’d mess with, having grown up on one of the hardest council estates in Sheffield. So he’s got our back and loves the band. Julian our bass player, his finest quality is silence. He’s one of those wonderful people that you can sit with on the tour bus for six hours and he feels no desire to have a conversation, and sometimes I don’t. So it’s relaxing to sit there in silence. We’ve got a couple of big gobs in the band... Tom, the guitar player who’s my right hand man. He’s just a rock God in the making. He’s the extra icing on the Gledhill cake, which sounds a bit cheesy… but you look at Coldplay, they’re brilliant but they don’t have a guitar hero. When people hear the album Tom’s guitar playing is just incredible. I think Tom’s like the new Johnny Marr. He’d make it whatever. So being brilliant is his best quality.
ILM: What’s the best and worst thing about Sheffield?
David: The best thing is that it’s cheap. You can have quite a good standard of living. It’s cheap and friendly. The worst thing about Sheffield is the roads, which makes me sound like a granddad, but the roads are sooo bad. Apparently they did some mad student games back in the 90s and everybody is still paying for it now and there’s no money for the roads. You’d have to drive in Sheffield to believe it.
ILM: Can you describe your favourite place on earth?
David: I’ve got two. One is Veules-les-Roses, which is a little seaside resort in Northern Normandy. I usually go to France on my summer holiday every year. I get on with French people and like the way of life over there, and that’s a particularly sweet little seaside town. And the second place would be Venice, which is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. And the fact there’s no cars as well. I wish there was a recording studio there, because it would have been nice to record the album there. It’s just such an incredible place. It’s like stepping back in time.
ILM: Please tell me your favourite tune that makes you chill out.
David: Usually I have two albums if I want to chill out…Moon Safari by Air and the soundtrack to Amelie. That’s incredibly relaxing.