The Leeds music scene can appear to be dominated by neo-soul and jazz at first glance, with venues like Headrow House, Sela Bar, Belgrave Music Hall and many more tending to stick with these styles of music. However, you don’t have to dig too deep to find a lively DIY scene just under the surface. Bands like Frank, Spearmint Tongues and Venus, to name just three are keeping the spirit of punk alive in the city. Another band that are beginning to make ripples into the circuit is 3-piece punk band Zgulls. In order to get a better understanding of what fuels the energetic trio I sat down with Guitarist/Vocalist Harvey and Drummer Adam.
The first time I saw Zgulls, they had much more of a Sludge Metal influence, and also were taking the form of a four piece. It’s been almost a year since they played their first gig under the Zgulls moniker, and they have done nothing but mature since, only Adam and Harvey survive of the original four members. They are now joined by George on bass, who isn’t present at the meeting, and have taken a much more classic punk approach to their music, Harvey used the term Garage-Punk to define the Zgulls sound, whereas Adam simply stated that ‘When people ask me what music we play, I just say loud and hard.’ When questioned on how the band originated Harvey replied that they had found a mutual love of heavier music, and that ‘We both love playing live music… And this is the best music for us to express ourselves onstage.’ They certainly aren’t wrong there, there’s not many bands in Leeds that can boast having a stage presence as raucous as Zgulls, they tear their way through a set, Adam’s raw drumming can fill the room alone, but with Harvey’s roaring vocals, and George’s rampageous movement, it all combines create a truly unique environment. Zgulls have been making a name for themselves with regular gigs, curious as to what environment they crave in a venue I asked which their favourite they’ve played so far was, Harvey said ‘Hyde Park Book Club, quite a small intimate gig yet the room was filled out, and it has the whole underground punk vibe, so it suited our music perfectly’, Adam agreed with this statement. When pushed for the worst night they’d had the pleasure of performing at Adam suggested Liverpool’s Jacaranda, however this was soon replaced with a local festival they’d played, saying ‘The weekend was great, but the thing that put me off was that everyone was sat down, tough crowd.’
Adam and Harvey work as the main tour de force of the song writing, ‘Harvey will have a riff or a chord sequence in his head,’ Adam says, ‘Then we’ll go downstairs and get it tight, with George joining later.’ However they are also keen to point out that some of their newer material is built around George’s bass. Harvey also stated that ‘We all write our own instrumental parts… and me and Adam will usually just get drunk and write the lyrics.’ He also speaks about the content of the lyrics in Zgulls songs, ‘There isn’t really a theme, a lot of the time they aren’t too meaningful, but more about conveying the energy of the song.’ The lack of depth to the lyrics works well, as it allows you to focus on the music entirely, without wondering if there is much of a story behind the song. Zgulls tend to shy away from covers, saying that they have tried a Queens of The Stone Age song before, and Blew by Nirvana, but prefer to perform their originals. If you get the chance to see them play, it is more than likely that you’ll hear their entire songbook, crammed full of short, powerful and furious moments.
I was curious to the motivation behind the band, so I queried whether they were in it for fame and fortune, to which Adam replied, ‘No, we just do it for a good time,’ they both expanded further, saying how they would like for as many people to hear, and hopefully be inspired by, their music as possible, but mainly they just want to perform in front of an audience. With this I asked whether they had any advice for anyone who may be wanting to start their own band, Harvey stated ‘Just go for it, write what you enjoy, and if people don’t like it, they don’t like it, it’s fine.’ Adam reinforced the statement by saying, ‘Don’t think too much about it, just play what you want.’ There isn’t too much in the way of accessible listening available for Zgulls right now, with a few songs being found on Soundcloud, but nothing particularly recent, however they are ‘hoping to get some releases out soon, on spotify and the like. If you’d like to hear us, just come to our gigs. It’s about more than just the music, it’s about the energy behind the songs.’
So if it feels like you’ve spent a little too much time up high in a pseudo-Badu Appletree, come on down and listen to Zgulls play Lending Rooms on May 2nd, supporting Indigo Lo.