Music

In tune with their abrasive new single Don’t Talk and b-Side LTD, things are moving at pace for Brighton four-piece Guru. While previous offerings set the band up as one of the UK’s most exhilarating acts, this latest release sees frontman Tommy Cherrill hone his lyrics by turning his attention inwards and writing about his own feelings and experiences. “I’ve started using the songs as a way of working through things in my life…” says Cherrill. “When we first started writing songs I always felt that people didn’t want to hear about my shit. I thought it was quite egotistical to assume that everyone would want to hear about my problems.” That we do, Tom, and breaking open the floodgates with the blistering cry of frustration that is Don’t Talk is quite the way to do so.

At the time of this interview, Guru are sitting in the Market Cafe, one of Brighton’s few remaining greasy spoons fighting the good fight against the firm grip of gentrification. The boys know the spot well, the 24-hour food joint has been a longtime haunt for many of the band and appears to hold a special spot in their hearts (and stomachs).

Nathan McLaren-Stewart: What is it about the Market Cafe that keeps you coming?
Ferg Belfrage: I’ve lived near here, and I know Tom’s been in here a lot on a night out.
Tommy Cherrill: Yeah, I’ve got a real nostalgia for this place. When I used to live this end of town I’d go in at 3am and get a Quesadilla.
Ferg Belfrage: It’s been here for decades, there used to be a market opposite and early in the morning the workers would go in for their breakfast. Now there’s a massive building site of fucking flats.

NMS: Do you think Brighton is facing a lot of gentrification at the moment?
Kieran Hunter: Yeah, you see it every day.

NMS: Do you think it’s having a negative effect?
TC: I don’t know, whacking a massive Burger King onto the seafront wasn’t great.
FB: Yeah, mate, that was awful. Right next door to a small independent restaurant that had been there for years, an establishment in its own right. It’s quite upsetting.

NMS: Do you think the rise of punk in 2019, punk-related bands all of a sudden selling out 10,000 capacity arenas around the UK and taking over the 6music airwaves is a form of musical gentrification?
FB: I think it’s a good thing, it’s putting music like that on the map again. The bands that are in those venues work really hard and tour constantly and I think they deserve it.

NMS: How will it progress from this point?
FB: People need to keep going to shows, keep talking about music and keep encouraging each other.
TC: I feel that people can stick to one band closely and often not venture away from that, which makes it hard to progress. People need to check out new shit on the underground a bit more, but I suppose it has to become more accessible for that to happen. I don’t know who listens to radio anymore.

“I don’t think we’ll have to adapt to shit, I think we will be driving it. You don’t have to adapt anything if you own it…”

NMS: Why do you think this form of music is making a resurgence in 2019?
TC: Because the Tories have been in long enough. The worse that gets, the better our subculture gets. It’s a reaction.
FB: True, but I don’t think there’s a lot of bands being political at the moment.
KH: I think people are just finding out that they like heavier, guitar-based music more. It sounds good, people are just turning on to it.

NMS: The latest single, Don’t Talk, feels like a step forward for the band. Tom, your lyrics are really growing, do you feel like you’ve found your voice?
TC: I feel less embarrassed about what I’m saying. I’ve started using the songs as a way of working through things in my life. With the first few songs, I was just writing about what I was seeing, it wasn’t personal. Take Suntrap, I don’t live in a high-rise apartment. When we first started writing songs I always felt that people didn’t want to hear about my shit. I thought it was quite egotistical to assume that everyone would want to hear about my problems, so I didn’t write about it. But now I just think, I’m gonna make it personal.

NMS: The live shows are a very intense energy. Is it a release for you guys?
KH: Not for me personally, it’s not an outlet that I need to have. It’s just so much fun. Objectively what you’re doing is pretty weird, standing in front of a couple of hundred people making noises together. But when everyone’s loving it, the music is flowing and the energy is great, to just have that half an hour of pure bliss is amazing.

NMS: Do you feel that Guru will have to adapt and change to the ever-changing face of music?
KH: I think we’d probably end up doing that natural. We aren’t consciously trying to make something that’s too different.
TC: I don’t think we’ll have to adapt to shit, I think we will be driving it. You don’t have to adapt anything if you own it…

NMS: Ultimately is that an end goal, to front your scene?
TC: Yeah, I’m not in a band to play a pub.
KH: I hate when bands claim they can’t believe they’ve made it so far. It’s like, really? What was your goal? It’s what I think about every day, it’s what I want to do.
TC: But musically we’ve changed so much already, we might be a Samba band next year.

NMS: What are you aiming for in the next couple months?
FB: I just want to keep touring, it’s just the best time.
TC: Perhaps some crazy outfits, the scene needs some more colour. Everyone looks so moody in their suits. I don’t have a 9-5, why would I wear a suit?
FB: You did wear a suit for a bit, to be fair.
TC: I did, you’re right. I’ll probably be wearing a suit next time you see me. I’m the most inconsistent man you’ll ever meet.
KH: He’s the most consistent inconsistent man. It’s admirable.

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