Interview with Thomas Bredal, Gob Squad (February 22nd 2008)

Hi, first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album. To new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it all (the band history in short, previous releases and so on)?

Thomas - Thanks. Well, the band started out as a 2 piece teenage thing back in 1996. Me and Sogge (drums) had known each other all life, we were both into punkrock and ended up in the same school. So we started a band.

The following year two other guys joined, including Stauning (guitar and vocals). Some years passed writing songs, recording demos and playing shows…and a single line up change….and in 2003 we released our first real album “Call For Response” as a co-release with German Horror Business Records and Belgium Eye Spy Records. Pretty D.I.Y. styled ;)

We’re toured our asses off after the release, and wrote and recorded a new album “Far Beyond Control”. That album was released in 2005 on German Wolverine Records. More touring followed.

In 2006 Danish Cph Sound re-released both albums in Denmark and fixed us some airplay on P3 (most popular radio station In Denmark, ed.) and Modern Rock in Denmark. In the fall of 2006 we supported Danish hardrockers Volbeat on 10 dates all over the country and we toured with The Movement around Europe.

After playing more than 250 shows throughout the years, we took some time off from touring in 2007 to write and record the new album “Watch The Cripple Dance”.  Holland Mascot Records released the album in late January 2008.

Guess that’s the brief story. 

How has your new album been received by the media?

Thomas - Really really well. We’re receiving some really positive reviews. Almost all critiques agree that this album is a killer and it’s nice to read that our ideas about the sound/production have worked out as planned. 

I know artists don¹t like to put a label on their music - but how would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know it yet? Who do you think you sound like, and what separates you from other bands in the same style of music as you?

Thomas - That’s true ;) 

Well, we used to call ourselves a punkrock band, but I guess that’s not really true anymore. We prefer calling our music rock, cause that’s basically what it is. Of course you can hear our punkrock and hardcore roots, but a lot of other influences as well.

So to describe our music short, I’d call it dynamic, energetic and melodic rock with punkrock and hardcore roots. 

It’s always hard to tell who you sound like, but I think there’s a great deal of Rancid, Green Day and some newer stuff ala Billy Talent and Raised Fist in our songs.

Guess what separates us from other bands are, that we don’t really focus that much on being a genre-band. We try to mix all our influences, but still keeping it Gob Squad-styled.  So we kinda play whatever we want in our own way. The main ingredients are as mentioned dynamics, energy and good melodies.

If your music was an emotion, which one would it be?

Thomas - Twisted ;)

You know, we don’t only play sad, happy or aggressive songs…we play it all…if I have to put just one emotion-label on it, I’d say “curiosity”…cause we’re basically curios as a band and persons. 

Who and what inspires you when you write a song? Can you walk us through the typical creation of a song or give an example of how a number from the new album was “conceived” or “born”?

Thomas - Well, we’ve got different approaches to song writing. Back in the “old” days I used to do most of the songwriting. On the new album we’ve worked more collectively around especially the melodies and lyrics.

On the new album (generally speaking) Stauning came up with some ideas for the music for  a song. Then we jammed his ideas and changed whatever we felt like. When the raw song was “done” we recorded it in the rehearsal-room and worked on melodies and lyrics. Sometimes we wrote the stuff all together, sometimes two guys did it and sometimes I or Stauning came up with some ideas back home and tried it out together.

The music and melodies are inspired by all the different music the different band members listen to…and that’s quite a spectrum.

The lyrics are inspired by our own lives. We tour a lot and see a lot of different stuff happen. We’ve tried to comment on our own lives, thoughts and behaviour…and do the same on people/situations we’ve meet and experienced. We don’t wanna tell people how to behave or think, but we like displaying how we and others behave and think about various subjects.

Which subjects do your lyrics refer to, and who writes them? And what inspires you when you write your lyrics?

Thomas - See above.

Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?

Thomas - Once again we had Jacob Bredahl producing and mixing the album. This time we wanted to do something different sound-wise and Jacob was into the idea. We wanted to use less guitar and vocal overdubs, work on a more authentic sound and just let everything be more raw. Guess it worked out the way we wanted it to be.

Who has done the artwork?

Thomas - The artwork was done by our old friend from back home in Herning; Anders Ladegard. He’s a musician himself and some sorta I-can-do-everything artist, so he was perfect for the job. He also did our video and everything worked out even better than we could have expected.

And how important do you feel it is to have a great cover, and should the cover tell something about the music and what the band stands for?

Thomas - It depends. I think it’s all about the music, so actually you could skip the cover, but on the other hand I like when a cover compliment the songs and the story being told. The cover doesn’t have to tell something about the music and what the band stands for, but we decided to do that this time. The cover pretty much combines a description of the process we’ve been through with this album, and the stuff we try to tell through our lyrics. Besides that we and Anders wanted the cover art to be more handmade to fit with the ideas about the sound.

You (Thomas) have been involved with Volbeat as their guitarist for around a year now – how did that opportunity arise for you, and how has it affected the work with Gob Squad, how do you manage to give your hearts blood to two different bands at the same time?

