Back in January of this year, on the cusp of his band breaking out of their cult status with the soon to be released debut album ‘Vile Child’, Milk Teeth guitarist Josh Bannister left the group.
Following his departure, there’s been a noticeable Josh-shaped hole within the group. With Vile Child acting as a swansong for the former vocalist, it was fitting that the songs he features heavily on are the main highlights. But whilst both sides were amicable in parting ways, a Twitter update on the split saw Josh announce “I left before I had to leave music entirely.”
Thankfully, a change of location, a breath of fresh air (or more a sigh of relief) and a break from constantly touring seems to have done the trick. Now based in Southampton, Josh is once again on the cusp of something else equally as exciting – the debut release from his new outfit Gun Shy.
Five track EP ‘First Transmission’ will be released May 6th as a limited run cassette through Failure By Design Records, with alternate variants available from Honey Pot Records and Rubaiyat Records. In the lead up to the release of First Transmission, Gun Shy have been decoding and unscrambling nuggets of audio left right and centre, with Upset currently streaming the EP in its entirety. To compliment the First Transmission broadcast in full and ahead of its release this Friday, tuck into an interview with Josh below.
BCFB: So 2016 kicked off with quite a big announcement for you – How did the news of your departure from Milk Teeth go down?
Josh: Apart from everything that can be seen on various social networking sites, it went down well for those guys and it went down well for me. I had a lot of messages from some very kind people being extremely loving and genuine in their comments. Some I knew, but a lot of the comments were from people I didn’t, who deliberately went out of their way to check if I was okay and to let me know they enjoyed the work I did in the band. It was extremely sweet and I thank those people once again for being so kind to me.
What sort of mindset were you in when you decided to call it a day on that side of your life?
Leaving was a relief. The moment I decided that was what I was going to do, I felt better than I had previous to that, otherwise of course I wouldn’t have left. The previous feeling however was one I struggled with for a rather long time, I have a very rigid set of – I suppose you would say, morals? A lot of decisions were of course made democratically, however I was usually the one complaining or voicing the negative side. I could no longer continue to make music that was honest and then agree to do a tour with a band that I personally dislike. Maybe that makes me stubborn for not seeing the good side of these things, but I didn’t start playing music to question myself and see how far I could push what I believed was the right thing to do. Having started the band, I could no longer see it take the path it was taking and at the same time I didn’t want to let my decisions impact what everyone else wanted to do. It made sense to leave and now I can whole heartedly say it has and they seem very happy where they are now. Essentially, everyone got what they wanted.
Moving on from Milk Teeth, it wasn’t long before Gun Shy came about. The initial rumblings of your new musical venture had me pretty stoked if i’m honest. How has it been to focus your energy on something different?
It felt like forever. I left Milk Teeth before I started to hate music itself and Gun Shy could have came around quicker if you ask me. However it’s great to be able to channel things back into music; I was writing a lot of poetry during this dead time and just spending time enjoying my life. Once the band started, I found a place to put away all the good/bad experiences I’d had between leaving the band and starting anew. Writing songs puts experiences and thoughts into the past; by writing them down they exist, but only in that moment on that piece of paper. They no longer follow you around. After focusing all that creative energy I had regained during my down time where I had chance to experience real life, I personally felt better than I had in a long time. I think Gun Shy is working so well because we all have lives outside the band, whereas with Milk Teeth being so constant, it left little time for life outside the band. Recounting old tales in new ways didn’t give me the same joy as immortalising these new ones in my own way.
Who are you working with in Gun Shy? How did the band come to be?
Gun Shy is myself on guitar/vocals, Will Palmer on bass guitar/vocals and drawn out story telling at outrageous times in the morning, George Turner On Guitar/synth/Whatever the fuck it is George does and Dom Wright On the tubs/jokes and general vibes. Me and Dom had a jam session set up just to kind of shake off the cobwebs and I posted on twitter saying how frustrating it was to find musicians in Southampton, seeing as I figured it may be easier with everyone being so into music. Following this tweet, Will hit me up and they came to join us to jam. I reckon we exchanged about 40-50 words maximum before we wrote our first song.
What has the process been like getting creating the sound of Gun Shy? What sort of stuff were you listening to when you put the new record together?
We are honestly not being very thoughtful about how it sounds, which will become evident once the next lot of songs are out. We wrote First Transmission in a matter of a few sessions; it all flowed very naturally. We did the most amount of tweaking to our sound whilst we recorded the record, which we did ourselves – an experience I would say helped us the most. We now know our strengths and weaknesses, so we know where to put most of our eggs and be wary of where we balance the rest – some we are just throwing wherever we fancy and hoping they don’t break. Personally, I had been listening to very little Elliott Smith, which is odd for me, indulging more in bands like Slint, June of 44, Self Defense, a lot of doom and black metal but mostly Andy Shauf and Julien Baker every day, which I know someone is getting sick of.
A few pieces of audio have already been “unscrambled” and you’ve already had your live debut, right? How have people been responding to the new stuff?
People seem to be enjoying it, but it’s not all come as easy as some may have thought it would, which is rewarding. It doesn’t feel like we are playing off what I did before, its moving slowly as a band should. We’ve got a lot of good friends who are very supportive – some of my favourite comments have been that “I expected it to be good but not like this” or “this is what I hoped you would end up doing”, which makes me think that people noticed what I brought to the table in Milk Teeth but also shows that it’s all about who you play with. It wouldn’t be what it is without everyone else, so I think there will be a lot of disappointed people that haven’t got something that’s as close to Milk Teeth as they wanted, however some people may hear too much of me in there that they feel the opposite. It’s a tough place to be in and I have huge amounts of respect and love for the guys making music with me, knowing that it will be compared in everyone’s head to a band that still exists.
‘First Transmission’ is out May 6th through Failure By Design, Honey Pot and Rubaiyat Records – What can people expect from the debut?
It’s not boring, that is something I can promise. However I cant say much more; describing something i’m so proud of and involved in seems a bit futile. I like to think I like good music and I like this record so lets say – if you feel you like good music you will like this record.
You seem in a pretty happy place right now – What can we expect going forward with Gun Shy?
We’ve just finished writing our next release and are planning to play some shows, and a very lovely lady is working on plenty of visuals too – keep your eyes just as peeled as your ears. We plan to continue to be not boring and give you the very best we can at the very moment you are with us.