New on the scene is Gay Against You, a truly fruity musical duo from the bonny city of Glasgow, who see the release of their second album Righteous Signals, Sour Dudes in August. With a thoroughly imaginative and unclassifiable style of music jacked up by their flamboyant live performances and wild fashion sense, GAY (dig the acronym) are an interesting proposition for those who have a liking for experimental, cacophonous, and kooky songs.
A case of the marmite-test, one expects you’ll either love them or hate them. I catch up with the refreshing team that is Lachlann Rattray and Joseph Howe for a lowdown on the GAY story, size-zero music, friendship, and the science of music and clothes.
What’s the story with the name?
JH: Gay Against You backwards spells “the lost original recording of ‘Smile’ by The Beach Boys.” Satanic!
LR: Its true, Satan came to us in a joint dream and told us to form this band.
Where have you come from and where are you going?
JH: we started the band four years ago when we moved into a shared flat because it was the right thing to do. Since then, we’ve expanded, both into separate flats, separate cities and now separate countries. Next step I suppose is separate bands and self-fulfilling prophecy!
LH: It’s actually a Glasgow by-law that everyone living together in a flat must be in a band.
How did you meet?
LR: Joe and I met each other in the seminary.
JH: I thought Lachlann was French at first.
How would you describe your music?
JH: The easiest way to describe it is that it’s like pop music with all the shit bits taken out: mostly no repetition, no wastage, and no fat. Lean music.
LR: Yeah it’s filter pop: we strain out the crap like membrane bioreactors.
Tell us some more about your new record Righteous Signals, Sour Dudes:
JH: It’s a record about friendship. We had to really work at being friends sometimes through the process but I think it was sort of therapy for the band. I think it’s the most successful – at least for me, personally – thing we’ve done as a unit.
LR: Our record label was really worried about us splitting up so they hired us a group psychologist. He really helped us with dealing with our huge egos and eventually we actually managed to work together to make the record. So I guess this record is really a tribute to him.
An unruly mess of unmelodious compositions, or the deliberate cocktail of experimental music… what should we believe?
JH: I would hope that people would be able to pick out at least some melodious parts this time; I mean its still pretty wonky but there’s a lot of songwriting that’s gone on behind the scenes. Two words: through composition.
LR: I think anyone basing their opinion on the live show would pick the former but I think the new album is pretty different, we put a lot of thought into it and Joe spent hours mixing it and getting it to sound like it does; We also got the Vatican to bless all our equipment before we began, so I’m pretty sure it will be at least as good as Jesus’ new album.
JH: Also, this time you can hear the vocals better and it’s got guitar solos and stuff like that.
What gets you out of bed and at the mixing desk? What’s your inspiration?
LR: I don’t like being bored, and writing and performing music is really good fun. You don’t have to be super-talented to do it, just enthusiastic.
JH: My friend Nick says that without fail, all of his creative ideas come to him when he’s in the bath.
How do you devise your live performances?
JH: At the moment, its a combination of me emailing Lachlann from Berlin, asking if he has remembered to pack everything, and checking that I still know how to play our own songs. It’s pretty slick!
LR: Our live performances emerged from being quite nervous before playing so we try and distract people from any mistakes we may be making by rolling around on the floor, making puking noises.
Where do you buy your clothes?
JH: Humana (a European second-hand-superstore kind of a place), flea markets.
LR: I have been taking evening classes in sewing, which has been a lot of fun. I also recently got a heat press and have been making satanic t shirts. I am pretty sure that by 2012, I will be ahead of the governments target for self-sufficiency.
Is there a correlation between your music and your sense of style?
JH: I guess they are both similarly home made and slightly off-kilter. It’s difficult also to pin us down to a really distinct style both sartorially and musically.
LR: Yeah, it’s true. I think if you where to graph the relationship between our fashion and musical styles, I think you would produce a Torus Knot, with the co-prime integers p and q, where p equals our fashion cool points and q is inversely proportional to the number of time signature changes in our music.
Are you ga ga for Lady Ga Ga?
JH: I’m sorry; I don’t know who Lady Ga Ga is.
LR: Lady Ga Ga is awesome. My favourite song is Paparazzi, ’cause the chorus is totally boss. Plus didn’t she shoot fire from her breasts at an award show? Even if it’s not true, the fact that I believe it could be is good enough.
Vinyl, tape, CD, or MP3?
JH: I’m very pleased that our record is coming out in three out of four of those formats! (We should’ve organised a tape release too). For me, vinyl and tape are the only formats that don’t feel like junk, disposable.
LR: I wish our album could have come out on all the digital formats like .wav .wmv. .aiff .ogg. .flac .aac. – but mp3 is pretty good. I look forward to the day when people get nostalgic for CDs.
Sex, drugs, and rock n roll or a cup of tea and an Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn novel?
JH: If I say a moderate position somewhere between the two, that basically means the second one, doesn’t it?
LR: I don’t see why you can’t do both at the same time, I do every day as part of a balanced diet.
To all the haters who just don’t get you, what do you say?
JH: To stop worrying about it and just get on with things. Also, Hello!
Where do you want to take your music?
LR: I think it would really like to go on a stadium tour. Not for the audiences but for the tour bus. One time we got to sleep over on shitdisco’s tour bus and it was the best!
What’s next for Gay Against You?
JH: I have a new band I’m working on at the moment, called ‘Ben Butler & Mousepad.’ It’s a sort of experimental synth-funk project. Got a single coming out later in the year – do a wee search for it on the internet.
LR: I too have a new band, called “Teenage Ricky.” I wanted to call it “Neighbourhood Gout” but I was overruled. I’m also pretty into drawing pictures of Satan and President Ahmadinijad and Elvis.
JH: we’re hopefully going to be doing some touring around the UK before the end of the year, too. It’s been a while so keep an eye out for that! Also, we’ve just dug a bunch of previously mostly unavailable material – including videos- out from the vaults and we’re looking into ways of sharing that with everyone.
LR: Yes, come see us on our tour, we are working on a way of starting our own religion. That way we can get government sponsorship.
Anything else you want to say?
LR: I would like to say thanks.
Righteous Signals, Sour Dudes is out 3 August 2009 on Upset the Rhythm Records
Article published at Dazed Digital