Interview: Conor Gaffney – Anchor Lane

Scottish rock band Anchor Lane will release their new single ‘Fame Shame’ via R7 Records on Friday 11th October. The single is taken from the band’s eagerly awaited debut album which is released in early 2020. To celebrate the release of the single, Anchor Lane will perform an exclusive launch party concert for the new single at the Garage 2 in Glasgow on Friday 11th October. With so much going on, it seemed like the perfect time to grab a quick chat with lead singer Conor Gaffney.

Anchor LaneIt’s a busy time for Anchor Lane, new single ‘Fame Shame’ is about to be launched, and there is the small matter of the single launch gig in Glasgow.

“Fame Shame will be officially released as a single on the 11th of October, the same date as our headline show in Glasgow, at the Garage G2. You will be able to pre-order our debut album that day, and all the information about the actual release will also be available.”

So the 11th of October sounds like it will be quite an eventful day then! Any butterflies in your stomach yet?!

“Absolutely! It’s been a long time coming. We’d been working on our album for about a year and a half, nearly two years, and I think that we must have rewritten it three times! Just constantly writing new music, and we had gotten to the point that we had written about 25 to 30 songs. Then we got Toby Jepson on board to produce us, and he whittled down that list. He said to keep giving him some more songs, and challenged us to write better songs than we had written before. That’s what you want when you bring in a producer; you don’t want them to come in and say that everything’s great, you want them to say..no you can do that better.”

How did you get involved with Toby?

“We were looking for a producer, and our manager had been asking around and a few people had mentioned Toby. We played Winterstorm Festival in Troon last year and Toby was there with Wayward Sons. We were kind of milling about and I went backstage and saw our manager talking to Toby and he introduced us. We started chatting about Toby possibly producing and he was very upfront with us, which I really appreciated. He said he only produced bands that he really believed in, bands that he felt he could work with, and said that if he didn’t get involved, or if he felt that he couldn’t do anything for us, then not to take it personally. With all due respect to Toby, we wouldn’t have wanted him to work with us if his heart wasn’t in it. We were putting everything that we had into it, so if he was not fully invested then there would have been an imbalance.”

In that case, to have him come on board must have been a massive boost?

“Oh absolutely. That was the thing, we hadn’t heard from him in maybe a month or so and we were wondering if he had decided not to work with us. Then he got in touch to say that he was really interested in working with us and that was a bit of a boost to our confidence, that we must have been doing something right. After all, he knows what he is doing!”

Are you familiar with his work alongside Rob Town for their management company Lightning In A Bottle? In fact I think that they are on Facebook Live right now as I got a notification just before this phone call!

“As did I! That’s a great service they have, Toby’s a very hard working guy with his fingers in many pies. I’ve actually suggested to a friend who is having a hard time to contact Lightning In A Bottle and speak to Toby, because he can give you that outside perspective that everybody needs.”

Anchor LaneWould you say that the forthcoming single ‘Fame Shame’ is indicative of what the debut album sounds like?

“Yeah I would say so. What I would say is that it’s a different sound, it’s had an amazing reception and people are really getting behind it. Which is good because we brought this song out on the understanding that it is different from what our debut EP was. The songs that we wrote for our EP were written before any of us were even in our twenties, and now we are all 23 or 24. We also have a new guitarist, Lawrence O’Brien, and he brought in a new flavour of influence. I would say that there is a more modern, alternative sound to the album.”

Any teasers you can give us about the album?

“That’s a difficult one. The thing that I would say is that it is intense, it has a lot of feeling and a lot of truth to everything on it. Everything was recorded live, it has that live energy. We recorded it all together, all looking at each other, all feeding off each other. I think that was one of the most important foundations for capturing the energy that we have when we play a show. We were nervous about recording it this way. The EP was recorded drums first, then the bass etc, in what is now the traditional way to record an album. We went into the studio to record the first track for the album and once we finished, we all looked at each other and said why haven’t we done this the whole time?! It just makes more sense. And that’s one of the initial things that Toby said to us when he came on board, he said that the way he records is live and that’s the best way to capture a young band like us; get us in the studio, get us working and have fun, just enjoy it. And as much as there is pressure on you recording your album, we didn’t really feel that pressure. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to relax because there are a lot of expectations with this album, and if it’s not as good as people expect it could be a hard thing to climb back from. At the end of the day, we were only going to be in this position once, so let’s enjoy it.”

On the subject of the recording process, have you ever seen the fly-on-the-wall documentary about Aerosmith recording the ‘Pump’ album? It’s a real eye-opener into what goes on in the studio.

“I haven’t seen it no, but funnily enough Toby told me to watch it!”

You should! It’s insane! On to the single launch gig on the 11th. You’ve also got Tomorrow Is Lost and Salt River Shakedown on the bill. That’s a cracking line-up; how involved were you with the bill?

“When the promoters came to us and asked about putting on a headline show they asked who we wanted as support acts. We wanted to get a local band on the bill, a young Scottish band, because we’d been given a similar opportunity with Mason Hill a while back. We also wanted a band from England because it’s always good to bring a band that you are friends with. We had met Tomorrow Is Lost at Winterstorm Festival last year; they were really nice and we thought that they were great, so we went for them.”

