AS guitarist, songwriter and founding member of iconic post-punk quartet Gang of Four, Andy Gill’s body of work is as influential as it is recognisable. To mark thirty-five years since their debut record Entertainment!, Gang of Four will tour Australia, playing the album in full. I fought possibly the crackliest phone line in existence to speak with Andy about the longevity of Entertainment!‘s appeal and rumours of new Gang of Four material.
Hi Andy, what have you been up to recently?
For the last few months I’ve essentially been locked down in the studio getting the new record finished. It’s thirteen songs, as yet untitled, and it’s been a culmination of a couple of years work. I’m probably getting a bit obsessive about it as I haven’t really been seeing the light of day sometimes.
It’s a new Gang of Four album, as opposed to solo stuff, yes? When do you expect to have it finished?
Yes it is. It will definitely be finished soon; when exactly it will come out is subject to quite a lot of debate at the moment; between labels and stuff. We’re trying to figure out if we can have it out by about June.
On this tour you’ll be playing the Entertainment! album in full, but will you be playing any of the new songs as well?
We’ll be doing firstly Entertainment! , or most of it at least. There’s a song on there called ‘Contract’ which we never play. We’ll do one but not both of ‘5:45’ and ‘Guns Before Butter’. There will be new songs, but there will be also newer songs; songs not necessarily from the new record, but our last few. We’ll have one or two things from Shrinkwrapped and some others as well; things that always appeal to our audience.
Why is now the right time to play Entertainment! in full?
I think as it’s been thirty-five years it’s a record that people can see laid down the band’s methodology and as such it’s an important record.
Which of the songs was least familiar to you during rehearsal?
There are some songs on there which we always play, like ‘Anthrax’, ‘Damaged Goods’ and ‘Natural’s Not In It’, and we’ve streamlined some of them, but ‘Guns Before Butter’ and ‘5:45’ would be the most unfamiliar.
Do you think that a lot of the themes on the album are still relevant today?
Absolutely. Very much so. The thing about the lyrical angles is that current affairs were a big part of our theme. We didn’t particularly sing songs about particular events, although sometimes we mentioned them in passing, but more often observations about our lives and the type of people around us, and this advanced capitalist society which we occupy. The new material is similar.
What are your plans for the rest of the year after the tour?
The record will be out at some point, and we’re going to tour all over the world. After Australia, there will be China, Japan, all over Europe, South and North America; so there’ll be plenty going on. Now we’ve got [singer] John Gaoler involved we can do live gigs, and that’s a really strong aspect of what we’ll be doing.
GANG OF FOUR AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES:
Wednesday 19th March Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Thursday 20th March Metro Theatre, Sydney
Saturday 22nd March HiFi, Brisbane
Sunday 23rd March Capital, Perth