Ever wondered what the progression of life from its cellular beginning, all the way to the humanity’s relationship with Artificial Intelligence would sound like as an alternative rock album ?
Well wonder no more as part-time singer and neurologist, MALCOLM GALLOWAY and his music project, HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE‘s new album is just what you are looking for.
Mixing Sci-Fi themes with ambient, Prog Rock, HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE‘s third album, Broken but Still Standing, combines scientific research with different musical styles create a captivating concept album.
The project was founded in 2011 by GALLOWAY who had been experimenting with music since he was a child, “improvising on the tuba,..piano or guitar“. After deciding to start making music, GALLOWAY, decided to use his interests in his creative process. He explained “I suppose I write about the things I’m most interested in. Standard love songs have so far never really appealed much to me. Our first album ‘Invisible’ was about my experiences of invisible disabilities, due to a genetic collagen disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Many people have problems which aren’t apparent from the outside, which that album explored. The second album, When The Kill Code Fails was a story about artificial intelligence, focusing on the experience of the AI finding out that his memories were false. Our most recent album, Broken But Still Standing, is about human evolution.”
The new album Broken But Still Standing, is a very mellow, melodic and relaxing listen and mixes styles from prog rock to funk and electronica, GALLOWAY himself describes it as “an intriguing musical exploration of symbiosis in evolution“. One of the standout tracks is ‘Almost Familiar‘, which is very ambient rock song with hints of classic music as the flute ties the music and vocals together. No one song defines the album however, as the variety of genres takes you on a musical journey from the slow eerie sounds of ‘Luca to Lucy‘ to the funky, upbeat tone of ‘I fell in Love with a Mechanical Dragon‘.
Inspired by musicians like Pink Floyd, GALLOWAY explains that he “loves the way both David Gilmour and Steve Rothery (guitarists of Pink Floyd and Marillion respectively) use guitar like a voice.” He is also “inspired by Philip K Dick and other science fiction writers” for the concept of the album.
The group have seen their fair share of success within the prog rock world, performing on a main stage at HRH Festival which he described as ” one of the highlights of my life. To play to over a thousand people on a huge stage with amazing sound was a mind-blowing experience.” And have also had their last album named prog album of the year by Bestie’s Rock Show.
The group have a unique performance style as while most of his albums are recorded with guest musicians; drummer, RUDY BURNELL, guitarist, IBON BILBOA, flautist, KATHRYN THOMAS and bassist, MARK GATLAND, GALLOWAY has preformed solo on occasion and mostly does duets with GATLAND. GALLOWAY said “I prefer playing with a group. Mark Gatland (bassist, keyboards and backing vocals) and I mostly play live as a duo, plus electronics, but if he is not available, I do a solo show with an acoustic guitar. I love playing with Mark – we’ve been playing together since we were at school, and we know each other musically extremely well. He is a very supportive musician.”
While the band is primarily very experimental and alternative they do save their rockier songs for live performances to give a more “fun..energetic and passionate” atmosphere.
The group is currently working on their fourth album exploring the different aspects of memory, while also “organising a series of prog rock events at The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden” this year.
The first is on Sunday 13th May, featuring acts, THE TIRITH and SERVANTS OF SCIENCE alongside HATS OFF GENTLEMEN ITS ADEQUATE. You can buy tickets for this event from Eventbrite.
The second event is on Sunday 23rd September, featuring IT and THE WOOD DEMONS. You can buy tickets for this event on Eventbrite. The third on Thursday 29th November featuring, L’ANIMA and BIRDEATSBABY. You can buy tickets for this event from Eventbrite as well.
GALLOWAY and his group have organised these events to “showcase some of the most exciting new music in the resurgent British progressive rock music scene, and we are hugely honoured to have such outstanding musicians performing with us at these events. The events are all co-headlining events, with each band getting equal stage time.”
