Mercury of Gunshot (Classic Interview)

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Gunshot are stalwarts and soon-to-be legends of the UK scene. With their 3rd LP ‘International Rescue’ about to be released (if you don’t count the unreleased 2nd one and the singles compilation). ukhh.com’s 2-Hip caught up with Mercury to find out what’s been happening.

 

So what has Gunshot been up to in these years that you’ve been away from recording?

[Mercury] Well, with this LP we took on board much more responsibility then with our previous excursions. Thus we took care of the artwork ourselves, produced and wrote (as we always did!), and mixed our own songs, tried a bit of self management and basically just wondering what the hell we were doing on a shit label such as Words of Warning! LP took about 2 years to complete, partly because of our work tempo (meticulous, but painstakingly slow at times!), partly because of our frustrations with aforesaid record label.

What was the main delay about for ‘international rescue’ and are you pleased with the end result?

[Mercury] As said earlier, because we did absolutely everything from the bottom up, took a lot longer than expected. Are we pleased with the result? Definitely. With this LP, we made a conscious effort to try and construct songs, which stirred the heart. Rix is a big fan of Philip Glass, Ennio Morricone and such like. In fact me and him share quite similar musical tastes so it wasn’t hard for us to lay down the foundations for what we wanted to do with this LP.

What can we expect from the new album, more of the same or Gunshot coming from a different angle?

[Mercury] Gunshot will always be characterised for our hard-edged form of Hip-Hop, but what a lot of people don’t know is that perhaps the secret of our sound, more than anything else, rests on the track sequencing. When I say track sequencing, I mean what order the finished tracks will appear on a LP. Patriot Games was more than the sum of its parts. It was a master class in how to keep the listener glued to their speakers for 45 minutes. With this LP we attempted to do the same thing, but this time around you can definitely hear a level of maturity in our songs which was perhaps lacking in our earlier work.

[quote]The future of UK hip-hop is orange![/quote]

Where you surprised at how well your other albums did, like in France?

[Mercury] Yes and no! Although we had a certain level of success in France, it was no way near the level of sales that IAM or NTM would make. Nevertheless, Gunshot has always had a strong link with France. Our first label, Vinyl Solution, was owned and run by 2 French guys and our very first TV appearance and video was done by a French TV station. Its just a shame that we never exploited our success in France earlier on in our career. I know that with “Battlecreek Brawl”, we inspired the likes of NTM and created a bit of a following off the back of that one 12″. Who knows what might have happened if we had toured extensively out there. Never mind!

You were on the recent ‘Pioneers’ video, do you see that sort of exposure good for the UK scene as a whole?

[Mercury] Yep for sure! Only problem is, if it weren’t for Disorda, and people like him, nobody would even bother to make a video let alone make it available to the wider world. Right now, there’s orders for that video in Japan and that’s all down to Disorda. You gots to love the guy.

How do they see the future of UK Hiphop?

[Mercury] The future of UK Hip-Hop is orange!! Only joking, seriously though things seems to be looking promising, but then it always does around this time of year!! Whether UK Hip-Hop is any success depends on a raft of quality acts penetrating the pop charts. I think we all know that is what we need and there is no point pretending otherwise. I’m fed up with people saying that people should make UK Hip-Hop for themselves and not for the money, I was guilty of being that same person some 6 years ago, but what sense is there in doing something for the love and being constantly broke? When you need to get yourself a proper job (which we all must do at some point), how you going to tell any prospective employer that for the last 5 years you were making music you loved but got no money for it. They’d surely laugh in your face! The point then, is that unless the UK Hip-Hop scene becomes capable of producing some financial income, then the UK Hip-Hop scene will always remain in it’s present state of being but not doing!

Back to ‘Pioneers’, you said that you start rapping after seeing some bloke called Darren rap at your local footy club, was it this simple and how did you progress from there?

[Mercury] Yep, it was that simple for me! Imagine finding out that somebody you’d seen day in day out and not once gave a second thought about suddenly turns out to have this talent which just leaves your jaw dropping. My thought was, if Darren can do it, then so can I. For the first year, I must have wrote a rhyme a day I was that excited!

