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Gévaudan originally invited us to the recent HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner III Festival, so while we were there, it seemed a great time for an impromptu chat, and a brief (and overdue) look at their live set.

Interview with Gévaudan.
"It was Gévaudan who initially invited me along to the HRH Stoner Vs Doom festival, on their guest list, perhaps figuring it was long overdue for me to make good on my promise to catch one of their live sets! That wasn't going to be a working trip, so we half-agreed it would be nice to follow that up with a written interview. But, as it turned out, I ended up doing other interviews anyway - and, since we were all there in the press area at the time, generally hanging out and getting properly acquainted in person, we thought it'd be quite fun to have a completely off-the-cuff chat and see how it all worked out.

Vocalist Adam Pirmohammed was awol at the time, so it was the trio of Andy, Bruce and Dave who gathered around my high-tech recording device...well, okay, mobile phone. I feel I should mention, in passing - since everyone else did - that Bruce was wearing a slightly disreputable-looking (in the sense that they looked a bit like survivors from back when I was wearing similarly expansive trews back in the '70s and '80s) pair of purple flares... If it sounds like I'm being flippant, well, I am a bit. But Gévaudan just come across as that sort of a band: really easy to get along with, like the sort of mates you've known for ages, where much of the banter is friendly ribbing and taking the piss. And I kept bumping into them outside, in the big, wide and open "smoking room", where that was very much the welcoming vibe they gave out to all sorts of people. So, cheers, guys - you really did make it a memorable experience!"



Gévaudan: Bruce (Guitar), Dave (Drums), Adam (Vocals), Andy (Bass). Photo: SD Photography, headbangersball.co.uk.


OK, well, I'm entirely winging this - I wasn't really planning to come here and work...

Bruce: Neither were we...

Andy: (laughs) No, you shouldn't be - you should be just coming here and lapping up some music and having some beers.

That was the idea, didn't quite work out that way!

Bruce: I've been coming here every year since this festival started, this is the most work I've ever had to do!

Dave:: And it's the only one you've ever worked at...

Bruce: Cut!

So, here we are with most of Gévaudan, would you like to introduce yourself, gents?

Andy: Ah, yeah: Andy Salt, bass guitar.

Dave: David Himbury, drums.

Bruce: Bruce Hamilton, lead guitar.

Silence from the vocalist...

(laughter)

Andy: Yeah, he's probably washing his hair, bless 'im.

Bruce: Or doing his correspondence...


Adam. Photo: SD Photography, headbangersball.co.uk.


So - you guys have been together for a while now: stable and settled?

Andy: Yeah, I think so.

Bruce: Yeah, fairly settled. I mean, me and Andy started the band in 2013. We tried, well, we got Dave in, and then we tried one other vocalist - lasted about two weeks - and we've been completely original since then, we've just carried on. We have our arguments and fallings out, but it's all for the greater good.

So do you have an official band leader or is it all very much a democracy

Bruce: I think it's sort of split: I mean, I tend to do more of the writing and the creative side 'cos I've got my guitar in my hands, Andy here organises everything, Dave works with our merchandise and brings the gold, Adam does all the lyrics and the concepts and artwork - so, yeah, it's a democracy. Would you agree with that, though?

Andy: Yeah, that's pretty fair.

Bruce: Hear that - agreement!

Dave: I can definitely agree that I bring the gold...

Andy: And I bring a pretty severe administrative hand to things - which, weirdly, is needed in a band, which is a bit boring but... Bruce brings a lot of riffs, so it kind of works prety well, Adam then overlays them with storytelling, and we're pretty settled, we're pretty happy, we've got no intention of changing or adjusting the line-up. I think we're pretty settled as a three-instrumental-piece: it works well at the moment, and we've got plenty of material to go out so...yeah

So you've released just a couple of EPs so far...?

Andy: So we released Message in, ah...

2014

Andy: Yeah, you'll probably know this better than we do! (laughs)

Bruce: December 2014 was when Message For The Damned came out, and then November 2016 we released Litost, which was the slightly longer follow-up.

Andy: I think they evolved one from one to the other in terms of musical variety and style etcetera.

Bruce: Oh yeah, definitely. I think we found ourselves more on Litost.

