Since the release of their 2010 debut LP, What Came From Fire, Liverpool’s SOUND OF GUNS have proven themselves to be locked, stocked and with two smoking barrels.
Their expansive and anthemic sound has provided plenty of ammunition for the critics, who have bombarded the group with sustained and unerringly positive plaudits. Angels and Enemies, their second full LP, released this March, has already been added to many ‘Best of 2012’ lists by those in the know: Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens and XFM. A tour promoting the new LP is currently making its way across western and central Europe, and 21st April sees the run come to the most climactic of endings with the band’s largest headline shot to date, at Liverpool’s O2 Academy.
Life must be good, and it’s no surprise that frontman Andy Metcalfe is in a boisterous and welcoming mood. He laughs off suggestions that the Liverpool show will be the great homecoming of the city’s latest favourite sons. “We’re not going to play the whole Bono thing, none of this messiah stuff; it doesn’t suit us. In fact, the Liverpool gig is the one I’m most worried about. We just want to put on a great show, say thank you to those who were there from day one or who have found us since.”
Whereas other groups might be shaking in their size nines at the thought of the release of a new album, Metcalfe is calm personified. “I’m not worried, no. It’s a great album. This one was never going to be miles from the template of the first one, but the difference this time is the production and the sonics. We have Dave Eringa to thank for that.”
Ah yes, of course. Albums are much more than a group effort these days. Dave Eringa has an exemplary CV, including production work with Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour Scene and Idlewild. It must have taken some coercion to bring such an esteemed producer on board, surely?
“You’d be surprised. Dave did our first EP and even then that was because he loved the music and had a passion for what we were, and still are, doing. Some record companies make the mistake of throwing a load of money at some producer who just sees it as a job, but Dave was different. By day two of recording our new album, he had stacks and stacks of notes. I think he knew the songs better than we did! It was nice to see that kind of love and attention given to our music.”
Sound of Guns are taking major steps towards popularity and are being backed to the hilt by sections of the music press. But, as today’s media focus desperately switches from one act to another, there’s every chance an emerging band could be lauded and subsequently destroyed by maniacal hacks. How many times have we seen ‘The Next Big Thing’ splashed across the music glossies, only for those in question to disappear sadly and silently?
Metcalfe thinks for a few seconds, perhaps wary of biting the hand that feeds. “You know, ‘mainstream’ can be a dirty word and honestly, it’s not something we’ve strictly aimed for. When I sit down and write, or we get together and practise, I never think about what these songs will sound like on the radio. It’s a funny thing though, and it can mess with your head sometimes, but ultimately you’re in a bind. It can be tough when you’re praised and there are constant expectations, but it’s worse if you’re ignored!”
It’s going to be tough to ignore Sound of Guns. The relatively short time between the two LPs is a reminder that some groups these days really do have momentum on their side, and it’s a blessing for the independent Distiller Records, the group’s overseers. “We had this album recorded last May, straight from the tour. Wrote and recorded it in four weeks. Thankfully, Distiller are in it for the long haul. They offer a lot of financial support and we have a good relationship with them. Loads of our contemporaries have signed major deals and just disappeared. Most major labels don’t care; it’s like taking a window cleaner’s ladders away from them.”
One question remains, and it’s too tempting not to ask: just what kind of gun do Sound of Guns actually sound like? Metcalfe doesn’t miss a beat. “A revolver. A nice short, sharp blast.”