There's a certain symmetry to GENTLEMANS PISTOLS' albums. Their self-titled debut was released in 2007, four years after they formed. In 2011, the band's second album, »At Her Majesty's Pleasure«, came out - four years after the first one. And now in 2015 comes third album »Hustler's Row« - after another four year gap!
“It's not something we planned,” laughs vocalist/guitarist James Atkinson. “It's just been one of those things that's happened”. They recorded at Atkinson's own studio, Mutiny, in Bradford, with the frontman also producing. Moreover, he's also written the songs. “After producing the last album myself, I really didn't want to do the job again, because is very difficult to combine it with being in the band. But the way things worked out, it was just easier for me to do this again as I knew exactly what we wanted.” The gap between »At Her Majesty's Pleasure« and the new album has definitely been to the band's advantage, as Atkinson explains.“Many of the songs were written not long after the second album. But we've had the time to incubate them, to develop these and ensure they could be even better. We played some of the songs live, and this meant we could test out how they came across.”
A lot of the songs here are very personal to Atkinson, who feels the writing and recording experience has been suitably cathartic for him. “I've been through some tough times in the last few years, and this definitely influenced what I was writing. It's made the album very personal, more than anything else this band has done. 'Time Wasters', for instance, is about people who've been holding me back, while 'The Searcher' is really me wondering where I'm going in life and what I'm doing. But it's not all based on my own inner experiences and feelings, 'Personal Fantasy Wonderland' and 'Lady Teaser' are just love songs, but overall, this album gets right inside my head a lot more than anything I've ever done before.”
The balance between this intimacy and the more expansive sounds which are prevalent here make »Hustler's Row« perhaps the best album of the band's career to date. It's all based on an evolution of their sound and style, rather than a radical overhaul. “We've accentuated the melodic aspects, yet all this had been done without losing sight of the importance of the riff to our sound.” You can hear the way this all comes to fruition on the vocal harmonies which run throughout. “For me, one of the biggest strengths here are the vocal harmonies,” adds Steer. “Atko spent a lot of time getting these right, and has come up with different kinds of harmonies. He also showed how he could sing softly when the occasion demanded it, yet was also not afraid to really belt out the vocals if required.”
Another notable aspect of the album's sound comes from the dual guitar work between Atkinson and Steer, which brings to mind classic WISHBONE ASH. “What drew Atko and I together in the first place was a love of the same music,” informs Steer. “We'd sit around drinking, and listening to THE SWEET singles B sides. And also to WISHBONE ASH. We've taken from them the natural feel for our music. It's just plug in and play.” “Bill and I did sit down and talk about what would work guitar wise with the songs,” relates Atkinson. “For instance, on 'Devil's Advocate On Call', we thought it would be good to have a harmonised solo. And what Bill came up with was perfect.”
Atkinson reveals that he had the title »Hustler's Row« in mind for a long time.
“Our old guitarist, Chris Rogers, lived on a street called Hustler's Row in Leeds, and it's actually a really nice place, but to me, the name evoked an image of a place of desolation and despair, so the lyrics I wrote have no connection to that street at all. It was Bill that thought it would make a good album title and it seemed to make sense as it is the final song on the album too.” Always a band who has risen beyond their influences, GENTLEMANS PISTOLS still remain true to their musical ideals and their artistic idealism. But what »Hustler's Row« facilitates is a clear movement towards a new era of attainment. “I'd like to believe people will feel this has been worth the wait,” concludes Atkinson.