Interview: James Atkinson – GENTLEMANS PISTOLS

Antihero Magazine journalist Jake Küssmaul has a chat with James Atkinson of GENTLEMANS PISTOLS about the new album Hustler’s Row

This first question is actually several questions around a single topic – your early influences. What band or album influenced you most when you were just starting to play/sing, a piece of music that was a paradigm shift? What kind of guitar and singing styles inspired you early on? And at what point did you start experimenting with your own style(s)?

My early influences were pretty much my parents’ record collection. The Beatles, The Hollies, Motown records and stuff like that. I first wanted to play in a band when I heard Appetite For Destruction by Guns N Roses though, that record changed everything for me. I’ve always been inspired by lots of different styles of music, but mainly rock and soul. I probably started experimenting with my own stuff when I was about 13 using the two tape recorders trick to overdub yourself. That said, I was probably about 18 before I started writing any music that I was remotely happy with. [separator style”line” /]

Given your experience in hardcore punk, (The Voorhees, the Horror) what inspired the transition to the blues-driven sound of Gentlemans Pistols?

I was always listening to lots of rock stuff through those days and really was more into that than the hardcore stuff, it just took a while for me to get a sound I was comfortable with and find the people to work with to achieve that. [separator style”line” /]

Do you sometimes find yourself incorporating influences from your previous bands?

I think the great thing about playing in hardcore bands is that you are trying to get across a lot in a very short space of time so that you are always editing things and keeping it as snappy as you can. The main thing I took into Pistols from those days was the want to keep songs only as long as they need to be and not add anything in just for the sake of it. [separator style”line” /]

I’ve noticed with each Gentlemans Pistols release, the sound transforms a great deal. Coincidentally, there appears to be a four-year break between each studio release. Besides allowing you to make the most out of recording sessions, in what ways have those long breaks between albums contributed to your personal growth and the overall evolution of the band’s sound?

I always wanted to adapt the sound after each record and include new elements. With the second album we incorporated some harmonic content but not as much as I would have liked. One of my main thoughts for this record was to work on that more with both the vocals and the guitars. The four year gaps have been for different reasons each time and for the most part the material for each record was written for the most part within the first year or so after each release. I don’t think it harmed having the extra time to hone the songs and work on the harmonies this time around though. [separator style”line” /]

I like how you continued using the chorus/flange effect on your voice from the previous album, as it gives it a distinct identity. How did that combination of sounds develop?

There’s no real trick to it other than I double tracked my voice. It’s just something I enjoy doing in the studio and I like the sound it lends to my voice.

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The new album Hustler’s Row features a more personal lyrical approach. At what point did you decide it was time to expand your reach?

Most of the songs on the two previous records were about personal experiences in some way, but I think I coded what I was saying more as I wasn’t really comfortable with being so overt about things. This record is definitely a lot more blatant and it’s really just because I reached a point in my life after we made the last album where I needed to vent about certain things and it seemed that putting it into songs was the most satisfying and cathartic way to do it. [separator style”line” /]

By doing so, are you hoping this change will resonate with a broader rock audience?

I’m really not sure, let’s see what happens. I think that most people can probably related to at least one of the lyrics on the album. [separator style”line” /]

Once the album finally comes out, how will you celebrate?

We’ve got a release gig planned for Oct 19th in London so I imagine that we’ll get pretty drunk then. [separator style”line” /]

Are there plans for an upcoming tour in support of the new album?

We will be touring the UK in December then we are looking at going further afield early next year. [separator style”line” /]

Anything else you’d like to say to the world? Also, where can fans find out more about Gentlemans Pistols?

Cheers to anyone that’s been with the band for a while, your support is much appreciated.. Also a warm welcome to anybody that has just heard us. We hope to see you at a gig soon. You can check stuff out about the band on our Facebook page. [separator style”line” /] [columns] [column size=”half”]

Check out the Hustler’s Row album review:

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Follow Gentlemans Pistols online:

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Jake Küssmaul

Jake is a musician and writer from the hamlet of Hawthorne, NY. Despite having mild cerebral palsy, he continues to break barriers, developing solid connections and lasting friendships with bands around the world.

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