How do you feel personally your rhyme style has changed over the years?

[Mercury] More mellow! I’ve always been a deep person, but being a Leo I also have the worse of traits! Sometimes I think you can detect this in my rhyme style and the things I touch upon that Mercury, as you know him, is not necessarily one and the same person… I’m not schizophrenic though, or at least I hope not.

Do Gunshot plan on doing any touring in the future?

[Mercury] To be honest, probably not! I think we’ve probably got a little bit too old for that now, touring takes a lot out of you and despite the money being good, you have got to love what you’re doing in order to give your 100% best!

‘Scream 3’ why choose to do a song like this, is it anything to do with the film?

[Mercury] Chance would have been a fine thing! When constructing this LP we were thinking about different types of angles to try and raise the LP’s profile. Seemed like a good idea at the time to do this track since we knew that the film would be dropping soon. People might think we were on the soundtrack and make an association between the film and the LP.

Have you ever seen the scream films, what do you think?

[Mercury] Like the 1st and 2nd Scream movies (Prefer the 1st one). Haven’t seen the 3rd one as yet. Heard it’s not all that! Shame on you Wes Craven!!!

Did you find it hard putting ‘International rescue’ together, as you had a lot to live up to after you other releases?

[Mercury] Not really. We never make comparisons with any of our earlier works. Only criteria we stick by is to make sure that our new stuff is completely banging. Although if truth be told, Patriot Games will always have a special place in our hearts.

‘The English Patient’ how the hell did that come about, must have been a right task?

[Mercury] Quite easy really. A lot of the veterans on that track had grown up in the industry with us so there was a lot of mutual respect. Plus we probably all know how hard it has being for all of us so why not do a collaboration track? Should’ve been done a long time ago if you ask me.

How do you keep organised in a studio with that many heads all recording their bit for the track?

[Mercury] Well that track was recorded in various different locations. Since we use a VS880 portable digital recording studio, it makes things a lot easier. A lot of the verses on that track were recorded at different times and to be quite honest, that was probably the only way that the track could’ve been done what with Blade’s busy schedule and all.

Have you noticed the evolution in the Gunshot sound as much as everyone else had, and was this intentional to keep up with things a bit?

[Mercury] Well we’re not the same as we were in 1990 so the sound has matured as we’ve gotten older. I’d rather we kept on progressing since that it is the only way to keep people still interested in what you are doing. Although, I wouldn’t say that there was any intention on our part to keep up with the current Hip-Hop scene. We’ve always existed in our own bubble and I think a lot of our listeners appreciate that.

How much longer do you think you think you will stay together, what plans do you have as a collective and solo wise?

[Mercury] Good question! The truthful answer is, as far as I can see it anyway, is that this will probably be our last LP. I think we’ve probably said all that we can and to be quite frank, the time and effort it takes into making an LP is way too exhausting.
I think that 10 years, 4 LP’s and a banging website is a good enough legacy to leave behind.
Who knows though……nothing is ever truly written in stone as far as Gunshot are concerned!

As a member of one of the longest running UK groups, what knowledge have you learnt a long the way that you think newcomers could benefit from?

[Mercury] The main advice I would give to aspiring Emcees and groups is to enjoy what you are doing but don’t lose sight of real life!
I’ve yet to see anyone make a half decent living from UK Hip-Hop, including ourselves. And even if you are semi-successful, you’re going to have to play long con, meaning that you’re going to have generate a sustainable income to last you for a very, very long time. Remember, nobody will pay you a pension in the music industry so naturally everything rests with you.
The rewards can be duly satisfying if you are fortunate enough to reach the heady heights of real success, but the stakes are necessarily high and at the moment, with regards to UK Hip-Hop at least, the balance is not tipped in our favour. So always use your judgment and don’t keep trying to flog a dead horse if it’s obvious to you and everyone that shit will not work!!

Any last words, shout outs that sort of thing

[Mercury] Respect to all Gunshot sympathisers that have been down with us since long time. We’ve travelled a long and winding road and grown a lot wiser during the journey. Time to take a new direction but always with the same spirit of determination!

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