Gerard and the Watchmen will be performing their rich harmonies and soothing rhythms at Belair House on Thursday 12 May at 7.30pm.
Dave Gerard is the band’s founder and lead singer. We spoke to him about his band’s influences, his perfect gig and making your name in the music industry.
How long have you been together as a band? Tell us a bit about how you formed.
The band have been together around four years or so but the line-up has gone through quite a lot of changes in that time. Our current line-up we’ve had for a year and a half and it’s the best we’ve ever sounded. We play as a three-piece with Tobias Humble playing drums and sample pad and Alex Bayly playing guitar, bass, piano, slide and everything else! They’re both brilliant musicians and make me look much better!
Who would you say are your primary musical influences?
Primarily and regardless of genre I really admire the great songwriters who can put out new exciting music over different decades and genres, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Paul Simon etc. Currently a lot of my influences are determined by the sort of music I’m briefed to do for work as a composer/songwriter – at the moment I’m working on some indie lazy rock songs and am really enjoying listening to the likes of Mac DeMarco, Kurt Vile, Tame Impala.
You have put out a couple of releases so far which have been received very warmly by the critics – can you tell us anything about what are you working on at the moment?
We are currently working really hard on a new album which I’m very excited about now. It’s been quite a while in the making but we’re hoping to release in late Autumn. It’s perhaps a bit more ambitious than the others and there will perhaps be a few synth/electronic aspects creeping in. We’re also hoping to put out a couple of videos in the short term.
When you play at the festival you’ll be performing at beautiful Belair House which will suit the rich and intimate nature of your music. What would be the setting for your ideal, dream gig? Where would it be staged, who would support you etc?
I guess a dream would be the Théâtre Antique d’Orange in France or Herodeon in Athens – both look insane. Both have outdoor auditoriums with the most beautiful backdrops and are rich in history! Other than that rooms like the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican just sound unbelievable – we’re blessed with venues in London! In terms of support I think honestly I’d just like a talented up-and-coming act that needs some exposure. It annoys me when big acts don’t use a support, it doesn’t take much to give a young musician 15 minutes and would be a big opportunity for them. Belair House is incredibly beautiful and having gone in for a drink last night I’m incredibly excited to play!
After the festival, where else can we see you performing live over the summer?
Well actually this is the place to come and see us! We’re taking some time out to finish writing and recording the album so after out Belair House gig that will be our sole focus. We will be looking at possibly putting a tour together to promote it maybe November/December time but for now this gig is our focus.
What was the best piece of advice you received when you started your music career?
I’m not sure I can remember any particular advice as such but what does stand out to me is after spending some time with successful musicians, seeing just how hard they work. I think always knowing you can improve and aspire to be better is important. Basically always spend time with people who are better than you!
How hard is it to make your name in the music industry?
I think it is incredibly tough, but I had no illusions when I started making music and decided to make a career out of it. I’ve been lucky that my day job is writing/producing songs for some fairly big labels but it took me a long time to get to the humble stage I’m at. I also work most hours in the day, I think that’s part and parcel of working in music.
To buy tickets for the Gerard and the Watchmen gig at Belair House, visit: http://dulwichfestival.co.uk/product/gerard-and-the-watchmen/