How did you get your initial start in music?
I picked up the guitar at about the age of 11 having been influenced by the likes of The Beatles and Buddy Holly and one of my friends who was already a very good guitar player.
Since then I have played in many bands of different genres with varying degrees of success.
It has been a long held ambition of mine to record an album, especially of my own songs. This had often been the goal in many of the bands I performed in but this never happened for one reason or other. In 2013 I decided I wanted to make it happen and decided to try and do it as a solo artist which has led me to where I am now; with my debut EP being released on 23 Feb and my debut album soon to follow.
What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?
My ultimate aims are to write great songs and keep pushing myself musically. I love what I do and want to share that with as many people as possible. I’d love to be able to work on music 24/7 and see where it takes me.
How long have you been writing your own music?
As soon as I started to learn the guitar (so around the age of 11) I started writing my own songs. Initially this just started as guitar melodies but soon I realised I love to write lyrics too; the two now go hand in hand. Sometimes a song starts with the words, sometimes the music and sometimes they somehow happen together.
I’d love to go back and listen to some of those early songs and hear what they sounded like. In those days I had no way of recording them so all I have now are the lyrics which are very revealing in themselves.
Who are your top three influences and why?
The Beatles – we did a project on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at junior school and it was my first real exposure to The Beatles and music as an art form. I fell in love with the album, the band and rock ‘n’ roll. They really made me want to pick up a guitar, be a musician and become a songwriter. I still love exploring their music and I think they were the finest songwriters to have ever lived. The melodies and harmonies are beautiful and they capture so many emotions. They give me the highest bar to try and jump over when I write songs.
Aerosmith – when I got into my teens I discovered rock music and, most importantly, Aerosmith. I fell in love with their big bombastic sound and songs. At this point I wanted to become like Joe Perry, who remains my favourite guitarist. This was never to happen as I realised that I was more of a songwriter than a guitarist but they still heavily influenced me; from their song-writing to Steven Tyler’s amazing vocal range.
Manic Street Preachers – Without a doubt my biggest music influence is, and will always be, Manic Street Preachers. I first saw them dressed in their camouflage gear playing live on a TV show around the time of The Holy Bible. I’d never heard of them but thankfully I had a cooler older sister who had You Love Us and Motorcycle Emptiness on 7”. I played the latter first; from the second the needle touched the vinyl til the end of the song I was mesmerised and I will always remember saying to myself that they would be my favourite band forever and they always have been. I don’t think any band has ever meant more to their fans than they do; from their intelligent and non-conformist lyrics, their cultural references, anthemic and defiant choruses and the power of their music. They are like an extended member of my family. Their music and lyrics have always inspired me and influence the way I write songs. James’ powerful vocals are amazing and I push myself to get as much power and passion in my singing. As far as I am concerned, The Holy Bible is the greatest album ever made and Motorcycle Emptiness is the greatest song.
Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?
Black Holes is my debut EP and has been a long time coming.
It’s a moment I have dreamt about for years but one in which I never turned into a reality because I was dreaming; now it is actually happening and, despite being a musician for a long time, I now feel my music career is beginning.
The lead track – Black Holes – was actually a lyrical idea I wrote when I was 15/16. It grew out of an idea that was sparked in my head from a history book we were reading at school which talked about all the forgotten people of history; how we focus on the few – the rich, the famous, the aristocratic, etc. The song is about those lost souls and how we lose people in giant institutions. When I came to picking tracks for my debut album, I still loved this concept and the lyrical idea so I re-wrote the lyrics and wrote some new music and this is the song that we have today.
Track 2 on the EP – Follow The Light – was written after I was very unpleasantly treated by the director of one of the companies I used to work for. For a brief moment I felt helpless and downtrodden but I didn’t want to feel like that so I snapped myself out of it and was determined to so something positive. The track came together in minutes and proved that something positive can come out of something negative. It is one of my favourite songs, especially because it is so positive in its message about never giving up.
The final track – Writing in the Sand – is very different from the other songs and has a more gentle acoustic feel. It was written at a very painful time for me, after a relationship had broken up and I was feeling the pressure of growing old; always looking back but never moving forward.
Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?
I’m based in Cambridgeshire. They’re lots of great artists from here and I find that very inspiring.
Like a lot of local people, my favourite venue was The Boat Race but that was replaced by a wine bar some years ago. I will always feel a little sad that I never played there. It had a special atmosphere and has never been replaced. Bands like Oasis, Reef and Placebo came through there before they became hugely successful.
I like The Junction in Cambridge; that still feels like an old school venue – dark with sticky floors and great bands.
Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?
Two of the most successful exports locally have been Ezio, Sivu and Lonely The Brave (the latter two very recently). I’d recommend anyone to check them all out. They are very different but all very talented musicians and songwriters.
Although not so local anymore, I really love Careless Sons.
Someone I saw recently at a local (ish) gig was Chris Brown / Hazeyjane who was fantastic. If you like Richard Hawley definitely take a listen.
Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.
You can find everything on my website: www.gavinchappellbates.com
You can watch my videos on YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/GavinChappellBates
You can listen to my music on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/gavinchappell-bates
I’m also on Twitter and Facebook: