Gallery 47 originally formed ten years ago as a six-piece band in Loughborough, but are now just the alt-folk songwriter Jack Peachey. He’s following up last year’s Clean with the second release in what will be a trilogy, Adversity Breeds, in September. We found out more.
By the time I finished Clean I felt I had learned so much about production. With Adversity Breeds, I wanted to keep everything simple and to the point.
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what got you into making music? Was there a particular act, genre or song that inspired you?
I used to be in all these choirs from when I was really young. Every Christmas morning I’d have to get up at 6am and go to church to sing in the choir. Nowadays I really love choral music, and churches, but not the religious part of it. I joined the choir at my secondary school but I became very alt / wannabe goth and I listened to Muse. I went absolutely crazy for electric guitars in those few years.
I loved Marilyn Manson most of all and I look back now and it’s just all about those structures that sound kinda simple, but it’s all about the dynamics and the tone of the drums or the bass or the guitar, who knows. Then when I turned 13 my mum got me ‘The Bends’ by Radiohead and by then my teenage rebellion had turned into angst and I just used to cry over Fake Plastic Trees and, well, whomever I fancied at the time one song or other from that album would just sum it up and I would send mixtape compilations!
You originally formed Gallery 47 as a six-piece band 10 years ago. How were those early days?
I loved them. We were all young. We all got drunk and high and frankly didn’t do much else. It wasn’t a band, it was a group of friends. And there were a few of us more ambitious than the others, and a few more depressive than others. We got this gig at Loughborough University and wrote this crazy long song called ‘Logic 3 Starfighter’, which was in many ways a complete rip off of ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead, except not as good. It was young, teenage, and incredibly fun.
I was watching Blink 182 in Rotterdam a few days ago and just thought, “I wish that you could just have a group of friends always around who wanted to play music”…but it’s just not realistic for me. I would always be writing 10 songs a week one week and then telling everyone I was quitting the next month. I never did quit. To be honest when I think back to playing with those guys at the beginning, I just think that when we were out of it we had an amazing time.
Aside from that, it was a little bit stressful by the end. Too much infighting and too many ultimatums, and a few characters playing people against each other like young, vaguely musicial Iagos of the third division.
How has the Gallery 47 style changed since you became a solo act?
I think I’ve become more confident with my voice in the last 5 years. At school, I was the singer in a band, which I loved but was kicked out because they all said I couldn’t sing. It grates on me too. If I listen to old songs like ‘Hopeless’ - even the Maybeshewill remix - my style of singing back then was all wrong. I had to learn guitar for one thing so I watched ‘No Direction Home’ on repeat - the Bob Dylan documentary. I watched his fingers, his folk days, stuff like ‘Only A Pawn In Their Game’. I watched how he managed to change chord like five times in a second and thought, “Is that really necessary!?”. But that really helped.
Lately I just don’t worry anywhere near as much as I used to. These days I feel less like I need to prove myself with guitar because I did exactly what I thought was the right thing. I made something I like, which is also accessible with ‘Clean’ and still it didn’t particularly out-do any of the other albums. I think these days I’m just having more fun, more simple rhythms. Back then I liked the whole fragile falsetto thing, Nowadays I’m much more Sgt. Peppers in my approach to singing. If I get wrecked and record, it can be cool!
Tell us about your forthcoming album ‘Adversity Breeds’. When did you write the songs and what are the overriding themes?
'Adversity Breeds' was largely first written in 2012-2014 along with 'Young World’ and ‘Clean’, but like all of those songs, they change over time. That's why I've taken to writing large amounts of songs and 'living with them' for a while, because that way when you finally do release them, you know exactly what you're releasing. In 'Young World' there's a song called 'Adversity Breeds' (my favourite, home recorded version is already out on the 'Bad Production' EP), which is a direct response to the trio of songs 'Lefty / Righty' (now called 'A Reasonable Man') and most importantly ‘Overflow’. These songs were all written as a response to a massive political extended-family-and-friend argument on a dodgy 'too much alcohol' holiday in the sun. This was all pre-Brexit and I could see it all coming, and one day I screamed at my godfather and told my lovely sister-in-law to f**k off for defending him and I flew home in the middle of the night. few days later I felt guilty as anything and wrote the song 'Adversity Breeds' to my sister-in-law. That's how the phrase 'Adversity Breeds' came round. Adversity Breeds Character.
