After the success of 2016’s Riot of Sound, played on 6Music, lauded by Q Mag, album of the week in Rough Trade: Gil De Ray returns with a new album ‘In The Shadow Of The Drone’
What took so long?
By the time the first album “A Riot Of Sound’ came out the band was in turmoil. We had toured the previous two years with Little Barrie and members were leaving. We sacked our manager, fell out with people. My personal life was in meltdown. The Industry had sucked us dry. It’s the artists that create the industry but it’s all the bottom feeders like PR and Radio pluggers who make a living from it. It’s hard to accept sometimes and it’s hard to keep a band together with no money when everyone else is getting paid around you for effectively doing very little.
Through it all I kept writing, and putting it all into the songs. Every heartbreak and irritation went into the pot. So there was a lot of disruption and I had to take time away from the band and everything to think about how to move forward.
With the band I always wrote and recorded the songs and demoed them at home by myself. Together we’d work them out from there. So I decided to just forget about writing with the band and wrote about 5 albums worth of material.
When the dust settled finally I was there with this bunch of songs. Mikey Buckley had joined the band on guitar right at the end and he witnessed it all. He asked me to do some videos for his band Desert Ships and we got talking about doing a new GDR album together. I played him some of the songs i’d written and we took it from there. Mikey is a great guitarist and he knows how to mix a record. So about a year ago we started to work together on making ‘In The Shadow Of The Drone’. It was easy working together as we both had the same vision of where it was going. We worked separately on the songs, I’d do my bits and Mikey would add guitars later. We’d get together occasionally and work out the bits that weren’t working.
In the end it worked out really good. Sometimes with a band you get side-tracked with other people’s ideas. This was easier, less democracy is good for making music.
What’s the album about?
I think as a writer all you can do is reflect the time you live in and the experiences you go through. After the Scottish referendum and Brexit i had the feeling that shit was about to get a whole lot worse. And it did. I had been interested in symbols and sigil magic prior to recording ‘A Riot Of Sound’ and it seemed to me everything was being manipulated by shadowy figures and no-one knew who they were. The Drone became a symbol to me of what was happening everywhere. Surveillance had never been so invasive. It was Orwell’s 1984 on steroids. Social media, data harvesting by corporations, drone warfare in the Middle East.
I remember standing on the South Bank one afternoon looking at the gun metal sky and this drone just hovering above everyone. And i thought well this is it now, we are all living in the shadow of the drone.
A lot of the themes on the album reflect a feeling of impending doom. From the dystopian dub of ‘Losing Control’ to ‘Burning Flag’ it’s directed at the war hungry nature of governments and the military industrial complex. ‘We’re so horny for war’, I don’t have a TV but you can’t avoid the influence it has on people. The way people fall in line with supporting bombing countries without knowing anything except the press release dictated to them ad infinitum. It’s sad. Poor people getting pitched against each other, believing poor people from somewhere poorer than here are somehow to blame for all your woes. It’s the oldest trick in the book and they keep using it cos it never fails. The far right is on the march everywhere, being propelled by an insidious media run by white supremacist ideologues. Racists and fascists are being emboldened by the people at the top. It’s not going to end well.
Yet when i listen to other bands i don’t hear any of this. It’s like it’s not happening. I don’t know if its because they’re too scared to write about it or if they are just so wrapped up in their own little bubbles that they block it out. I find that incredible. Then again if you’re not being played on the radio or Spotify do you even exist?
I don’t want to be a part of that, it’s a dead end artistically speaking. Worrying about playlists, likes and retweets. The industry gauges everything by those stats despite them being easy to manipulate. You can just pay someone to boost your plays, your likes and your views. It means nothing but somehow it’s all that matters to an industry which has stripped away the thought process and replaced it with algorithms. So you’re faced with a choice, do you allow yourself to be judged by fake numbers or do you switch it off. If you’re not part of that structure you cant be judged by its measurements.
That’s why this new album is only going to be available digitally on Bandcamp. At least Bandcamp pay the artists a decent royalty rate. This may be distancing ourselves from where the main audience are (Spotify) but that’s fine. Music is niche, and sometimes you have to embrace your niche-ness. So we’re going back to analogue, cassettes, books. Making the whole project more art driven. I’ve designed a poster for each song on the album and combined that with the lyrics to make a comic book style manifesto. Make your own propaganda!
The album will be available at the Cold Lips x Prison Tan party at The SOCIAL on FRIDAY – as a limited edition tape, with download code, and book of propaganda.
Free. Doors at 7pm. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.
If unable to attend, the release will be available on our shop and via https://gilderay.bandcamp.com/ thereafter.