Music Interview – Gallery 47

In anticipation of the release of his fourth record Adversity Breeds, Gallery 47, aka Jack Peachey, answered some of Impact’s questions about his musical influences and the Nottingham music scene.

1) You’re a UoN alumnus – do you still come back to Nottingham regularly? What do you think of the music scene here?

I know that I’m biased but I really think Nottingham is the best city for live music. I still come here all the time. It’s the only place I really feel like home, though I am enjoying living in London too.

My mum and dad are here just across the road from University Park, and Calla my cat is here too. It’s where me and my wife Louise met, and she also worked at the uni for a year or so. We used to love walking around the lake at lunch time and looking at the Egyptian Geese.

There’s something for everyone in Nottingham, so many good promoters, so many good venues. Not just the ones owned by DHP although, admittedly, these also offer young and upcoming artists a chance to play on some of the more pro stages or to support some of the smaller touring acts. I’ve always found as well that people are very open minded here about different genres and styles of music. I’ve been at shows with thrash metal one minute and finger-picked Americana the next, but all encouraged with support and kindness from the crowds. Maybe it’s all the beer!

Album cover for Adversity Breeds, new album by Gallery 47.

2) Are there any another artists who found their feet at UoN you would recommend?

It’s funny because everyone talks about London Grammar but I was a little bit too late to catch them, I think, though I managed to share a bill with them at Blissfields Festival in Hampshire a few years ago.

In terms of Nottingham artists, I would say that Keto, Daudi Matsiko, Natalie Duncan, Jamie Moon, Josh Wheatley, Sunset Nebula and The Invisible Orchestra are some of my personal favourites. But I live under a self-imposed rock. Just go out to Dot to Dot Festival or Hockley Hustle in October and see for yourself. It’s a great city for live music, and there aren’t too many egos about that I’ve encountered.

3) You recently toured with Paul Weller – do you have any interesting on-the-road stories to tell?

I think I’ll always be too much of a cynical worrier to enjoy anything like [playing with Paul Weller]. It was so much more than that as well because I know that there were a few big labels and publishers in the crowd and it felt like Eminem at the beginning of 8 Mile, you know, like “Don’t mess up for God’s sake, be bloody amazing because you might never get this chance again”.

It was in Hamburg and Berlin so I was practicing my German. In my first night in Berlin I remember when we arrived at the venue in Hamburg there was a room full of really nice food on the table but even though I knew I was welcome to anything I wanted, I was too worried that I would go in there and then bump into one of Weller’s band or something. As it happened, I ended up having a nice jokey conversation with a man outside who ended up being in the band! So after that it was a lot more relaxed. I just didn’t want to make a bad impression.

4) Who are your main musical influences? There’s not much of The Jam and The Style Council in Gallery 47…

Well, I know what you mean, but also I know that Paul Weller really likes the music of Nick Drake, and he’s definitely one of my favourites. I’ve always really liked the way that Nick Drake and Bob Dylan are dependant more on the guitar style/songwriting respectively as opposed to the voice. I love both of their voices, but appreciate them even more in this age of talent-show vocal inflection to the gajillion-billionth degree.

I love Norah Jones, I love Joni Mitchell and Blue is still my favourite album of hers, though I keep trying to listen to her other albums because there are so many. Bob Dylan is my all-time favourite, I think he’s just brilliant. I get the impression I might get hurt if I ever met him though. I love the lyrics and softness of Leonard Cohen’s songs. I really love his last album, You Want It Darker and I always wonder who he is singing about in the song ‘Treaty’.

5) When you’re not listening to folk or country, what are you listening to?

I love Radiohead and The Beatles, Nirvana and Marilyn Manson, Blink 182 and Alkaline Trio, James Taylor, John Martyn, Simon & Garfunkel. Lately I’ve been going to watch a lot of rock or metal shows as well, even though it’s a mile away from me in terms of genre. I saw Black Sabbath this year and they blew me away.

I don’t actually listen to that much folk music. I think that the element of Bob Dylan’s early folk that I like so much is its context. Civil Rights, The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Kennedy Assassination. I liked the fact that he was using music and lyrics to protest about important issues. But I don’t necessarily think that this is quite as restricted to folk as maybe it used to be. I think rap and grime are the new folk in that regard.

Image retweeted by Gallery 47 – following in the footsteps of Bob Dylan by “using music and lyrics to protest about important issues”.

