Stoke Band Fears Chella Speak With REBEL Ahead Of Hometown Show
Leah Hamer || August 13th
Musicians are notorious for destroying things- smashing guitars, throwing television sets out of windows, breaking chairs in The Exchange…Okay, so perhaps the last one is restricted only to Fears Chella’s Andy Gannon, who leaves the interview promptly after snapping the legs off one of their wooden chairs. Who said rock n roll was dead?
Andy Gannon is undoubtedly one of the most talented individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting. At the tender age of twelve he was already writing songs and performing, since then he has been circling every aspect of this scene, dabbling in and out of different ventures including solo acoustic work and his last Stoke-based band, Moral Panics, before turning to producing at The Silk Milk Recording Studios.
Fears Chella are the latest project that Andy has founded, alongside his best friends Tom O’Neill, Chris Hewitt and Ben Tansey (And if you wondering what the name means, Andy refuses to disclose its origins, but here at REBEL, we think we have cracked it). The band formed when two bromances formed to make one giant love affair. As Andy and Tom were together in Moral Panics, after their split, Andy approached his friend with a handful of demos that he had been holding on to for years. The rest came easy, Ben was the second drummer that they had auditioned, then after trying out multiple guitarists who didn’t fit the bill, Ben piped up and remembered that his best friend Andy was a wicked guitarist, ‘I was like you could of told us that a month ago!’.
It all clicked straight away for the foursome, as Andy brought his demos to the table and let the others transform them into their own. ‘I’m not a dictator, they all bring their own parts to it and it’s organic. A band should be a reflection of the musicians in it, it shouldn’t be all about the frontman. A very left wing approach.’ He laughs.
After only forming in January, and only unveiling themselves to the world just a few months ago, Fears Chella are already one of the most hyped up bands in the city- and they are yet to perform here. This is partly down their incredible, surprise debut release, Cool, self-produced at The Silk Mill Recording Studios, but also because of the wise brain of Andy who has carefully promoted the band in a professional manner. Fears Chella’s social media pages and single were all released on the same day, in one shock storm that had everyone talking. ‘We didn’t want to do the whole like my band page on Facebook thing. We wanted something different and we got a lot of buzz from it. Now we get emails every other day being offered gigs and reviews and interviews.’
Cool is flawless. It reflects Andy’s skills not only as a musician but also as a producer, despite the difficulty of doing both simultaneously. ‘There’s the producer mind set and the musician mind set. It’s difficult to cross over and be objective on your own work. I just sort of play the parts and see what the lads think and go with my gut. It’s all about the vibes.’
Yet if he was pushed to choose, his heart belongs to performing over producing, in spite of the incredible opportunities that producing has given him, including a visit to Abbey Road earlier this year. ‘I’m a musician above being a producer but the two aren’t disconnected.’ Both jobs allow Andy to enjoy different sides of music, whilst benefiting each other at the same time.
As someone who has been involved in so many different pathways, Andy has finally found his home with Fears Chella. ‘I’m never not going to be a musician but I’ve finally found my creative self now and it’s because I’m with my best friends. If you’re with your mates, you don’t even care if people don’t dig it because you love it. Ultimately 99% of bands aren’t going to make it, so if you’re not enjoying it, what’s the point? Too many people are out there faking it, trying to replicate other bands and not getting on with each other. Yeah you can take it as a business if you want, but if you don’t enjoy it then it won’t last. Touring is hard, recording is hard, if you spend all your time on the road with people you don’t get on with, you’re being dishonest to yourself. None of us are going to make much money from this so you might as well just have a laugh. I’ve seen bands like Wolf Alice, Peace and Swim Deep live, they’re clearly such good mates. You can see their friendship on stage. There’s something really special about that.’
This Saturday evening we will all have the pleasure of witnessing the friendships of Andy, Tom, Chris and Ben on The Sugarmill stage when they will play their first local gig. ‘It’s going to be a wicked show, literally everyone I know is going because it’s our first gig here and The Sugarmill is great. It’s a proper hub for local music, it inspires people to join bands.’
Playing in Stoke is exciting not only because it is Andy’s hometown, but also because the scene is finer than ever before. ‘I think the Stoke scene is in a really good place, we practice at Riff Factory (an unhealthy amount) and I always walk past other bands and listen in like whoa, who are they? Then you guys are so good at REBEL, and then there's The Exchange and The Sugarmill. Nic [Andrews] and Danni [Brownsill] were the first people I went to with demos for Fears Chella. It just takes a few people in every scene…it’s the same with Manchester, which is a stand out city with so many amazing venues, but its only down to a few guys who are booking the shows…Manchester breeds success, it makes people want to join the scene and go and see local music and join bands. There’s thousands of bands in Manchester because the scene spawns them, people go and see bands and go pwhoarrr I want to do that. And we can have that.’
With bands like Fears Chellas, we certainly can.
You can catch Fears Chella live tonight at The Sugarmill where they will support Broken Flags, and The Sugarmill’s own Nic Andrews will perform an acoustic set.