GBH Perfume And Piss
Published Mar 26, 2010Seminal street punk/British hardcore stalwarts GBH have never lacked heart. For the past 30-plus years, their rock-influenced drive and spirited live attacks have inspired many upstarts to grab a guitar, some studded leather and give it their all. Still, despite trying, they've issued duds, as some of their sincere, yet questionable, recent (if 2002 is "recent") output proves. Because of that, Perfume And Piss might initially be cast off as little more than just another forgettable release. However, as the barbs sink in that mentality will change quickly and conclusively. Their tenth album overall, and debut for worthy label Hellcat, rediscovers the passion and creativity they misplaced during those dark years. Fast, yet tight, driving, but not overbearing, upbeat and catchy without seeming saccharine, the album's 13 tracks are rousing anthems rooted in the pelvic thrust and hyperactive simplicity that have made acts like them and cohorts Motörhead such enduring, genre-smashing greats. From political jabs on "Power Corrupts" to social commentary via "This Is Not The Real World" and punk rock call-to-arms "Kids Get Down," Perfume And Piss is a refreshing return to form that confirms why GBH have remained one of punk's few notable, respectable and genuine outfits for so many decades.
In what ways do you feel Perfume And Piss expands on the GBH legacy? How about adhering to it?
Vocalist Colin Abrahall: We have been playing five or six of the new songs on tour and they are going down really good. We're very proud of it. Lars [Frederiksen] and Michael [Rosen] have done a great job on the final mix. It represents where we are today. Without wanting to sound glib, it's the next chapter, [so] how could we not adhere to it?
You honestly seem surprised with the outcome.
We just keep saying how pleased we are with it. We got that final mix from Lars and were driving to a show in the UK while listening to it. When the song "Going sideways" finished, Ross [Lomas, bassist] turned around and said, "That is the best song we have ever written!" After 30 years and 100-plus songs, that is something.
On a larger scale, when you were initially starting, did you have any expectations to reach album 11, let alone over 30 years together?
We didn't used to think about the future much, just looked forward to the next show or the next tour. So, no, never.
Why such a break between the 2004 Cruel And Unusual compilation and a new album?
Cruel And Unusual was never considered a proper release to us. It was just cobbled together for a Japanese tour then it got picked up by some companies and released everywhere. We don't feel we have to put out an album every single year now. We did that back in the '80s/'90s. It's very draining, physically and mentally. We tend to write songs about things that have happened to us. You have to experience a bit of life, let it sink in.
Is that it? Just not wanting to rush things?
We were also waiting for the right record company to get attached to. We had offers from other labels, one from a certain German company, which I won't name 'cause it was the most ridiculous idea I've ever heard. This is our tenth studio album overall, so one album every three years isn't a bad batting average.
Even you've admitted it's the best album you've had in a long time. Why is that? What inspired it or was lacking in previous efforts?
That was a slightly ironic statement, as it's been eight years or something since the last one. The other albums have never lacked anything. You just kind of get excited when something new comes out.
How many of these songs have you been sitting on for a while and which were written closer to recording?
I think "Polytoxic" is probably the oldest song on there. We wrote that just after the last album [2002's Ha Ha] came out. We tend to write songs in batches of three or four in quite a short time period then play them in sound checks to see what they are like to play "live." The opposite of that is how we finished writing "Time Flies" in the studio.
Isn't there a lot of pressure around finishing songs when you're paying for studio time?
It's good to have something half-finished so you don't get too comfortable. Besides, doing guitars for days on end is boring. We like to keep things spontaneous.
How does writing lyrics change over the years while still adhering to the basis of punk, which you've had a hand in founding?
I write stuff down all the time. Sometimes it's just one line or a phrase or something I overhear someone say then go back to it. Other times, I sit down and a whole song will just pour out. You just write about stuff you have a feeling for; it doesn't have to be total punk rock. I think that would limit you too much. I just mentioned "Going Sideways," which is about my hobby: motorcycle grass track racing. There's one line in it: "Those who have fallen and those who haven't fallen... yet." It could mean different things to different people. It's all about how you interpret words.
What do you hope to attain from the connection with Hellcat, one of the more renowned labels you've worked with in recent years? What does this new relationship spell for the future of GBH?
Very rosy, I hope! We've been on some dodgy labels in the past. Our view was: "Well, at least the record is out there... somewhere!" Hellcat are good people and they have an excellent attitude. They also have great distribution, which is important, as we are always getting asked, "Where can we buy your records?" We are very happy to be with them. (Hellcat)