In May 2009, Watford’s punk misfits Gallows had the world at their feet. The critics respected them, the kids worshiped them – and, judging by the reported £1 million record deal from Warner Bros. Records for "Grey Britain", the industry loved the UK’s angriest band, too. However, as the old saying goes: "Love isn’t always enough" – and the Gallows didn’t care much for the music industry bollocks, refusing to conform, or be puppets for the puppeteers.
In December of that year, they parted ways with Warner Bros. Records, and merrily went on their way – £1 million richer – yet, no-one seemed to mind all too much, because the Gallows were never going to be a Top 40 band and would be better off without the suits meddling in their apocalyptic sounds. But then, in July 2011, the unthinkable happened: Frank Carter
, the beloved ginger (oxymoron much?) singer, announced his departure from the group, which lead to most predicting the inevitable demise of the gang. However, what most failed to realise is that the Gallows are one band who strive on anarchy and chaos to fully function. So, in defiance, they headed straight back to the gutter to find their next vocalist.
A month later, out stepped Wade MacNeil, the former guitarist/vocalist for Canada’s post-hardcore champions Alexisonfire, as their new mouthpiece. With MacNeil at the helm, the Gallows upped the aggression, increased the intensity and hit the music scene harder than before. A critically-lauded, and appropriately titled, EP, "Death Is Birth", was released in late 2011, and further proved that rumours of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.
Now, in the midst of the MacNeil era, Gallows have sent out another statement of full intent with their crushing and riot-inciting self-titled album, which is a giant up yours to whoever doubted them in the first place.
Q: Gallows have said that the self-titled album is a statement of intent and a laugh-in-the-face of those who said you were done. Do you think those who said you were done even understood what the band was about in the first place?
Wade MacNeil: No. I think that people, who didn't understand that the band was a sum of its parts, missed the point in the first place.
After 'Grey Britain', your subsequent releases ['Death Is Birth' and 'Gallows'] have been ferocious and in-your-face. Was this the plan from the get-go, or did this aggressive songwriting approach arise due to the happenings in the Gallows camp?
This was always the plan. This is the music we love. This is how Gallows should sound.
When the Gallows are busy recording, what’s the mood like in the studio?
We had a pretty fractured schedule in the studio this time. We were playing shows, around Europe, during the whole recording session [for the self-titled album]. So, we would rehearse for a few days, then drive to Germany for a show, record for a few days, then drive to Sweden for a few shows. It was hard to switch up gears to go from situation to situation. But, in the end, playing all those shows injected a lot of energy into the recording process, and I think you can hear it in the songs.
Ultimately, what do you hope to achieve from this new album?
At this point in our music careers, we want to start seeing more of the world that we haven't yet. Play places like South Africa, Eastern Europe, South East Asia, South America. That sounds very exciting to me.
Speaking of visiting places and touring, Gallows have been fortunate to see some of the world. What are some of the countries you love to tour?
Japan is one of my favourites. It’s a really huge culture clash, but that is what I like about it. The shows there are different from everywhere else in the world. Hopefully, we get back [there] soon.
Many bands still have this aspiration of being signed to a major label and believing all their dreams will come true. Having been there, what is the reality?
That part of the music industry is a sinking ship. Let it sink.
Now that you’re completely independent, can fans expect more releases faster than before?
Absolutely; we are in control. The volume and speed of our releases will really improve.
Interview by Sergio Pereira