Never thought you could form a band from a one off open mic night? Well think again. The Gin Club is a multi-instrumentalist, multi- songwriting folk/country explosion hailing from Brisbane. The seven piece met at a Brisbane open mic night and have been collaborating for over seven years. With four LPs under their belt, including critically acclaimed double album Junk, which collected three awards at the Queensland Music Awards, Tone Deaf’s Jade Ogden spoke with Conor MacDonald about the release of their live album.
Tell me about the new album and why you’ve chosen to do a live one?
We’ve been recording most of our shows for the last three or four years so we had hours and hours of this stuff; some of which we hadn’t listened to for a long time. We thought since it was all there that we might as well pick the best of it and put out a live album.
We figured we might as well do something before we do another studio album, which we will probably start recording next year. We had quite a lot of stuff that we found we couldn’t really use because there is so many people singing at once and if one person is out of tune then you have to pretty much scrap the whole song cause you can’t fix that. It turned out pretty well I think, there’s ten [songs] on the vinyl and fifteen on the CD.
Why did The Gin Club choose to use online funding campaign manager Indie Go-Go to fund the album?
We went with Indie Go-Go because Ben [Salter] had used it for his solo album and had reached his target so it’s a good way for us to finance it and the money pretty much goes to the mixing and manufacturing. Vinyl can be expensive as well, and we also got a new run of t-shirts and tea towels and stuff too. We put out a 7 inch of ‘Rain’ from Deathwish but this is the first LP we’ve put out on vinyl.
How many people are playing with The Gin Club at the moment?
Ola is over here from Sweden and is here ’til the end of January so he’s doing a few shows. Brad Pickersgill who has songs on the first three albums has been busy with work, but he’ll be playing the Melbourne show and he did Brisbane the other night. So with Brad and Ola, and Gus will be there. I think it’s nine. There’s Ben, Bridgette, Adrian, Scott, me and Dan. It can be difficult to keep track but we manage.
I know Ben’s just moved to Melbourne. Where is everyone else based?
Adrian moved to Melbourne quite a few years ago, and now lives in Daylesford, Gus lives in Melbourne. Other than Ola everyone else is in Brisbane.
How do you find time to get together to practice and work up new material?
We don’t practice or anything. We played in Brisbane on Friday night for a Christmas show, and that was the first time we played together for a few months. We kind of just basically know how things are going to go, and swap instruments depending on whose there and whose not. As far as new song go we usually work them up when we go up to the property to do demos. We do a bit in sound check but otherwise we don’t worry about practicing.
Is it true that The Gin Club came together at an open mic night?
Most of us met at an open mic night, and Dan joined a couple years later. Gus joined a little bit after Dan. The rest of us all met at O’Malley’s in Brisbane in the early days like early 2003 where we were drinking heavily.
There was an emphasis on doing your own songs so nobody was going to get up and play Nickelback songs. We were all sort of writing these dark quiet songs. We’ve played so much over the years and in the first twelve months we did around two hundred shows. In that time we learned how we all played and each other’s styles.
Has it been a conscious decision not to play as many gigs of late?
This year Ben’s been doing his solo stuff so he’s been really busy. We did a big tour in November last year for about three or four weeks. It can be a little bit exhausting with late nights and so on, so after we toured Deathwish we decided that Ben would do his thing and we’d have a quiet period.
We’ll be getting back into it in the next couple of years with a new studio album. Our plan is to keep making music and touring as we feel like it, and not to worry about being the biggest band in Australia or anything. I don’t think there’s any point in trying, and the music we make doesn’t lend itself to anything like that.
Besides, the kids aren’t into it [laughs]. Ben is really the only one who only does music [full time] and that’s why he moved down to Melbourne. There are so many more opportunities down there to play regularly.
How do you pick and choose the material with so many songwriters in the band?
The good thing with The Gin Club is that we play such a wide variety of songs. Scott’s songs for example are very different from my songs and Ola’s songs are different to Dan’s or Adrian’s songs. So there’s a lot of scope for it to fit into what The Gin Club do.
Catch The Gin Club tonight at The Northcote Social Club with supports from Weened, Dirtfarmer and Howl at the Moon.