Gun: "Fans have told us that our songs helped to get them through difficult times"

Gun group shot
(Image credit: John McMurtrie)

Gun’s co-founding siblings, guitarist Jools and frontman Dante Gizzi, conceived the idea of an unplugged album, The Calton Songs, while the nation was in lockdown. 

Released as a single earlier this year, the electric track Backstreet Brothers is an ode to their childhood neighbourhood, the titular Calton, in the suburbs of Glasgow.

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Presumably, being stuck indoors provided a lightbulb moment for The Calton Songs? 

Jools: Aye, we were ready to go into the studio for a new album when everything changed. But we still felt creative, despite the havoc that was being caused to the industry and the effect on venues. 

Most unplugged albums are an easy option; this one is really good. 

Dante: Thanks, that’s great to hear. Not being the original singer, it was quite a challenge, and we didn’t want to do them just the same as they were before. What would be the point? 

Dante, it really shows your growth as a lead singer. 

Dante: I appreciate that. 

Jools: After Toby [Jepson] had left [in 2010] we had to decide whether or not Gun could continue. Dante was the natural choice, and he’s doing a great job.

Glasgow often gets bad press. Was it a good place to grow up? 

Jools: [laughing] We’re in Calton right now, at our mum’s place. Above us is the bedroom where me, Dante and Mark [Rankin, original singer] would get out the guitars and jam. All of the songs – Better Days, Steel Your Fire – were written there. 

Basically, Calton is a part of you? 

Jools: In the seventies it got a reputation for being a tough area. Music played a big part in taking us away from that. 

Backstreet Brothers is a nostalgic nod to your shared youth. And it includes an obligatory mention of Buckfast wine, the breakfast of champions

Dante: A lot of that was drunk. We’ve a lot of fond memories from those times. 

What does the album tell us about Gun and their songs? 

Jools: That they stand the test of time. A lot of fans have told us that our songs helped to get them through difficult times, and hearing that is a real honour. If your songs are honest, hopefully they’ll stick.

Presumably the acoustic album also lit a fire to plug back in again? 

Dante: Aye, the electric album comes next. We hope to get that out by March or April next year. 

Tell us about Gun’s first post-covid gig. How did it feel? 

Jools: It was last summer at the Stonedead Festival [in Newark]. Man, there was a point where I was close to tears. It’s hard to describe the buzz of relief and ecstasy. Every minute of it was mind-blowing. 

In December 2019 Gun celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of their debut album Taking On The World with a tour with FM and the Dan Reed Network. Was it as much fun as it looked? 

Jools: It was. The three bands backstage, the gigs and the laughs. No clashes of ego, and so much camaraderie. I’d love to do another package like that.

The Calton Songs is available now via Cherry Red.

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.