|Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
by Alexander Laurence
are a band from Wales who have been around for ten years.
They were part of the Welsh explosion 1996, when a handful
of bands such as Super Furry Animals and Catatonia began
producing music sung in Welsh. With roots as a punk band,
Gorky's has transformed themselves into something more melodic
and odd. They are currently on their first American tour
in three years with a live show that incudes elements ranging
from folk to noise rock. The main songwriter is Euros Childs.
He sings and plays keyboards onstage as well as acoustic
guitar. His sister Megan Childs plays violin and sings and
adds an occasional song. The other songwriter is Richard
James who is a very talented musician as well.
The Gorky's came out with two albums last year: The
Blue Trees and How I Long To Feel That Summer In
My Heart. They have always been an exciting and unpredictable
group. I got to talk to the three members during the Noise
Pop festival in San Francisco in early March 2002. They
are very nice people. We smoked a few cigarettes and hung
out a few hours before their show at the Great American
Gorky's home page- www.gorkys.com
Gorky's audio - Click
You played the Troubadour last night?
Richard: Yes. It was great. We found out that The Birds
played there back in the 1960s. That's where Roger McGuinn
and David Crosby met each other.
Euros: We saw the posters of Motley Crue and WASP.
AL: WASP used to have fireworks and sparks coming out of
the guitarist's crotch. Are you going to incorporate something
like that into your show?
Megan: Done it.
AL: Or a fire breathing violin player?
Richard: We did that about six months ago.
AL: How many violins do you smash on a tour?
Megan: Usually about thirty. Depends on how the gigs go?
AL: You have been together for ten years now. What was
it like in the early days compared to now?
Euros: Yeah. We started when we were sixteen.
Richard: We all met in school. They are brother and sister.
Megan is older so she wasn't in the band at the beginning
because it was very much a boy's band. It didn't work out
so well. It was a normal teenage band. We play at school
and made a lot of noise. For a while we had acoustic guitars.
We didn't think that we were doing one thing. We never considered
ourselves as a punk band or any sort of a band, even when
we were 15 years old. All the first bands we saw live were
Euros: We didn't grow up in an area or a specific time
where there was one type of music going on. When you grew
up you would listen to old stuff and all sorts of music.
AL: How come you weren't invited to play on the Tom Jones
Richard: I don't think that we sold enough records to be
invited. He's a horrible man. I hope that he chokes on one
of his cigars.
AL: Do you have any influences?
Richard: Yeah. We like The Fall, The Sex Pistols, The Kinks,
and The Beatles. We started off with the obvious ones because
they are easy to get. Then we got into more obscure stuff
because we ran out of obvious stuff to buy. I started getting
into Robert Wyatt and some folk stuff. We all liked Soft
Euros: You get engrossed into a lot of strange music when
you are young. I liked a lot of Country Music when I was
a teenager. Some of it is a load of shit but I like listening
to it. I think that The Fall had great riffs.
AL: Do you like Nick Drake?
Megan: Even though Nick Drake is amazing you don't want
to sound like that or copy it. For us, it's not about emulating
some other sound. It's more about creating our own thing.
Anything that does influence us is not really a conscious
Euros: Bad bands are ones who you listen to their records
and it's obvious that you have listened to these three or
four other bands. It's like "We love their records"
and that's what you get.
Richard: That's how you get all this bland music.
AL: On that last album Euros wrote most of the songs, then
Richard has three or so, and Megan has one. Is that how
the songwriting responsibility goes?
Richard: It depends. Euros always has written most of the
songs. We all bring something to the band. It's good to
have different songwriters because you get different things.
It becomes mixed and somewhat more interesting.
Megan: We never wanted to define our sound or what our
music means. It's freedom to do whatever you want, really.
There are no rules.
AL: What bands have you played with?
Megan: We have played with a band called Tulip. They are
not together anymore. We played with Arab Strap. We supported
Stereolab, Spiritualized, and Broadcast. All sorts of good
AL: The new record was recorded in a few studios. Why the
Euros: It was recorded in two studios at Rockfield. We
started in one studio for a week. We took a week off. Then
when we came back, that studio wasn't available, so we moved
next door. It wasn't as good as the first one. It was the
same place. We had never recorded there before. It's nice.
It's in Monmouth, South Wales.
AL: How was this album different from the previous ones?
Euros: Two members had left the band. The drummer and John,
who played guitar and wrote a few of the songs. It was all
right. We actually worked with two different drummers. Pete
is playing with us now in the live shows.
Megan: Every album is different. Every album has its own
identity and recording. We have been doing more poppy things
recently. The songs on The Blue Trees worked so well together.
We know that people liked that. So we already had the songs
for this new one, How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart.
