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The GUN story starts in 1987 and kicks up a notch for the Glaswegian rockers the following year
when A&M Records beat a slew of rival labels to sign them. However, for this band [known as
Blind Allez and even Phobia before settling on GUN] it is a brand new 2022 recording that truly
defines both who they are and where they have come from. ‘Backstreet Brothers’ features on
the forthcoming ‘Calton Songs’ album and is an affectionate look back at the crazy, hazy days of
adolescence that teach us what is important and what we stand for. These are the lessons that
have kept the band’s spirit strong, true and honest. Whilst some of the faces have changed over
the years, the songs and that gang mentality have stayed strong. GUN in 2022 – and since 2010 –
features Dante Gizzi [lead vocals], Giuliano ‘Jools’ Gizzi [guitar], Paul
McManus [drums], Andy Carr [bass] and Tommy Gentry [guitar].
 
Jools remembers the joys and the challenges of the early years of the band. “It could be tough,
getting people all pulling in the right direction. But it was a dream come true: something I had
always dreamed of in fact, and we made it happen”. Despite the initial line-up changing even
before the release of the first album ‘Taking On The World’ in 1989, things started to happen
for this young band very quickly. The first ever single, ‘Better Days’ became a hit for the line-up
of Guliano Gizzi, Mark Rankin on vocals, Stephen ‘Baby’ Stafford on guitar, and Scott
Shields on drums. GUN now also featured the talents of Dante Gizzi on bass. He was very much
a known quantity, partly as Jools’ brother of course, but also as it was his voice on many of the
band’s early demoes. As Jools said, “I knew that we couldn’t get a better person”. So it proved.
 
With Top Of The Pop appearances and video rotation on MTV, GUN were starting to hit the big
time. “I have fantastic memories, of playing with The Stones and Bon Jovi, even Iron Maiden,”
says Jools. The singles kept on coming, the audiences were growing. On the back of their stint on
that ‘Steel Wheels / Urban Jungle’ Rolling Stones tour, and indeed their own headline dates
for ‘Taking On The World’, the band recorded the album ‘Gallus’ which was released in 1992
and has therefore just marked its 30th anniversary.
 
Next came ‘Swagger’ in 1994, which featured their massive hit, a reworking of
the Cameo hit ‘Word Up’. “We never knew ‘Word Up’ would find such a massive audience,”
said Dante, “Just like we didn’t know that ‘Better Days’ would establish us so quickly”. ‘Word
Up’ in fact won them an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Cover and catapulted them onto
playlists the world over.
 
Just three years later though, after the release of the fourth album ‘0141 632 6326’ the band had
basically fallen apart. “We just called it a day,” explains Jools. “Some things just weren’t right
within the band and also, of course, we were falling victim to record company politics. We were
being pushed into recording things we didn’t want to do, the production on some things wasn’t
quite right – often to us the demoes sounded better. It took its toll. We needed some fresh air –
Dante and I went on to open our restaurant and it did really well. But behind the scenes of course
we were still writing, not all of the songs were for GUN; but some were! It felt freeing; it made
us happy”.
 
And so, of course, a new GUN chapter began. In 2008, the band announced their return.
Initially, Toby Jepson stepped in to replace Mark Rankin and stayed until he too moved on to
be replaced by Dante.  

 
Whilst there were shows across the UK and indeed in Europe, there was a gap of 15 years
between albums by the time the band came back with ‘Break The Silence’ in 2012. Next came
the ‘Frantic’ album in 2015, before 2017’s ‘Favourite Pleasures’ crashed them back into the
UK album charts, making the top 15, giving them their biggest album in almost a quarter of a
century, since ‘Swagger’.
 
Dante says, “After being away so long the fans’ reactions to the albums were fantastic for us to
see. The success in particular of ‘Favourite Pleasures’ was a real thrill. Recording, releasing and
performing music is what we do: it cements the position of the band. The fans stayed with us, but
it is always going to be a building process. We love getting out there in front of a crowd and
performing – these days there are many familiar faces but there is always someone who has never
seen the band before, and they are precious to us.”
 
GUN have never wanted to just turn out the same old songs: their albums have always been
planned as simply collections of good songs that work together. Jools says, “There’s always been
a diversity to what we do. I don’t want to listen to – or perform – the same record over and over
again. One of my favourite acts is Queen, look at what they did, never the same thing. The beauty
of music is in taking a different approach sometimes and coming up with something amazing.”
 
That gang mentality that has powered the band through difficult days and, indeed, ‘Better
Days’ is still there. The new single ‘Backstreet Brothers’ captures the camaraderie and sheer
fun that most of us remember when we look back to our more carefree youth – there are universal
themes there about the things that shape us and sustain us. Too bad that it’s actually about Dante
and his friends going on a camping trip and then getting so stoned on the hottest day of the year,
that they couldn’t face the great outdoors anymore and headed back to the bars of Glasgow!
 
The tribulations of the Covid lockdown unexpectedly fanned the fires of creativity for the band.
As Jools said, “I found it hard at that time to create something new. Everything felt on hold.
Revisiting some of these songs had been something that we had always wanted to do and I found
real comfort in playing them again but in stretching and rediscovering just how good they were.
They were so solid that we could manipulate them and experiment without losing anything along
the way”.
 
Of course it had to be ‘Better Days’, the song that kicked things off for the band that got the
treatment first and the result was so good and fresh that it re-energised the band and the ‘Calton
Songs’ project was born. As Dante says, “We just thought, ‘This sounds good. Let’s push on’.
The songs are stripped down, they have a different vice, and we have got back to recording music
in the way that we love. Of course, we have just finished this record but already there’s more that
we want people to hear”.
 
The ‘Calton Songs’ album is named in honour of where the band grew up, but the songs that are
revisited on this collection are true way markers for the band’s career. As Jools says, “I look back
and remember amazing times. I don’t regret any of it. What an experience to have had. This new
album ‘Calton Songs’ allows us to look back and celebrate what went before but also to bring it
up to date. It’s a real celebration. However, it is not the end of the story for these ‘Backstreet
Brothers’”

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