Formed a little over a year ago, Glis Glis are a band whose reputation preceeds them. Band members Suzi Gage, Brian Mackay and Obaro Evuarherhe have been active on the Bristol music scene for years. Comprising various acts including You & the Atom Bomb, Venus Bogardus, Severn Sleepers and more, they’ve firmly put their boot stamp over the city’s scene and, to DrunkenWerewolf at least, embody the innovative sound of ‘new’ Bristol down to a tee.
Now set to release their debut EP Eyes through Sink & Stove in March, Tiffany Daniels braved the particularly slippery slope of Nine Tree Hill to speak to the trio about new beginnings, their science background and selling their drum kit only to re-buy it when the band formed.
You’re all performed in bands and been on the scene in Bristol for about ten years. What’s it like to form a new project?
Suzi: I mean Brian and I have obviously played together for... How many years?
Brian: It must be about thirteen years...
S: Well over a decade! So it’s kind of half the same and half different.
Obaro: For me, I was a fan of You & the Atom Bomb and I guess Subterranean beforehand, so yeah. For a few months I was actually a little star struck, and then I got over it. It’s fun; it’s working out really well.
Do you feel like you’ve brought different elements from your former bands to Glis Glis?
B: Yeah, I think so. There are a lot of different elements to our music. I quite like that. We did do some quite varied interesting stuff when we formed the band.
S: Definitely. I played in a few different bands after You & the Atom Bomb that used a lot of different styles and production techniques, and that sort of thing. That really made me think about keyboard sounds. I think [Glis Glis is] quite different from You & the Atom Bomb.
O: I wouldn’t there’s been an influence from the other bands, but we’ve all brought our own personal styles.
Brian and Obaro, were you in bands in the gap between You & The Atom Bomb, Venus Bogardus and Glis Glis?
B: I was briefly in Bravo Brave Bats, or the band that became Bravo Brave Bats for a few months, and that was it really. I wasn’t that prestigious.
O: I was in nothing! I sold my drum kit after Venus Bogardus, and I bought it back when we started Glis Glis!
What was it like getting back into music? Suzi you had a bit of a gap too between Severn Sleepers and this.
S: It’s amazing! It’s so good playing again; writing music and playing music is just so fun.
B: It’s something you can’t really ignore, you sort of have this instinct to write and play music. I missed it. It’s really great.
S: It was in this very pub as well that we decided to start a band together.
O: That table over there! That was where we first met up. We actually decided at a Bravo Brave Bats gig at the Croft.
S: We were like; if they can do it anyone can do it.
O: I remember because I thought you were joking!
You’re almost at the epicentre of the Bristol scene because of the bands you’ve played in and with. Do you find that you’re still performing and collaborating in the same social circle?
O: I think that’s how it’s worked out.
S: I guess the Bristol music scene is always going to be quite small, and it’s quite incestuous, so you’ve probably been in a band with someone else who’s on the same bill as you. Assuming that you get SJ Esau to play then I’ll have been in bands with people in both SJ Esau and Bravo Brave Bats as well. I think the scene is like that though. It’s a good thing, it’s nice.
You’re all working in science.
B: A combination of art and science! Is it an art, is it a science?
S: I thought you were making a slur against psychology then!
Does that affect the way you approach music?
S: I suppose in terms of what inspires the songs, that’s partly inspired by what we do, but we don’t deliberately set out to be scientific... In a way sometimes we do when we think about how to structure a song, but not intentionally.
O: I wouldn’t say that’s because of our science background, it’s just our taste, the way we structure our songs.
B: It’s quite a release from the day job actually. It’s something different. But I think we’ve all been playing in so many different bands before that we know how to play music together...
I thought you were going to say we know how to play music! Do you all collaborate on the songwriting or does one person bring an idea?
O: So far most of, if not all of the songs Brian has brought the skeleton idea and we’ve all built it up together.
S: Definitely, Brian sort of brings the spark and then quite often the song will end up completely destroyed from what he’d actually intended it to be like.
B: I think it’s really interesting, you start off with a core idea or structure, and then you bring in ideas you would never have thought of. It’s a really great dynamic. It really adds something, taking you somewhere that you never would have imagined.
O: So far you’ve brought a few ideas and we’ve discarded most of them, and one bit of one idea it grows into a whole song.
S: Although our most recent song just came out of messing around in the last practice.
O: Yeah some of our songs have just come out of jamming. Between playing with songs one of us is messing around and we’ll pick up on it.
B: I like the excitement of taking something and working on it for a few hours, and ending up with something completely different.
You’ve released some demos on the internet and now you have a new EP coming out. Are they new recordings?
O: We need to take them down [from SoundCloud] actually.
S: These are new recordings; the old ones do sound a little bit like we’ve just pushed some drums down the stairs. Not Obaro’s performance, the recording! But yeah we’ve got some proper recordings which we did with Aaron Ward from Colour of the Sun and Raiders. They’re going to be out in March.
Has that got a title yet?
S: It’s called Eyes, which is the name of one of the songs. Ben Newman did the artwork which is just amazing. We’re all huge fans of his work. In fact we all have some of his work up in our house – certainly Brian and I do.
Will that be on vinyl?
S: No it’s going to be CD and digital.
What about the songs on the EP – have they been around for a while? You’ve not been around for that long, about a year?
S: We’ve got about three or four new songs since these ones, I would say, but yeah so I suppose everything is quite new.
Do you feel over the short time you’ve been a band you’ve grown into your sound?
O: I would say we’re growing into a sound now definitely. It feels like there are already two, maybe three major phases of the band.
S: I can’t quite remember the order that we wrote songs in though.
O: “Krystal Wolf Ships” definitely featured in the first session we did together.
B: “Eyes” is relatively new. Even songs have actually evolved quite a lot since we first played them.
S: Because we’re all quite busy, when we play gigs we thought we might as well try stuff out and see how things work in a live environment as well as in practices.
B: I think limited availability to practice together has forced us to focus, so actually our practices are incredibly efficient. We get so much done!
Do you find that balance between music and work quite difficult?
O: It’s been difficult at times, but the last few practices have been very easy. I think we’ve just discovered weekend afternoon practices work the best, rather than after work practices.
S: You feel less guilty as well because we’re all in the same boat. If someone has to cancel a practice because they’ve got to write a paper or they’ve got something important work wise to do, we all sympathise because we all know what it’s like. Although because all three of us are busy it’s like three times as hard to find practice time. It’s working out fine so far, and there’s not one of us that wants to like push it to practice four times a week and play gigs all around the country every day. We’re all working at the same pace.
Do you think that will ever be a limitation, going on tour? Would you become a bit more serious?
S: That’s a really hard question to answer. We’d love to play lots more gigs around the country. It’s perfectly possible for us to be able to do a tour or something like that.
O: It’s impossible to think about what we’d do until it happens. We’ll think about it if it happens, but we can’t think about it before.
S: I think we’re in the process of sorting out a London gig at the moment. Cardiff maybe? Branching out!
S: Oh yeah Devizes, that’s one of my favourite places to play!
O: Midsomer Norton; that was one of my least favourite gigs of all time!
S: Don’t slag off Midsomer Norton, it’s a lovely place.
What’s for the immediate future?
S: We’ve got a few more songs that I’d really like to record. I reckon an album is on the card.
B: Getting into doing some festivals. We only really did Green Man last year; we’d like to do more of those this summer.