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Interview: The Gadsdens

The Gadsdens, an indie-pop band from East London has been around for some time, touching our hearts with their melodic, heartfelt songs and velvety vocals. After the release of their first single The Sailor Song in 2009, the band is now at the verge of a big thing: their debut album is soon to be released. The Gadsdens is one of the most promising bands around and one needs to look out for them in 2011.

betaarti had the chance to interview with Jody Gadsden, band’s vocalist and lyricist.

Hello Jody, let’s start from the scratch… I know the name The Gadsdens comes from your surname but how did the band actually get together?

Simon and I met at a party several years back, we got talking about music and agreed we’d work together in the future at some point. The first thing we collaborated on was a cover of Bronski Beat’s “Small Town Boy” for a short film Simon’s friend was directing. We enjoyed working together and so decided to form a band. The rest of the band joined gradually over time.

How would you describe The Gadsdens’ music?

It’s a tough one to pigeon hole, The Gadsdens’ sound. We do torch songs, jaunty indie-pop numbers and string laden film-esque tracks. I think our music has its roots firmly entrenched in the old school singer/songwriter genre. Heartfelt, lyrically colourful and equally melodic.

When I listened to The Sailor Song back in 2008 for the first time, I asked myself in awe “Is that Tracy Chapman on the vocals?” So I assume she’s one influence to your music. Please tell us about the musicians/bands that have influenced The Gadsdens’ music.

I actually don’t count Tracy Chapman as one of my influences, I don’t own any of her records but I obviously know who she is and her voice is instantly recognizable. We’re all individually influenced by many different artists ranging from The Pixies to PJ Harvey to REM to The Cardigans to more contemporary stuff like Vampire Weekend and Joan As Police Women.

The Sailor Song is your first single. In my humble opinion, this song is one of the best songs of the 2000s. What is the story behind this song?

Thank you very much!  The Sailor Song is the first proper song we recorded as a band so it holds a special place in all our hearts.  It’s basically a bittersweet track about not being good enough. I didn’t intend it to be a “woe is me” type song and I think it falls on the right side of introspection and self pity. I think we’ve all been in that place where we’ve felt insubordinate to another person or a situation.

The lyrics of The Sailor Song actually hurt, despite the lovely mood of the music. I believe the lyrics especially speak for the devoted lovers. So, do you “lose every ounce of yourself” when you are in love?

I can only speak for myself here, and the answer is not initially. Its’ not an easy thing to trust a prospective partner when you first meet, many have hidden agendas which often makes me more very guarded, but obviously once we’re both on the same page, then yes, you have to give every ounce else what’s the point.

We know that you are now working on your debut album, and hopefully you will be releasing your debut very soon. Could you give us little hints about your debut album?

It’s still untitled although we’ve been mulling other a few strong contenders. The album has been produced by Danton Supple (who has produced Coldplay, Morrissey, Amy MacDonald to name a few) and was recorded in Stockport in December 2010. It’s the first time we’ve recorded as a band whereby we’ve felt really confident with the output. A lot of that is down to how we operate as band but also with Danton and the way he so successfully manages to coax amazing performances out of us. The album sounds cohesive, rich, and unlike anything I’ve heard and yet I think it’s charm and pop sensibilities mean it will appeal to many. We’re all really proud and pleased with how it’s sounding. Its’ nearly done too.

I have come across with a cover of the Bee Gees song, To Love Somebody, on YouTube, that you sing at a friend’s wedding. Honestly, despite the rough quality of the video, I enjoyed more than the Nina Simone version. How do you feel about covering songs and will there be any cover songs in your debut album?

We enjoy covering songs, but obviously our original material takes precedence. I don’t ever want us to be an outfit known more for their covers. There will be none on the album, although we have recorded a version of “Ordinary Fool” which features in the Film Bugsy Malone. That might be an upcoming b-side.

Danton also suggested we do a cover of The Passions song “I’m in Love with A German Filmstar”, which as an idea I’m keen to further. I also really want to do a live version of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” – we shall see!

Talking about covers, is there a specific cover song that you believe it is better than the original version?

Hmmm, well only because it’s fresh in my mind, Adele’s recent cover of Cheryl Cole’s “Promise This” is astounding if only because it actually showcases that Promise This has quite a pretty little melody underneath all of that autotune. Adele can do no wrong for me at the moment. If I was a woman, I’d want her singing voice.

What kind of music are you listening to when you are not playing your own?

I’m currently uploading all of my cd’s onto my new laptop (as the old one caught fire and died). And I’ve re-discovered a number of albums I used to listen to years and years ago, like Mazzy Star’s – “So Tonight That I Might See” album, and old Abba records that I forgot I even owned. Generally I listen to a lot of music on Spotify. I’m really into Patty Griffin’s “Downtown Church” record and John Grant’s “Queen of Denmark”. Both are exceptional.

London is an exciting city. Where do you hang out in London these days?

I live in East London so predominantly in and around there; Hackney, Dalston, Bethnal Green etc. A large of majority of my friends live in around those parts. There’s lots to do and it caters for everyone.

Have you been to Istanbul, or anywhere else in Turkey? What are your thoughts about Istanbul and Turkey?

Yes in 2004, I went to Bodram. Is that correct way to spell it? (Bodrum) It was lovely, the food was incredible and the people very friendly. I hope to go back to Turkey in the near future hopefully with the band so that we can do some live gigs there!

We would like to see The Gadsdens in Istanbul after the release of the debut album. Any plans of coming over here?

No definite plans, we shall see how the record fares and when we do some European tour it would be great to make it over to Turkey.

Cheers very much for taking the time for this interview and letting us into The Gadsdens’ world. Hope to see you soon.

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Interview with: Jody Gadsden

The Gadsdens: Wikipedia, Myspace, Facebook


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