One of the UK’s most transgressive and experimental bands, GNOD, are on an ‘R&D’ excursion next week, including a stop at An Spailpín Fánach. Mike McGrath-Bryan talks to co-founder Paddy Shine.
Since coalescing in 2007, Salford, Manchester-based collective GNOD have taken to casually chipping away at such dated restrictions as genre, medium of presentation, and so forth. Their music has traversed over the years from space-rock and heft through psychedelia and spacier sounds, and over the course of their decade-plus of live activity, have seen over forty musicians take the stage as part of an ever-shifting, amorphous collective of improvisers and disruptors, playing gigs, open sessions and providing the backdrop for artistic installations. The move by co-founders Paddy Shine and Chris Haslam to scale back for a while, then, comes as a surprise, especially off the back of some of their most aggressive material yet. But as Shine attests to, the ‘R&D’ wing of the band is about getting back to exploration. “Stripping down, simplifying, opening it all up again. The last couple of years have been fairly riffy and tight. We wanted to blow it wide open again, and also jam and learn from some new people, and R&D is the perfect platform for that.”
In aid of that objective, the band are taking on a quick round of Irish dates following some solo appearances from Paddy on Irish gigging bills late last year. On February 11th, joined by freak-folkers Woven Skull and noise band Sioraí Geimhreadh, GNOD (R&D) will have what’s being referred to as an open stage, for other performers and creators to interact with proceedings. It’s worked for the band thus far, while on excursion around the UK. “We have had some killer shows: a fourteen-piece ensemble in London, which was the first time we ever played with a bassoon on stage; lots of shows with free jazz drummers, which is super-exciting and a killer show in Bristol, where (techno innovator) Surgeon showed up, and kicked it with us. Lots of tension and awkward silences, we love that stuff.”
Last year saw the release of most recent long-player ‘JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE’ in March via Rocket. The title says it all about the sociopolitical modus operandi of the band, and as an album, it positively bristles with disdain and discord, but when questioned on the creative and recording/production processes for the LP, Shine holds his cards close to his chest. “Spontaneous, heartfelt, one take vibes. We can’t give too much away on our process I’m afraid.” The record released amid the onset of some frankly horrid world events last year – Trump, Brexit, etc. It’s falsely claimed in some quarters that there’s ‘no political art’ to counter what’s being presented in some mainstream outlets, a fallacy that the record confronts. After a long 2017 that saw the band get very vocal in interviews about world events, Shine is looking toward GNOD’s art and music as rest and recuperation. “I personally have dropped out of paying too much attention to these things right now. I just want to make my bubble as self sufficient, welcoming and full of love as possible. Everyone’s invited, just leave all the bullsh*t at the door. On one hand, the world is a f*cking mess, on the other it’s paradise. I wanna focus on paradise right now.”
The bubble in question extends also to GNOD’s wider ventures: their Tesla Tapes label has been helping circulate music from kindred souls to the band, including Irish outfit Divil a’ Bit. What is the climate like right now for running a DIY label? “Same as it always has been. We are not in it for the money or the accolades, that’s for sure. It’s just a nice way to keep things moving for all involved. Keep the juices flowing.” An aside of an aside, Tesla Tapes co-curates the Onotesla show on UK community radio network NTS Radio, and features Irish music regularly, including recent play for Woven Skull and Crevice with the former being invited on as selectors. It speaks to the strength of the Irish underground. “It’s so strong, and nice, and warm, and varied, and unconcerned with being cool. The underground here is way more than just being about music or art. I’m only scratching the surface of it here, ask me again in ten years.”
For those following an outfit marked out by their seemingly unending graft and self-direction, news of a packed schedule for the rest of 2018 following this excursion will come as no surprise. Shine is prepared either way. “Lots of tours, collaborations, and four albums getting released in 2018. Same as always: noses to the grindstone.”
‘JUST SAY NO…’ is available now from gnod.bandcamp.com.