In conversation with Gender Roles @ Great Escape 2018

Brightonian locals Jordan Lilford (drums), Jared Tomkins (bass) and Tom Bennett (guitar) – aka the fuzzy indie-punk Gender Roles, playing a whopping five shows in their hometown festival The Great Escape – have just come back from a free-entry tour across the UK, their first headliner, in celebration of EP number two, Lazer Rush. They’re now off on a European tour supporting Cassels and in the midst of booking shows and requesting unpaid leave from their day jobs, with plans to demo and record a full-length in the near future.

On one of their off times during the festival, we took a seat on the pebbly beach and had a chat about ‘Lazer Rush’ and the scene in Brighton.

How was your experience recording the EP?

Tom: It was good. We went back to the same place that we did the first EP, so it comfortable and we knew Ian already from hanging out with him last time. We knew what gear was there, and what space on the floor we slept in last time, so it was nice to go back. It was good to just be able to focus on doing it rather than, oh, it’s nice to meet you, and this is where you’ll record, and getting rid of all that so we could just get in and do it straight away.

Jordan: All the songs were around at the same time as the first EP, so it made sense to record it at the same place because they had that same feel to them. It made sense to go there, and when we went there with Ian Sadler, who recorded it, he just pressed the ‘Gender Roles preset’ on the thing. We were already ahead of the game, and he could just make all the fine touches, which is why the second sounds a bit more focused than the first one, because he had his eye in and so did we. 

Tom: The first EP we did was the first thing we recorded together whereas with this, we were a bit more aware of what we needed to do and how it went and stuff.

Jordan: It’s just gonna be a weird one trying to decide what we do with the album. We don’t have a clue who we’re gonna go with.

Tom: Where to go and what to do. Probably end up going back.

What influences do you take, whether that be on this recent EP or just in general?

Tom: It’s good between us, because we all listen to not really different things, but Jordan likes a lot of electronic music, I like heavy stuff, and Jared likes quieter, female vocal stuff, so we get a good mix just in the van as it is. You tend to bounce ideas off each other or ideas will come up that you hadn’t thought of, or ways of doing stuff, so that’s quite good, but I don’t know in terms of specifics.

Jordan: It’s a weird one because we are proper sponges when it comes to that sort of stuff, because we’re going out on tour with Touché Amore, and we’ve all just separately been listening to because we’re going on that tour, and then the other day we did a song, and it sounded well Touché. Just like it’s just that easy. But we’re quite conscious of that sort of stuff, and with regards to the songs as well, as a more general vibe we have bigger ideas of what the songs or how the album will feel and sound. Like the fucking School’s Out thing. The overall theme, which is the most important thing of our sound, we focus on that rather than specific influences.

Tom: [snarky voice] You guys sound like Nirvana.

Jordan: Which happens every show.

Tom: Which is fucking sick, I guess. Not complaining about it.

Do you have any bigger concept or theme in mind with this next album?

Tom: There’s a couple of different things going around at the minute, and there’s still room to finalise what it is. There was more something that we were thinking in lyrical content that will sort of follow with a lot of the tunes.

Jordan: We’re demoing a few of them properly in about three weeks or so, and then when we hear them, that’s when we get an idea of what needs change or what the whole thing needs to sound like, and then we can focus on the whole theme. Because that’s what an album should be, really; it’s a collection of ideas from a specific time, and it should have an overall feeling of that period, at least to the people who made it. Not to sound like a pretentious arsehole, but it’s one of them, isn’t it? You only get one chance to do your first album, so make it mean something.

How do you feel living in Brighton and being here while you’re doing this project has influenced you, whether that be in sound or the way that you deal with the scene and the industry?

Tom: You’re exposed to so much good music all the time, and even if it doesn’t influence the sound or the songs you’re making, it makes you want to be better because you have to stand out a little bit. You have to make sure the stuff you’re doing is good, because there’s a thousand other bands people could go see here. It’s not necessarily in a competitive way, but you want to be sick at what you’re doing, and the way it is here anyway because it’s so chill, gives you time to write tunes and make it better and try and be a decent band here.

Jordan: The whole reason we started the band was because our mates were doing gigs, so if that’s talked about how influential the whole scene is, it’s the reason we started the fucking band, because of our mates, and going to watch our mates play shows and them killing it and being like, I wanna do that. I wanna play with these guys; that’s the only reason we started doing it. I’ve gotta be so much better now, and I’m gonna focus to be better at what I do, and better at what we do, because I see people like that playing, and I’m like, you’re insane and I want that. It’s not a competitive thing, it’s a just a healthy…

Jared: Jealousy. 

Interview and images by Francesca Tirpak

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