Suntrap: Get to know Guru

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On a cold evening in Brighton I was lost down a side street looking for the Green Door Store. Asking a stranger they replied, “it’s next door…the one with the green doors?” After a little laugh I turned on my heels and went back to the seemingly unidentifiable venue. Though such a legendary haunt in Brighton, the Green Door Store to a newcomer was a little hard to find without a sign. Now settled with a drink in hand I was ready for the nights festivities Tundra Love’s EP release, and for the band I’d really come to see, Guru. 

If you’d popped into the venue on a whim and saw the name Guru on the bill looking for a calm and tranquil sound track to your night or, even thinking you may see some meditation expert on stage, you’d be completely mistaken, for the name of the band definitely would lead you astray to what was really about to happen.

The cobbled floor packed, Kieran (guitar), Simon (drums), Ferg (bass)  and Tom (vocals) burst into life. The deep riffs takes you to another time, and the room lit up. Everyone moved more than I had seen them move all night and were in awe of Tom as he stood centre stage looking across the room. I have to be honest, this was the first band I’d seen in a long time where they weren’t afraid to look deep into the eyes of the audience watching, it was empowering to see.

When he wasn’t looking like he wanted to fight, Tom would break out into an almost psychedelic dance, reeling around the stage as if he was one of Iggy Pops illegitimate children, and even climbed off stage and screeched into faces. It was bloody marvellous, and very “punk”. The venue got warmer, the audience got even looser, the layers of clothes on half of the band got fewer and I, like many in the room, was feeling alive.

The music itself was punk rock, but actually good fucking punk rock. Think the Clash with hints of The Stooges, but with a Talking Heads bass line. I was told they were a great band, but my God I didn’t expect that. A lot of music critics are very good at describing bands to be better than they are, but seriously, I can’t make up any of this, they are one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a long time. 

At the end of the night after having lovely chats in the smoking area with some colourful people Tom invited me to the Prince Albert to have a chat, we got some drinks in and sat in a back room.

Your work has been labeled everything from psychedelic punk to brutalist indie rock, how would you guys describe it yourselves?

Ferg: I think with “indie” like “punk” there’s so many levels you could put that on, if someone calls you a punk band now there’s so many different sounds.

Tom: Punk doesn’t mean anything anymore, if you say punk to one person it means something different to another, one person would think of the Dead Kennedys the other would think of the Sex Pistols some prick in America will think of Green Day.

Simon: At the same time who actually cares what you’re labelled as? As long as people still come out to the shows and enjoy our music, it doesn’t matter.

That being said, how would you label yourselves?

Ferg: Punk inspired garage-rock

Simon: With a splash of acid house.

Tom: Yeah, PIGR, and interstellar.

Who do you take inspiration from?

Kieran: The Stooges are big for us collectively. I also listen to a lot of psychedelic rock.

Ferg: I think that we’ve all got our own so Kieran grew up listening to Hendrix and Led Zepplin, stuff like that. For me, I take influence from The Jam, The Clash and Black Sabbath

Tom: For me, Lou Reed, Talking Heads and Oasis.

Simon: I take a lot of influence from Hip Hop artists, but I also love Queens of the Stone Age.

Its so refreshing to hear a band singing about actual issues going on at the moment. Was this a conscious decision?

Tom: No it wasn’t. Consumer Helpline I wrote on a whim, people started thinking it was an anti-capitalist song. Suntrap, I can’t remember what happened. I think it was one of May’s fuck ups, and you just read all of these stories, you know, crime is on the rise, the police are getting cut the NHS is fucked, nothing is working, money is being pulled from all the wrong places and I was just like “no-one is getting anywhere in this country.” With Suntrap there was some serious testament to that from my lyrics, I did mean what I said and I still do, Suntrap comes from a place of real anger in me.

Do you think it’s important? That songwriting is something that goes to the root of punk culture, but I think that it almost got lost for a while.

Kieran: If people are singing about it with heart, and they’re singing about it truly, then yeah, but if people are just jumping on the bandwagon, singing about it for the sake of singing about it then perhaps sing about something else ‘cause things have been overdone, this subject especially.

Ferg: We - Me, Kieran and Simon - don’t write the lyrics so we don’t sit down as a band and say, “oh this song needs to be about this” or “perhaps we should sing about the hardship or the conservatives” or anything. We leave the lyrics totally to Tom. So its not like we’re like, “we’re a this band that sings about this”. We do the music, Tom does the lyrics and he writes what he believes in. 

Tom:  There’s bands that come from hardship and make beauty out of it, like Oasis, they never once go “I feel so sorry for myself, feel sorry for me” they go “I’m feeling Supersonic” and it’s great. Then you get other bands that come from hardship and they make a point about it, they want to try and change it. So there’s this difference between bands that find a beauty in where they’ve come from and bands that find an anger from where they’ve come from, and I think we fall into the second category through my lyrics because there’s a lot I’ve got to get off my chest and I feel like only recently I’ve started to to be able to do that with some sort of skill.

But really what I want to end up doing is writing songs that make people feel better. I want to write a song where people can listen to it and they can go “that’s made me feel more comfortable about my situation,” that’s my end goal. I want to be relatable. I want people to be able to hear music like I did when I was growing up, the bands that I resonated with and hear that message and think “it’s not that bad, I’m going to be alright, I’m going to push through it, ‘cos I’m better than that.”

I could see the audience were really moving to your music tonight, possibly you are beginning to strike that chord with people.

Tom: It’s great. Its all about the energy

Ferg: All our friends always seem to be at our gigs which is amazing.

Simon: And not even our fans or friends or anything like that, there’s just massive supporters of the music scene in general in Brighton.

Whats the most memorable experience you’ve had with an audience?

In unison: Old Blue! Old Blue! Old Blue! 

Kieran: It was the last Old Blue Last gig in London, where everything just fell into place. 

Tom: I think I saw Jesus…

Ferg: So in Brighton we get our friends down and they dance and it’s really great and you’re having a good time, but in London we’ve never had like a proper reception, we’ve had some good feedback in London and stuff like that but this one gig it all kicked off and it was amazing! It was one of the best experiences. 

At the end of the month you’re going on tour with Lady Bird. Where are you most looking forward to playing?

Tom: Manchester!

Simon: For sure, one of my favourite cities

Ferg: I’m looking forward to Glasgow.

Kieran: I’m looking forward to playing in Glasgow too, I’ve got some family in Glasgow that I haven’t seen before.

Simon: He has family everywhere!

Tom: We had a gig in Paris and Kieran had a cousin that turned up to our gig.

Kieran: That’s true…

It was a pleasure to talk to these talented guys, go catch them in a city near you from the 27th March and maybe have a beer with Kieran and one of his many family members. Also a shout out to Milly, Ludovica and Sophie for being such babes. Full UK dates are below.

by Caitlin Setterfield

27.03 - The Forum, Turnbridge Well

28.03 - Mother’s Ruin, Bristol

29.03 - Bodega, Nottingham

30.03 - Key Club, Leeds

31.03 - Attic, Glasgow

02.04 - Think Tank, Newcastle

03.04 - Hare & Hounds, Birmingham

04.04 - Soup Kitchen, Manchester

05.04 - Camden Assembly, London

13.04 - The Prince Albert, Brighton

23.04 - Green Door Store, Brighton

03.05 - The Finsbury, London

04.05 - Portsmouth Psych Fest

16.05 - Bermondsey Social Club, London

18.05 - Hope and Ruin, Brighton

05.07 - Astral Festival, Bristol