Gengahr are one of the most exciting bands of 2015 having been met with mass critical acclaim for their debut album A Dream Outside, released earlier in the year. Their unique blend of dreamy vocals and light guitars made for a distinctive and effective record. Counteract interviewed frontman Felix Bushe ahead of their first UK headline tour this month.
Gengahr’s work gained a lot of recognition at an incredibly fast pace, but Felix isn’t daunted by the possible prospect of people having high expectations. “People have always had expectations, it’s probably less hard than when you’re a support act and you’re trying to impress people. I think we have a pretty strong work ethic and we focus our time on what’s next whether that’s a live performance or new material and trying to push the band further.”
Even though this is their first headline tour, the band have done three main shows so far and have toured extensively supporting artists such as Wolf Alice and in arenas with Alt J. “Headline shows have a different kind of energy that we’re still getting our heads around. They’re a lot more fun as the fans know the songs and they’re committed to coming to see us. We’re really excited to be doing this tour as it’s a big milestone for us to get out there and sell our own tickets so we’re really looking forward to it.”
The band try to preform songs a little differently live to give something that makes fans coming out to see them worthwhile. “We don’t spend our time worrying about how close to the recorded version, it’s a more robust and dynamic sound. The heavier bits sound heavier and the softer bits sound softer, it’s a different approach to the way we record the songs.”
Fantastical lyrics and mythical themes that make up the tracks on the record contribute to its distinctiveness. “It’s the nature of what I was into, I’ve always been interested in history and Greek Mythology. I even liked having Bible stories read to me when I was in Primary School, all the magical elements. But there’s a lot in stuff like that that’s easy to relate to in real life and use as metaphors for stuff happening in real life. I take inspiration from everywhere whether it be films or literature, but ultimately you need to have a good story. If the narrative is poor then the song’s just going to be poor”
Gengahr are part of the rising generation of bands dominating the music industry and gaining popularity along with acts such as Peace, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice and Alt J. “It’s nice to see that bands are getting more of the limelight again and there should be an important focus on people writing their own music.” Felix is clearly against the short-term culture of chart pop musicians, however. “For a long time singer songwriters have been churned through sounding very similar because the same bloke you don’t know writes them. It’s not a pretty side of the music industry. Whereas there’s a natural sense of comradery with bands that drew me to it.” Talking about newer bands on the rise to keep an eye out for , he says “I’ve really gotten into bands like The Big Moon, Cash+David an electronic outfit that are touring with us as well as Pumarosa, and Puppy are good friends of ours- they are kind of more hard-core stuff.”
The album and single artwork is all painted by band mate Hugh and their stunning designs contribute to Gengahr’s brand “It helps create an overall sense of what Gengahr’s all about, we try to outsource as little as possible and keep everything in house. We were doing art before so it’s always been an interest of ours, and it really helps with our sense of identity which is priceless when you’re in a band.”
Gengahr have played Birmingham a few times before their headline show and Felix feels that it’s a really special place for music. “I love Birmingham, a lot of our good friends are from there like the guys from Superfood and Peace. The crowds are wild and there’s a sense that live music is happening, which isn’t the case everywhere. It’s one of the more exciting dates on our tour. I’m sure it’s going to be a good one.”
Felix’s highlights over the past year have mostly been the great reaction to their debut. “The response from people online and bands that have bought the album is real special to us. Seeing people at festivals that are engaged and know all the words to our songs is a real special thing, even more obscure ones like Embers that are just off the album. When you’re not used to that at all there’s a sudden shift almost overnight and there’s nothing that could prepare you for that. It’s a great feeling to know people are out there and enjoying what we do”
Gengahr have a real awareness of their unique qualities that make them stand out and seem determined to deliver recorded songs and live performances at the highest standard to their audience. There’s clearly more to come from this fascinating band in the future.
Gengahr play Birmingham’s Hare & Hounds on Tuesday, October 12th 2015 and the band’s debut record, A Dream Outside, is out now via Transgressive Records.