The men of Gallows, a rough-hewn throwback to the days when U.K. punk was perilous, not pop, are known for gigs at which music and injuries share the bill — and guitarist Laurent Barnard admits that this reputation is well-earned.
"It's always an accident. No one goes to a Gallows show to actually, physically hurt people," he insists. "It's just that people get into it so much. It's a release. We'll get comments on our MySpace where kids are like, 'I went to your show last night and broke my nose — but it was the best night of my life.' It's weird. They have a good time, but they probably spent half the night in the ER."
Barnard and his bandmates — lead singer Frank Carter, his guitar-playing/background-singing brother Steph, drummer Lee Barratt and bassist Stu Gili Ross — have gotten some better breaks lately. Indeed, Frank is a media star in England, where he was recently voted the "Coolest Man in Rock 'N' Roll" by the tastemaking tabloid New Musical Express. Barnard sees the honor as a mixed blessing. "Is being number one on the cool list actually a cool thing?" he wonders. "It's a bit of an oxymoron, to be honest. But I think Frank's secretly quite chuffed about it."
GallowsWith This Is Hell and Cancer Bats, 8 p.m. Thursday, January 31, Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street, $13-$15, 303-292-0805.
The Gallows gang had fewer reasons to be cheerful back in 2005, when Barnard wrote the music for Orchestra of Wolves, the outfit's debut. His motivation for doing so by himself was purely financial. The indie that originally released the disc, In At the Deep End Records, offered 1,000 pounds, or about $2,000, to cut the whole thing — an amount so small that only one person could take time off from his day job to come up with tuneage.
The story's next chapter isn't especially punk: Barnard left his position at a nearby Borders and moved back in with his parents to save on rent while he scribbled. But the Orchestra songs that emerged were appropriately fearsome, providing an ideal backdrop for Frank's blunt, very British lyrics. In the cheekily titled "I Promise This Won't Hurt," he bellows, "Take these teeth/All they fucking do is cause me grief."
Such sentiments seized the attention of two sizable labels: Warner Bros. in England and U.S.-based Epitaph, which issued Orchestra stateside last year. As a result, the players have been bashing out the same numbers for three years, and Barnard concedes that he's looking forward to creating some new material. Until then, they'll keep using the old stuff to rev up crowds, and let the bone chips fall where they may.
"We always say, 'If someone falls over, pick him up,' and things like that," he stresses. "But people dive off the stage, land on their head. It's a regular occurrence."
Visit Backbeat Online for more of our interview with Laurent Barnard of Gallows.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.