Gun

Right from the off, in ’89, Gun were thrust into the big time: ap­pear­ing on Top Of The Pops, sup­port­ing the Stones… Now, with a new al­bum out, they’re hop­ing to get back there.

Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Michael Hann

Back when they be­gan in ’89, the Scot­tish rock­ers were thrust into the big time. Now they’re back with a brand new al­bum.

Gun’s singer Dante Gizzi is re­call­ing his child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences that in­spired Boy Who Fooled The World, the bal­lad that closes Favourite Plea­sures, the Glaswe­gian band’s third full-length al­bum since they reunited nearly a decade ago. “Fri­day nights, I used to plan out this sort of ‘re­li­gious’ evening. Go for my bath, then wait up un­til my mum came home – she’d be at my aunt’s house hav­ing a few drinks, and be back late. It gave me the op­por­tu­nity to sit up lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio, with the head­phones on. I’ve got my fin­ger on the ‘Play’ and ‘Record’ but­tons, and I’m lis­ten­ing out for songs to record. If I hear the first ten, fif­teen sec­onds and it hooked me, then

I’d record it. That’s how I got into mu­sic, be­cause I had this fas­ci­na­tion with songs.”

Favourite Plea­sures is the sound of Gun play­ing songs – big, heart­felt, melodic rock songs, with the pop tinge and funk swag­ger that made the band a rare Bri­tish hard rock suc­cess story in the late 80s.

“We wanted to take it right back and strip it back to the way Gun sounded in the late eight­ies,” Dante says of their new al­bum, dur­ing a break from re­hearsals. “Tak­ing On The World [their 1989 de­but al­bum] is quite raw-sound­ing, and we wanted to strip it back to that.”

Dante, along with the rest of Gun, be­came a rock star by ac­ci­dent with Tak­ing On The World, just as he be­came their singer by ac­ci­dent 20 years later, swap­ping from bass when the band’s stint with for­mer Lit­tle An­gels front­man Toby Jep­son as their singer ended. Dante was 16 years old when Gun’s orig­i­nal bassist, Carni Mor­lotti, left, and gui­tarist Gi­u­liano ‘Jools’ Gizzi de­cided to co-opt his kid brother to step in.

Not that Dante was desperate for the chance. He had a good job, work­ing along­side his rel­a­tives in an Ital­ian del­i­catessen, he had ex­ams com­ing up, he’d never so much as picked up a bass gui­tar, and he was, he will ad­mit, a bit terrified of play­ing live.

It didn’t take long for that to change, though. “Af­ter three songs of my first show – it was at the Bruce Ho­tel in East Kil­bride – I just felt: ‘This is some buzz. This is in­cred­i­ble.’ Peo­ple watch­ing me, get­ting a re­ac­tion. Amaz­ing. I never looked back.”

Still, his youth did cre­ate the odd prob­lem, such as the time Gun were play­ing a show­case for record la­bels and the as­sorted big­wigs had to be kept wait­ing for Dante to get there from sit­ting some school ex­ams.

Gun were an odd propo­si­tion when they first came along. At a time when hard rock was dom­i­nated by hair metal and thrash, they were nei­ther. They didn’t even look like a hard rock band: short hair, no span­dex, no leather.

“Our man­age­ment team wanted a rock band, but it was first things first: ‘Get your hair cut, be­cause that look isn’t go­ing to last for­ever,’

Dante re­mem­bers. “We got it. We un­der­stood.”

That com­bi­na­tion of look­ing non-tribal and mak­ing rock that had a pop sweet spot made

Gun favourites of both Ra­dio 1 and Top Of

The Pops. The re­al­ity of the lat­ter proved to be an eye-opener for Dante when Gun made their TOTP de­but per­form­ing Bet­ter Days, their first sin­gle, in the sum­mer of ’89

“There’s a part of you that’s think­ing you’ve played on the same stage as all the other artists you’ve watched on a Thurs­day night, and how in­cred­i­ble that is,” he says. “And then you get de­flated by see­ing how it’s ac­tu­ally run. It was like a cat­tle mar­ket. I re­mem­ber think­ing there’d be maybe a cou­ple of thou­sand peo­ple there. You’d be lucky if there were two hun­dred, all get­ting carted around: ‘Let’s go to this stage.’ ‘Okay, ev­ery­body ready for ap­plause!’ You al­most wish you hadn’t seen that side of it.”

Af­ter chart­ing with Tak­ing On The World, two more, big­ger hit al­bums fol­lowed – Gal­lus in ’92 and Swag­ger in ’94 – be­fore every­thing went off

“With Favourite Plea­sures we wanted to strip it back to the way Gun sounded in the late eight­ies, quite raw.” Dante Gizzi

the rails in 1997 af­ter 0141 632 6326. The band’s man­age­ment al­lied with singer Mark Rankin and pro­ducer Andrew Far­ris (for­merly of INXS) to steer them in a pop­pier di­rec­tion that dis­gusted the Gizzi broth­ers. “That was such a bad ex­pe­ri­ence for us – Jools and I against the rest of the world, pretty much. We’d have these long dis­cus­sions: ‘Do you re­ally think this sounds like Gun? Cos it cer­tainly doesn’t to me.’ And if you can’t con­vince your­self, how are you gonna con­vince any­body else? That was the cat­a­lyst for us to dis­band.”

In the years fol­low­ing Gun’s demise, Dante wrote for other artists, fronted his own glam-pop band El Pres­i­dente – one of the last decade’s more no­table never-quite-made-it groups – be­fore he and Jools came back to­gether as Gun, mo­ti­vated largely by not want­ing 0141 to be their fi­nal state­ment.

Af­ter Jep­son left, Jools turned to his brother to put down the bass and front the band. “Part of me thinks: ‘I don’t want to be con­stantly com­pared to Mark,’ Dante says. “I had no prob­lem about singing all those songs, be­cause I did sing half of it live from day one. I sung a lot on demos. In the end I thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll do it.’ But I wanted to in­cor­po­rate new mu­sic as well, be­cause putting your own iden­tity on things is im­por­tant.”

Now he’s in his late 40s, Dante ap­pre­ci­ates his good for­tune rather more than he did first time around. “I wish I could go back in time to re­mem­ber more of it,” he says. “I should have en­joyed it and not been so naive. But I was just a young kid. I never thought about the places we vis­ited, the op­por­tu­ni­ties we had – like play­ing with the Stones [on their 1990 Euro­pean tour].

I just got com­pletely wrecked most of the time.”

He barely even re­calls Gun re­ceiv­ing an MTV award in 1994 for their hit-sin­gle cover of Cameo’s Word Up. “I could hardly walk, I’d drunk so many spir­its. We’d just got off the flight, and I hate fly­ing, so I’d got re­ally gassed on the plane.”

These days it’s all a bit more sen­si­ble, and

Dante seems de­ter­mined to savour ev­ery minute, as well as be­ing more re­al­is­tic about what they might de­liver. Favourite Plea­sures is re­leased on Septem­ber 15 via Car­o­line Records and is re­viewed on p90.

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