Introducing: Gambling Hearts

After splitting for ten years or so, UK-based indie rockers Gambling Hearts are reborn. New single ‘Leave It All Behind’ is available now and we spoke to guitarist/vocalist Simon about all things Gambling Hearts related.

Gambling HeartsWhat are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?

This is our second time playing together. We first played as a three-piece back in 2006/2007. We played for a couple of years then, following a couple of line-up changes, called it a day. Then, 10 or so years after splitting, chance brought the three of together. Will (drums) was playing in a band, but neither Sam (bass) or I (Simon) were playing with anyone. It was great to see each other again, and within a few days of that meeting, we’d decided to get together to play through some songs. And that was that. Gambling Hearts was reborn.

How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!

First gig, second time around was a bit bitter-sweet. For me anyway. It was great to be back on stage playing with my two best mates again, but I was very stage rusty. Before we got back together, I’d kind of come to terms with the idea that I’d probably never play live again. So it was great to play, but I was really rusty. Will and Sam played great, though.

What should people expect when they check the band/you out? How would you describe yourself?

It’s difficult to say. We’re an indie-rock band. We share a love of bands like Nirvana, Oasis, REM, Black Rebel, Doves…so I guess we sound something along those lines…melodic/rock. I think we’re a great band, but all bands must think that else they wouldn’t do it, would they? We have great songs and when we play together it feels great. I write pretty simple songs, but with good melodies and honest lyrics, and Will and Sam are a great rhythm section, second only to Crazy Horse. They rumble away like a V8 engine. They’re really powerful and solid. None of us are amazing musicians. We keep it simple, but we do it well. I know I love playing, I get a real kick out of it. I love it, and I really hope other people do too. Though for every hundred plays we get, I reckon Sam and I are accountable for 70 of them. We’re huge fans of the band. I’ll listen to Gambling Hearts most days. I know bands generally don’t listen to their own stuff, or so they say, but I love it. It’s a great means of escape and it’s great to dream. We dream of playing big gigs and making records that people will want to listen to, but right now we’re just starting out. It’s good to have a dream. You have to have a dream.

The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?

I think we, as an audience, generally speaking, are very impressionable, we’re keen to jump on the nearest passing band-wagon. I think for a band to stand out they need to be good, but more importantly, they need someone or something to champion them. Like a radio station or DJ, or an established band or artist…if they say ‘you’ve got to listen to this band, they’re great!’, then people will listen. It’s hard to get someone to listen without that kind of backing, cos there are so many unsigned bands all screaming for attention, all claiming to be the next big thing. It’s hard enough to get your mates to listen let alone someone who’s never heard of you. Everyone’s so preoccupied. I guess that’s where the luck comes in. You’ve got to be great, as a band, and you need the luck. You need someone with a voice to love you and to tell others to love you too. I want everyone to feel the way I feel about Gambling Hearts, cos I think we write great songs and play great indie music, but someone else might listen to us and think we’re crap. All the world’s a critic.

What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?

We’ve got a new single out, it’s called ‘Leave It All Behind’. That was written for the Pyramid Stage if ever a song was. It’ll be available to stream in all the usual places. We also plan to stream a live, full-band performance just as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted. That will stream on the Gambling Hearts Facebook page. I’ve played a few solo live unplugged spots over the last couple of months. They’ve been good fun to do. A good chance to play some new songs. And some old ones. They’re also available to watch/listen to on the band’s FB page.

What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?

I’m a big fan of Doves. It’d be cool to play with them. Dream gig would be Noel Gallagher. I’ve loved Oasis since I was 14. But to be honest, we just want to play. Because of the various lockdowns it’s been a year since we last played together. There probably isn’t too much we’d turn down right now!

Who do you feel is the next band to break out?

‘After London’ are a great band. They seem to be playing the right places and getting the right kind of attention. I hope they get something, they work hard and they’re a great band.

What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?

First light bulb moment was hearing Dire Straits, ‘Money for Nothing’, when I was about 7. That guitar intro, it switched something in me. Hearing that, I wanted to play guitar and make people feel the way I felt when I heard that song. I hadn’t really thought about playing or performing before I heard that song. Then, when I was around 12, I got into the Beatles in a big way. I was given a guitar around the same time and learned to play Beatles songs. That was when I decided that I want to be in a band. Then, a couple of years later, I heard Definitely Maybe for the first time. That changed everything. I wanted to be in a band and play guitar and sing songs. That’s all I wanted to do. And still do, all these years later. It’s a huge curse though, wanting something that you know you’ll almost certainly never achieve, or not to the level you dream of anyway. I wish I could tailor my ambitions, but I can’t. It’s all or nothing.

What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?

Last band I saw play live was Doves, at Somerset House. They were fantastic. Loud and melodic. Pounding rhythms and chiming guitars. They’re fantastic.

The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?

I don’t think there’s anything that would surprise people. Certainly not people who know me. I love most forms of music. I love grunge and indie, dance, country. I have a few guilty pleasures. I’ll listen to the odd Phil Collins track now and again. But my real love is indie. I love guitars, and guitar bands. They’re so cool.

Although 2020 has been a year to forget for many reasons, there has been some incredible music released; what would be your album of the year?

Either Neil Young’s ‘Homegrown’ or Dove’s ‘The Universal Want’. Fantastic records, both of them. As if Neil Young’s sat on that record for 40 years or whatever. It’s just crazy. I know a few of the tracks have appeared on other things, but still, what a gift.

How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?

I just don’t get it. I’m really bad at it. I’m reliably told that we’re nowhere near as active as we need to be to get anywhere in this business. I just hate the idea of posting something for the sake of it. If we’ve got something to say, you know, like publishing the release of a new single or an upcoming gig or whatever, then I’m all over it, but I can’t keep posting inane shots of the band, or ‘what was the first record you ever bought?’ types of post. It just feels so phony, you know? It feels like clickbait. I understand why it’s important, cos of algorithms and all that, but people aren’t stupid, they know why you do it, and I wouldn’t want for anyone that follows us to feel like we’re using them to further our own position. Do you know what I mean? I want our followers to feel like they’re part of something special. We don’t exist without them. If we’ve got something to say then you’ll hear about it, but I’m not into junk mail. Maybe I should put my principles in my pocket and go on a posting frenzy; we might get a few more streams then, haha. We use FB and IG. That’s one too many platforms, haha.

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