It is officially “Year One” for Gallows. After losing longtime frontman Frank Carter last year, ex-Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil stepped up to the plate to breathe new life into the UK hardcore band. Defying the skeptics, their upcoming self-titled album will showcase a less disjointed and more collaborative Gallows, uncompromising with their aggression and creativity. Ahead of the revelation that they had joined the lineup for Soundwave 2013, frontman Wade MacNeil spoke to Kill Your Stereo about the album and his first year with the band.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the band?
Two years ago, I got a call from Steph (Carter, guitarist) saying that his brother (Frank Carter, former vocalist) had quit the band and asking me if I wanna be their singer. It was almost that simple. I’ve liked this band for a long time and I think the boys really knew what they wanted and they really believed in me to cover that rule. I never felt like the new guy. They’re comfortable with my energy and my contribution musically, lyrically and conceptually. You break down those old ideas of who does what in a band and make it a collaborative thing and work together towards a common goal. That common goal is making music that is absolutely violent, vicious and uncompromising.
It has been roughly a year since you announced that you had joined Gallows. Do you think fans have adjusted to you as the new frontman?
A lot of people at the time didn’t know what to expect. Every single thing we do, each song we put out and each show that we play takes us one step further. It’s a big shakeup when anybody quits a band and you make a connection and see something of yourself in them. It’s always going to be hard but show by show, record by record, we’re changing that perception.
How hard is it to maintain an intercontinental band?
It definitely had its growing pains. We’ve all got a little bit better with recording and figuring out how to share ideas, which in this day and age is relatively simple to do. We had all these ideas and we got together. It was just a matter of whittling down the songs and working out what was right for the record and what made it a cohesive album. Now that the record’s done, everyone just needs to show up on the first day of touring. That’s easy.
Is there ever any UK versus Canada rivalry in the band?
Yeah, a little bit. They have a tendency to think it’s hilarious, the way I talk. They’re always claiming to have invented the language and all this fucking bullshit. I’m sure Australia can relate to this, being one of the colonies of these psychopaths. There’s definitely little stuff like that. It’s the most petty shit. They’re blown away by the way I say “squirrel” and stuff like that. It’s the most little things like that that have no bearing on anything that seem to escalate into inter-band arguments.
You guys are set to release your third album on September 10th. How was songwriting approached this time around?
It’s been pretty disjointed before. Some of the songs are just songs and it’s kind of a mess. What we really tried to do was make it more collaborative across the board and have everyone’s influence on all the songs. I think it really worked. I think in both the previous records, the songs took a lot of directions. That’s cool, but at the same time, it would fall short a bit of the final goal sometimes. This time around is definitely a cohesive album and it is Gallows.
Was there a conscious effort to mix up the formula compared to your old albums or even last year’s EP?
The EP was kind of like our demo. We wanted to get something out immediately. It seemed like starting again in a lot of ways, as much as the band has its history. It’s kind of like Gallows: Year One. They weren’t a happy band before. They were a very disjointed band and they were a band on the brink of collapse for a very long time. We wanted to get all that shit out in the open and make everyone realise that Gallows wasn’t just one person, it was all of them. That’s why it pressed on and that’s why we’re able to make such a great record, a record that we’re all proud and a record that we’ll hopefully still be proud of in thirty years.
So you think the band is very much in a better position now than it was before?
Yeah, I’d say so. I think it’s important. I think the band’s hungry again. It’s easy to get complacent the longer you’re in a band and fall short of what you really want.
Is there any significance with making this album self-titled?
I think it’s very deliberate. I think it’s a big “FUCK YOU” to all the detractors that say Gallows is dead, and I think for us it’s a way the guys have always wanted the band to sound. It’s their idea of what Gallows was always supposed to be. For me, it’s the record I’ve always wanted to make. I think it touches on almost everything I love about heavy music.
What drove the decision to take the independent route for the European release of the album?
Really, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to have a label. Aside from that, in terms of being in the band, it allows us to have all the control we want and have things exactly the way we want. I feel we’re really lucky in that respect and hopefully we will be putting out some other bands. We want to use the label to shine a light on other bands that deserve exposure.
What has it been like on the touring circuit for Gallows this year?
It’s been good. The summer has just been festivals for the last three months absolutely everywhere in the UK and Europe. We’ve had heaps of shows to date with bands we absolutely love like Rancid, Against Me!, Anti-Flag and 7 Seconds, and it’s been a fucking amazing summer. I definitely want to get back and play some small, hot, sweaty shows. I’m sick of getting rained on in Europe (laughs).
Can you confirm or deny that Gallows will return to Australia for Soundwave 2013?
I can neither confirm or deny it. Take that as you will.
Tell me about the craziest thing you’ve ever done with the band?
This question always stumps me because touring is an absolute fucking sideshow. It’s kind of hard to pin down those moments, you know? I’m trying to think. I think the really funny thing is how I met the band. It was at a bar in London. It was probably like a few years ago now. I met Stu (Gili-Ross), the bass player of Gallows, and we actually almost got into a fight. So that’s how I started things off with the band. I’d say I get along with Stu better than anyone in the band, probably because of that.
What are your goals for the reinvented Gallows in the next few years?
I try to take things day by day. For me, I just wanna make music that I’m passionate about and music that I believe in. I haven’t believed in something this much in a long time. That’s a good feeling. I’ve never had lofty aspirations other than to make music and make art that I’m passionate about. I think if you have your head and your heart in the right place then the rest falls into place.
Do you think that the recently announced final tour dates for Alexisonfire are going to impede on Gallows at all?
Nah, I don’t think so. We had our free dates pretty set in stone so we were able to work it out. The boys are excited to come to the London show.
Are you keen to come back to Australia for the Sydney and Melbourne dates?
Absolutely. Australia was always like a second home for us. There’s a lot of Canada in Australia. It feels like tropical Canada. It’s always fun touring over there and I’m really happy that we’re able to put these shows and come back one more time. It’s definitely one of our favourite places to play and I’m glad we’ll end it on a good note.
Are there any recent bands or albums that you’d like to shine a light to?
This band from the states called Obliteration have a self-titled EP which is absolutely unbelievable. Chris Colohan of Cursed fame has a new band called Burning Love, and they have a new record called ‘Rotten Things To Say’. They’re a really good Canadian band.