Gallows' Wade MacNeil on the new album, tours and mud...

Soundwave? Hmmm...not sure about that...

The last few months have kept Gallows vocalist Wade MacNeil out of the pubs and brothels. It’s been a busy time for the burly Canadian, jetting back and forth to England to lay down the lyrics for the latest self-titled album for the Watford punks' follow up to the 2009 album Grey Britain.

I have to get the alexisonfire/Gallows transition question out of the way; so how was it? Wade is quite philosophical about the whole thing; “It was actually some pretty smooth sailing; I’d toured with the boys before; we’d known each other for years and I’m a big fan of their music – obviously there were some surprises along the way...but it was pretty simple, pretty straight forward.”

I ask if he’s planning to relocate to England but as he says “My family’s in Canada, it’s where I grew up – it’s home for me – I could never think of living anywhere else. “ So you don’t fancy living in UK? “I don’t think me and the rain would do too well.”

This is your first full length album with Gallows, how did you approach this record? “I definitely didn’t want to come in and let anybody down. People have supported the band for years and it’s not something I took lightly; I was a big fan of the band myself.” He goes on to explain how he felt an affinity with Gallows, a shared sense of perspective, if you will. Wade outlines the scenario:  “I knew the boys were out writing songs and timing wise for me, the stars lined up and my old band had come to a close and I got a call from Steph (Carter) who was like ‘Hey, my brother quit the band yesterday, do you wanna be our singer?” and I was on a plane the next day.” He continues “ And I do think they’re big shoes to fill but I think anybody who has come to the shows, and hopefully everyone who gets this next record, will feel like I’ve done it justice. It’s a record I’ve always wanted to make and that’s why we called it Gallows because we felt like it’s the most representative of the band that’s ever been – the record that the boys and I have wanted to make – this is what the band is and how it’s meant to be.”
The album is released on Half Cut Records in September, and was mixed and mastered by Thomas Mitchener and Steve Sears at Broadfields Studios; what was the process like? “It was kind of a back to basics thing with everybody; we went and recorded the record in the dudes home-town Watford; those two guys [Tom and Steve] the Gallows guys have grown up with them; their old bands had those guys in them, and they’ve got this great studio and it just made sense to get back to something simple and something straight ahead; especially with the massive, grandiose nature of the last record.” So what’s in store with the new album? “I think we’ve definitely tried to build on those things that from an outside perspective I’ve always loved about Gallows; those kind of odd, weird guitar moments from the first record, those anthemic parts from Grey Britain and we tried to fuse that...It’s definitely more of a punk record than the last two which had more basis in rock n roll and there’s definitely a little bit ‘more four on the floor’, like 'school of Joey Ramone', more down strokes...” Intriguing. What are some of the stand out tracks for you? “I think Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead; it’s a pretty great statement of intent with Gallows, I think it sums up the change of everything, of just music and life and everything in general, and I’m really happy with the way Cross of Lorraine turned out – that’s the song that ends the record – and I think we challenged ourselves musically and pushed the band in a bit of a new direction, which is always something that’s really exciting.”

You were over in England for a couple of months; recording the album and doing the summer festival tours but you guys are still going to do a huge UK/European tour till the end of October? “Yeah, it’s been great. We’ve been doing festivals all summer and the new stuff is going down really good and we’ve only been playing a few tracks – it’ll be nice to get back inside! I’ve been rained on and as we’ve been playing festivals for the last few months, I’m excited to play some clubs. This music is supposed to be played in clubs and little dives where there’s no barrier. There is something to be said for playing a huge festival show in Germany or the UK, where there are all these people and there’s some massive 5000 person circle pit – don’t get me wrong,  that’s a feeling that’s hard to describe - but when somebody fuckin’ grabs me so hard and steals the mike and sings one of the parts then stage dives – that’s what it’s all about for me!”

I saw some ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of you at UK’s Download festival; clean to mud monster in 15 seconds? “It was great. Obviously you saw the amount of mud...there was like a swimming pool of mud next to the stage – people were fuckin’ going for it – and I really wanted all hell to break loose as soon as we went out so I just took my clothes off, jumped in the mud swimming pool and then it was like a prison riot...” And after the UK/Europe tour? “We’re doing the American tour and then we’re doing a really comprehensive Canadian tour too. We’re playing some really small Canadian cities which I think will really blow the guys minds. I’m really excited to show them the Canadian Rockies and go play in Saskatoon – they have no idea what that’s gonna be like!”

I see punk as needing a live venue to really go off, it seems to just come alive more in a live setting. Do you think so? “We definitely put a lot of craft and precision into the way we put the record together and the way in which we think about our music but live we just play, I don’t wanna say we don’t give a fuck because we do give a fuck but if someone’s guitar isn’t working, I would much rather have them smash it than try and fix it, and if something’s going wrong; I’d rather it just fuckin’ explode...I think having it on the edge of that violence and having it on the edge of that chaos is what makes punk interesting and what it’s all about.” Fuck, yer! Smash shit up...

So  have you found your writing evolving as you get older? “Obviously your perspectives change a little bit but it’s a deep rooted feeling and I can definitely relate to that and I think the kids that come to our shows can relate to that. I see it when I meet kids, and we play in little cities – this music is all about escape – it’s always been [that way] for me and it still is in a lot of ways. My perspective has changed but it’s just an escape from different things in your life.”

How’s your Black Lungs project coming along?  “Black Lungs is currently on the back-burner. There’s a record that’s finished that’ll come out some time; it’s definitely my thing and it’ll never go away but I really want to dedicate the time to it that it deserves so it’s full steam ahead for Gallows but I’ll put that record out when I the chance to properly tour it.” It must be hard to get a decent sense of balance? “Absolutely.  I think to do it right and really play - it takes long time to get around the world once! So Gallows is definitely number one, one hundred percent focussed. It’s hard to find that balancing act with projects - and just with life in general - we’re all a little bit older and we definitely need to have that balance with our families and our lives.”
So after being on the road for a long tour, do you find yourself degenerating into some kind of beast? “When I come home, I’m acting like a total animal; I’m throwing garbage on the floor and spitting and swearing and acting like a complete psychopath; hyper-aggressive and it definitely takes a long time to switch back to being in a restaurant and eating with my mouth closed...” I suggest going into some kind of post-tour quarantine; “Pretty much, I should go into tour detox, a white padded room for about five days...”
I ask about the possibility of an Australian tour and Wade gets all coy: “Hopefully we’ll definitely be there early in the next year...just ironing out the plans now...yeah, can’t wait...” So any chance of Gallows hitting the Soundwave 2013 circuit? “It’s a question mark at the present time but who knows?!”
Since this interview was conducted Gallows have been confirmed for Soundwave 2013.
Very coy, Wade. Very coy.