We knew what people would expect. It's quite open whatever
AL: Do you think that many stoners listen to your music?
Richard: Not in any large proportion than any other group.
Euros: Occasionally you will smell it coming from the crowd.
People who like George Michael probably smoke it. George
Michael smokes it himself, doesn't he?
Megan: There isn't a type of person who comes to our gigs.
Euros: We don't have a lot of party music. Maybe out of
the seven albums you could make one compilation of party
AL: You have a few songs about sunshine. There's not much
good weather in Britain?
Euros: It comes now and then. You have seven days of clouds
and no sunshine, then you have two days of sunshine. It's
Megan: It makes a big impression of you.
AL: Do you play any sports?
Euros: We have been playing a bit of badminton lately and
try to get fitter. We are trying to offset our other pleasures
in life, which is beer.
AL: Have you been doing any Kung Fu or Yoga?
Richard: Do I look like I do Kung Fu?
Euros: No Kung Fu. No martial arts.
AL: Some people described some of the early stuff as "lo-fi."
What do you think of that?
Euros: When we started we recorded at home. We didn't want
hiss. We always wanted the best quality. We always disliked
the term "lo-fi" because it sounds underachieving.
It sounds as if you are playing something down or not enjoying
something. Our producer hates the term because he thinks
it's "high-fi" now. There's so much detail in
what we do. "Lo-fi" sounds like something that
you do very quickly and record. There is so much tension
in our sounds and the production of our records. The last
thing it is, is "lo-fi." That is like a Dictaphone
that just happens to be recording. There is an attitude
AL: When you go into a studio, how much of it is a live
Megan: We usually have all five or six of us playing live
on the initial tracks. Then you obviously overdub things
over that. It's good to capture things live and the band
playing because there is always something special there.
A band playing together is what you are. It's being truthful.
Euros: We have a great producer. He's good at capturing
the spirit and the chemistry. He's a firm believer in that.
That spirit is missing in a lot of records that you hear
AL: In the song "Christina" you rhymed "Christina"
with "Magazine-a." How long did you take to come
up with that?
Euros: I like trashy lyrics. I like pulp. I am not a poet.
I am not writing poetry. I am writing words for a melody.
You just sit down with a guitar and try to think of something
new and exciting to say. Some songs are a story and others
are just about how you feel that day.
AL: Someone wrote: "This album is a concept album
about the bittersweet nature of nostalgia for summer."
Euros: No, I don't think so. Someone has been reading too
much into the songs. It's not a concept album.
AL: A few of the songs start off with a psychedelic musical
interlude, then they take a left turn into the actual song.
Is that a trick, a style, or a quality that you like in
Richard: Sometimes that's nice, yeah.
Euros: When we recorded "Christina" the two parts
on two separate days. We did the Intro on one day. It was
tracked. Then the next part was played live. It was two
different processes of recording back to back. It's very
nice to hear that together. I haven't heard the album for
a while now, because we are playing it every night. My favorite
songs tend to be whatever worked well the previous night.
AL: Richard. The songs that you wrote on the album seem
sort of stripped down, bare, and folky. Is that your style?
Richard: I suppose that is more my style of writing. I
write stuff on an acoustic guitar.
AL: Do you think that people listen to your music as to
chill out after the party?
Megan: I don't know. It's nice not to know. It's good that
people are listening to music in different circumstances
and it has nothing to do with me. You make this music and
I am not connecting with people who listen to it in any
other way. When you listen to a record or read a book that
you really like, you are not thinking about other people.
AL: When you started out did you send out demos?
Euros: No. We were anti-demo. We sent out demos to radio
stations but not to labels. We knew that in Wales people
would have heard about us and label would find out after
a while playing out live. We were on television. We didn't
need to send out demos. The labels knew who we were. It's
a small music scene. Bands get taken more seriously now
in Wales. There are more resources to put on gigs. In Cardiff.
Some places in Wales with a big population sometimes have
cover bands and bar bands for two or three months. Or even
longer. So it's trash that there is some music scene going
AL: Is it a positive thing that people start grouping bands
like the Manics, Super Furry Animals, and Catatonia, and
yourself and say that there is a scene?
Megan: It's only positive for people writing about it.
It isn't good for the scene in North Wales or West Wales.
It has nothing to do with what is going on there and will
never change it.
Euros: You don't get angry when the press gets it wrong.
You can get angry with the British Press more than over
here. Something like "Euros Childs leads his Welsh
wizards on another tour of the British Isles." It's
wrong because I am not the leader of the band. When we get
listed in a magazine, they use the same words from 1997.
Every time we do a tour we see the same phrases.
-- Alexander Laurence