Italian four-piece, The Gluts exemplify the spirit of the broad church of psychedelia. A musical collage of all things noise, punk, shoegaze, metal and any genre you’d care to mention in between, they’re one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the European underground this decade.
Having initially started as a three-piece prior to releasing their first single ‘Tears Of Ink’ back in 2013, they’ve gradually blossomed into the gargantuan force standing before us today. The band – brothers Nicolò and Marco Campana (vocals/synths and guitar respectively), Claudia Cesena (bass) and most recent recruit Dario Bassi (drums) – have since put out three albums, the most recent of which, Dengue Fever Hypnotic Trip came out earlier this year.
The Gluts are currently signed to esteemed UK independent label Fuzz Club, whose Eindhoven based weekender twelve months ago was where we caught our first glimpse of them in action, and also where we find ourselves today a year later.
Having just recorded a video for their contribution to the Fuzz Club Eindhoven 2019 compilation – a ferocious cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Girl I Love You’ in collaboration with fellow psychedelic experimentalists White Hills, we find the band in an understandably buoyant mood.
So, where did it all start for Milan’s finest exports since Pirelli tyres? Guitarist Marco Campana takes up the story.
“Actually, we just wanted to do something together and it’s like me and my brother started everything over, and then we met Claudia. There’s a funny story because we were looking for a bass player and we wrote to her and asked if she knew anyone who plays bass, which was our way of inviting her to join us! She said, “I do so why not give it a try and see what happens!” and that was the beginning. Then we met Dario. He was our first choice from the beginning but was playing with another band so didn’t really have the time. Then we finally got together and the last album (2017’s Estasi) is like what we are now. We try to enjoy it and don’t have any fixed level that we want to reach. We just stick together and play to enjoy ourselves.”
Like all good jigsaws, the addition of Bassi on drums proved to be the final piece. Although the potential was still evident on the band’s early releases, such as 2014’s debut album, Warsaw. Nevertheless, the hybrid of new wave, metal, psych rock, punk and noise that stands before us today, probably wouldn’t have been there had the band not had the time and space to evolve. A point, which both Marco and Dario agree.
“I think we’re primarily a punk rock band but one that incorporates many different styles, many people hear different styles,” suggests Marco Campana. “People say they can hear black metal – mainly in Nicolò’s voice – but we have never listened to that ever.”
“I’m surprised when people say that,” adds drummer Bassi. “Some of the riffs are maybe a little metallic, but it’s not that obvious. It’s funny for us but its fine. Sometimes you read reviews of the album and there are bands referenced that I don’t even know about, yet they say we are close to them. I’ve listened and can find some that are maybe similar, but I don’t really think we sound like anybody else.”
Indeed, one of the traits that makes The Gluts so great is they’re impossible to compartmentalise. Straddling genres with consummate ease, there are elements of the late Mark E Smith in Nicolò Campana’s outlandish stage performance, the all out aural assault of A Place To Bury Strangers in the band’s frenzied noise, Ringo Deathstarr at their most incisively brutal, yet also French metal instrumentalists Alcest when they choose melody over sonics.
“Well there was one episode that changed our sound dramatically,” declares Marco Campana. “It was when I first saw A Place to Bury Strangers with my brother Nicolò and I was very sad as I was doing everything wrong with my pedals. Trying to use the delay this way and then an echo and two reverbs together which changed the way I approached making music and is partly responsible for our sound today.”
Nevertheless, it was this approach and their first long player that prompted Fuzz Club to become involved, before eventually putting out The Gluts’ second album Estasi in 2017.
“It’s a funny story how we first met Fuzz Club because Claudia (Cesena) was the one who wrote to Casper on Facebook,” Bassi tells us. “It was nothing professional, just Facebook messenger and she wrote to him on the off chance, asking if he’d be interested in our new record. He replied the day after and asked for our email, as it just so happened, they’d been listening to our album all day! We just really wanted to be part of Fuzz Club, so for us it was the best. A dream come true.”
While Milan and Italy in general may have been considered a musical backwater previously, the emergence of bands like The Gluts and fellow compatriots Rev Rev Rev, New Candys and Sonic Jesus to name but four would suggest there’s something of a sonic revolution happening in those parts. Dario Bassi agrees.
“Giobia are the best band in Milan right now. Our first practise room was next to theirs when we were getting together, so we became very good friends with them. When we were looking for a record label, they said well you will fit in with Fuzz Club. That’s how we first became aware of the label. I would also recommend Go!Zilla. They come from Firenze and again, are good friends of ours.”
While making records and selling albums is obviously an important part of being in a band, The Gluts see themselves more at home on stage playing to a live audience.
“Being in a studio is funny. You can experiment, you can do things,” insists Bassi. “But it’s live where you really connect with the audience.”
“It’s like playing a game,” adds Campana. “We give and we receive. It’s always an exchange so the live performance is our natural habitat.”
Which is just as well because next month they’re back over in the UK playing a handful of shows. Something, which both Campana and Bassi are looking forward to.
“The UK is the best because in Italy the people are not very much into live shows,” opines the guitarist. “I don’t know if its because we are an Italian band and they can see us anytime. When we go to Poland for example they don’t know when we will go back so they enjoy it a lot more. After the show they’re always shaking our hands and having a chat.”
Campana mentions Poland as being particularly memorable which is just as well seeing as The Gluts will round off 2019 with a slot at the prestigious SpaceFest! in Gdansk in December. However, with the band signed to (predominantly psych) label Fuzz Club and booked to play numerous psych fests right now, does it bother them about being pigeonholed into that genre?
“No,” answers guitarist Campana quite nonchalantly. “I guess we don’t really care. We love the other bands and their sounds. We know we are a little bit different but that’s also a good point, I guess. I think psych is where most of our fanbase comes from. In many different ways, it’s like a spectrum of colours and maybe we are like the darkest side of that spectrum. But at the same time, we enjoyed Medicine Boy’s show yesterday and they are very different to us.”
Before we part ways, drummer Bassi has some advice for other artists struggling to get noticed or heard outside of their respective scenes.
“Keep practising and play as much as you can outside of your hometown or city. You have to face your fears of being on stage. Take any opportunity and don’t let others put you down. For example, some scenes in the UK are very competitive yet we’ve never really felt like that. It’s not a competition. It’s not about who plays the most or brings the biggest crowd to a gig. It’s about sharing emotions. First of all, with your band mates, then the audience and then with all the other bands you are sharing the stage with so there should be no competition at all. I have no boundaries, which is maybe the most important aspect of them all.”
That’s certainly true of The Gluts and is omnipresent throughout both their recorded output and live performances.
Dengue Fever Hypnotic Trip is out now via Fuzz Club Records.
Upcoming UK Dates
03 – Crofter’s Rights, Bristol
04 – Shacklewell Arms, London
05 – Night People, Manchester