On Sunday’s Punktastic Festival in Cardiff, we sat down and had a chat with Thom (vocals/guitar) and Charlie (vocals/bass) from Gnarwolves about playing bigger venues, their new record and backstage jacuzzis.
You recently just released your debut album. What was the initial reaction from the public?
Thom: It’s our first time touring the UK since we released it, so I guess we’re about to find out! It’s been great in Europe, and we were surprised in the States as well.
Charlie: All the social media sites have been great too. People have been tweeting us saying that they love it and stuff, so that’s obviously a really good sign. The crowds have been going wild for it, too, so I guess we’re doing something right!
Was there anything different with the writing & recording process compared to the processes behind the EPs?
Thom: We spent a lot longer on recording. Usually we had about four days, but for the album we had – like, thirteen days so we just took our time with it. Writing wise we had to write the songs in a shorter length of time. It was quite an intense process, the writing side of it. After that it was kind of the same, writing Gnarwolves songs in the same room we recorded our EPs.
Charlie: It’s always been the same with Gnarwolves. Same area, same place, same person. It’s just been a lot more work and a bit more stress. We demo everything before we get to the studio just to get an idea of what it sounds like. I mean you can play something live and you can be like “that’s a good song” but we could record it and it might sound like shit. If we didn’t like something we’d scrap it and change it straight away. We didn’t wanna record loads of stuff then worry a day before we had to leave the studio if we didn’t have enough songs or it wasn’t good enough.
You’ve gone from playing small local shows to touring all over the world. What can you tell us about your journey from your DIY roots to where you are now?
Thom: The only thing that’s really changed is that we have a booking agent now. We’re still the same in any other aspect. We’re still on the same independent label. I just guess the scale is a lot bigger now so we need someone to deal with all the boring paperwork-y type of stuff.
Charlie: Having a booking agent just really helps. I’d recommend anyone that if they are offered to have a booking agent to do it! As long as you trust the person and you know they can do a good job. We got to a point where we were just bogged down with emails from people asking us to play this show and to play that show. Sometimes the info they give would be vague so you’re trying to go through all these emails trying to find bits and bobs, or you could just have someone who does that for you.
It must be great that so many people want you to play their towns and cities.
Thom: Yeah, we’re really lucky to be in our position.
Charlie: Basically as soon as we played London everyone wanted us to play all over the country, so it’s been really cool.
You’ve just wrapped up your European tour with Prawn. What was your experience like on the mainland?
Thom: We didn’t really know what was gonna happen each night. Some nights way more people turned up than expected, then other nights only a few people would turn up. But it was cool and we had a really good time.
Charlie: We’d played in some places once or twice before but this was the first time we’d gone over there to play headline shows, so we didn’t know what to expect. Especially in towns we’d never been to before or never even have heard of before, it was crazy to see people turn up because you expect nobody will.
Did anything bad happen to you on tour?
Charlie: Our van broke down, but that’s just boring stuff that happens all the time. We’ve been pushing the van for a good couple of years so it was bound to happen sometime!
You’ve toured recently in America. What was America like for you, and how does their punk scene compare to ours?
Thom: I don’t think we really got a taste of their music scene as we know it. Because of the size of the venues we were playing in we didn’t get to see any of the club venues. We saw one thousand capacity rooms every night which is just such a cool experience. I can only talk from that perspective, but it was really fun.
Charlie: It was just crazy, getting to play in rooms that big. It was a huge change from what we are used to. Their venues are so much different compared to over here. Like, backstage at the shows over there, there’d be jacuzzis and things and we’d actually get to sleep in the venue.
Thom: Europe is also particularly good for that.
Charlie: Yeah we’d turn up to the venue and they’d be like “you’re staying here tonight” and show us to these dorm-looking setups with shitloads of bunk beds and stuff. Really cool when you can’t afford to fork out loads on hostels or whatever.
When you’re not touring or recording music, what do you do with your free time?
Thom: I’ve got a job, so I just go back to that.
There was an article about that on Vice, saying that you guys work in pubs.
Thom: Yeah, that’s bullshit!
Charlie: I’ve drunk at plenty of bars, but never worked in one! Thom’s actually a mental health worker.
Thom: Yeah, it’s a really, really great job. I’ve been doing it for a few years.
I guess that would surprise some people. They seem to think that all band members work in a Mcdonalds or a pub!
Thom: Especially when it’s written on a website that you work in a bar!
Charlie: Anyway, I mostly skate in my spare time, cook dinner with my girlfriend and just chill out and play Xbox or whatever. I write the Heshones zine as well which keeps me pretty busy.
What are you doing over the festive period, and what are your plans for next year?
Thom: I’m gonna create an effigy of Jesus Christ and burn it. It’s gonna burn until Christmas is over with.
Charlie: You can probably guess what we’re doing over Christmas, to be honest. We’re all just gonna get really drunk.
Thom: That’s the only way to celebrate Christmas!
Charlie: We finish tour on the 13th, then I’m ganna get into bed and stay there with a nice cup of tea and a slice of toast and watch American hardcore documentaries. Christmas is just one big bullshit day where people spend too much money they don’t have. So then they’re like “oh shit, I’m broke” and their New Year’s resolution is to not be broke. People should just chill.
Thom: Apart from that, we have plenty of plans for next year, but we cannot tell you!
Charlie: It’s gonna be a massive surprise, and I think people will be as excited as we are. And obviously we’ll be touring!
Any last words?
Thom: Cheers guys!
Both: And happy Christmas!