The internet, we all love to hate it when it interferes with our daily lives. We all love it , "on the line," when we can make music, friends, and world wide collaborations become possible and real. I had one of those days last week. I was scheduled to interview the U.K's very own Andy Gallagher. Skype was having a bad day. Andy and I, by the convenience of instant message, decided to utilize Google Drive and conduct an interview via text format.
Take a trip with me from Scotland all the way to The Great Lakes. Read and learn how music can intertwine all of our lives.
Here is a beautiful love story between music and time, across oceans and wires -Intertwined ~
-Kellie Levans-Milwaukee Rock Music Examiner-
Andy Gallagher interview December, 2013-
Kellie Levans - Hi Andy, Thank You for taking your time with The Milwaukee Rock Music Examiner-
Andy- No Problem. My pleasure.
Kellie Levans- I see in your bio you have a bit of a history with a nostalgic Milwaukee band, can you tell me about your history with The Violent Femme’s ?
Andy Gallagher - ah Violent Femmes. God I love them.
At the start of my career, I contacted Darren Brown who was their manager, pocket trumpet player, lighting guy and tour manager asking if he would consider becoming my manager, to my surprise a couple of days later Darren replied to my email and asked me to send him some tracks.
A couple of weeks later I got an email from Darren saying "Let's see what we can do for your music".
For hours/days after that, I was still so excited and had to keep reading the email to convince myself I wasn't dreaming.
So Darren got me to record some proper studio stuff and I went into Cava Recording Studios in Glasgow, Scotland. Geoff Allan (engineer and Producer) and I produced my 1st album "Hope Shines Through".
On the strength of that album and Darren's guidance I was able to open for a few touring bands, play some shows outside of Scotland and even played a festival or two. then shortly before New Years in 2006 Darren phoned me and invited me to open for Violent Femmes on their 25th Anniversary Tour dates in Ireland the following Feb. I accepted the tremendous opportunity and had an amazing tour.
Now when I was on that tour I became great friends with Victor DeLorenzo. I was playing (and still play to this day) his song Picture Her Blue and after each show we chatted and discussed recording an album together.
The Ireland tour ended, the Femmes carried on with their world tour and I went home and tried to write the best songs I could for my next album.
After a few months of me touring and writing I thought it was time to start considering my 2nd album. So as Victor and I chatted about recording I contacted him and in the summer of 2008 my wife (Pauline) and I flew out to Milwaukee.
We arrived smack bang in the middle of Harley Fest and saw and heard tens of thousands of amazing Harley's and we even got to hear Bruce Springsteen play too. We were made so welcome by Victor and his wife, Karen (who is an amazing cook) that Pauline and I fell in love with Milwaukee instantly.
So as for the recording..... Victor brought in his old label buddy Mike Hoffmann onboard and the three of us cut my 2nd album Here and There at Mike's studio in a little under 9 days. I had a blast, learnt so much about recording and made a tremendous new friend in Mike Hoffmann.
Sadly we never got the chance to tour the album , but the album in itself did very well and opened up a lot of doors for me.
Then after a year or so I was beginning work on my next album (which became Achukma) and contacted Gordon Gano about playing violin on a track but what ended up happening was Gordon offered me the outta this world offer of playing bass guitar for his 2011 UK tour with Gordon Gano & The Ryan's. I 100% accepted and played my heart out on that tour. To this day it's the best tour I've ever done.
I love Gordon and Victor for their belief in me, and can't thank God enough for blessing me with the Violent Femmes.
But it could not have happened without Darren Brown taking me under his wing and believing in me.
So yeah!!! Violent Femmes are so important to me and my career. Thank you Gordon, Victor, Brian Ritchie, John Sparrow, Jeff Hamilton and Brian Miller.
Kellie Levans- You are currently working with some big names in the music industry- how did you make these world wide connections?
Andy Gallagher - Well, a lot of the connections were made through Darren. Darren would do the introductions then leave us talk shop.
But in all honesty, I've found that the majority of musicians and songwriters are very approachable, and we all love a new project or opportunity to play.
Kellie Levans- Can you tell us a bit about your homeland and the music scene there?
