Gengahr are named after a Pokemon. Said Pokemon (originally spelt Gengar) has exceptional stealth skills, absorbs warmth, and is both mischievous, and malicious. The same cannot be said of this psych-pop quartet from London. Instead of stealth they have been lauded everywhere from BBC to NME to DIY magazine, radiate an enveloping warmth in their music, and, while there is a dark undertone to their lyrics, do not seem like the most malicious of lads.
On Friday, they will be launching their debut album, A Dream Outside, via a free live show at the Rio Cinema in Dalston, London. To celebrate, they kindly took the time to answer some questions from Overblown about that show, their eagerness to release their debut, and their time at The Great Escape and SXSW this year.
Overblown: The album artwork for your debut record, A Dream Outside, is quite evocative. It looks like a sun under water to me. How did that come about?
Gengahr: It’s a painting done by Hugh (our bassist). He is a very talented painter and has done the cover work for all of our releases so far.
O: A Dream Outside is coming out via Transgressive Records. Why did you decide to sign with them?
G: We knew we wanted to sign with an indie label and Transgressive are brilliant. They are great people who I trust and can call my friends. They love music and believe in their artists and I think that is the most important thing for a label.
O: On the 12th of June you’ll be launching your debut album at the Rio Cinema in London. The tickets were given away for free through dice.fm. Where did this idea come from?
G: We wanted to do the show for free and to be something special for the fans. We grew up going to the Rio Cinema so it is a place close to our hearts. It’s great that Dice have jumped in and helped us organise the whole event. I think it’s going to be a very memorable night.
O: You’ve loads of festival dates this summer. Any one in particular that appeals to you?
G: I’m really looking forward to heading back to Glastonbury but also Splendor in the Grass. We have never been that far from home before and we are really excited to explore Australia!
O: Speaking of festivals, you played at The Great Escape in Brighton last month. How was that experience? Was it similar or different from playing SXSW earlier this year?
G: Fairly similar I guess but also completely different. Both were great fun and we were really blown away by the response we got from both festivals. We were so chuffed to be invited out to SXSW it was a real dream come true moment for us.
O: Before this album, you have released just a few singles. A lot of bands these days are taking more time before launching into a debut album, with many of them releasing an EP or two beforehand. Wolf Alice and JAWS are two examples that spring to mind. Why decide to take this approach?
G: Yeah, I guess we could have done things that way but it didn’t feel right for us. We wanted to make a full length that simply captured where we were at as a band after our first year touring and writing as Gengahr.
O: There’s something very dark underlying the band’s songs at times. For instance, in the song ‘Heroine’ the chorus goes, “You could be my heroine.” It has a certain doomed love aspect, a Romeo and Juliet factor. Is this impression deliberate?
G: I enjoy mixing the light with the dark in songs. I try not to be too cheesy and cliched with lyrics and I guess at times things lean to the more macabre. Within that though there is always an element of humor. I don’t like to take things too seriously.
O: Your record was awarded five stars by DIY magazine. Is it rewarding to see your hard work acclaimed in this manner?
G: I think so. You will never please everyone and I don’t think you should to be honest. We are proud of what we have achieved as a band so far and we will continue to work hard at what we do. The plaudits are encouraging and we are grateful for everyone that has been supporting us along the way.
O: I know a kid whose parents named him Onix. Just thought you’d like to know that.
G: Wow. I bet he is a dude.
‘A Dream Outside’ Is Out Via Transgressive Records on 15th June 2015.