Tony Cummings reports on THE GENTLEMEN, the fourpiece with a new album and a fresh sound
The last time Cross Rhythms interviewed Sheffield's The Gentlemen was in 2009, around the time of the release of their second album 'A Candid History Of Faith, Hope, Love' under the heading The Pop Rockers Pushing Hard For A Mainstream Hit. The recent release of their excellent 'Departures' album indicate they are still pushing though as yet the hit breakthrough has still eluded them.
The band - Nick Noble (vocals, piano), Sean Walsh (guitar, synths), Josh Cana (bass, keyboards) and Joel Cana (drums) - spoke to Chris Mountford at the Cross Rhythms studio. So is the band disappointed that the hit song has still not materialised? Nick answered, "I think we're pretty grateful of the success so far but we do feel like this album deserves to be heard and warrants a bigger audience, because we're so proud of it. But also we really want to carve a place out for our family in the world; we don't want the band to be like a full time hobby. We want it to provide for our special ladies."
The band spoke at length about the 'Departures' project. Explained Joel, "We recorded the album with a guy called James Campbell at Steelworks. The Steelworks studio is based in Sheffield where we're all based, so that was nice and easy. I think it just took us just over a year from the recording process to going back, to listening back to all the edits and changing things and layering guitars and stuff."
Picking up a copy of the album Nick began to wax lyrical. "When I look at the cover of the album the first thing I'm impressed by is the photography, then my eyes are drawn to the track listing of such 'hits' as 'We Could Have A Disco', 'Words', 'New York Girl' and 'Jump In The Ocean'. I think number four "Jump In The Ocean" is my personal favourite. It's just a beautiful pop song, it's about a wonderful time, it's about our first time in Norway when we played at a festival called Sea-Side Festival or Skjærgårdsgospel, it was fantastic. It feels summery and happy."
Joel continued the fulsome praise. "I think your favourites change all the time and mine changes everyday, but I always come back to 'New York Girl' in terms of it's a great pop song we have written but also the sounds that we've got are really fun and really kind of- someone really told me that it sound kind of old school eighties and that really made me smile, like that's something that I want to indulge in some more, it makes me excited.
Josh spoke about 'Departures'' change in musical direction from 2006's 'Smile Back At Me' and 2009's 'A Candid History. . .'. "It's a decision we made actually, several years ago. We used to write kind of, with our instruments on and kind of jam out a riff and think oh yeah that's cool, let's make a sound out of that and that's kind of how we used to write. Then we started using computers more with how we were writing and started to really look at every single part we were doing and really scrutinising to decide whether it was good or not - trying to make it the best that it could be. We also decided that we wanted to go down a much more accessible route with our songs, a much more poppy route. Our new album is representative of that."
One of the album's singles was "New York Girl". Said Nick, "We wrote it about a year ago and it is really typical of our new sound. It's sort of disco, synthy, poppy, dancy orientated and lyrically it's inspired by a holiday I had in New York and the response that you get as a man with a British accent from women in the States."
One of 'Departures'' most memorable tracks is "This Is Where", released last year as a single. Said Nick, "It's about three different things all at the same time. The story is my wife and I down were by some train tracks, watching the trains go by, a little closer than what is safe and comparing the risk we took for a bit of fun to the risk we take in marrying. Then comparing that to the feeling of risk involved in putting your faith in God instead of [relying on yourself]. A kind of trifecta song - risk and reward."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.