Andy: And then we're writing for our debut album at the moment so that's really starting to become reasonably progressed: we've got the end in sight in terms of writing. We're going to play some new stuff tonight that you won't have heard, so that's pretty exciting! We've probably got two tracks to finish, and then the aim is to hit the studio at some point early next year and start building towards the release of that debut.

Gévaudan - 'Message For The Damned' (Official, 2014):


Do you have even a provisional timeline for that, or is it really 'when it happens'?

Andy: At the moment we're looking at getting writing completed by December, and then getting some studio time from April, so we're going to be looking towards the back end of next year to get it out. We want to take time to get the studio production absolutely bang on in terms of what we hear when we write it, and I think - taking on some of your comments on Message, perhaps, in the first release that we had - and then Litost improved, but I think we need to go on at least another two, three, four steps. We're talking to a few people at the moment, and I think we're pretty excited about where that's potentially going to end up. Once we've got some more news on that we'll get it firm and cemented but we're, yeah, we're talking to a couple of producers at the moment, which should hold us in sort of reasonable stead to get something that's absolutely bang on in production.

Dave: We also made a conscious decision, as a band, that we were going to slow down on the live dates to the tail end of this year. We've got this today and we've got one other show in Corby the rest of this year, and then we're just going to spend our time honing the songs that we have and tidying everything up. So, it may seem like we're going to go a bit quiet, but it'll be all hands on deck - in the studio not in hibernation.

Andy: So, look forward to seeing what you make of the new stuff today! (laughs)

Yeah, I'll pay attention!


Andy. Photo: SD Photography, headbangersball.co.uk.


Bruce: Plus, you only get that one chance to make that first definitive album, so you've got to do it right, especially in today's market where there's so much music out there. Now you've really got to hit them with a good product, and that's what we're going to try and do.

A laudable ambition, I'm all in favour of that! So, you're not touring quite so hard at the moment...

Andy: No, we've taken a firm, a conscious decision not to get so many dates in the diary because whenever we gig we tend to rehearse to make sure we're gig-fit, and even when you're gig-fit we like to make sure we're polished in rehearsals. The stuff we're writing at the moment is a little bit more involved so - a couple of the tracks are eking out towards the 14 minute mark - so to get through those properly writing and getting the changes and sections right and all the rest of it - we've got to take time to make sure all of those are right and they're to the quality that we think they should be.

OK, well I guess it must be quite a big overhead anyway - presumably you do all your own management?

Bruce: Yeah you do, don't you Andy?

Andy: (laughs)

Bruce: Best boss I've ever had!

Andy: So we've still got a few dates - we're still out March next year at Hammerfest and...

Bruce: ...end of May in Brighton.

Andy: So we've got a couple of festivals in, and we'll do a few dates around those, but up until December it'll be a case of getting that album bang on.

Bruce: We've just needed time Writing 14 minute songs is not a quick process: you've got to take the time to get it right, get that right speed and the right mood in the vibe of the new songs.

Andy: Actually, since Litost, we've probably tried to write six, seven songs but we've dropped bits because it's like...actually, that doesn't flow naturally as part of our writing process, it doesn't sound like it'll quite fit what we want to do, where we're going.

Bruce: They'd be the odd one out. We can't have them all.

Andy: Whereas from Message and Litost that was sort of a constant evolution. We were happy with the content, obviously, and putting it into live sets and so forth...

Bruce: I think we still are...

Andy: We're just reshaping and trying to make sure what we have is cohesive.

Kind of a different mindset between an album and an EP anyway, isn't it? You can afford to play around with an EP more.

Andy: Yeah, and thematically Adam's writing along a similar vein, so there's a thread that runs through the album vocally and in the storytelling stuff that he does, and musically - hopefully - it makes a bit of sense as well! (laughs)

Bruce: I think it's just going through a process of being able to stretch out on an album, in a longer format. So, like I said, we can do the fourteen minute songs and really get into that good zone, which perhaps you can't do on a 20 minute EP.

Not if you want to put more than one song on it, anyway!

(laughter)

Bruce: I've seen many bands who've said this is our one track EP, and it's like - that's a single, oh no, it's 19 minutes, that's going to be fun!


The band in action. Photo: SD Photography, headbangersball.co.uk.


So it's all going fairly well, then?

