INTEVIEW: Two Gallants

San Francisco’s Two Gallants arrived in Manchester late last month to play a sold out show at the superb Night & Day Café.  If you haven’t already, you can check out our full review of that swelteringly fun gig right here. We sat down with guitarist and vocalist Adam Stephens and rapid-fire drummer Tyson Vogel on the Northern Quarter’s streets to discuss fan reaction to their reunion, the state of folk rock and the journey to becoming Two Gallants once again.

So how’s the tour going so far?

A: It’s going good, this is the second to last date

How do you feel fans have reacted to you coming back?

A: They’ve been pretty good.  There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm,

So tonight’s show has been sold out for a long time.  How does it feel to be selling out shows so far away from San Francisco?

T: Yeah man, it’s such an honour for us to come back here not knowing how people would receive us or anything or even care and to see their enthusiastic and sincere reaction to us coming back is really humbling,

Has it made you look at the band differently?

T: Not for me really…

A: I guess people seem a little bit more excited just from anticipation,

T: I don’t think it changes our opinion of the band at all. It’s still kind of like; we still go home, we have our same old practice space the same old place to sleep…

You guys have known each other for a long time.  Was the break a natural thing?

A: I mean it didn’t have to happen but I think it was kind of important and beneficial for us in a lot of ways for us to focus on some other things and come back to it with a little more of a fresh perspective.

When you were off doing these other things did you miss playing together?

A: I don’t know, I missed, like; sweating because when I was playing with my solo stuff it didn’t really feel very rewarding after playing, I never felt like I went through anything but every time we play it’s pretty intense for us,

Your drumming can be pretty intense Tyson..

T: Yeah I mean, I think we equally work just as hard, it’s kind of like we push each other in this way. And yeah afterwards it’s hard to think straight for a little while but it’s something that we both go through, just in different forms.  We have a little contest to see who can sweat more.

Who’s winning?

A: He usually wins, he usually just sweats regardless of the temperature.  I’ll sweat if it’s at all humid or hot.

What about tonight?

T: It’s going to be hot…there’s not much ventilation.

Is it easier or harder being in a band with just two members?

A: I’d say it’s easier but it also helps that we’ve known each other for so long you know? We’ve been doing this for so long we probably know what each other would think about certain things, it’s just easier to make decisions.  Definitely it would be pretty hard to have a five-piece band if everyone has an equal say in the band.  You kind of need one person or fortunately in our case two just because it’s more efficient.

How does the writing process work in the band?

A: Well I usually have an idea for something and it just gets played through and it sort of grows as we practice.

Everyone knows during the break you both went away and did some solo work, but did you stay in touch much?

T: We were on pretty different paths.  We didn’t really talk very much we didn’t play any music together but, you know, we both had to go and do our own thing and I think since we’ve known each other for so long, looking back at the history of our friendship it’s always kind of happened that way.  There’s always been some probably very intense times in the same space and then we’ll go off and do our separate things.  It just seems like it organically came back, we were equally going our set paths that just kind of crossed over again.

Do you think that’ll always happen?

T: I don’t know, it’s hard to predict.  I don’t really foresee it, not anytime soon.

Was it easy to get back into it all?

T: Surpisingly quick actually.  Our first practice I was really impressed about how much (came back), without doing very much research on yourself. You know, it’s kind of weird to go and start playing the songs that were so much a part of you two or three years ago.  It’s also amazing how much we both, almost just through muscle memory, just remembered.

Did you find it the same way Adam?

A: I don’t know.  It was a little hard for me to remember lyrics and certain guitar parts.  I actually learnt some guitar parts from the internet from some tabs that other people had written up.

There’s not many Two Gallants tabs out there…

A: No there aren’t. There were a couple of ones that I just couldn’t figure out.

Was that not really strange?

A: Yeah.  It’s actually kind of interesting the way I had to interplay with the fans.  It’s sort of like someone might have re-written a song without knowing it.

Folk rock has boomed recently, what do you think that?

T: I don’t know, I kind of feel that it was happening obviously before Fleet Foxes got popular but it was coincidentally ushering in this new kind of generation of musicians who were more acoustic song based and vocally based as well and not as much mainstream poppy,

A: I feel like it’s being going on for like ten years, at least the folky thing.  Definitely in California you know.

T: I kind of feel like there’s a little more of a spotlight on that kind of thing now,

How would you view your own music?

A: I don’t really consider it folk music at all, I don’t really think the term is very properly applied these days, not that I have a better term for the music, but I dunno what it is.  I just think of it more kind of roots slash punk, grunge or something like that.  At least the new stuff is still informed by traditional music but it’s a lot louder and a lot more aggressive than our other stuff.

Have you recorded a lot of new material?

A: We’ve got like five new songs

What influences you?

T: We kind of listen to a lot of different stuff, there’s not really one thing. When we first started playing Adam and I had both been listening to rock, old country blues stuff like that.  But I think our musical tastes are similar. To take music seriously you have to spread out and see and be exposed to different things.  I’m still not really sure how to approach influences…

So what do you have planned for after the UK tour?

A: We have August off and then we’re touring the US in September and then recording as soon as we get back from that.

Get more Two Gallants news right here.

Interview by Simon Bland.

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