Today we talk to Gang, a French heavy metal band currently celebrating his 25th anniversary. The right moment to review their history and to know more about their plans and the celebration program they will execute along this year. We talk to Steve, guitar of the band since the very beginning.
Hello Steve and thanks for this talk
Steve : Hi Alberto ! Thank you for your support !
Gang is a French band that is living and celebrating right now his 25th anniversary, looking back how would you summarize all those years?
Steve : It’s a long way including good and bad time, lessons to draw and experiences that help the band to be stronger.
We start as Gush X in 1990 and become Gang in 1993 with our first album. We’ve recorded some demos, CDs and videos and we’ve got also line-up changes. Without drummer, we became a studio band during 10 years.
For the 20th anniversary of Gang and the album « V », we decided to be back on stage. It was for a one shot but since 2010, we record and are touring non stop as we have always dreamed to do…
Your first studio album is from 1993, the last from 2014 “Inject the venom”. What difference is the listener gonna find between those albums?
Steve : They are really different. In 1993, this is another time of the band. We were seeking us musically and humanly. Another singer and a music including hints of thrash, punk and hardcore. We’ve made our “coming out” with « V » album considering that the music we like and we had always want to play was Heavy Metal. So, « Inject The Venom » is an album who show our total devotion to Heavy Metal, including riffs, chorus and melodies in the pure 80’s vein.
Are the classic albums still available for purchase?
Steve : our two first albums (« 1993 » and « Unknown But Surely Evil ») are now sold out. Also our EP « HM-666% » (including cover from classics from Saxon, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Motörhead and Mercyful Fate) but we’re working for a new edition including new mixing and mastering from « HM-666% » + « Heavy Metal Road 666 – Live in Fismes 2012 »…
Steve, what can you tell us about the current lineup of the band?
Steve : The current line up is certainly the strongest one we get. Lot of energy all together, lot of friendship and respect, lot of fun… The line up features Malo on drums, Philty on bass, Bill as singer, Biggy and me on guitars.
As I said before, you are celebrating your 25 year as a band. Last year, to commemorate it you released a live album, “Live is All”. Your shows emanate energy and andrenalin, right?
Steve : Exactly ! We believe that it’s on stage and facing the audience that everything is played. So, every Gang gig is really exciting and each member give its better to make the show in the service of Gang. We just want to share our passion for Metal, it’s our only ambition.
“Live is All” was recorded in the UK, what can you tell us about the recording process and the sound in it?
Steve : This is our first real long size live album. We released a few years ago a long size EP to end our reunion tour (Gang didn’t play live during 10 years, from 2000 to 2010). We get the opportunity to have our show recorded during the SOS fest in UK. We bought the tapes. It sounded cool. We were supposed to work on our new studio album. But we decided to use the tapes. That’s it ! More, it’s the first time a French band release a live album recorded in UK !
We’re fans of live albums : Live after Death, Tokyo tapes, World Wide Live, Made in Japan, Alive… This was real live album. We wanted with « Live is All » make it real again. Sure, we’re not Purple, Maiden or Judas. We don’t claim about it too. But we wanted to release a true live album as we hear when we were kids, it’s true. It’s not polished, not overdubbed. Definitely not a live album made in studio as we can hear today from most of bands. It is sincere.
That is really important. You also have included the classic “Total Eclipse” from Iron Maiden in the set list, is it usual in your shows or it was just because the gig was in the UK?
Steve : Every Gang tour includes one or two cover song from our heroes. We want to pay our tribute to the bands that gave us the passion for Metal. So, we’ve played « 747 (Strangers in the Night) » from Saxon, « Rock You Like Hurricane » from Scorpions, « Paranoid » from Black Sabbath, « Rock’n’roll Secours » from Vulcain, « No Class » from Motörhead… For the Injection Tour we decided to pay our tribute to Clive Burr and Iron Maiden including « Total Eclipse » on our setlist. Of course, it was very special for little frenchies to play this song in UK.
For the actual tour, we play « Riding on the Wind » from Judas Priest and we’ll surely play some others cover songs in the future…
Great songs and great choices, sure. Now we are in 2016 and I guess you are still touring, right? What places are you gonna visit this year?
Steve : Yes. It’s our « 25th anniversary tour ». We’ve begun in Belgium in september 2015 and the end is planned for october 2016 in our hometown for the 5th British Steel Saturday Night Festival with Praying Mantis, Tokyo Blade, Absolva, Fist, Savage, Spartan Warrior, The Deep and Rust X. We’ve played in France (for sure !), Belgium (including Wizz Fest 2016 with Blaze Bayley), Athens (Rock you To Hell Festival with Loudness, Tokyo Blade, Fist, Tysondog, Picture…) and we’ll play 4 gigs in UK this summer (Hastings, South Shields, Manchester and Hatfield) and one at Power Of The Night Festival in Cyprus with Scanner and Grave Digger. We’re still looking to find gigs in Spain and Portugal where we’ve got really good friends and fans.
It would be great to have you around Spain, I hope it becomes true. Apart of the tour, have you planned any other surprise for the fans to celebrate your anniversary? Kind of especial t-shirts, remastering the classics, etc?
Steve : « Live is All » album and tee-shirts are here to celebrate our anniversary. As said, we’d like to re-issue « HM-666% » enhanced with « Heavy Metal Road 666 – Live in Fismes 2012 » but we already prepare new material for a new studio album because this last 25 years was just the beginning…
Which were the best and worst moments in those 25 years?
Steve : Not easy to say … We have always learned from our failures to continue. Therefore, any negative became positive for the future of the band. I think the early years and the instability of the line up are the most difficult times we have had to live with Gang.
Now every moment spent together on the road or in the studio has something powerful. While this is still much work to achieve a result, it’s always a lot of fun that we share among ourselves and with our loyal audience.
I would add that spending time with people and groups that have marked our teens are also exceptional moments we live for several years. A part of our dreams became true.
Which is that gig you remember more emotionally?
Steve : The show for the Rock You To Hell Festival in Athens was totally amazing. We were the first stranger band on the bill and many people in the audience came in front of the stage and begun to sing our songs and chorus when we played. It was very surprising and exciting to see the devotion of Greek Heavy Metal Maniacs. We’ll never forget this fantastic audience !
Yes, Greece is always especial. I have read that you are working in a new album to be released in some moment of this 2016. What details can you disclose about it?
Steve : Well in 2016, we get tons of shows but sure we’re working on the new album. It’s almost 100% written. Except some lyrics, vocals line and solo. We get demos of all songs. Now we have to rehearse. We add two new songs to our show. People like them. It gives us a strong kick. We want to make something in the way of « Inject the Venom » with of course minor changes. We want it to be 100% analogic. We use technology but we don’t want technology to play for us, to sing for us. We don’t want to deliver a production sound that is not us. We want this album to sound like a Gang album. Just because, it’s us and we will play on live and it’s a pity to see band with overproduced albums, not able to deliver it live. We sound as we are, probably not perfect, certainly with some defaults, but you hear really us. Not a machine copying guitar sounds, no trig to get a massive drums sound, no auto tune to correct vocals…
But don’t expect a poorly produced album. We love to add things on the mix, to use some effects, to strengthen surroundings. But this is piece of the cake not the cake itself.
Steve, after so many years creating songs, is it easier now to get the ideas flowing or or is it more likely to suffer the syndrome of the “white page”?
Steve : It’s a collective work. Everyone brings his ideas, riffs, his lyrics, his pieces of songs or complete songs. There is always a Gangster to get an idea. We try all and if it works, it’s gone! We have many ideas that are already on demos and we’ll use them or not in the future.
As a band with a long career in Metal, how do you see the French scene nowadays?
Steve : There are many bands in many different veins. There are bands that play with passion and that often last long (and with whom we are friends!). There are also many bands chasing success or a place in the HellFest poster… They do not last long face disillusionment. AC/DC sang “It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock’n’roll)” but it’s also hard work and a lot of sacrifice to stay on top, especially when you go into the spheres of business. Fortunately, we stayed “Underground”, followers of the “do it yourself” and it has protected us from a lot of inconvenience (also, it guarantees us to be poor for the rest of our days!). I think this is the same spring for Metal scenes of each country. However, we increasingly travel with Gang and we find that in other countries the report to the Rock culture is generally much stronger and the kids feel a little more for themselves. This is how should last the bands : by their determination to play their music and by the support given to them by fans. Fuck business strategies and cheats for sale!
I rise my beer for that! Thanks for your time Steve and we wish you a very successful tour and new album. An album that we will review here when the moment comes and if you wish we will comment it together.
Steve : Thank you very much for give us the opportunity to speak to our fans and for your fuckin’ great support ! We hope people to be curious, to listen, to see live. Music is all about live.