Interview: A Conversation with Gang

“We’ve achieved everything we ever wanted to, but it’s only just begun” – Joe Hunt

There’s no question – Gang are one of the nicest bands you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. “We just love our mums!” guitarist Tuli Tormey declares in our Wednesday evening chat around one of Star & Garter’s battered benches, a few hours before the four are set to take the stage in support of Chastity Belt. A Margate outfit notable for their grunge aesthetic and anti-establishment attitude, Gang have taken the world by storm by dropping one of 2017’s strongest debut albums, ‘925 ‘Til I Die’. It’s no surprising, then, that the faces behind the music are equally as interesting…

The fresh hot news in the Gang camp is that they’re no longer a trio. Sister Tuli Tormey has joined bassist Joe Hunt and brothers Eric and Jimi – a decision that came about after a lot of conversation. “It took two years of us saying it was gonna happen, and waiting for me to finish school” Tuli laughs. “We tried to make it sound as full as possible with three people for so long,” adds Eric, “but we couldn’t really get any fuller. We needed another layer. We haven’t written any songs with Tuli yet –  but it’s gonna be a lot more expansive when we do. It feels completely different, but it’s so lovely.”

It’s also immediately clear that despite Hunt not being blood-related to the Tormey siblings, he’s become an adopted family member. Huddled on one bench together, the four posses an energy so infectious that it’s impossible to not be won over. “I’ve become the little jester of the band” admits Joe. “My mum’s also become a second mum to these guys, too. Love you Julie!”

It’s no shock to learn that Gang have formed friendships with acts they’ve shared the stage with. “The tour with Chastity Belt has been beautiful. They’re an absolute pleasure to hang out with” tells Tuli, proudly displaying her Chastity Belt t-shirt. “When we’ve played gigs with artists we like, and discover they’re really sick too, that’s when friendships are formed. Like Kagoule.”

We’ve got a lot of friends in bands that we just completely love and respect” explains Joe. “Inevitable Daydream, for instance, are really good. Fuoco are on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, but they’re amazing too”. “We’re naming all our friends bands,” laughs Eric, “but I think that’s because we liked a lot of our friends’ music before we even played with them”.

Despite their friendly demeanor, the four have certainly made no secret of their distaste for the modern day music industry – openly shaming its corrupt methods. “There’s a lot of aspects about the industry that really rub us the wrong way” ponders Eric.  “We see a lot of people hoping to make money off their creative fields – but when you’re hoping to make money, you really do make a lot of sacrifices to get that success.”

Unlike most bands, Gang don’t buy into the whole London scene, favouring Northern cities over the capital to play. “Everyone’s a bit serious” Jimi admits. “It’s an inconsistent, very strange place. The culture there is so much about ‘what’s happening next’ on a week-to-week basis that it’s bloated”. They’re not fans of the elitist relationship between some PR firms and larger music magazines, either. “I’m sure you’re aware how annoying some blogs can be for hyping stuff” shares Eric. “They’re almost ruining things. I think it’s sad. Independent blogs are like independent bands in that people do it because they care – not to please other people.”

It’s a sentiment that Jimi agrees with. “Writers aren’t getting paid, and are being forced to write things they aren’t passionate about. It’s corrupt, and it’s always been that way. But people are starting to realise it now – and they’re beginning to avoid it. A lot of hype is smoke and mirrors. It won’t last. Things that are trendy last for very short amounts of time.

”To avoid the complexities of the industry, 925 ‘Til I Die was a complete DIY effort, self-constructed from the get go. What’s the reception been like? “Everyone seems to like it, so really good!” smiles Jimi. “We did it all ourselves, because we had a couple of experiences in the past with some people that didn’t feel right for us. Doing and releasing as much as we can means we had input over all aspects of it. Bands like King Gizzard have done it that way with great effect.”

“There’s no pressure when it’s just us controlling everything” Joe adds. “We’re too soft and sensitive to deal with that. It fucks with your head. We just like chilling, and the industry’s not very chill. When it’s us handling our music, it means that all the creative parts are put at the forefront rather than anything else.”

There’s no escaping the debut’s dystopian content – a theme that’s tackled throughout. Were there any particular inspirations when writing such dark lyrics? “We moved to Brighton!” laughs Eric. “But seriously – it’s about expelling it from yourself. I don’t think any of us are particularly dark people. I’ve met a lot of people who make ‘happy’ music and seem very dark people, almost as if they don’t let it out and discuss it. I think the next album won’t be as dark. Some of it’s meant to be tongue in cheek, too. But I’d rather someone hate it and feel uncomfortable instead of them thinking it’s just ‘nice’. At least then it’s memorable, or has some kind of deeper effect. It it passes someone by, it;s not really worth it.”

“We’re quite a silly, jolly bunch” Joe agrees. “We just flush all the things we think and talk about out of our system. For me personally, I think it’s better to talk about those things and deal with them.”

“But equally”, Jimi explains, “it comes from the point that we all do love heavy music. A lot of bands, obviously Sabbath, set the tone for us. And they were kind of similar – they talked about quite heavy topics for the era they were in.”

Taking into consideration the album’s title, it’s impossible not to inquire what each member’s dream ‘9-to-5’ job would be. “I’d wanna work in a nursery with kids,” decides Eric. “I’ve worked in a lot of soulless jobs – but kids are the future”. Joe shares a similar mind-set. “I already work with kids. That’s what I’ve done for the last ten years, so I’d definitely continue doing that.”

Tuli and Jimi take a slightly different approach. “I’d move out to America and grow weed for a living” laughs Jimi. “I have been thinking about it. I wanna learn about the soil man! What’s really beneath us?” Tuli agrees: “I would have said nursery teacher but Eric stole that one, so I’m gonna say a gardener. I love gardening. We can form a Gang weed farm together!”

For such a musically talented and personally likable group, there’s no doubt that the future for Gang is bright. But where does the path take them next? “We always wanted to make an album, when we started out, but I think we’re really impressed with ourselves,” shares Eric. “I think we’ll probably end up doing another album in the next six months. We all just wanna focus on making lots of music that has no limitations. There’s bands we’d love to play with, too. Ty Segall – he’s the one to tick off. He’s one of the first artists we all got into together. It’s weird because when I was really young, I wanted to take over the world. And then I realised that’s not what I wanna do – even if I could do it.”