Interview: Gallery 47

Interview: Nick Parkhouse
Monday 25 August 2014
reading time: min, words

Three years ago, a singer-songwriter called Jack Peachey – with the stage name of Gallery 47 – released his debut album, Fate is the Law, and looked set to be the city’s next breakthrough star. A health scare dented his momentum, but over the last eighteen months things have been going from strength to strength: label interest and a tour with Paul Weller have made 2014 a great year, and his second album, All Will Be Well, is released in September…


A simple record featuring Peachey and his acoustic guitar, All Will Be Well is more accomplished and serious record than its predecessor and is clearly a collection of songs that are personal to the 24-year-old. “I wrote All Will Be Well when I was living alone in this little coach house in The Park. I couldn't afford it but I knew that if I had any money left over from my job I'd probably just spend it on bad things. I was recently single and quite desperate to get out of the city centre for a while lest I run into my ex-girlfriend with some dashing new chap. Most of the songs are about just thinking about what had happened. One day I was missing her (Come to New York), then I'd be really bitter (Close to the Mind), then lost (When The World Gets You Down), then hopeful (Little Lost) and eventually acceptant (We've Been Here Before).”

The majority of the new songs were written some time ago but a health scare ended up delaying the recording. However, these hospital visits also gave Peachey the impetus he needed to finally start to work on his second album. “All these songs were written in my head but I'd been too critical to record them. I'd start the first guitar take and think, ‘What's the point?’ Then order Pizza Hut and sedate myself. Then it all got a bit scary. I had to go in for hernia surgery and the doctor found something a bit more worrying in my thigh. All I could think was, ‘I can't die with one album!’ Suddenly that first guitar take wasn't that bad, so I did fifty more and chose the best three, stuck one louder in the middle, one with reverb on the left, one dry on the right. Strength in numbers. Turns out Phil Spector used to do all this with the Wall of Sound, anyway. The result was that I recorded ten times as much in that terrifying month as I had done in the previous year.

“Then I found out that everything was going to be okay with my health and it was the best feeling. That relief has stayed with me ever since, reminding me to keep writing and to always do the best you can do, even if you doubt yourself at the time.” Illness wasn’t the only reason that Peachey’s second album took three years to finally arrive. Uncertainty surrounding the possibility of a major label deal – and the conditions of such a contract – also played a part. “The first time I thought I was going to sign a record deal, I quit my master’s degree and told my mum. Then the deal fell through and I felt really embarrassed. That's life, I guess, but it made me really cautious for a little while. Since then it's been better. I now focus on song writing and recording and leave the shark pit to the sharks.

“It's not like I don't get offers, but sometimes there are conditions with deals – so, one label might be interested if you'd be willing to work with their co-writers, another would want you to cut out this track or move that one around. Oh, and the string sections. Everyone wants string sections. In fact, even I want string sections! My point is, what if you let a label change you dramatically, but then things don't go to plan and you end up dropped and damaged, your musical profile tarnished by the creative guidance of a label intern assigned to a one year deal of another aspiring Dylan? No, that's a bit scary.”

The profile of Gallery 47 has already never been higher but got a major boost earlier this year when he was invited to tour with Paul Weller in Germany. How was going on stage on the same bill as one of the best known artists of his generation? “It was really good fun and he was really nice. Also, he had quit drinking so I got all the beer. Hamburg was crazy because the crowd were quite loud and a little bit merry, but they were very friendly so it was okay. After the show I walked straight into Paul Weller in the corridor and he smiled and shook my hand and I wished him luck with his set. I had the easy slot, I was the support act. I was thinking, ‘Man, you must be terrified!’ I was trying really hard not to be a nervous wreck but there are so many variables when it comes to meeting someone who you respect so much. When I met Scott Matthews I got so scared that I ran away. So, when I found myself in that corridor in Hamburg walking towards Paul Weller, I kept saying to myself, ‘Do not run away, Jack!’ Weller watched my set and after, he shook my hand, told me I had a really nice voice, and said I needed to get some better shoes. The show in Berlin the next day couldn't have gone better. They let me use their lights and sound that night and it was the best show of my life.”

Peachey’s shyness in talking to Weller is a telling insight. For a man whose lyrics are, as he admits himself, ‘crazy or paranoid and angry or hypocritical’ he’s a reserved and often wary character and comes across very differently in person to the way he does on stage. “I'm a musician because I'm shy. I'm actually quite confident when I'm around people I know, but I don't trust many people, or rather I trust them only as much as I would trust myself in that situation. I get on with people I don't know too well because that detachment is there. With my music, however, I can be completely direct, completely honest. I don't need to apologise for showing my temper, my flaws, my bad language, my hypocrisy, my delusions. It's really quite therapeutic to be myself on stage. If someone doesn't like it, or thinks, ‘He's really angry’ or ‘He sounds like he's going insane’, then that's fine – if anything it's a portrait of someone being angry or going insane. It's not an absolute. It's all fine.”

If you’ve seen Gallery 47 in recent years you’ll know he is an electric live performer. Despite the pared back nature of his music, it’s impossible to take your eyes off a man who looks supremely confident and at home on the stage. The decision to leave his promotion and management to another party has clearly helped him to concentrate on his real love: his music. “Things have been much easier for me since I left all the press packs, emails, negotiations and bookings to someone else.”

It’s clear from our conversation that Peachey finds himself in a good place in 2014. He’s more than happy to talk about his forthcoming album and the exciting opportunities that have arisen and so I wondered what was next on the horizon? “I don't know what's going to happen. Things are going well and I'm focussing on writing and recording as much as I can while I have the time. If things don't go to plan, I'll write 100 albums, put them out, then live out my days in Amsterdam with my girlfriend and several cats!

“Immediately after, All Will Be Well, I started working on a double album called Young World, but you can't really release a double album at this stage in a career. Well, you can, but I can imagine the critics now. ‘Should have trimmed the fat, like The Beatles but without their prestige and even they should have trimmed the fat’ etc. No, this is to release a few years down the line. I recorded about forty tracks and layered them with other instruments; telecasters, egg shakers, cymbals, drills, church bells, crazy vocal harmonies with something like 35 vocal takes playing at once at different pan ratios, stuff like that. It's too weird to release now, and I was really quite mad when I was writing it, still decidedly in the throes of all the anxiety that came with that cancer scare. For now, I'm working on a new album called Clean, which I'm a little bit too excited about considering I can't release it yet.”

In the gap between Gallery’s 47 two albums, musicians in Nottingham have finally achieved long overdue national and international recognition. Is the city still a great place to live and to make music? “I love living in this city. I'd like to live in Amsterdam one day but I'll always call Nottingham my home. I was born here, grew up here, went to university here and plan to stay here for a long time. In fact, I've just sold my old amplifier to get season tickets for Forest. Who cares if we've got no money if we have tickets to the game every weekend?

“Every day I walk along the canal from the city centre to Sainsbury’s at Castle Marina. I feed the ducks along the way, then continue along Derby Road to my parents' house, where I feed Calla [his cat]. It might seem as though I'm not focussing on the music scene in Nottingham, but that's precisely it. There are lots of energetic, diligent people out there who do all they can to promote emerging talent in this city, but as a very sensitive person I can sometimes find the hype machine a little abrasive.

“It's still really important to get out there and play as a new musician, but I think it's also important that you can get away from that scene when you need to. ‘Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and in the end it's only with yourself.’ - I like that quote.”

Gallery 47 will be playing Nottingham Contemporary on Saturday 30 August. All Will Be Well is released on Monday 15 September on I'm Not From London Records.

Gallery 47 website

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