Forget Dallas Crane, The Future It's All About Gun Street Girls
Dave Larkin admits that he thought his new band, Gun Street Girls, would pick up where Dallas Crane left off. The reality was different. Despite Dallas Crane’s reputation – or maybe because of it – Larkin and his Gun Street Girls bandmates, former Double Agents guitarist and lead singer Dave Butterworth and drummer Callum Barker found themselves having to prove themselves once more on the live circuit, and to market the band’s music to national and local radio. Confident of what Gun Street Girls had to offer, Larkin decided to accept the challenge head on. “For us, that’s the way we have to do it,” Larkin reasons. “There’s very little air time available for a truckload of good bands. And, really, that’s how it’s always been for me – you’ve got to prove yourself. That’s the Gun Street way,” he laughs.
Gun Street Girls were conceived during a Double Agents tour of Europe a few years ago. Larkin had been drafted into the Double Agents to fill the vacant bass player role; Butterworth, aware that his band was about to embark on an extended hiatus, was looking to explore other musical avenues. For Larkin, it was the desire to return to Europe that provided the impetus for the Gun Street Girls. “The attitude to Australian music in Europe is really positive,” he explains. “They especially love the garage and dirty stuff that most Australians ignore – and that’s great for a band like us.”
While Dallas Crane managed to tour the United Kingdom and parts of the United States, Larkin accepts they could have made better inroads into the European market. “Dallas didn’t get there enough – it took us ten years to never do it,” Larkin says. “But I suppose part of that was because we were doing so well in Australia. So when the Double Agents asked me to play overseas with them, I jumped at it – I just want to play music.”
Having released their debut album in 2009, Gun Street Girls hit the live circuit, playing a mixture of support and headline shows. The support gigs – including a slot on Hoodoo Gurus’ national tour in May of this year – took Larkin back to his early days with Dallas Crane. “Support gigs are the biggest challenge,” he grins. “If you can win over an audience that’s not there for you, then that’s great.” At the other end of the spectrum, Gun Street Girls played the legendary Blues Train as part of the Queenscliff Music Festival. “The Blues Train show was fantastic,” Larkin recalls. “And it really tested out our balancing skills. We had the speaker tied to the door handle, so that was a really challenge,” he laughs.
Thus, having refined their sound over the course of a hectic live schedule, Gun Street Girls were well placed to head back into the studio to record the songs that would become the band’s second album, Adult Loose. “We went back into the studio in about June,” Larkin explains. “We got to the point where we had a good batch of songs, so we thought ‘Let’s get it out’. We picked the best ten songs out of about fifteen, went into the studio with Wayne Connolly and recorded it.”
In contrast to the first Gun Street Girls album, Larkin says Adult Loose was more of a collaborative effort. “We make sure that everyone’s OK with everything before the song’s recorded,” Larkin says. “Sometimes we have stuff that needs to be finished off before it’s put down.”
Larkin also agrees that Adult Loose has a noticeably heavier edge to it than the first album. “Yeah, that’s definitely the case,” he admits. “I think that’s a consequence of having spent time together playing and philosophising et cetera. When you’re playing live, you think more about what songs you need. You tend to gauge things from playing live – you see how people react to particular songs.”
Gun Street Girls entered the studio with their candidate album tracks in a largely finished state, ripe for engineer Wayne Connolly’s deft touch. “We came in with an almost finished product,” Larkin explains. “Wayne’s great talent as an engineer is getting things raw and honest.” Indeed, in Callum Barker, Gun Street Girls are also lucky enough to have in the band a producer of considerable stature and experience. “Callum is a very capable producer and mixing engineer,” Larkin agrees. “We just sit back and leave it all to him. It’s very luxurious for us,” he laughs.
Larkin is effusive about Gun Street Girls’ internal dynamic. “It’s absolutely harmonious – scarily so, in fact,” he concedes. “I always lived in fear of being a trio, because it’s an odd number. That’s not to say that Dallas wasn’t harmonious, but this is definitely different.” Larkin attributes the strong working relationship partly to the benefit of maturity and experience. “I can bring more wisdom to this band now that I’ve been through a lot with Dallas,” he figures. “These days I can just concentrate on playing and writing.”
With Dallas Crane unlikely to resurface in a hurry, Larkin is keen to ensure Gun Street Girls remain productive. “I think with Dallas we took a while to do albums, and we probably could’ve been more prolific. I think bands on the whole take way too long to record albums,” he nods. “We’d like to do another album pretty soon, and the timing is dependent on how the new songs pan out. If we can get some good songs down over summer, then that’d be great.”
In addition to planning the band’s first European sojourn – which Larkin says is on the cards for 2011 – Gun Street Girls are preparing themselves for a string of dates supporting The Hold Steady early next year. “We love those guys,” Larkin grins. “We pitched really hard to get that support slot. The Hold Steady are like the link between contemporary music and Bruce Springsteen… and Dave (Butterworth) and I are huge fans of Bruce Springsteen.” And, given Larkin and Butterworth’s admiration for Springsteen, there’s always the off chance of a Bruce track turning up in the Gun Street Girls’ set list. “There’s a ton of Bruce songs we’d love to do,” Larkin grins.
GUN STREET GIRLS launch their eagerly anticipated second album Adult Loose with a run of Victorian shows this week. They play The National Hotel, Geelong on Thursday December 2, the Karova Lounge, Ballarat on Friday December 3 and then finally, the massive launch show at The Northcote Social Club this Saturday December 4 with The Demon Parade and The Bonniwells. Tickets from northcotesocialclub.com, 9486 1677 or the door. They also support The Hold Steady at The Hi-Fi on March 11 – tickets from thehifi.com.au. Adult Loose is out now through Matterhorn/MGM.