How does it compare to Clean?
I felt a lot more pressure with ‘Clean’ because I felt that there was a lot riding on it. As part of my publishing contract I had to submit a minimum of one studio album within three years, but previously there had been some doubts over my production style. When writing it I often was clean, in terms of sobriety. The songs were much more about feeling daunted about the future, work, jobs, long term forgotten past relationships, choices, careers, interviews, everything like that.
I spent a lot of time on Clean listening on loads of different speakers, and learning properly how to use things like EQ and analogue compression. All on a tiny tiny budget. By the time I finished Clean I felt I had learned so much about production. With Adversity Breeds, I wanted to keep everything simple and to the point.
Which of the songs on the album was the hardest to write?
It depends on how much you consider production to be a part of the songwriting process. Tracks like ‘Copyright Final’ were easy to write but were just infuriating to mix. It was one of those jobs where you listen to 10 different mixes on 10 different days, but then you come back and realise that you have chosen 4 or 5 favourites rather than one or two. The hardest to write was probably ‘Cold Fire’. It’s in some random tuning.
Which of the songs are you most proud of?
Oh I’m proud of all of my children. Some are brighter than others, some taller, more athletic, better looking. But I love them all the same. Probably ‘Analytical & Open’ though because I genuinely get excited listening to it. I’m also proud of ‘Candy Smile’, ‘In Odessa’ and ‘Mr Baudelaire’ because I shook off my teenage-planted-vocal-anxiety enough to do single track vocals without much editing.
Which of the songs are you looking forward to playing live?
I love playing ‘In Odessa’ live because I do it all finger picky on acoustic instead of with the piano, and it’s a bit faster. I’ve also always loved playing ‘Mr Baudelaire’ because I mean every word and I just feel cathartic and euphoric.
If an artist or band was to cover one of your the ‘Adversity Breeds’ songs, who would you want it to be and which song would you like to hear them cover?
I would love it if Interpol would cover ‘Cold Fire’, haha, with that voice and a lot of distortion! But I also think if you could persuade The Dandys or the Brian Jonestown Massacre to find me acceptable and do some washed-out ‘Ride’ style version of ‘Sanity Is Not Statistical’, well that would be pretty cool.
What are your hopes for the album?
Long term I really hope that people might look back with hindsight one day and enjoy my back catalogue. I’ve applied for the Mercury Prize with Clean this year but it cost me a week’s wages just to apply! I don’t really want to try and sell myself. I just want to do my own thing, and if someone wants to come help me then they need to understand that I don’t make much money at all, and that they must be pretty good to market it properly. And also I would like to be paid a decent amount. Because otherwise, it would be slavery, wouldn’t it. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m happy to be my own slave, or a slave to music or whatever.
Where can we see you live in 2017?
In Nottingham though I’m playing the Acoustic Stage at a festival called ‘Spanky Van Dykes’ in September. I will get back into live stuff. It’s just hard because there’s lots of band on the album and lots of different tunings, so while I can do my normal folk / acoustic / singer songwriter shows, I feel like it wouldn’t be the same as a proper Adversity Breeds tour. I’m currently talking to a few drummers and bassists in the hope of sorting out a tour sooner rather than later, and I’ll keep in touch!!
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen to the band in 2017, what would it be?
I think it would just be nice for this album and the next one to get some coverage, so that people might be able to hear it. That’s all. Solomon-style.
Watch the video for ‘Cold Five’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates go to Gallery 47 Facebook page.