Highs and Lows

Artist: Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
Published: 2003-10-15

Away from the tacky attempt at vibrancy that is Camden Market, London, England, on a Sunday afternoon, the members of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci are huddled round a table, deliberating over their set list for a show at the intimate canal side basement venue, Lock 17, making sure they will give shoppers the real thing later.

After ten years together, and with their eighth full album 'Sleep/Holiday' recently released, it's a process that takes sometime, and is typical of band who, despite their longevity, still work for a pure and immortally fresh love of music.

Conscious that your reporter has been waiting a while, lead singer/keyboardist Euros Childs, and vocalist/guitarist Richard James eventually approach, and lead Soulshine through to a pokey 'dressing' room, furnished with sofas that would barely be passable in the most grotty 80s student house.

Hunched over in the corner, close enough that raising voices above a whisper would seem aggressive, they explain that this is a nightly routine, and it's not yet finished.

"It just makes it more interesting for the band, than playing the same thing every night," says Richard, in a lulled voice that, much like his musical finesse, does not match his imposing bear wrestling frame.

"It's not like we pull it out of a hat," pipes in the far slighter, and more pensive Euros, in a matter-of-fact manner, "we try to sustain a mood and a feeling."

Such elongated wrangles over a set aren't that common, but you quickly get the impression that Gorky's have forgotten how it feels to be a band that tours playing virtually indistinguishable lists from night to night.

Despite being on a promotional tour of the new album, they don't seem preoccupied with this, and while five songs from the record do get a well-received outing, the long debate seems justified as they prove later in the evening to be a band that cannot be defined by one record.

"It's weird because the album's so live it's tempting, but at the same time we haven't rearranged them [the songs] really, because we played them live in the studio," Euros accurately states of the new album.

Mostly a collection of rough and engrossing country/folk songs, best denoted on 'Happiness' and the wretchedly glorious 'Single To Fairwater', the record's highlight is probably big rock-out 'Mow the Lawn', a song of such joyously raucous pop proportions that it could become an anthem to inspire kids everywhere to earn their allowance without protest.

"I think the reason those songs sound exciting, I mean like Poodle Rockin' and Mow the Lawn, were exciting, is because we rarely do that kind of thing. It's quite an occasion, really; they work really well live those songs," adds the keyboardist.

If ever there was a case for self trumpet-blowing being justified, this particular statement is it. Gorky's tour has now extended across the Atlantic, taking in US and Canadian dates (October: Sat 11 Vancouver Brickyard; Fri 17 Toronto Lee's Palace; Sat 18 Montreal Le Spectrum, supporting Spiritualized), and those that catch any of these gigs are blessed.

From watching Childs attack his keyboard in such a vicious manner that one wonders how the plastic withstands it on the frenzied 'Sweet Johnny', to indulging in the catchy pop qualities of 'Young Girls and Happy Endings', and 'Eyes of Green, Green, Green', the Welsh quintet consistently prove to be the type of live act that can induce stunned incapacity without inoculation.

Their ability to preserve this live energy and polish is typical of their focused outlook. As careers go, Gorky's have remained uncontrived, genuine and enthusiastic throughout, despite having seen various highs and lows through two line-up changes and varyingly happy relationships with several record companies.

"It's just music, I suppose, we're still as excited about music as we were when we were 15/16. We could have become jaded about the industry maybe or what comes with music, but we've not grown bitter or jaded towards music, that's what really kept us fresh, I suppose," says Childs.

And so exist Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, a band that will happily go through the motions of an interview, but will guarantee curt answers about anything but the occupation they love. This isn't pretentious or self-obsessed, it's just a right that they have earned over the past decade, and the only priority seems to be maintaining the group, with this time being too precious to dwell on the said 'lows'.

The pair won't reminisce of any bitterness from past industry experiences, and Euros takes some prompting, and actual quoting, regarding the promotion of their last LP, 'How I Long to Feel the Summer in my Heart', before he reluctantly opens up.

"Well quoted, well done," he jokes through semi gritted teeth, in a suitably belittling fashion.

"We kind of thought it would be a bit more successful than it was, but record labels and people seem to have their own perception of how successful we should be, or think we can be, and that seems to stop us in our tracks really," he muses, before adding, "we think of ourselves at quite a populist band, I suppose."

It's a fair sentiment, and the said record was certainly the correct side of excellence to attract a larger audience. It seems paradoxical that Gorky's post major-label passage should be a time when they appear to be making their most 'accessible' music yet. Where many in the 1990s fell for a band that were seen to be a tad experimental, riddled with swirling organs, Welsh language lyrics, and innovative string and brass arrangements, the noguhties incarnation is outwardly more conventional, something that the live style of 'Sleep/Holiday' testifies to.

But again, Childs has no interest in looking back: "We think that when we were younger we were quite into psychedelia, but we still are now. I think that the worst thing for us to do would try to be that [same] band, to try and recreate that. When we did that music, we weren't trying to recreate Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, we were just playing music, and I suppose that's what we're doing now, not trying to copy ourselves."

Still in their mid-twenties despite their long-service, Richard and Euros are graced with a calm and un-conceited attitude that errs towards elegance, and the in-flesh version is much like the one that comes from your stereo: unique. They've a talent that should be cherished, and a passion that dictates it will be some time before they will cease sharing it.

Writer: Tim Newbound

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