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James Atkinson (Gentlemans Pistols)

Interview with James Atkinson from Gentlemans Pistols
by Yiannis Dafopoulos at 30 October 2007, 3:12 PM

GENTLEMANS PISTOLS is a Leeds based Hard Rock band that made my speakers explode with its powerful and fresh music. Soon after I reviewed the band's self-titled debut album, I really wanted to have an interview with the band. The band's mainman James Atkinson (vocals/guitar) was kind enough to spend some time answering my questions about the band's signing with Rise Above Records, the bass player's headbutting abilities and the LED ZEPPELIN reunion. Enjoy…

Hello guys and thank you for accepting to spend some time for this interview. First of all congratulations on your great album! It really kicked the living shit out of me! What’s the story behind the band?

We started out in 2003, as a 3 piece, just being inspired by a lot of Glam, mainly THE SWEET. Back then, it was Douglas and myself with Simon Mawson on drums. Not long after we got Chris in on lead guitar and that opened up a few more avenues for us musically with the double guitar attack. Soon after, Simon left to concentrate on recording bands (he eventually co-produced the album with me) and we got Adam Clarke on drums in 2004. Adam played with us until just after recording the album and then left soon after, he had commitment problems. It was terrible timing for us as our LP was just about to come out. Luckily, we found Stuart, our new drummer, and we haven’t looked back since.  

How did you choose this name for the band?

A friend of ours had a beautiful ornate dueling pistol and called it a gentleman’s pistol. I thought it sounded great and the name stuck.

You have managed to sign a contract with Dorian’s Rise Above Records. Did you contact him or did he find you?

Initially, we got booked onto a LEAFHOUND gig in London and Lee and Will from Rise Above were there. We really wanted the album to come out on Rise Above. Luckily for us, after the gig they asked us to do a 7 for them. Sometime later, we got the opportunity to release an album for them.

One of the things that attracted my attention was the cover artwork. Who created it?

Originally, I came up with the cross pistols logo for the band. Pretty much from day one, we knew we wanted it as an LP cover. When it came time to do the LP artwork, Rise Above enlisted the skills of David D’Andrea, and we asked him if he could redraw our logo. David did an amazing job with the whole package and we are truly grateful for his hard work.

Which bands have influenced your music the most?

It’s a difficult question, there are so many. I would say mainly THE SWEET, CREAM, DEEP PURPLE, CAPTAIN BEYOND and SIR LORD BALTIMORE.

You are mostly based on the 60’s and 70’s music scenes. Is there any chance we may face some more modern elements in your future releases?

I’m not quite sure what music is modern these days. We definitely won’t be incorporating any dance music elements though.

We can see that nowadays many bands turn back to the classic old sound. Why do you think this is happening?

I think it is because most genres of music can’t develop any more. We are definitely in a more reflective era than we have ever been in before.

You have shared the stage with great acts like FIREBIRD and WITCHCRAFT. Which is your weirdest or funniest experience during a live performance?

The weirdest gig we played was at a charity ball in Battersea, London. Basically, we played to a lot of upper class people dressed up in tuxedos and ball gowns who probably had no prior interest in the music we play. We eventually won the crowd over, but it was a baffling gig. Afterwards we had problems loading the gear out as the drunken toffs had no concept of the load out. One guy tried to jump on the guitar cabinet that Doug and Chris were carrying. Doug turned round and headbutted him and caused a domino rally of men in tuxedos. That was pretty funny.

Before you even release an album, you had some 7 releases. I suppose you are all vinyl lovers. Why do you think vinyl is better than a CD?

The problem the music format is suffering from these days, is its disposable nature. CDs are so common these days and come free with everything, so much so, that it has devalued even the official releases and MP3 doesn’t exist as something you can hold. Therefore vinyl is the last remaining format the actually holds value and remains collectable.

Since you all seem old school guys, I suppose internet is not one of your strongest weapons…

We do dabble in the internet; hence we have a Myspace profile - Check it out to find out what we are up to.

What do you want to achieve with the GENTLEMANS PISTOLS?

We want to play to as many people as we possibly can and continue making the records we want to make.

I suppose that when you play live it is something more than some guys playing their music on stage. How would you describe a live performance of yours?

It sounds cliched, but we just get up there and play. We love doing it. We would play the same in front of 2 people or 200 people. It makes no difference to us.

What are your plans for now? Are you going to schedule any tours to promote your new album?

We have quite a few gigs booked around the UK for the remainder of the year. Next year we will be doing a tour of the Alps, followed by a European tour with WITCHCRAFT, starting out at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland. Check out the Myspace for gig updates.

I suppose you are aware of the LED ZEPPELIN reunion. What is your opinion about that?

I’m just not interested. I’m sure to some people this will be the most amazing thing, but to me it just seems a bit corny.

Thank you for your time and good luck! Something you’d like to add?

Many thanks, and a big thank you to anyone in Greece who bought our album. We hope to meet you at a gig soon.


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