Gun preview: Gun are still taking on the world and are heading to Norwich this weekend
PUBLISHED: 16:21 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:24 12 December 2019
PHOTO CREDIT Copyright JOHN McMURTRIE
With Gun heading to Norwich as one of a trio of bands playing their classic albums from 30 years ago in full as part of The Big 3-0 Tour, singer Dante Gizzi spoke to ADAM AIKEN about some of the ups and downs of the past three decades.
Check out an old copy of Kerrang! magazine from 1989 and it might look as though little has changed over the past 30 years.
So many of the hard rock acts that dominated the scene back then are still going strong today - Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Kiss (just about), Alice Cooper, the Cult, AC/DC (allegedly), Metallica and so on all survived the grunge revolution and the various fads that have been and gone.
It was also a year when a number of classic records were released - Sonic Temple, Pump, Pretty Hate Machine and Dr Feelgood - which have all stood the test of time. Now, three decades later, we've got the chance to hear three albums from 1989 live and in full when a trio of classic bands come to Norwich this weekend.
Melodic rockers FM - fronted by King's Lynn-born Steve Overland - will play their Tough It Out album; Dan Reed Network will perform Slam, the Nile Rodgers-produced record that brilliantly fused funk with classic rock; and Gun fans will be able to enjoy the entirety of the Glaswegians' debut album, Taking On the World at The Waterfront in Norwich.
Released just 20 days after a young band from Seattle called Nirvana released their own first record, Gun quickly became one of the leading lights of the blossoming UK rock scene, and Taking On the World was one of the best debuts of that era.
Songs such as Better Days, Shame on You and Money (Everybody Loves Her) played a huge part in that early success. A tour across Europe with the Rolling Stones followed, and the album produced two top-40 hits and three other Top 75 singles.
It all meant that when grunge took over a couple of years later, Gun had left a legacy they could return to once that Seattle-inspired craze began to fade - although frontman Dante Gizzi says it was a tough period for the band.
"That was a big problem," says Gizzi who, alongside brother Jools, has been a mainstay of Gun all this time.
"I remember when Nirvana took off and all those other bands were coming as well. They sounded amazing - they changed music. As soon as that came along, I remember thinking 'This whole rock scene is about to completely cave in'.
"The whole grunge scene completely changed everything. But it's now gone full circle with all these bands that are continuing to play. As cheesy as it sounds, that classic rock scene will never die."
It wasn't just the grunge era that Gun had battle to through. Their run of success with their first three albums culminated in a smash cover of Word Up in 1994, but then things went off the rails somewhat, with their awkward effort entitled 0141 632 6326.
Produced by INXS's Andrew Farriss, it ended up being "an album we didn't want to make", says Gizzi, who was originally the band's bass player before taking on lead vocals in 2010.
"We went in there with Andrew Farris thinking we were going to come out with a Kick or a Listen Like Thieves album, but it wasn't the case. All the demos we recorded were heavy and really rocky, but as soon as he touched it, it became completely pop."
The Gizzi brothers wanted to scrap the album (which had cost "an absolute fortune") and start over, but their record label wasn't having it.
In fairness, Gun weren't the only classic rock act to try but fail at something different. Def Leppard - another band Gun have toured with - had their own misfire with Slang, for example. But 0141 632 6326 was a turning point.
"Jools and I disbanded after that album," says Gizzi. "We opened a restaurant and we worked there ourselves from time to time. It was quite nice and it helped with the social skills, although we were a bit down to start with, going from playing to 70,000 people on the Rolling Stones tour to serving someone a coffee!"
Ultimately, the scars of 0141 632 6326 gave impetus to Gun's second wind, following that hiatus.
"That's one reason why we came back, so we didn't finish on a low note with that album," says Gizzi.
Three decades later, Gun remain a popular draw. There's newer stuff fighting for space in the setlists because they are still releasing new music, but even away from these 30th-anniversary shows, Taking On the World is always well represented during live shows.
"The first three albums the majority of fans recognise more because it was in our heyday," says Gizzi.
"People pay good money to see us, and I hate bands that don't play any of the old back catalogue. I get where they're coming from but I don't think it's right for the fans."
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So, three decades after their debut was released, Gun are one of the classic-rock acts still standing strong.
"I feel very lucky to be able to do what I'm doing in 2019," says Gizzi.
"It's great to see there's still a demand. It's 30 years on from Taking On the World, and I'm still doing it. If you look at it in its entirety and at the bands that have come and gone, I feel very lucky."
- Tickets for The Big 3-0 Tour at The Waterfront at 6pm on Saturday 14 December are available from £27.50 via the UEA tickets booking website- For more Norwich music check out our dedicated page every Thursday in the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News or follow Enjoy Music More on Facebook and Twitter