The Uplifting Story Of Gun. First Top 10 Album In 30 Years?

With their new album Hombres sitting nicely in the UK Midweek Top 10 Album Chart, this could be another pivotal week for the Scottish rockers Gun. A confirmed Top 10 spot would be their first in thirty years since the release of 1994’s Swagger. MetalTalk’s Paul Monkhouse caught up with vocalist Dante Gizzi and guitarist Giuliano ‘Jools’ Gizzi.

The band are on a high, and it’s great to see this as they approach their 40th anniversary. 

“It’s just amazing,” Jools said. “When we first started out, or when I first started out, I didn’t ever think I would be playing guitars and playing the Gun thing and being involved in music, music sessions, writing sessions, working with other bands, and things like that.”

“We love it so much,” Dante agrees. “The day the hunger goes….”

Gun - 100 Club, London - 29 February 2024
Gun – 100 Club, London – 29 February 2024. Photo: John McMurtrie

You could see and feel the love for Gun at their recent gig at London’s 100 Club in a set that included songs from their new album Hombres, which had not then been released. There is still a huge passion for and from the audience as well. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

“I can feel that energy,” Dante says, “and you can feel that energy off the stage. I think that comes with the music. It takes a bit of a bit of bottle to go out there and play new material when it’s not even been released yet. I could feel the vibe from the audience. To take on these new songs, although some of them were singles. But it was such a good vibe. It felt this should have been a Friday night.”

Jools agrees. “I thought it was a great night,” he says. “I thought the guys played well, and there was a great response.”

Gun - 100 Club, London - 29 February 2024
Gun – 100 Club, London – 29 February 2024. Photo: John McMurtrie

It’s true to say that Dante has grown into the role of frontman wonderfully. “100%,” he smiles. “I have grown into it. It’s taken time to grow into it. I think from taking over lead vocals back in 2011, it’s now 13 years of doing it, of being the frontman of this band. I should be able to be confident in it [laughs]. 

“I do feel like there is a certain confidence that I do have. That was the only stumbling block in the back of my head. I was always having that notion of being compared, but I don’t really care about that anymore. I don’t mean that in a bad way or a negative way. It’s the fifth proper studio album of new material that we’ve released under me. I feel really confident with it, and I think this album is the best I’ve ever sung.

“That takes a lot for me to say because I’m my own worst critic when it comes to singing. That maybe kind of shines through being able to play it live. But it has taken time. It definitely has.”

“I just can’t think of anyone else who could sing those songs other than Dante,” Jools says. “He’s a lot better singer than I am. I’ve got the melodies, but he can sing them. He could sing the melodies, and I’m talking about even way back in the day. I’m talking about even the Swagger days. I came up with an idea, we’ll try this melody, and he would sing the melody for Mark [Rankin] to work on

“I think when he did the El Presidente thing, which is a funk rock band, it gave him more confidence. So we just thought, right? I don’t know anyone else who can sing it. But we’re glad to have him.”

Gun who release Hombres
Gun – Hombres – A real celebration and a genuine contender for Album Of The Year

El Presidente was something a bit different. “I think about three or four of those songs were originally Gun songs,” Dante says. “100 MPH was a Gun song, and Keep On Walking. We did try it with Mark, but it just kind of never worked out.”

“He couldn’t sing it the way we want him to sing it,” Jools says.

“I was definitely thrown in the deep end at that point,” Dante says, “because I remember playing King Tuts. I performed that with just a backing CD in the early stages of El Presidente. I only had about eight songs at that point. So I’m singing in this venue, absolutely rammed, with a microphone. My very first ever gig as a frontman. 

“Luckily you could smoke in those days in the venue. So, during the solos, I don’t have a solo guitar player on stage. I would just smoke a big cigar. I would drink a glass of brandy and stuff like that, trying to utilize the stage. It was quite nerve-wracking.

“But I remember somebody from Aberdeen requesting their money back, expecting a full band, but I didn’t have a band at that point. We were working on getting a band. That was a really daunting experience.”