I do listen to Led Zep 4 still quite a lot but whereas I used to look on Rock and Roll stars with blind, committed adulation, I think perhaps the taboo-busting allure of all that has faded with time. Then there was nu-metal when I was in my teens, stuff like System of a Down and Korn. Especially with SOAD, I loved the words. I loved that song ‘War’, and also ‘Sugar’. It’s like ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath. It’s heavy metal, but also a protest song. I tend to listen to things which shake things up lyrically, and it doesn’t have to be high-brow at all.

One of my favourite albums is Black Sunday by Cypress Hill, and maybe my favourite film is Road Trip. I get the impression that for quite a while now the big labels have realised that people appreciate the message of a song just as much, often more, than the music itself, the melodies and notes I mean. I know that some people maybe don’t care too much about the words, but I find it really difficult to listen to an artist if I can’t relate, at least in some way, to how they view and respond to the world. That’s why I loved Marilyn Manson so much growing up, because he was a big scary anti-authority bogey man.

6) On a similar theme, are there any other folk or country artists out there you feel are under appreciated?

I think almost all folk and country artists, in fact most artists, are underappreciated. It’s really not the best time to get into music. I guess the bright side of that though is that those who do will be doing so for the right reasons.

I mentioned Norah Jones before, which maybe seems silly because she must be a multi-millionaire, but I do think that she is a long-time great who is often mistakenly dismissed as middle-of-the-road dinner music. I don’t really think that’s fair on Norah Jones, I think she’s really special.

My favourite band to watch at the moment from Nottingham is Sunset Nebula because they seem to play every show as if it was their last. I think you’d categorise them more as psychedelia than folk though.

Adversity Breeds.

7) Your new record is a sequel to your previous release. What was the motivation behind this? And does this mean there are other long-term Gallery 47 plans hidden away?

In 2011 I released my first album, Fate Is The Law, I saved up my student loan – what a stupid idea. Everyone else was joining societies, sky diving, going out, buying cool bikes, and I was writing to Abbey Road trying to figure out how to both eat and master the album on the budget.

After that album came out, I felt like I went a bit crazy. I wasn’t expecting the abyss that I found. I remember this song ‘Otherwise’ used to get played on BBC Radio Nottingham in a slot every week, and then it was replaced by a song by Jake Bugg and then he went on to do amazingly well and ‘make it’ and I think that little coincidence really messed up my mental health. The problem I had was that I had used all my songs and had then got depressed and because I got depressed, I didn’t have any hope to write any more songs. So now, whenever the sun shines, I make lots of hay. I never know when the next black cloud is going to come and ruin everything for me.

Jack Peachey, aka Gallery 47.

I had this huge fight with my family in Albufeira in 2013, flew back to Nottingham, smoked a hell of a lot and wrote something like 40 songs over the next month. I had 3 albums pretty much ready to release before I signed a publishing deal with BMG.

These three albums, released in reverse order from when they were written, are grouped together as they were all written around the same time but the mood is different in all of them. With Clean I just wanted to do what was ‘right’, what was expected of me. I wanted to produce something commercial but keep my lyrics as they were, and try to be subversive in that way.

With Adversity Breeds I wanted to fight back against some of the harsh polemics which had been forced on me by various trusted evils at a time of need. And with Young World, well that’s just me feeling like some lunatic pariah who everyone would be better off without. It’s about not feeling appreciated by your family. Not being loved the way you are. It’s about fighting back against those dark clouds, because sometimes it’s not always me who is to blame.

8) Gallery 47 used to be a band but you kept the title when you continued to make music solo. Would you ever consider releasing music of a different genre under a different name?

Nowadays I manage myself and everything and I never need to worry about these kind of ‘name’ questions. But yeah in the past lots of pressure was put on me to go under the name ‘Jack Peachey’. It’s sentimental to me, the name. I was very attached to an old friend who kicked me out of my teenage band and he said he liked that name Gallery 47 so I felt confident and comfortable with it.

I’m now working with a band again after many years, but admittedly it’s really difficult to find the line between a creative partnership and a session musician. It’s such an unstable profession, music, and people need and deserve to be paid … [But] I absolutely adore working with other musicians, particularly drummers and bassists, because for one thing they can approach a song from a whole new direction. They can totally reinvent or refresh ideas.

Tracklist from Adversity Breeds.

9) Finally – what is with the name “Gallery 47”? Does it mean anything in particular?

When we went to see Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks in Birmingham, I think in 2006 or 2007, I saw a little cafe called ‘Gallery 37’ (I think), and that’s where the idea came from. I know it’s a funny little name, but I guess it’s been with me long enough now for me to feel comfortable.

Matteo Everett

Featured image courtesy of Vents Magazine.

Article images courtesy of Gallery 47 via Facebook and Twitter.

Image use license here.

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