It’s quite rare for a band to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first album by going out on the road and performing it in full; step out to the 30th anniversary and that number has shrunk considerably smaller. I mean, just finding a band that is still around after 30 years is a hard feat upon itself! Then in your research you’ll come across English post-punk group Gang of Four, who are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut album ‘Entertainment!’ by making their way to Australia and New Zealand in April.
Getting to speak with front man, lead guitarist and last founding member Andy Gill about the upcoming tour, he opened up by proclaiming “we’re very excited to come back as it’s been a little while, plus we received great appreciation from the Australian/NZ audiences last time we were there. I’ve always had a certain fondness for Australian bands and have been able to work with a few amazing ones, such as The Mark of Cain, Regurgitator and Michael Hutchence of course, so we’re all looking forward to coming back in the upcoming months!”
Discussing how Gang of Four are coming down on the back of ‘Entertainment!’ turning 40 instead of their newest album ‘Happy Now’, Gill quipped how “to be honest we hadn’t been planning it all that long actually; from memory, at some point last year, someone casually mentioned that it was “40 years next year, don’t you” and our first response was “oh is it? Crikey…” People got in touch with us, asked us if we wanted to celebrate ‘Entertainment!’ specifically in Australia and New Zealand and we thought it was a good idea!” Gill then went on to explain how “before we get to you we’re playing three weeks in America, which will be more geared towards our new record ‘Happy Now’; that comes out early March and consists of ten tracks, of which the first single Paper Thin is currently out at the moment! Having said that, we’re also hitting up Japan before we head to you and those shows are along the same line as Australia; so this year will be a mixture of ‘Entertainment‘ and ‘Happy Now’.”
When his mind was picked regarding what he was most looking forward to playing from ‘Entertainment!’, Gill pointed out “obviously we play things like At Home He’s A Tourist, Damaged Goods and Not Great Men at most gigs that we do, so I’m pretty familiar with those. However, one of the songs that I personally like is called Glass” before educating this interviewer that it is never too late to learn new tricks:
“In recent years, I developed a slightly simpler way of playing it. I think it really suits the song; in the original I was arpeggiating some of the chords, but in the new version I’m playing them much straighter. That song has become one of my favourites, as I really love the words, the melody and the simplicity of it. Plus it kind of goes between a couple of different chords and then a slight variation on one of the chords, which makes it a bit Zen like and I find the simplicity makes cleverer in a way, which I get a kick out of.”
Over the years, ‘Entertainment!’ has experienced a couple of re-release; once in 1995 and again in 2005. Discussing whether Gang of Four were looking at playing the four new tracks contained on the 1995 re-release, Gill quipped “I hadn’t thought about that actually. I think it’s probably a good idea to do those as well, because some people who got the record on that particular re-release, see those tracks as being part of the parcel. That’s something I’m going to look into now, but we’ve still got plenty of time to rehearse it!” Gill then delved further into what fans can expect to see at the run of upcoming shows:
“I think we’re going to be playing ‘Entertainment!’ first. Not necessarily in track order, but in the way we think the best for a live setting. Then after that, we’ll be doing a handful of songs from ‘Happy Now’, as we’ve been playing them over the last 9 months on tour and we’re very familiar with them. Throw in songs from the intervening years like Love A Man In Uniform, or one of my favourite songs I Parade Myself, from the album ‘Shrink Wrapped’ and we’re pretty much decided on the remainder of the set; we’ve been discussing it over the last few weeks via WhatsApp, so come on down and see what we chose!”
Drawing the interview to a close, Gill couldn’t stress enough that “we have a HUGE affection for Australia and appreciate the reception we got previously! It’s something we’re very much looking forward to and it’s going to be great to see everybody again when we come over.”
PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE UPCOMING TOUR HERE!