Thomas - Well, as mentioned we supported Volbeat in the fall of 2006. When they needed a new guitar player, they called me up, and asked if I was interested. I gave it a thought and decided (along with my girlfriend and the rest of Gob Squad) to give it a try.

Of course my involvement in Volbeat takes away a lot of time and energy from other things in my life, including Gob Squad. That leaves a big responsibility to the other guys, cause they need to rehearse and fix a lot of stuff while I’m away…and accept the fact, that my time is limited. But this doesn’t mean that I have to split my blood, sweat and tears between the two bands. I simply have to produce more of the three…hehehe

I’ve got this philosophy that a problem aren’t a problem before you make it one. So I try to plan my way out of possible problems…and then I simply get up earlier and go to bed later than I did earlier ;)

Do you think your/his involvement with Volbeat has given you and Gob Squad some other possibilities, that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Thomas - Well, there’s probably some people who thinks we’ve been giving everything (record deal, tour etc.) for free since I’m in Volbeat. But we’ve worked our asses off for a lot of years, and we still nothing’s for free in this business/world.

Of course we get some extra promotion due to my involvement with Volbeat, but I don’t think anybody is buying a Gob Squad album or going to a Gob Squad show simply for that reason.

But the band might be more visible now which makes more people check it out and hopefully therefore buy the album or go to the shows.

Do you have any touring plans?

Thomas - Hell yeah. We’re heading to Sweden in two weeks to play a few shows up there for the first time. A week later we’re heading south to tour Germany and Belgium. Then we’ll do a DK tour during 3 weekends in March and April. We might do a little Europe thing again in April, but for sure we’ll hit the road again in May to play some more shows around Germany.

Let’s speculate – you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice – who would be your ideal touring partners?

Thomas - Personally I’d say Rancid or Green Day, but bands like Ignite, Raised Fist, Billy Talent and Coheed & Cambria etc. are welcome to give us a call ;) 

You’ve changed record label for all of your releases, why? How did you get the deal with your current label (Mascot Records), and how do you feel about the co-operation with it?

Thomas - None of the previous deals have been of more than one release. D.I.Y.-style. For this album we shopped the master to various labels and the interest was pretty ok. Mascot Records interested us, for as well as I know them, personally and professionally, from their work with Volbeat.  We decided to sign with Mascot, cause they’ve got the right mixture of love for music and understanding of how the business works. The co-operation have been as good as expected.

Which long term plans do you have for Gob Squad?

Thomas - We’re gonna start writing some new material when the tour is done, and then we’ll probably tour some more in the fall. There’ll be some more albums coming out and we’ll keep on touring, ‘cause that’s what being in a band is all about.

The internet is a very important source for many metal fans – how do you use the internet and how important do you think it is for you (and other bands)?

Thomas - I use the Internet all the time. The Internet has made everything easier. It’s easier to communicate with friends, fans, contacts etc. It’s a really important tool that has made the world way smaller than before. I remember sending real old school fan letters to bands, sometimes through their label and/or P.O.Box. A few times I got a reply from the label and one time there actually was a band member replying. Now fans and bands can communicate directly and almost time and costless through MySpace and other sites. That’s awesome.

What do you think about the metal scene in general at the moment?

Thomas - The Danish scene seems really strong at the moment. The Swedes are afraid, ‘cause Denmark is being referred to as the new Sweden due to all the great and pretty new Danish bands. It also seems like there’s a lot of people going to shows, buying albums. So in general both bands and fans helps keeping the scene alive and strong. I really like the nice atmosphere at shows and the fact that people can get along across sub-genres. Which actually goes for both fans and bands.

Which song do you consider to be the best you have ever written?

Thomas - That’s a tuff question, cause you always find your new songs fresh and interesting yourself…and there’s a lot of the new stuff that I myself think is really really good. Still I’d say that a song like Far Beyond Control, the title track from our last album, is one of my older favourites.

Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life … and why?

Thomas - Back in Herning (my old home town) there was this guy called Kent Fløe, who was in charge of the rehearsal rooms and a small studio (where we did all our demos). The energy he put into what he was doing was a huge inspiration for me and still is. Beside that he kept on asking me questions about where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to do it. Stuff that I still reflect about. I personally, and Gob Squad as a band, owe him a lot…

Give me your shot at 5 albums you’d rip for your iPod if you were to be sent to the ISS space station tonight…

Thomas -
The Clash: London Calling
Rancid: Indestructable
Green Day: American Idiot
Johnny Cash: American Recordings 5: A hundred highways
Pink Floyd: The Wall

Which album(s) have put a big smile on your face and has made you bang your head in the past year?

Thomas - The newest: Bad Religion, Against me, Motörhead, Coheed and Cambria, Jimmy Eat World and tons of others

And for the smiling part I gotta mention Freedom Call: Dimensions (it’s german powermetal at it’s worst and therefore I can’t help listening and smiling).

I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any famous last words for our readers?

Thomas - No problem and thanks for doing the interview.

Hope to see you and all the readers out there soon. 

Interviewed by Mel 

Gob Squad - Watch the Cripple Dance

Album available on Mascot Records.

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