The band and the brotherhood, which was Gun, stemmed from an AC/DC show in 1976, in which a friend of Jools had a spare ticket. 

“I was more into Bowie, Slade, and the glam stuff at the time,” Jools says. “I had never been to a gig before. My friend said come check this little guy from Australia. They were actually born in Glasgow. He’s got a school uniform on, his school bag and he jumps a bit crazy.

“They’re playing the City Hall in Glasgow. When I saw him, it was just the weirdest feeling ever. I’ve never experienced anything like it, seeing a band for the first time, a school kid and watching this guy … being absolutely mesmerized by this guy up and down the stage, blew me away. Absolutely blew me away. I talked about it for days and weeks to my pals in school. I want to do that. I’d love to do that.”

Jools was hooked and determined. 

“I kept on driving. Nothing was going to stop me. I just wanted to do it so much. The band, making demos and getting knockback after knockback from record companies and labels. It was costing us money, and I didn’t care. I still wanted to do it. Eventually the door opens and we get a record deal, with A&M Records. We’re signed, and then we get told, well, if you think that was hard, now you’ve got to compete with big boys.”

Gun had the record company and publishing and were in the charts. “Everything that I had worked for,” Jools says, “and everything that we could possibly do to achieve what we wanted was in Taking On The World. That’s how it all started. That was the stories of everything, something to believe in, better days and taking on the world. That’s what made it work for us.

“And ever since then, once you’ve got it, you’ve got to keep it going. We achieved everything at the beginning and it was just a great journey. It had its ups and downs, like everything else, but more ups than downs. So I’m happy with that.”

Gun, who embark on The Calton Songs UK Tour
Gun, The Calton Songs era

The first time I saw Gun was opening for The Rolling Stones in Wembley. Gun blew them off the stage. When they started the band in 1987, to think that in three years’ time, they would open for the biggest band on the planet must have shown desire and drive.

“That was an incredible experience,” Jools says. “I remember when we were halfway through America and got the phone call.”

Dante is straight in. “It was a fax machine,” he laughs. “But it was us and another 60 or so bands that had been put up for the Urban Jungle Tour. We had been doing that sort of really small, grimy American tour that you had to do. You had to do the circuit. We were halfway through that. It was just demoralizing, playing to ten people.

“Most of the guys have got their hair all spruced up with all the hairspray. I think they spent more money on hairspray than they did on guitar strings. But I remember waking up next to the tour manager, and he’s like, you know what, I think you’ve got the Rolling Stones Tour. 

“I was like, what? No way. I couldn’t believe it. I think we were somewhere in Dallas. I always remember the whole story behind it. The Stones had sent out this fax to all the other bands, asking them what they wanted. How much stage time they wanted, what rider they needed, et cetera.

“I think all the other bands must have come back with a list of all these sorts of demands. But we just sent our fax back saying we will take whatever you can give us. That was it.

“Then fast forward to being on tour with them. I remember being with Mick Jagger in a Munich Club, this really super trendy cool place. All these beautiful-looking guys and girls.

“We’re cordoned off in this special area. Mick Jagger is standing next to me. I asked why did he pick us. He goes, you reminded me of us when we first started out. I was taken aback by that because I didn’t expect that sort of reply.”

“We were supposed to play two nights at the sold-out Whisky a Go Go,” Dante says. “The record company said, on Friday and Saturday. But on Saturday, we had to travel back to Europe to go to Rotterdam Football Stadium to open up for The Stones.

“The record company said you’re not cancelling the gigs. You need to honour those two shows. One gig was full of media. The next gig was the fans, but we needed to do it. So we did a show from 10 till midnight, then back to the hotel, then straight to the airport, and right over to Rotterdam. It was incredible. 

“I’d be dead now if I did that.”

Gun have a live 26-track version of Hombres available on iTunes for just £4.99. To support Gun, get your orders in now. All the orders can be made at gunband.lnk.to/HombresPR.

Gun - Hombres - December 2024 Tour
Gun – Hombres – December 2024 Tour
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