Andy Gallagher - well, the Scottish music scene has changed quite a bit over the last 15-20 years. Back in the 80/90's you had your Wet,wet,wet's , Delametri, Texas, Altered Images, Gun, Deacon Blue, Edwin Collins who dominated the scene and the air waves for quite a while but then the whole scene changed again and bands like Mogwai, The Delgado's, Teenage Fanclub, where everything was less about how many units did the band shift and how much radio play have they had or what size venue can these bands fill, it was more about the music they were making, it was almost audio art. Around about that time and a little later on you had bands like Snow Patrol, Belle and Sabastian, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, The Fratellies, who were more "Indie" in nature and were very much feel good, fun, bands.
Now a days you have your Biffy Clyro's, The View, Admiral Fallow, Susan Boyle, Paolo Nutini, and KT Tunstall.
Bands to look out for in my opinion would be The Birthday Suit, Brown Bear and The Bandits, Three Blind Wolves, The Unpeople, and a load of other great bands. I think 2014 will be a very cool year for music in Scotland and with the Commonwealth Games coming up hopefully visitors/tourists will be able to soak up the cool music scene here.
Kellie Levans- What are your musical talents and do you have any formal training?
Andy Gallagher - I've never had any formal training with any instruments. But I can play quite a few instruments, which include guitar, Piano/Keyboards/Organ/Mellotron, bass guitar, dulcimer, harmonica, Native American flute, mandolin, drums, bohran, token drum, violin (but not very well) and I like to sing a little too ;-)
I don't know where it comes from..... I just love to pick up an instrument any instrument and try to bash out a tune on it and sometimes I even come up with an original song or two.
I also really enjoy the art of songwriting, producing and recording. Mike Hoffmann and Geoff Allan have taught me a lot over the years.
when I write a song I have this idea in my head of how I want it to sound and I really appreciate Mike and Geoff's input to get that idea outta my head and onto tape.
Kellie Levans- I am sure your career has led you down many path’s, what famous meeting stands out to you the most?
Andy Gallagher - hhhhhmmmm. That's a tough one. I've been blessed with opening/playing for many of my music/Songwriting heroes such as Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes), Grant Hart (Husker Du), Ken Stringfellow (R.E.M/ The Posies), Emma Pollock (The Delgado's), J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), Lou Barlow (Sebadoh), Dom Brown (Duran Duran) etc.....
And those meetings are very memorable to me as I enjoyed opening for them and just chatting to them was awesome. Very down to earth guys and that's what made it all the more amazing.
Kellie Levans- Can you tell us a bit about the recording of your latest release
Andy Gallagher - Simply Complicated hahahaha.
If it wasn't for Pro-tools this album could probably not have happened.
I recorded some of the tracks at Cava Sound in Glasgow Scotland, and Had Kevin Sellors lay down drums for quite a few of the tracks at American Revolution in Atlanta, Georgia. He sent them to me, I then added my vocals, guitar, whatever at my home, then passed it over to everyone that was involved in the album. They added their bits, sent them back and they were passed over to Mike Hoffmann in Milwaukee to mix.
When he was finished he sent them to me and I had Geoff Allan master them. He passed the tracks through a Neve VR legend desk then onto 1/2" tape. It's what really makes the album stand out even more.
So It truly is a transatlantic album and all I can say is THANK GOD for PROTOOLS, THANK GOD for THE INTERNET/EMAIL and THANK GOD for That everyone who played/mixed/mastered on this album had them both.
Kellie Levans- What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2014 ? (tour, local dates,projects)
Andy Gallagher - our booking agent is currently working on venue and festive tour dates in UK, EU and I REALLY REALLY want to play Summerfest '14 (always wanted to play that festival). There is a song on my new album , Achukma called "Milwaukee," and I am desperate to play it there :-D
I think we are also gonna start work on the next album as well. All the songs are written and ready to record.
I am also wanting to write and record more with Julia Francis (an amazing singer/ songwriter based in San Fransico), play more with Gordon Gano and The Ryan's (I am their UK bass player), I've offered my services as a musician to Grant Hart (Husker Du) for any touring/recording he's is gonna do, and would very much love to work with Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac) though that may just be a dream haha and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr).
But seriously I want 2014 to be filled with fun, laughter and memories. After all, life's a gift and it's something we're all blessed. Let's fill it with as many happy times as we can.