Wolverhampton-based melodic hard rockers Gin Annie are due to release their eagerly anticipated debut album ‘100% Proof’ through Off Yer Rocka Recordings on Friday 25th January 2019. We chatted to the band about their new record and upcoming UK tour, as well as the European tour that came to a very abrupt conclusion. Plus, we find out what a rhino on heat sounds like…

You formed in 2013 and underwent a change in lineup at the end of 2017 – how do you feel your sound has evolved as a result?

DAVE: I guess we got to a point where we were evolving as a band and as individuals and the change seemed inevitable. We have always loved our heavier, dirtier bands, like Black Stone Cherry, so it allowed us to experiment more and capture the heavier but still melodic side. You’ll notice in the re-recorded EP and on the album that there are dual guitars thanks to Brian and chunky bass lines from Hammer. I guess it’s allowed us to really write music in the direction we’ve always wanted to go.

How would you say your new album ‘100% Proof’ compares to your debut EP ‘New Bad Habit’? What’s your favourite song on it and why?

DAVE: Well the idea of the original EP was to put a product out there to kind of whet the appetite! The album compared to the original EP is leaps and bounds ahead. The songs are tighter, more focused and the production really gives them a lift. Jay Shredder at Shredder Live Lounge has done a fantastic job on that front. There are a few tracks we are fond of, but I think the couple that stand out are Chains, as it has a southern feel and is different to our other songs. Love Ain’t Here is a stomper too, one you can really play hard yet still sing along to. It’s nice writing and recording an album we love so much ourselves. Makes choosing a favourite very challenging…

You went on a European tour with Diamond Head in October but things didn’t quite go to plan… can you talk us through what happened and what was the first inkling you got that something was wrong?

BRIAN: We sensed that something wasn’t right the day before the plug was actually pulled for us. But that night, we played Mannheim and it was an awesome gig, so the following day when we got to Belgium we were on a high. We’d literally just sound-checked the drums early afternoon, when we saw an email from the booking agent saying the company’s assets had been frozen and he was going to have to declare bankruptcy. As a result, the tour bus company hadn’t been fully paid for the whole tour and seeing as that was our home for the month, we were suddenly homeless. We could’ve continued but it would’ve been at our own cost and risk. We just couldn’t do that.

What did you do once you realised you were stranded and how did you manage to get back home?

BRIAN: Well, this happened on 31st October and we found out that we could only keep hold of a tour bus until 2nd November, so we had no choice but to head back to the coast immediately. It was a nightmare though! We had to swap all of our gear from one bus to another, confirm that the driver was allowed to drive in the UK, find a hotel to stay at on the night, book a return on the Chunnel – all sorts of stuff that we suddenly had to sort out. All in all, we had to find nearly a thousand pounds to get back home. Whilst all this was going on, a GoFundMe page was set up and social media did its thing. The response we had from our fans, friends and people that just felt for us was overwhelming. Seriously humbling and something that we are eternally grateful for and shall never forget. For many reasons, there were a few tears shed on the tour bus on the way to Dunkirk that night.

Has the whole episode made you apprehensive about touring abroad in the future? Are there any positives to have come out of it?

JACK: Yes and No. We definitely want to head out to other countries again as it was a great experience, even for the short time were out in Europe. The learning curve though is that we will be more vigilant when it comes to the people we are going to be working through – in this instance the booking agent. So we will cover all bases first, make sure everything is sorted properly and that no-one is going to screw things up for us. As for positives, I think it brought us closer together as a band and group of individuals. We all went through it, we were all kicked in the balls, we all had our dream ripped away from us and we all supported each other to pick ourselves up and look forward. Also, being on a tour bus for long stretches of time together is a test. I think we dealt with that well… except for Brian’s snoring. He snores like a rhino on heat!

You performed at Planet Rockstock in December, was that your first time playing there and what was the highlight for you?

BYRON: That was sick! What a gig! It was our first time and hopefully not our last. There were so many highlights to be honest. When we walked out on stage it seemed as though the place was suddenly packed right to the back, people had come to the front, cheering as we walked on. Then there’s seeing people singing your songs back at you and that gives you such a buzz. The gig went great, then we went over to the merch stand and there was a huge queue of people wanting photos, stuff signed, T-shirts, EPs. We only had 30 minutes there and I don’t think we got to see everyone. It was insane! Then afterwards during the day, people we’d never met before just kept coming up and complimenting us on the show and it’s exactly that that makes it all worthwhile.

What’s been your favourite gig to date?

DAVE: That is a great question! Can we have three?!

Planet Rockstock is probably the favourite. Having a packed out room at 12:30pm in the daytime! Very humbling. Also, HRH Battle of the Bands at The 02 Sheffield in August, where we won our deal. Finally… Mannheim in Germany! Everything clicked. We just left zero on stage. Energetic, fun, tight! Damn it’s cool being in a band! Well, this band anyway!

PHIL: Definitely the Mannheim show. For me everything just clicked into place. The audience connected well with us, our support band (Statement) took their show up a gear and had a great time performing, so we did the same. The energy level on stage from everyone was awesome to see and it was a very powerful experience – I even saw Dave singing on the floor at one point! The stage sound was perfect as we had Jay Shredder on the desk, and I could see him rocking out as I was performing. All in all it was a night I will remember for a very long time.

BRIAN: I’m with Dave! Couldn’t choose between those three!

BYRON: Agreed! Those three gigs were off the hook! The response we got in Sheffield when they announced us as the winners will stay with me forever!

JACK: Agreed! Couldn’t choose if I needed to! I just love playing and bashing the skins! Every gig is ace!

What are your plans for this year in terms of touring and festival appearances?

PHIL: Plenty lined up actually! So, the album is released on 25th January and we have an album launch party on the 26th at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton. Then we follow that up with about ten dates over the following couple of weeks around the UK to promote the album. Later in the year we have Rockforce Festival, HRH Ibiza Road Trip, Breaking Bands Festival, Fest at 1865, Rockwich, HRH XIII in Great Yarmouth as well as other one-off shows. We’ve applied to get onto the Ramblin’ Man Rising Stage too and Steelhouse Festival, both of which would be awesome for us. However, it’s all in the hands of the Festival Gods at the moment!

BYRON: We would also love to get out to the States as there are so many people on social media literally begging for us to go over. We want to, but it’s sadly not as easy as getting on a plane with your guitar and turning up! We will get there though! At the end of the day, we intend to make 2019 Gin Annie’s year. We’re a hard working band and as the saying goes “It’s hard work to climb a mountain, but the view is from the top.” Watch this space…

The new album ‘100% Proof’ can be pre-ordered at: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/gin-annie

Gin Annie are:
Dave Foster – Vocals
Byron Garbett – Guitar/Vocals
Brian Green – Guitar/Vocals
Phil ‘Hammer’ Burrows – Bass
Jack Ryland-Smith – Drums

UK Tour dates:

Friday 11th January – The Marrs Bar, Worcester

Saturday 26th January – The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton

Sunday 27th January – The Live Rooms, Chester

Thursday 31st January – Bannermans Bar, Edinburgh

Saturday 2nd February – Hard Rock Café, Glasgow

Sunday 3rd February – Trillians Rock Bar, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Thursday 7th February – The Waterloo Music Bar, Blackpool

Sunday 10th February – Amersham Arms, London

Friday 15th February – Madding Crowd, Bournemouth

For tickets, visit: https://www.seetickets.com/tour/gin-annie-100-proof

Photography : Mark Ellis of Mark Ellis Photography