Interview: Gambling Hearts
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I’ve always loved music, from a very young age. My dad was DJ in the late sixties, early seventies, so there was no shortage of records and music in the house. When I was around 12 I got into The Beatles in a big way. I’d listen to nothing else. I’d not thought about playing a guitar before, but when I got into the Beatles, and saw John Lennon playing acoustic guitar, I just thought he was so cool. It quickly became an obsession. To the detriment of everything else.
How long has your band been around?
I put the band together about 15 years ago. I’d played with Will (drums) before, and I knew he was keen to do something. Sam (bass) came through Will. We moved from Salisbury to north London and played relentlessly for a couple of years, 2 or 3 times a week, but we weren’t great. The songs weren’t good enough, and there were other issues too. Too many late nights. We ran the band into the ground and the three of us drifted apart. 10 years on, Sam got married and Will and I were invited to the wedding. It was the first time I’d seen them in a long time. We quickly decided to get back together and play again, but just for fun this time round, no pressure, no gigs, no delusions of grandeur. But the songs were better this time round and, for old time’s sake, we took a gig at the Dublin Castle in Camden Town and, before we knew it, we were back playing and recording.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
I don’t remember? I think a friend may have suggested it, but I’m not sure. I remember thinking it was pretty cool at the time. I’m not keen on it now though. When we got back together we did talk about calling ourselves something different, but there was too much history in the name, we couldn’t turn our back on it.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best nights were those we played at The Hope and Anchor (Will lived there when we first moved to London). We’d pack the place out with friends and have the best of nights. The worst nights were those that were run by promotors who charged an arm and leg on the door. Our regular crowd wouldn’t pay over the odds to see us when they could see us for next to nothing at The Hope, so we’d end up playing to a handful of people who probably weren’t feeling it having just been robbed on the door.
Tell me about your favourite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
The Hope and Anchor will always feel like home. We played there so many times. It’s sister pub The Dublin Castle was the other favourite (run by the same promoter). We’d play one or the other more or less once a week. It’s the crowd that make a night. I’m not overly fussed about playing a particular venue, as long as we have a good crowd we’re happy.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Be true to yourself. Don’t try to emulate anyone else. I spent so many years trying to write in a particular style or whatever, to suit the mood of the time, but then that mood passes and you’re left with a bunch of songs that don’t fit. If you write honestly, then your songs will always work.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
We’ve a song called ‘I Am A River’. That probably means the most to me. It’s a love song for people that aren’t around anymore. I like the idea that life’s like a river, you drift up stream and lined up on the banks are all of these moments and people in your life. Some are there for a brief moment only and then they’re gone.
Which songs are your favourite to play and which get requested the most?
‘These Days’ gets a lot of shout outs. I love playing a
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
No process at all. I just stumble across songs when I’m least expecting it. In a rare moment when I have a couple of minutes to spare, I pick up a guitar and just fluke a run of chords and a melody. Then I spend the next few days, weeks sometimes, on the lyrics. The chords and melody come easy, I find the words difficult to come by.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I’m not sure that we actively look to convey a message, more of a feeling. Music’s a form of escape. A chance to remember a time in your life when all was well and you felt good about yourself.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
No, not really. We’re all good. We’ve been friends for so long now, we now each other too well. We’re all on the same page, and the main reason we play is to hang out and play, we don’t take that side of things too seriously.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that’s coming up?
Who knows? We’ll get out and play when we can, when we’re allowed. I’ve played a couple of unplugged sets on Facebook, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to get out on the road as a band again soon. The next single is out this Friday (Dec 11), it’s called ‘Still Waiting’. It’s a band favourite.