If you wish to go to any of the events at The Fiddler’s Elbow in London, the doors open at 7pm with the first act starting at 7.30pm ending at 11pm as the venue closes at 12pm. All the tickets are £6 at the door or £5 in advance via the Eventbrite sites linked above. Be aware all the events are over 18s only.
If you want to listen to any of the bands who will be performing at the events you can check out this playlist with all their music on it click here.
So, if you want to be taken on your own musical journey and are open to the intriguing and mysterious way SCI-FI concepts and prog rock can seamlessly mix together then go to Spotify and give HATS OFF GENTLEMEN ITS ADEQUATE a listen.
HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE (from l-r): Mark Gatland (bass/keyboards/additional guitars/co-producer), Malcolm Galloway (vocals/guitar/keyboards/producer)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Over the last couple of years, London duo (occasionally trio) Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate have won much acclaim for a truly eclectic sound which incorporates genres such as rock, metal, folk, classical, and electronica, intelligent, thought-provoking lyrical content that tackles such subjects as the Second World War and science-fiction, and passionate, charismatic live performances.
Having recently released a three-track EP – entitled ‘Ark‘ – and currently putting together a much-anticipated fifth album – the two-piece has an in-depth and informative chat with me.
How did the band initially form?
MALCOLM GALLOWAY (vocals/guitar/keyboards/producer): Mark and I have been playing together since we were at school a long time ago, but then I got distracted by becoming a neuropathologist.
Music has always been extremely important to me, but it was only after singing a couple of songs at a hospital pantomime that I started seriously exploring the possibility of performing again.
It started as local open-mic performances, either solo, or with my wife, flautist Kathryn Thomas, then it built from there. Mark came along to some of these, and so, we went back to making music together.
How did the name Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate come about?
MALCOLM: It’s from a silly image I had in my head of Victorian gentlemen throwing their hats in the air, and crying “Huzzah!” about something being average.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
MALCOLM: It varies between songs and albums, but generally, I prefer to have a theme or story for the album quite early on. Many of the songs have a lyrical fragment as a starting point, which suggests a melodic shape, and the song evolves from there.
MARK GATLAND (bass/keyboards/additional guitars/co-producer): I will generally get hold of the main body of the song from Malcolm, and then I’ll add all of my bits to it, depending on what it needs. Sometimes, things will get tracked, but not always be used in the final version, but there’s always a couple of choices we can use.
However, if I think I can’t add anything to a song, then I won’t record any parts for it, a case in point being our cover of ‘She Moved Through The Fair‘, which was all Malcolm.
After that, it’s a case of refining various mixes until we’re both happy with the final result.
What inspires the band lyrically?
MALCOLM: The lyrical themes of our releases have so far been – invisible disabilities (inspired by my experiences with the genetic connective tissue disease Ehlers-Danos Syndrome), artificial intelligence, evolution, memory, and history.
Many of our songs have been inspired by the work of science-fiction writers, including Philip K. Dick, Ann Leckie, and on our next album, Alastair Reynolds.
You recently unveiled a new three-track EP – entitled ‘Ark’. How did the initial idea for that come about?
MALCOLM: My grandfather was a telegraphist/air-gunner in a Swordfish bi-plane squadron on the Ark Royal, and was involved in the historically significant sinking of the Bismark, which was the most powerful ship in the German navy in the Second World War, and the track was inspired by his experiences.
And how has the response been to the release up to now?
MARK: The response has been really positive. The reviewers all seem to pick up on the story arc of ‘Ark‘, and what is going on in the different sections of it. Also, the fact that we’ve put three stylistically different tracks on the EP has gone down really well, as it reflects our breadth of influences (well, some of them!)
I’ve read that the band are currently recording their fifth album. How has that been so far?
MARK: Most, if not all, of the instrument tracking has been done, and now, we’re finishing off replacing guide vocals, adding bits and bots here and there, and then mixing and mastering.
