Interview: Two Gallants

Bearded caught up with Two Gallants for a Q&A about their new record, ‘We Are Undone’ and their upcoming UK tour.

Posted on Feb 26th, 2015 in Features and Interviews, Two Gallants, PIAS / By Henry Bainbridge
Interview: Two Gallants Bearded: What were you aiming to achieve with We Are Undone?

TG: Well I can't speak for other bands but we don't really go into the studio with any thing in mind. We have a handful of songs in various states of incompletion and try to corral them all into something that seems worth listening to.

Over the 12 years and 4 albums of your career, there’s a progression towards a heavier, fuller sound and a bitterer lyrical content. How do you think you have developed as songwriters and arrangers?

Yeah the songs are clearly heavier. Pretty much all of the guitar is finger-picked on our first two or three records. I suppose that just got a little tiring and sometimes it's hard to keep a flat pick from moving. As for arrangements, the newer songs have a little less fat on them. When we were young we kind of just allowed them to ramble wherever they chose. I guess we're a bit more conscious of what we're doing these days, for better or for worse.

Listening to the record it is understandable why you might have wanted to use an engineer responsible for some of Tom Waits more brash material. What was it like recording with Karl Derfler?

It didn't really have to do with his history or any records in particular that he'd worked on that made us want to work with Karl. We were mostly convinced by his personality. He does a lot of work at the studio we recorded at and he showed us around when we toured the place. Tyson and I both felt at ease with him immediately. It was just a huge plus that he had worked on some beautiful sounding records. The ‘Bawlers’ section of Orphans in particular has gotten a lot of rotation on tour over the years.

I think I read that the title track is in part about making sense of consumer culture. What other themes run through the record?

If I said that I doubt I used those words. That song isn't really trying to make sense of anything. It's more of an expression of a sense of guilt and powerlessness that pervades our lives. I want to believe that the majority of people care a little bit about the world. But regardless, the overwhelming majority of us are confined to an existence in which practically everything we do is a violent, destructive act. The term "environmentally friendly" is a euphemistic lie. All we can do is try to be less destructive. Everything we do is tinged with a sense of guilt that we bury under layers upon layers of ignorance and distraction.

Do you have a preference between recording in a studio and playing live?

Definitely live. Some amazing things can be done in the studio but most of the time and particularly with modern music, those things are all replicable; more reliant upon technology than on performance. But a live performance with actual instruments can never be the same no matter how many shows are played, no matter how skilled the musicians may be.

What can UK fans expect when the tour arrives here in late February?

We have a lot of songs now so we're trying to keep every set different. It keeps things interesting for us to have a handful of them in circulation. We also meet a lot of people who come see us at multiple shows on tour and I'd assume they enjoy a little variety as well.

In the UK there is a long-running radio show called Desert Island Discs where guests select 8 pieces of music, a book and a luxury item to have with them if they were castaway on a desert island. I’d like to transfer that concept to the Two Gallants tour bus…

What are some of the records you like to listen to when traveling?

Andre Nickatina Conversations with a Devil
William Harris and Buddy Boy Hawkins Complete Works

What book would you/will you take on tour?

Herman Melville - ‘Moby Dick’
Elizabeth Kolbert - ‘The 6th Extinction’
Philip Larkin - ‘Complete Poems’

What luxury item is essential?

K-Y Jelly

Order 'We Are Undone' HERE