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Artisan Guns


13 August 2012

You might have heard the name Artisan Guns around the place a bit lately. That’s because musicians Alex Freer, Matthew Hope, Jonathan Pearce and Reuben Stephens are about to become overnight success stories.

Recent released album Coral is an instant pleasure, catchy and original. Which is pretty much everything I look for in music.

The instant picks for me were Rain in summer, pulled you in, and crystal. They remind me of Garageland and former Hamilton band Trucker; listening to it I found some sentimentality of my teenage years, when smoking cigarettes was still cool, and I all had to worry about in life was finding a beer and a show.

The Album is a pretty good example of how good the indie-pop genre can actually be, with upbeat to Mellon collie the record plays like a story, pulling your focus in and out between hits.

I’ve come to enjoy a play through on my morning walk to work this band will likely become big quickly. By the looks of things you can buy Coral everywhere, so instead here’s a link to their music video


What is your approach to song writing, what gets written first and who writes it?

Matt comes in with lyrics and a sketch of the chords. He also has a kind of mood in mind, but when we first start working on a song we don't really do too much talking about it. We just play it for a while, see if we can find something sweet.

Then there's a long process of talking about it a lot! Once we kind of understand the song, we'll deconstruct it, play it on a acoustic guitar maybe, try taking out as many chords as possible, and see if we can build it up more cohesively together. Djeisan Suskov was a big help for us in doing this early on in the production of Coral.

Tell us about the recording process. You record on reels? So are you aiming for a vinyl release too?

We really wanted to do the whole thing on tape, but in the end we decided we just aren't good enough yet! You have to NAIL it to track to tape, or it will cost one million dollars to record your album. We set the band up in a room, and played all the songs in as a band, then overdubbed parts that were shit or extra parts and leads and vocals.

There was the germ of tracking together through the whole thing though, we're pretty proud that the record sounds like a band playing together, rather than a layer-cake like many records these days. We tracked into a computer, but didn't do too much messing with it in the digital world, we mixed and mastered analogue, and bounced the album to tape at the end to give it that sound.

What’s the biggest disaster you’ve had playing a show?

Heh, I took this big risk one time at a pretty important show, I brought these two little vintage amps to play through, and neither really worked. The disaster was that when they crapped out on stage, I had got too drunk before playing, and was totally ill-equipped to deal with the situation! I don't have the best recollection of it, but I do remember just trying to carry on like nothing was happening, but getting some pretty rude looks from the guys. In all we don't do too badly for stage disasters. If we jumped around a bit more we'd probably have great stories, but that's just not us...

Who’s playing in what other bands, and do your other projects have records on the horizon?

Alex plays with Cool Rainbows, who I also worked with for their album. Reuben and I play in Watercolours, and I also play for Tono and the Finance Company, and Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes. Sal Valentine are mixing our first album at the moment, for release later this year.

Watercolours will be putting out another single soon, and Tono's working on his second album, studio time is planned for February next year. Alex also plays in a fantastic 'comic book-inspired jazz' band called The Carnivorous Plants Society. They are about to put their first, fully animated, music video out.

Where are you playing this summer?

Anywhere we can! Planning a summer tour, hoping to get off to Aussie soon too.

How have you managed your way into full time music, did/do you have days jobs?

HA! Full time music?! We all have day jobs, no way can we support ourselves on music yet. Maybe one day though. If we're extremely lucky... Matt works at a book store, Reuben at a bar, Alex teaches and I'm a draftsman.