Last week GALLERY 47’s second album “All Will Be Well” was released to critical acclaim. We for one, bloody loved it, and found it to be one of the most satisfying, beautiful pieces of music that we’ve heard all year. If you want to know our exact thoughts you can find our review HERE.
Jack, the man behind GALLERY 47 was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his influences, the album, and lots of other things. And I’m sure you’ll agree, he’a a very interesting, passionate man….
Tell us a bit about yourself, who are you GALLERY 47?
I’m not sure how much to write! Okay, my name is Jack, I live in Nottingham and have done my whole life like Tom Green with Ithaca in Road Trip. I have a weird body clock and often stay up til 5 in the morning drinking terrible beer and playing on FIFA Career mode. I’ve just turned 25 years old. I often listen to records by Neil Young and Bob Dylan, who were both around my age when they were releasing some of their greatest albums. Sometimes I listen to Joni Mitchell, John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, Scott Matthews and Leonard Cohen. They were a bit older when they released some of their greatest albums, in my opinion, so it makes me feel better. I’m not sure why I’m talking about age. I’m an English graduate who enjoys friendship and time alone in equal parts. I have a guilty passion for football. I’ve smoked and drank too much for my age and I’ve long since given up caring if I end up in a ditch by 30. I’m a bit crazy but I guess this helps with the music. In any other profession, the stuff I do when songwriting would be called talking to yourself, but I do it all the time.
How would you describe your music to those unfamiliar with it?
It’s Pop music for pandas. I don’t know. I guess I’d freak out if you asked me that normally, because I feel like I can’t really win. This one time the BBC listed me as resembling Bob Dylan and then I had this blogger writing an article on precisely why I wasn’t like Bob Dylan and why I was probably more like James Blunt. Gah. I didn’t even say I was like >Bob Dylan, that’s the thing, I don’t know what I sound like, but I don’t think it’s particularly like James Blunt. I’d say I’m closest guitar wise to Paul Simon and I have quite a high voice so maybe a bit like a British Neil Young in that respect, but they are both so good that I wouldn’t really want to compare myself. I try to keep my music quite minimal and I try to get commercial elements into the song structures, but I wouldn’t say I was a Pop artist or anything like that. Really it’s just Folk music that some people might really connect with and others might not.
What Notts specific things influenced the album? Musically and non-musically.
Everything and nothing. I hardly saw anyone but my friend Paul and the doctors in that whole year. For a while I had worked at this marketing firm in West Bridgford for a worryingly sociopathic character who hired and fired people – friends of mine – just like that, for what seemed like nothing to me. I guess that was an influence in the sense that it made me want to run a mile from the business world. I was living in a little Coach House just off Derby Road when I recorded the album. It’s difficult to explain which things influenced it because it’s highly probable that the stuff I was perceiving back then in 2012 wasn’t really happening at all. Songs like “Some Things” and “Invasion” were, in part, responses to this persecution-complex-style-thing I had going on at the time.
I’m quite shy and I always expect the worst, so sometimes I can really read into things that people say or do, or rather what they don’t say and what they don’t do. When I was writing “All Will Be Well“, I’d been left by my girlfriend and I couldn’t get a job, so I was in the same boat as a lot of other people, probably. For a while I withdrew from the scene and felt bitter about everything – amazing how you can feel like you’re over the hill at 23 – but then I had a bit of a health scare and it made me realise how trivial all that stuff had been. Before, I’d just left the University of Nottingham and I could feel myself starting to panic about the future – I mean what do you do, especially in a recession, when you want to carry on with your music but you have all of these pressures – social, economic, maternal – to shape up and get a job and prepare yourself for a family and a mortgage. For a while I was overwhelmed but when I thought that I might not be around much longer I forced myself to focus and it’s been that way ever since.
In your opinion, how does this album differ to your debut?
Well the first album looks yellow and the new one looks kinda blue. I think they both have their similarities, but they are quite different. The first album was written and recorded steadily over a year or two in 2011. I was still learning as a guitarist and a producer so it was a bit more like a sandbox record compared to the new one. Sometimes it was easier to mess around and make something a bit psychedelic than it was to make everything single-worthy. Making a single is hard work sometimes. Back then I was quite eager to get an album out so I didn’t worry too much about all that, but with the new one I wanted to make everything a bit more snappy. There’s a track on “Fate Is The Law” called “Life in Cotton Wool” which was pieced together from guitar fragments I’d cut up and spliced together from other sessions – it was experimental and fun – there was no pressure to do anything a particular way and no management involved, no labels, no directions, no external opinions. I didn’t know anything about publishing deals or labels or mastering costs back then and I wasn’t really prepared for any sort of criticism, good or bad.
I think there’s a certain naïve liberty afforded to unknown musicians making their first albums and I’m glad I got the chance to release that one without having to panic about how many copies it would sell. With “All Will Be Well“, everything came a lot quicker. I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen. I recorded everything in one room and learnt how to play the Dulcimer for “When The World Gets You Down“. I worked all day until I couldn’t stand the Cubase screen anymore, then I went and drank myself into a hole at my friend’s house every night. It was pleasant self destruction. I’m not sure if this actually answers the question but they’re both acoustic, both fairly minimal – the main difference is the subject matter of the second album which is a lot more personal and really focusses on one girl all the way through.