Has the gig been causing you sleepless nights?

“I get sleepless nights at the slightest of things never mind a headline show! It’s just that you want it to go well and you want it to be perfect, so right now we are doubly rehearsing for the gig as we also have the VIP acoustic set before the gig itself. Our mornings are spent rehearsing the acoustic set, then it’s “well we are warmed up now so let’s move on to the electric set”. It’s a lot of fun.”

The VIP acoustic set is a nice touch, makes it more special rather than simply just a meet and greet. Are there still VIP tickets available?

“Yes there’s only a handful left, maybe only five. We didn’t just want to offer a meet and greet with early entry, we wanted it to be something extra. People can come in and watch an intimate, chilled out acoustic session, hear some new songs off the new album. It’s just a bit of fun really, and the idea seems to have gone down well. The songs are a bit more exposed when they are acoustic.”

There is nowhere to hide when you are playing acoustic?

“Not at all, and that can be terrifying!”

Anchor LaneIt would be sloppy of me not to mention the run of support slots you have had recently, Tremonti, Eagles Of Death Metal and Cheap Trick. That’s a varied line-up of bands right there, a great testament to Anchor Lane that you can slot in easily on three varied bills.

“Metalheads, stoners and classic rock fans! If you were to look into the Anchor Lane sound then you would see some influences from these three categories. We’ve got influences from all these bands, as well as Queens Of The Stone Age. We all grew up listening to bands like Deep Purple and Cheap Trick, Free, Thin Lizzy etc.”

How much of a buzz was it walking through Glasgow and seeing your name on the posters alongside Cheap Trick?

“Yeah there’s one still up somewhere! I walked by and saw it! It’s amazing that it’s still up, that line – Cheap Trick with special guests Anchor Lane is special.”

And of course the band was also invited up onstage by Cheap Trick, that must have been surreal!?

“Oh yeah, that was crazy. Our manager had spoken to them about meeting us, so after we played our set we went backstage to Cheap Trick’s area. They came up and they were all brand new; really, really nice guys. We had a picture taken and we were just chatting and they turned round and said “so you’ll come up and do a song with us?” And we just started laughing, thinking that they were joking, and then they said “okay cool, we’ll see you onstage” and walked away! Their manager came over and said “after ‘I Want You To Want Me’ be down here and then you’ll go up and sing ‘Surrender’ with them” and we realised it was genuine! We were all like “do we know that song?” and started singing it between us. We went onstage and Robin Zander turned to me and Lawrence and said “do you want to take a verse?” and it was terrifying! We had fun with it and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.”

Weren’t you also chucking Rick Neilsen’s plectrums into the crowd as well as some vinyl albums?

“Rick came over and handed me some albums and I thought ..well I can’t say no, but there was also that thought of..what if I hit someone in the face with one! So I just thought..go for it! I meant to give it a small throw and maybe go past the first few rows, just a wee humble throw. I don’t know if a gust of wind caught it but it just flew straight to the back of the room! Lawrence’s girlfriend was at the back and caught it on video!”

It was heartwarming to watch a band that legendary taking the time to make it a special evening for a young band like yourselves.

“They couldn’t have been any more welcoming to us, it was amazing.”

More power to bands that do that. Let’s finish by mentioning the Anchor Lane App, where did that come from?

“Let me see if I can get my story right! Our management team also manage Wet Wet Wet and Hue & Cry,. They were approached by a company about making an app for Wet Wet Wet and so our management team said “that’s fine, but can you make ones for the other bands that we look after?” It’s been really cool and it’s been really beneficial. The app enables anyone who downloads it to get instant notifications from us. Our main outlet for promoting the band is Facebook, but they are making it harder and harder for us to reach our fans.”

They can make bands jump through hoops to get hits.

“It’s ridiculous, and the thing is about a year ago we would put up a post and get loads of interactions and hits, and now we put something up and it might only get 20 or so likes and maybe two or three comments. At first you think that people are not interested anymore, then you post something similar and that gets the hits. It makes you think that something is not right there. We get a notification saying that we can boost the post for £20 and reach 1000 people when we have 4000 followers already, and that was one of the reasons for us getting the app. You can do everything on the app, even book your tickets through it. There’s exclusive content on there; we go live on it, jam on it. We are constantly trying to keep it interesting, keep it fresh, and it’s mainly about being in the moment and capturing our personalities, whereas Facebook seems to be more about the promotional side of things.”

 

Cheers for your time Conor, and good luck with the single launch on October 11th!

Anchor Lane are Lawrence O’Brien (lead guitar), Conor Gaffney (lead vocals, guitar), Matthew Quiqley (bass) and Scott Hanlon (drums).

For more information on the band, as well as all ticketing information for the single launch gig, please visit the official Anchor Lane website – here.

Get up to the minute updates from the band on the official Anchor Lane app, more information – here.

Interview – Dave

Images: © Dougie Souness

 

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