Gaz Brookfield is a musician that we've been following for a while now, we've seen him perform at Chagstock, supporting Ferocious Dog and also at a few headline shows around the country. On each occasion, it's been Gaz perfoming solo, I knew that he played with a band from time to time so imagine my surprise when I found out that he'll be performing at Beautiful Days Festival in Exeter with the band! We thought it would be a good idea to get in touch with Gaz and have a chat, so this is exactly what we did!
Read on to find out his top three choices for the headliners at Beautiful Days 2018, the acts that he'd love to see at this year's festival and an amusing tale about the worst gig he ever played....
Your 7th album I Know My Place is available on vinyl, is this the first time you’ve put out a record? Do you think that the resurgence that we’re currently enjoying will last?
I hope so. I love it! In the current climate of streaming music, (for which the musicians earn next to nothing for their art), it's good that physical music formats are still in demand. In my humble opinion vinyl sounds better, (providing you have a decent record player and speakers), and the actual act of holding a record in your hands, carefully removing the dust jacket, firing up the turntable, carefully dropping the needle down and hearing that crackle is what it's all about. Plus, with a record, you are sort committed to listen to the whole side of the album, rather than skipping through tracks to get to your favourite. Once you've done that, you kind of want to finish the album, so you flip it over and listen to side B as well. I learned from the process of making this album, that track order is very important when it comes to vinyl. For example, you're supposed to put a song with very little instrumentation on the end of each side, because the grooves are smaller and more condensed, so there isn't as much room in them to fit the amount of information you would need for a big loud track with lots of instruments, thus affecting the sound quality. So you have to plan your track listing very carefully. The things you learn eh?
Some of your songs are about topics that are very personal to you, “It’s All So Rock and Roll”, “Be the Bigger Man”, “The Diabetes Blues”, do you find it easier to write about personal experiences?
Yes. All of my songs are about whatever I happened to be going through, or thinking about at that given time. It's all true, sadly.
I just noticed that you share the same birthday as me…..albeit you’re 7 years younger than me! How will you be celebrating it this year?
July 4th? You're another yankee doodle dandy eh? I'm about to turn 38, (at the time of writing), and to celebrate this I'm doing a gig with my band at The Marr's Bar in Worcester, on July 2nd. On my actual birthday I will eat steak and drink red wine.
I’ve seen you a number of times at festivals and shows but you’ve always played solo, you also play with a full band (the Company of Thieves), how often do you play with these guys? Will you be playing with them at Beautiful Days?
The Company of Thieves are a very difficult bunch to pin down, due to their respective busy schedules. As a result we generally just do one gig a year, on the weekend before Christmas at The Fleece, in Bristol. It always sells out months in advance, (which is nice), so this year we've moved up a venue size to The Bierkeller.
After last year's Christmas gig, the guys in the band all said that they wanted to do more gigs, so we are doing a few more this year. My birthday gig in Worcester, OutCider Festival, Farmer Phil's Festival, and of course, Beautiful Days. We might even do a little tour in 2018.
If a certain online encyclopedia is correct, this will be the 4th time you’ve played at Beautiful Days Festival, what is it about the festival that you enjoy so much?
That certain online encyclopedia is pretty much always wrong. I've never seen my page on there. I dread to think of the nonsense that they might have said. But in this case, I think they're right. This will be my 4th performance at Beautiful Days. The first was in 2010, then 2013, then 2015, and now this year. I love it there, and I go every year, whether I'm playing or not.
Any acts that you’ll be sticking around for this year?
Sadly I'll miss a lot of it, as I have to go offsite for a friends wedding on the Saturday. But I'd love to catch The Waterboys, Therapy?, Hayseed Dixie, Sean McGowan, Ferocious Dog, Rev Hammer and Nick Harper, Winter Mountain, Jake Martin, The Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonican, oh and Levellers, obviously!
What are your top three tips to surviving a music festival?
Essentials: Waterproofs. Wellies. Sun cream. Drink. And don't leave money and phones etc in your tent, even at night when you're asleep. Keep them in your pockets, and in your sleeping bag at night. It's a very sad fact that some 'orrible b*stards do go to festivals to rob people. So minimise their chances.
Don't just watch the bands you've heard of. Take risks, and go to the smaller tents to see acts you've not heard of. They might just blow your mind!
If you were asked to nominate the 3 headline acts for Beautiful Days 2018, who would you choose and why? (They can be alive/dead/fictional)
Nirvana, Queen, The Wombles. I'm not even joking about The Wombles....
Watching those 3 you mentioned is basically a masterclass in live music performance. They're all insanely good at putting on a show, playing their instruments, and being as professional as it's possible to be. A genuine pleasure to get to watch them, be it from the crowd, or from backstage. I've seen hundreds of bands over the years. Not just gigging with them, but also when I was a sound engineer. I think it's fair to say that watching some bands, (who shall remain nameless, of course), is basically a masterclass in what not to do.
You’ve played over 1000 gigs to date, tell me about the BEST one you’ve done and the WORST one that you’d like to forget!
Best: Big Top at Beautiful Days in 2015. Me and Ben Wain, (fiddle player), played to a crammed to capacity Big Top, (3000 people ish), all of whom seemed to know every word, of every song, and sang their hearts out! It was pretty epic.
Worst: I was threatened with being stabbed, while playing a gig once. It's the only time I've ever not finished a gig. I decided that cutting the gig short and leaving in a wholly unstabbed state, was the way to go. The manager of the bar had a go at me, told me that they wouldn't pay me, and that I'd never play a gig in this town again. A year or so later I played a 600 cap venue down the road, and sold it out. Wouldn't be fair to say which bar this all happened in. They don't deserve the kudos.
It’s been a year since your last record, surely it must be time for some new material?
Give us a break mate! It's only been 6 months since I Know My Place came out. It took 18 months to write, and 6 months from recording to release, due to things like artwork, mastering, promo photos, video shoots and editing, booking tours, playing the tours, etc, etc. Then I released it, and did more touring. I haven't had the time or the inclination to put pen to paper in recent months. Maybe this is my last album? Who knows? It probably won't be, but 5 albums in 6 years is pretty full on, so I'm having a little break from writing and concentrating on other things for now.
We'd like to thank Gaz for taking the time to chat to us and we wish him every success for the future. We're really looking forward to not only seeing him at Beautiful Days but seeing him perform with a full band, it's gonna be MASSIVE!
You can keep in touch with Gaz's whereabouts at his social media pages, they're all listed below, simply point and click!