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Interview: Gengahr on their upcoming new album 'Sanctuary'.

Interview: Gengahr on their upcoming new album 'Sanctuary'.

Back in 2015, when we first met Gengahr while on a trip in Australia, the band's frontman Felix Bushe told us emphatically, "Next time we come to Australia, hopefully we'll jump over to New Zealand too. It's not far."

Four years later, and they've stayed true to their promise, set to make their New Zealand debut on March 10th at Auckland's Neck Of The Woods, in support of their upcoming new album, 'Sanctuary'.

Having shared tasters of the album with 'Everything & More', 'Heavenly Maybe', 'Atlas Please', and just last week with 'Never A Low', the band's new material showcases the band heading in a poppier direction, while still maintaining what makes them one of the UK's most interesting bands.

We caught up with Felix via email to discuss the upcoming album, their impending NZ visit, and more...

COUP DE MAIN: You guys are coming to New Zealand for the first time ever this March! Are you excited to play your first show here?
GENGAHR: We are very excited! It will be the first time visiting for all of us. We might never leave!

CDM: What can people expect from your live show?
GENGAHR: Aside from my usual slightly awkward banter there will be a plethora of luscious sonics to get lost in. We are still exploring how’s best to interpret some of the new album live but it is all sounding very exciting.

CDM: You wrote 'Heavenly Maybe' about your experience of distracting yourself from life by partying. Why do you think that it's sometimes easier for humans to avoid dealing with real-life issues?
GENGAHR: I think in times of great uncertainty we will always be drawn to our most consistent methods of escape. I know I'm not alone when I say that music and partying can quickly take you from a place you don’t want to be anymore.

CDM: The disco-influence on that song is really cool - have you enjoyed experimenting with your sound more with this new album?
GENGAHR: It certainly has been a big part of the writing experience. Finding yourself in the middle of something unfamiliar is both exhilarating and scary at times, but I think you have to embrace that if you want to find yourself somewhere new. And after all, things that don’t move, die.

CDM: What was running through your mind while writing 'Everything & More'?
GENGAHR: It’s a song about separation. My partner’s visa ran out and had to move back to Australia. I was in limbo and wasn’t certain how we’d find ourselves back together again.

CDM: In that song you sing, "I regret the way I left things now." Do you think that regret can be a dangerous feeling, in that you end up always thinking about the past and how things could be different?
GENGAHR: It certainly isn’t healthy to dwell on the past but ideally we want to learn from it and hopefully that leads to a healthier happier future! We all make mistakes, no one is perfect, and think how boring it would be if that weren’t the case…

CDM: Which songs from 'Sanctuary' are you most excited to bring to your new live show?
GENGAHR: There are a few songs that I think are going to hit hard. We played ‘Heavenly Maybe’ when we were out on the road with Bombay Bicycle Club last month and that seemed to get things going nicely. In particular I’m excited to see how the crowd responds to ‘Never A Low’ and ‘You’re No Fun’ though.

CDM: The songs you've put out feel so much poppier than ever before - do you feel like it's been a natural progression in sound for the band?
GENGAHR: I think there are probably multiple factors at play there. Firstly I’ve always felt as though I've written my own style of pop music. Previously it’s been a lot more DIY, but with this album we have definitely stepped up the production. For me, the term pop music is super broad, I think a lot of artists who live well outside the pop world still write brilliant pop songs from time to time. I think the ambition is always to write interesting music that is good enough to be popular without compromising artist endeavour.

CDM: It's cool that you worked with Jack Steadman as the producer for this album. Did having someone new mean you were able to approach this project differently?
GENGAHR: For sure, it created a different dynamic. I think it allowed us to work a lot more in isolation. Rather than having to work everything out in the studio as a band, we had a lot more freedom to just record bits in that we felt added to the songs. The live playing element of the record came right at the end when we re-recorded a lot of the drums and bass to help the tracks have more feeling and expression. Everyone works differently and I think the best thing about working with new people is observing their process. Learning from others is the easiest way to develop as an artist and if you only ever work alone you are going to miss out on that.

CDM: 'Atlas Please' was initially released as a standalone single, but now features on the album. Why did you decide to end up including it on this project?
GENGAHR: It just made sense. It was the first song we had done working with Jack and so although it was initially a stand-alone, it still felt like the beginning of the album process. Recording that song gave us the confidence to continue down that path and it was such a enjoyable experience that we knew we wanted to do a whole record with Jack.

CDM: It's such an important song - the bridge part ("But you don't have to take it to heart / I know at times it's dark") is so relevant in today's society, where we're overloaded with so much negativity. Why was that something you wanted to write about in a song?
GENGAHR: For the majority of young people today, all we own is a mobile phone and within that we are constantly reminded of how fucked everything is. At times it is enough to lose the will to live! I feel it is important to remember that even in our darkest hours there are always going to be people who care and though that’s not everything, it’s enough to keep us going.  

Gengahr play their first New Zealand show on March 10th - click here for tickets.

Watch the 'Heavenly Maybe' music video below...

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