December 3, 2009

2010: The Gadsdens

Jody Gadsden is a bit cheeky. Tuesday night he tweeted, The Gadsdens Sailor Song Single Launch gig. We have a surpriseeeeee. It's long and thin..." but never followed it up. Keep them intrigued.

I have a decidedly "oughties relationship" with him, meaning it exists solely online. It's sometimes hard to reconcile the witty, pop-lovin' music fan who occasionally comments on PopJustice Forms with the The Gadsdens' emotive singer/songwriter. The band's debut single,
The Sailor Song, is one of the finest ballads of the past two years. A mid-tempo driven by piano, it conjures up words like emotional and unrequited with a regret-filled hook: "I never really had it in me, did I, did I?" It's not even a declaration; it's just a lonely question.

The single, which made my
Best of 2008 list, has finally been released on iTunes with a very tribal, noir b-side called Trouble In Mind. Today Q Magazine took notice and made it their Song Of The Day. Let the stars align.

On the occasion of an actual release you can buy from this band, I decided to make my thing with Jody official...

XO: So have you had any sparring matches on PopJustice Forums lately? You know I want to smack the sh*t out of some of those bitches.

Jody: Not really, I'm not a hugely antagonistic person and I don't really feel the need to hide behind some internet persona and be a meanie all day and night sprouting off my highly overrated opinions on everything. This applies to forums in general, not just PJ.
But we are both music fans who like to debate the minutiae of pop music, yes? There are some good discussions there and people with actual taste... I do remember you calling one of the Sugababes new songs Thank You For The Fart Break!

To be honest, the last time I visited the PJ Forums was during the Sugababes fiasco, I got really angry at all the plebes supporting v.4 and accepting the Sugababes as brand, completing ignoring what v.1 were all about. It irked me a great deal, so I just read the front-page stories now. But there are some exceptionally articulate and interesting posters on there, make no mistake. Especially the Mutya Stans [ex Sugababe member's fans]- they're for real.

Okay, so who are The Gadsdens and how many actual real Gadsdens are in the band?

There are five Gadsdens now: I who croons, Simon who tinkles, David who bangs, Barney who strums and Jihea Oh, our newest edition, who.... basses?!

You didn't answer my question though. Are you the only actual "Gadsden" by name? Or does everyone suddenly have the same last name, like Franny Travis and Dougie Travis?
I am the only blood Gadsden in the band. The rest are all honorary Gadsdens so to speak - we are a unit and I am the singing daddy.

"Daddy!" Seriously, your voice isn't really like anyone else's. Males vocals have been so samey in pop music. It's either growls or horrible boyband-isms. Who are your vocal icons?

Good question. I agree with you. I don't think many men choose to use their voices in the way female vocalists do, in an interesting and emotive way. Granted, I don't have the range of someone like Mariah Carey - no whistle register here - but I do have a different tone and style to what's out there. I get a lot of Tracy Chapman comparisons which is fine, but I swear on my life I've never owned a Tracy Chapman record so I'm not sure why I sound like her. My vocal icons or my childhood/teenage obsessions were and and still are Polly Jean [PJ Harvey], Nina Perrson [of The Cardigans], 1990's Tori and Abba. Oh and Joni Mitchell's Blue Album.

I don't hear Tracy as much as some people say, but you both have a certain vulnerable, in-your ear quality. Has anyone ever called you warbly? I mean that in a nice way, of course.

Yes. I've been called warbly, a singing goat, Irish, Brian Ferry, the lot. I love them all.

No, I love your voice, and Bryan's too. The video for The Sailor Song... when you told me it would be animated, I thought, "Oh dear." And then I saw it and now think it's an amazing piece of art unto itself.

We're still a DIY band at the moment, so money for a proper video just wasn't in our £4 pound annual budget. Luckily enough I have a very talented friend in Gavin Leisfield, who created the video entirely in his spare time over a three month period simply because he loved the song and the band. I knew right from the early sketchings that it would more than compliment the sentiments of the song. I think it really brings out the song's message - the one of never being quite good enough for somebody. The emphasis on disappointment is heavy - I mean, you'd be pretty peed off if you'd spent all that time accruing beautiful jewels only to have some greedy snake shoot and kill you at the end.

I feel like Sailor Song is so extraordinary that it will always be your calling card. Your Umbrella. Fortunately, I have heard a lot of your demos and you are not one hit wonders. Is an album starting to take shape?

The Sailor Song was the first original song we recorded after [a cover of Bronski Beat's] Small Town Boy. It's definitely our first born, so to speak, and will always be special in that sense... As a band we have firm ideas on how we want our first album to sound, certain parts of it will be epic and moody and orchestral and lush, others songs will be more garage sounding and gritty and then there will be the big sad lo-fi ballads. I think it will come together as complete sonic package. 2010 will see the completion of two to three years of hard grafting and evolution. Most exciting.

Explain the Greenpeace thing. That was a big deal.

Yeah, that was a proud moment for us. The Sailor Song was chosen by Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid as the music for this year's Glastonbury Festival awareness video [watch it now]. It was shown on the main stage throughout the festival - rather great exposure and some really nice feedback from festival goers who liked the song. Maybe next year we'll be playing there.

Has that exposure helped you in any way? What about the radio exposure?

It has helped, and our recent stint on Radcliffe and Maconie's Radio 2 show last week also helped us reach a much larger audience.
And now we're at the end of 2009, so give me your favorites.

My favorite album of the year, without a doubt - and perhaps rather predictably - was Florence + the Machine's Lungs. I don't think I've fallen in love with an album like that in years. Lovely Florence. I also really liked the XX album and A-Camp's Colonia, which sounds a bit like colonic - which is not so good. Have you heard of The Drums? I'm looking forward to hearing their album next year. The stuff I've heard on their myspace is really inspiring stuff. And I'm looking forward to hearing the Sia-penned tracks for Christina Aguilera's album next year and indeed Sia's next album.

How do The Gadsdens fit into 2010? Really, how does anyone get signed these days?

I think the trend of the past year and 2010, in terms of signing, is mostly focused on electro acts and females like
Little Boots, La Roux, Florence and Marina. Next year all focus will be on the next male electro popstar. Any bands that are being signed - which are quite far and few between - are of the MGMT/Empire of the Sun synthy-sound, so I guess The Gadsdens really don't fit the soup du jour at the moment but I'm fairly confident we'll shine though in the end, we have the material and the musicianship and none of us are particularly ugly - so here's hoping 2010 fares well for us.

None of you are ugly? I should be the judge of that, skinny jeans man... which reminds me, what was this "long and thin" thing you Tweeted about showing off at the launch?
A cello... which isn't really thin.

Oh.[frown] No. Cellos are sort of curvy. Long and curvy? Let's stop here.

If you want to buy The Sailor Song - hear it above - you can get it NOW at iTunesUK, iTunesUS or AmazonUK. Feed Jody and his bandmates. They are rail thin and need a few scones.


DanProject76 said...

Oh yeah, I remember that song. Loved it at the time and love this video. Another 2010 album to definitely buy and blog about.

countpopula said...

Glad I finally took a few minutes to watch the video and read your nice interview. Really interested in them now--he's got a great voice, and there's a certain elegance to this. The animated video is quite lovely, and bears a nice storytelling quality like Sally Shapiro's "Love in July" clip also had. Might be hard to get it on MTV though.

Poster Girl said...

G-g-gorgeous song. I picked it up as a free download somewhere along the line, but I've just bought it from iTunes. The singer's voice works magic here. The music, too--it kind of haunts you throughout your day, in the best way possible.

small squirrel said...

I effing love this song. I have played the crap out of it, and am not remotely bored of it yet. I wish my brain was working well enough to do a proper thing about what all work in this song, but then again, that is XO's job... I just nod in agreement and pass it on.