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Interview: Gung Ho

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on March 13, 2013

We recently reviewed an EP called Anywhere Else, which was recently put out by local Brisbane act Gung Ho. They’ve been in and around the local scene for the last couple of years, producing some Millons’ tracks, writing a few of their own, and now they’ve put out a dynamite EP, which we had the pleasure of watching live a couple of weeks ago. It was a sensational gig, full of raw energy and a great documentation of the band’s shift from post-punk influences to their more produced, guitar-focused latest work that can be found on Anywhere Else. 

We were able to catch up with lead singer and guitarist Mike before their Brisbane show at the Black Bear Lodge to discuss his tactics going into the show.

SCENEWAVE: Where are you calling from right now?

MIKE: Calling over this intense rain in Brisbane. Just at my mum’s house where I’ve set up this little home studio thing; just laying some tracks down in this intense rain.

SW: How would you describe your major influences?

M: Well I don’t know if you’ve heard our demos before the EP, but we went more towards post-punk and a lot more energy into it. Then we went back at listened to a lot of classics: a lot of Beach Boys, Bee Gees, the older hits like that. Big fans of classic pop, 80s pop, Phil Collins and stuff like that. With classic harmonies.

SW: First album you ever bought?

M: Green Day – International Superhits

SW: How’s your EP been received?

M: It’s been pretty good actually. When it came out on Friday we were actually in Adelaide for the first part of the tour. It’s been a long time coming, especially for us, it feels like we’ve working on it for ages, because we have. In Melbourne, we got a lot of good feedback at our live show from people who loved the EP.

SW: Where’d you get the inspiration for the band name?

M: We’d been coming up with a band name and didn’t know what to call ourselves, and one of our friends said if he was in a band he’d call it Gung Ho. And Oli was just like, ‘Hey I have a band, can I call it Gung Ho?’ And it just stuck. Just rolled with it. No other bands are called Gung Ho so that worked.

SW: How’d you come up with the name for the EP?

M: We had the songs all done before we had the name for the EP. We kind of liked the idea of naming it after a destination. Then the lyric from “Twin Rays” was ‘I’d rather be anywhere else’ so we thought that was pretty cool.

SW: You guys remind me a lot of Last Dinosaurs, are you good mates with them? What about other bands on the circuit?

M: Went to school with one of the Dune Rats guys, mates with Last Dinos since 2008-ish, and am moving in with one of the guys from Millions. We’re all really good friends. I kind of look at it like a bit of friendly competition; where if they write a really good track, and you think damn that’s good, and you get kind of jealous, and then you really wanna write a better track. It’s good I think that’s sort of how it develops.

SW: Is there a lot of sharing of ideas between you and those guys?

M: Right now Ollie and I live in a house with 2 millions guys, so we always hear each others demos and know whats in the works for each other. I’ve recorded a couple Millions tracks. So its pretty incestuous.

SW: If fashion wasn’t a concern, would you wear laceups or Velcro shoes?

M: Laceup. I had a pair of Velcro shoes when I was 8, and I was bullied for it. Wasn’t even a fashion thing, it was a social thing.

SW: Where’s your favourite place to gig in Brisbane?

M: We spent a couple of days at Alhambra Lounge rehearsing before the EP launch and it’s awesome. We’re playing at Black Bear for the EP launch so we’re really keen for that. I really dig the vibe of that place. It’s sponsored by Sailor Jerrys so that should be pretty epic.

SW: I’m a fellow glasses wearer, what’s the most annoying thing for you about having glasses?

M: My car has air conditioning and my glasses just fog up instantly as soon as I walk outside.

SW: What do you say back to random boozed-up chicks that say, “Cool glasses, can I try them on?”

M: I don’t know! It’s so shit when they ask for that and so annoying when they’re drunk especially. They take your glasses forcefully then its really hard to get them back, while I’m standing there in a blurry world unsure of what to do.

SW: What can we expect from your upcoming Brisbane gig?

M: Well the Adelaide and Melbourne shows were the first shows we used a sample pad. The drummer uses it to drop samples, like in the introduction to “Strangers”, to get the claps etc. It really fills out the sound a lot. Also, we’ve been working on 3 part harmonies for some songs as well, but we’re still getting there. We’ve been having vocal rehearsals; like instead of plugging into amps we’ll sit around with no guitars and singing to each other. We got good feedback in Melbourne about it; saying we’ve come along way since the last time they saw us, so that’s good to hear.

SW: How’s your set comprised? Any covers? 

M: We used to cover this song by Friends called “I’m His Girl”, and we played it for about 2 tours and just thought time to get a new cover, but ended up ditching that idea. So we’ve brought back some old demos to fill out the set. We’ve got about a 10/11 song set, with much of that comprised of our older stuff. Its got a really good energy. Its more energetic than the EP; I kind of see our live set and our recording as two separate entities. That being said, we try and get the singles as close to the live version as possible.

SW: How do you write your songs? Is it a one man show or a group process?

M: It is a group process. Oli and I are the main songwriters. “Strangers” was a bit different because it was a song I wrote on my own and then took it to Oli and he played around with the bass line, making it his own. It depends, like sometimes we’ll sit down and come up with a song equally. If we havea good idea, we bring it to each other. No set way really. Then take it to drummer and jam it out until it sounds right.

SW: Lager or cider?

M: Lager

SW: Beatles or Rolling Stones?

M: Beatles

SW: If you could choose a song to soundtrack your life what would it be?

M: This Sydney band called the Protectors released a song called “Queens”. It’s hilarious.

SW: Can you recommend us a track for our Weekly Playlist?

M: Jeremy Neale’s got a new single out and that track is killer. So catchy.

Gung Ho’s debut EP, Anywhere Else, is available now, get stuck in.

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