GILLBANKS: “I’m Still Pummelling Away”

Sam Gillbanks is a Peckham based musician who simply goes about under his surname “GILLBANKS”. He immediately caught my eye when I saw him play at the Roundhouse Rising Festival back in March. Backed by his band, an abundance of grungy energy circulated the stage. I caught up with him, in his bedroom.

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How would you describe your sound?

Atmospheric, grungy, indie. It’s hard, I usually say somewhere between Nirvana and Radiohead. They have definitely inspired my sound.

What other artists were you brought up listening to and how did you get started in music?

As a kid I really loved The Offspring and Rage Against The Machine. I think those guys got me into the guitar. I first had some guitar lessons when I was 8 and I hated it, my hands were too small! I picked it back up a few years later and when I was 12/13 I got asked to be in a band, we were shit, I was playing bass in a covers band, mostly Green Day. It was a typical school kids band. I’ve been playing in bands since and getting progressively better.

You were a finalist in this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, how did the opportunity come about and was it a good experience?

Yeah we were pretty shocked we did so well to be honest, it was really interesting. We uploaded a song and a video onto the site, and managed to get onto a longlist of 120 and then down to a shortlist of 8. We played at the fina and were pretty raucous and you know, I don’t think it was quite what they were looking for. We still got a lot out of the whole experience and managed to play Glasto anyway.

How was that?

It was the best thing, it just was the best thing ever! The most fun I’ve had in years. We did 3 shows including a packed out tent at the Rabbit Hole. It took us ages to get onto the site though, we were stuck in all the traffic.

Any acts that caught your eye?

Loads of bits and bobs of acts I’ve never heard before. Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Kurt Vile were good. LCD Soundsystem was a highlight for me though. That was amazing.

The name of last years EP ‘Lend Me Your Skin comes from your song Nerve. What’s the meaning behind this lyric and why did it become the name of the EP?

Oh man, it’s really deep! My girlfriend at the time was still studying and was able to be really creative with what she was doing and I’d just come out of university and had no inkling into what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be part of what she was doing but was just unable to at the time until I started making music again. The EP revolves around that period of my life, so the line “lend me your skin” seemed to summarise my feelings.

What have you learnt as a young musician trying to make it? What do you need/have to do?

Determination. Just keep writing, recording, releasing and playing. I’m not there yet, I’m still pummelling away. It’s good fun, but I’m very tired.

The London gig circuit is pretty huge, where do you like to play?

I like playing around Peckham, I know lots of people here, it’s kinda like a hub. We’ve done places like the Lexicon and OBL loads as a support slot, which has been cool but I’m excited to see what happens next. Festival season is done for us, we had a great time at Field Day and Citadel as well. We had a really good turnout at Citadel, but everything just went wrong, technically wise. Our guitarist ended up spinning round on a drum stool whilst playing guitar, fell over and started to rip a solo, man it was pretty cool.

Finally, your plans for the future?

Hopefully we’ll be doing a tour this autumn, UK and maybe some European dates, it’s all a bit speculative at the moment as we’re trying to push for some big support slots. I’m not looking to do an album yet, I want it to be something really special and to do that I’d need to focus all of my time on it. I’ve just started writing another EP and, unrelated to that, we have another two singles out in the next few months. Festival wise, I wanna do all of them!

Thom Robin


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