What is your personal favourite track off the album and why?
I really like “When The World Gets You Down” because it’s a simple song to play and I like the melody. It’s about helping your friends feel better when they’re blue, and vice versa. You could say I was sloganeering, maybe I am, but I know there was definitely no sense of that in the writing process. I know I’m a bit of a drab cynic but this is the happiest song I’ve even written and that’s why it’s my favourite.
You’re already started work on your next album, how’s that coming along?
It’s going quite well I think. I live in fear of my computer dying because I can’t afford a replacement and it’s already had a few metaphorical heart attacks. It has started breathing heavily, which I think is the fan, but that means I have to cover it in blankets to cover the sound if I’m going to record. One day last week it got too hot underneath two blankets, two duvets and a sleeping bag. It switched off and wouldn’t turn back on and I got real scared, but for now it seems to be fine again. Anyway, I’m really happy with everything musically but it’s so much hard work and sometimes it can feel like there’s just so much to do and so little time. “All Will Be Well” was finished around this time last year but for a while we wanted to delay and see if we could get a really big release for it.
I’d recently left my job and wanted to make the most of the time I had so I started writing again. I’ve written and recorded around 60 new tracks but I don’t know which ones will make it yet. I’m quite obsessive about making sure I have enough takes for everything. So, if I’m recording one guitar part for one song, it takes me a whole day, and that’s if the fridge doesn’t decide to keep buzzing, and also if the neighbours decide not to have sex loudly. They do it a lot, I’m fairly sure it’s on one of the songs somewhere. At the moment all of the recording is finished but I walk into my little studio and realise that in order to mix this song I’ve got to listen through to 15 vocal takes, so it’s slow and steady.
Who else in Notts are you loving at the minute?
I really like the Nottingham scene and I’ve never seen an artist I didn’t like. I read people’s faces and sometimes get a bit nervous going out to shows so I might not have seen as many new acts as I should have done. My favourites at the moment are NATALIE DUNCAN, CECILLE GREY and BAND OF JACKALS. GEORGIE ROSE (I think it’s GEORGIE now) is doing really well for herself and I went to see JAMIE MOON recently at the Bromley House Library. I always like to watch MARC REEVES too if I get the chance!
What would be your desert island disc and why?
“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan“, or maybe “Revolver” or “The White Album” or “Pet Sounds.” In fact, maybe “Pet Sounds.” I’m not sure. I’ve forgotten all about Simon and Garfunkel & Neil Young in this. Ah, wait, “Blue” by Joni Mitchell. No, no, “Pet Sounds., “The White Album.” No, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.”
Having just played some huge venues with the legend that is Paul Weller, have you found that you prefer larger gigs or more intimate ones?
I really liked the show in Berlin which was the largest one I’ve done, but it’s all down to the crowd really. Sometimes it can feel like you have to really prove yourself at shows with a completely new audience, but at the same time I played in those circumstances at the Union Chapel recently and it was just a perfect setting for acoustic music. In the past I’ve had some issues with sound monitoring and as a result I strained my voice trying to sing louder (I didn’t realise that it was only quieter in my monitors, if that makes sense). So, I don’t really mind about the size of the venue, but I need to be able to hear myself clearly.
You recently played a homecoming show at Nottingham Contemporary, how was that?
I really enjoyed that show. I tried sitting down for a change and felt a bit like John Martyn for an hour or so. Also, my manager gave me some ear plugs to wear so I could hear myself well and wasn’t anxious about straining my voice or anything like that. I played a lot of new stuff, some things from this album called “Young World” and some other ones from a new one I’m working on called “Clean“. It’s always a bit of a scare for me when I debut new songs. There’s so much that could go wrong and sometimes it can seem quite terminal if the first attempt at a live rendition doesn’t go to plan. As it happens, my new guitar did start playing up a bit because of a bassy new tuning I was using, so it wasn’t a perfect set technically but I had a really nice time and people sat down on the floor and stuff.
Any last words for Nusic readers?
I guess, “Thank you very much for reading this” and best of luck with everything in the future. I’m not there yet, but I’ve been around for long enough to know that those first few gigs you play are some of the hardest you’ll ever have to do, so keep going and you’ll do great!
We’d like to thank Jack for taking the time to answer these questions!
Well, there you have it. A great insight into a very talented, creative mind. If you haven’t got the album yet (and why bloody haven’t you?), you can pick it up on iTunes HERE, G47’s store HERE, or at The Music Exchange up in Hockley.
Yours in Love of New Music,
Sam Nahirny x
Pssst, if you order if off the G47’s site, he’s kindly offered some discount codes for you lovely lot – BI8N3J03KSDZ – 10% off all orders – GGNNKSBEUPL4 – 20% off orders equal or above £20.00