Someone should have told Gallows about the ‘burning out’ option, says Omarrr Tanti.


“We probably shouldn’t be doing this gig,” sighed Frank Carter to two hundred odd diehards at The Prodigy’s Warrior’s Dance festival in Milton Keynes this summer. “I’m glad we did,” he added, unconvincingly. It wasn’t the nonplussed car-park crowd that was most upsetting though (Gallows were up against Pendulum at the 60,000 capacitity all-dayer after all; a band far more likely to be found in Liam Howlett’s car stereo these days than a blood and blisters punk band), it was the band’s own lacklustre display.

A few short years ago they were the most thrilling, unpredictable, self-combustible tornado of destruction in the country. Frank would be seen swinging from nearby furniture, riding around on peoples’ shoulders, tattooing himself on stage or generally bleeding all over the place. Other bands would be frightened to be on the bill with them. Now, it looks like he’d break down in tears if someone nudged the jaunty angle of his bowler hat. As he tiredly pulled the mic stand towards him, rolling his eyes and staring dead-eyed at the twenty fans who charge at each other he effectively looked like a man that had well and truly given up – a pattern in-keeping with Gallow’s whole summer.

Two friends reported the exact same lethargy from a Cyprus Hill support slot and a gig at Hevy festival. A member of an unnamed British rock band who cite the Watford punks as their biggest influence recently told me that they walked away after one song of the band’s set in the latter incident because it was too painful to watch. Which begs the question, what the hell are Gallows doing?

In December of last year they were officially dropped by Warner Records, a parting affectionately labelled ‘Another Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’ in homage to The Sex Pistols’ famous major label blags. Snapped up after their incendiary debut album ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’, the corporation snared them for £1 million and gave them free rein for the follow-up, hoping to mould them into the British My Chemical Romance. Instead they picked Rage Against The Machine producer G-G-Garth and made one of the most ambitious, anger-ridden punk albums of the last ten years in ‘Grey Britain’. It sold diddly-squat and they were discharged back into the comfort of the arms of their devoted fan-base with their hardcore morals intact. They’d played the mega label-roulette and won. Busted the casino’s vault and were heading into the sunset.

You’d think then that that would have galvanised the gang, and that this summer would have been a victory parade for punk. Yet it seems more like repatriation. If being dropped by their cash-daddies was such a punch in the stomach for the group’s morale they should have just packed it all in. Or played one last celebratory gig with all the bands that have formed in their image and gone out with a blood-stained bang. Instead, they’ve dragged a sorry looking shadow of themselves around the country playing half-arsed shows, dismantling their own hard-earned credibility as they go.

Frank has made no secret of wanting to return to his first-love (ink) and now has a love interest in New York where he looks set to relocate. But, perhaps unfortunately for him, the boney-framed ginger mouth-piece seems to have become the unlikely hero of his brother’s dream, Stephen Carter being one of the band’s guitarists. Whether he’s still just turning up out of a misplaced loyalty to his family or bagging the last few coins, we don’t know, but the self-proclaimed “biggest mistake the British music industry ever made” could have departed in the same spectacular way they arrived. Gallows never sold out, but they are in danger of petering out. And it was surely never meant to be that way.

Bu Omarrr Tanti


Originally published in issue 21 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. September 2010

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