Andy: I'd say so, yeah. Pretty happy at the moment, we are just focused on the new pieces at the moment, we are pretty excited about it - we've got more stuff on top of what we're playing tonight that we think is really good, but we're going to hold that back for a while - yeah, that's pretty much where we are at the moment.

Is it going to be a problem funding-wise? Most band turnover still comes from being on the road, selling merch.

Andy: So, we'll use our merch stream to try and fund a bit of it, but ultimately it'll end up coming out of our own pockets. So - like a lot of bands, I guess - we'll just dig a bit deeper on this one, because it's a bit longer and, like Bruce said, it's a debut but we want to make sure it's absolutely bang on as a debut.

Bruce: And then see what happens...

Andy: So Bruce is available for hire - not schoolchildren's parties, but anything other than that!

Bruce: If you think you need a guy in purple trousers, give me a call.

Dave: Like a scarecrow, or something like that...

(laughter)

So, is there anything else you'd like to confess to

Andy: (laughs) I'll let Bruce take that on...

Bruce: I listened to Black Sabbath once. It had a bit of an effect on me.

Andy: Do you know what, we're not the most exciting of bands!

Dave: We found this out last year at Hammerfest, this guy got to...it might be on the last question...and it comes in: Let's have some tour stories, there's got to be some funny stories. And then we sort of all had an existential crisis because we thought, well, we're actually all really quite straight edge!

Andy: But it's one of those ones where it's not touring, like in the classic sense, at least not for us. We've all got day jobs, and we all drive, so then it's like, no drinking, and we just go up and back down the motorway gig to gig. (laughs)

Dave: I went to McDonald's once and spilt a coke!

Bruce: I remember that, that was a two-part story...

(laughter)

Dave: That's our lives, that's how they roll - remarkably straight edge.

Gévaudan - 'Lord Of Decay' (Live, 2016):


OK, well thanks very much for talking to us guys. Any last words?

Andy: Any last words? Is this the bit where you shoot us?

(laughter)

As if! Something pithy that sums up your philosophy of the world, perhaps?

Andy: I'm not sure we've got one of those...

Bruce: Thank you, goodnight, we love you all!

Live review:

Gévaudan were on earliest of the three bands I'd come to talk to, so it was my first introduction to the small and comparatively intimate Stage 2. Which quickly became a lot more intimate: in fact, packed shoulder to shoulder. Andy had told me most everyone they knew had booked up tickets, but there were surely a lot more than just friends and family packed in, and all of them seemed to be enjoying themselves, with good reason.

We were treated to a fairly even spread: two tracks each from 'Message For The Damned' and 'Litost', including a scorching rendition of my personal favourite 'The Ninth Circle', plus two new pieces in the shape of 'Saints Of Blood' and 'Ronin'. I don't normally like to proffer too much of an opinion of new material without listening to it a few dozen times first, but both sounded solid, recognisably from the same stable as previous work but building on it with what seemed to be a little more intricacy. Though it's hard to be completely sure of the latter, that may just be part of the extra heft and vigour that came across as part of the whole live experience.

Though he didn't feature in the interview above, I did get to chat a bit to Adam afterwards - mainly, I wanted to congratulate him on a genuinely charismatic and captivating performance. It's something that undoubtedly shows through on the recorded material, but really comes to full life in a live setting. Not that the rest of the band did badly on that score - they really do convince with their heart and soul delivery of a full-on Doom experience. I wouldn't say they're one of those bands destined never to really capture the same sort of presence in the studio as they do live: essentially that's exactly the convergence they've been working towards, and, frankly, if they can bottle up a complete studio version of what they can kick out on stage, it'll be dynamite. 'Litost' was a good step towards that: I'm really looking forward to how the debut full-length extends it.

Anyway, returning to the live experience: OK, it's pretty much par for the course that the frontman gets most of the immediate attention, but whatever you may think of Bruce's trousers, there's no doubting that his left-handed guitar, both christened and signed by Tony Iommi, channels plenty of the spirit of the masters. It's backed up by a percussion section that know exactly what they're doing, and have no qualms about doing it loud. All in all, this simply confirms my earliest thoughts about Gévaudan: they're one of the more exciting young Trad/Epic bands steering a valid path between the genre classics and their own more modern environment, and bridging that particular gap with considerable and laudable energy. Keep an ear out. Next year should be a real turning-point.


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Visit the Gévaudan bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-10-24 by Mike Liassides.
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