“Being in a rock band in itself is pretty funny,” admits Gang frontman, Eric Tormey. Eric is Gang’s totemic leader, a beacon of madcap energy and the best representation of the band in human form. Together with his brother Jimi on drums and Joe Hunt on bass, Gang are three friendly goofballs creating the most horrifyingly heavy sound coming out of this nation’s musical underbelly. “We make crafting the music super-seriously. More seriously then anyone I know but when we do videos or photos or play shows it’s just silly. I think people enjoy it more that way.”
New track ‘Dead’ has been blaring out of our national radio stations over the past week as the musical elite start to take notice. It follows a couple of “character building” years for the band from their origins in Kent onto the bright lights of Brighton and the even brighter lights of London. “When we first started we got a guy like us on Facebook that was called London gig bookings,” regales Eric, “and I ran over to my Dad and said ‘Look Dad we've done it. That’s it we’re famous. I’ll buy you a yacht when I’m rich’. Then we did our first gig in London and it was the worst gig of all time. There was this Spanish six-piece band who were meant to play for twenty minutes and played for over an hour. They covered 'Starman' by David Bowie and then at the end of their set the manager came on and they all did a bow to the five people watching.”
Having met in a pub on St. Patrick’s Day, Joe was originally reluctant to join the band. “It was my girlfriend who convinced me,” Joe reveals, “It was the best thing she’d ever done, before I dumped her. Actually, I think she dumped me.” After a few months Jimi went off to study music in Brighton swiftly followed by Eric and Joe. “It was just a case of getting out. Pretty much every venue we had played in our hometown has closed now, So the music just died behind us. There’s lots of new stuff going on there now. We play in Margate often. Our manager Sammy is from there. He started a music scene there with gigs in bowling alleys or tiny theatres which is pretty cool.”
In Brighton the band were able to properly focus, gradually developing their music over the last two years towards their current breakthrough tipping point. Live the band became more confident as the gigs became more raucous culminating in one particularly precarious situation for Eric. “We did a single launch at Green Door Store in January. I fell off the side of the stage which was five feet high onto my pedalboard case but I managed to lean my back against the wall while my feet were on the stage. I was horizontal trying to carry on playing the song.”
Stripped back their songs are well arranged pop songs but with the dials turned up as per the Nineties American grunge bands. “We want to be the heaviest pop band ever. More pop, more heavy,” exclaims Joe.
Unlike other poe-faced grunge bands though Gang take on a uniquely British slant, “people come up to us and say it’s quite Hammer Horror,” along with an intelligence, humour and complexity to their lyrics that far outweighs the genericism of what grunge ultimately became. They are also more rooted in the heavy metal canon then grunge ever was, “Our biggest influence is Black Sabbath. At a basic level, they are why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
The two brothers, Eric and Jimi take on vocal responsibilities in the band impacting on the band’s songwriting. “Because me and Jimi both sing, it usually starts with one of us writing the core elements of the song and whoever gets them down gets to sing it. Someone gets the lyrics, someone does the riff and then we bring it into a room and do a frankenstein. We try and twist the songs as much as possible”.
In conversation both Jimi and Eric flit between discussing various disorders and neurological issues, while Joe sits back and chimes in with the occasional playful jibe. Eric in particular takes on very heavy philosophical stances for a young man. “Realising your mortality can make you more focused and also less petty about things. It only really hit me when I hit twenty. I just had a brain flip. I’m really interested in Cotard delusion when someone believes that they’re already dead. It’s quite a rare condition. It can go to such extremes as people not eating because they don’t think they have to because they think they’re dead. There was one case where a man thought he was dead and also a dog.”
Together they are the perfect gang, a group of “silly boys” perfectly in tune with each other. This sort of chemistry is hard to find. It’s a major part of the attraction. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the gang.
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Words: Richard Jones