MALCOLM: The overall theme of the new album is existential threats to civilisation. We’ve got a suite of tracks inspired by novels by Alastair Reynolds, two of which are set in his Century Rain world, in which a clone of the planet, and the people on it, are threatened by a nanotechnological weapon, there are others relating to his Revelation Space universe, in which humanity is threatened by an alien intelligence machine, and we’ve also got a song about self-replicating medical nanobots forming tumours (nanobotomas) following one of my story ideas.
‘Ark‘ reflects the threats to our civilisation from racist ideologies, and the debut we owe to those who risked everything to fight against the Nazis, and we’ve also got an instrumental following the space probe Voyager, which may be travelling through space long after our civilisation has disappeared.
Also, we have got a song, ‘Six Extinctions‘, which is about our history as a species, surviving five previous global mass extinction events, and now potentially being on the brink of being the cause of the sixth.
Do you currently have a release date set for it?
MARK: We’re looking towards the end of this year/beginning of next, I think. The EP gives a flavour of what to expect.
And how will the album differ stylistically to your previous work?
MALCOLM: As with our previous albums, there is a wide diversity of styles between and within the songs. There are elements of progressive rock, metal, classical, and electronic music on the album. We like to include a mix of songs with lyrics and instrumental tracks.
The band have performed well-received live sets at venues and festivals across much of the UK. How is the experience of playing on stage for you all?
MARK: Playing live, for me, is where it all comes together, especially when you play a venue with great sound, so the whole show just feels effortless, and you lose yourself in the moment.
It also gives us the chance to get out and meet the people who listen to and buy our music, and also meet new bands, and we’ve seen some cracking bands at festivals we’ve performed at, some of whom we’ve put on ourselves at the gigs we organise.
MALCOLM: We both love live performance, and I like how every show is unique – the response from the audience, the venue, whatever else is going on life, all feeds into the performance, and because we know each other so well musically, we are able to be quite spontaneous.
You also regularly put on gigs for charities, which have included Save The Children and Marie Curie Cancer Care. Do you personally believe that established bands and artists are doing enough for good causes?
MARK: I think there are plenty of artists who do an awful lot for good causes, a lot of whom don’t even make it public that they do. It’s up to you as an artist whether you want to get involved or not, but even bands at our level can make a difference. We’re all in it together, after all…
And lastly, album aside, what are the band’s plans for the near future?
MARK: I would love to get the opportunity to do some European gigs and spread our wings a bit more, and talks about album number six will happen between us sooner rather than later, I’m sure!
Today Malcolm from Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate tells us about the deeply personal story behind their new single "Me Again". Here is the story:
Thanks very much for inviting me to write about about the process of making our new single, 'Me Again'. I greatly appreciate the interest in my music, and the opportunity to try to raise awareness of the disease that the song is about.
The Lyrics The inspiration for the song started with a phrase from a friend's Facebook post on an Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – "I just want to wake up one day and be me again".
I thought the phrase reflected the frustration of the condition very well, and also hinted at the exhaustion that often comes with the condition. My friend was very happy for me to use the phrase in a song.
The phrase is the basis of the chorus, and the rest followed from that. The verse is very simple lyrically – "So tired, I can't explain. So tired. So cold. Sucking me down." Initially there were more verses, but the song was getting too long at over 6 minutes, so I trimmed it back.
Many of us who have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome look healthy, but experience chronic pain and pain related exhaustion, which can lead to a lot of misunderstanding from those unfamiliar with this little-known disease.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a group of genetic diseases in which people have abnormally weak collagen. Collagen is an important structural protein providing strength to joints, cartilage, skin, intestines, and other parts of the body. Due to the weak collagen, things that many people would take for granted, including lifting, carrying, and travelling can be very difficult.
I have type III (hypermobility-type) Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (also known as joint hypermobility syndrome), and appreciate that I am fortunate to have a form of the illness that isn't life-threating, however chronic pain, joint degeneration/premature arthritis, and the exhaustion of managing with chronic pain can be challenging, and I'm very appreciative of all the support I get from my family.
Hypermobility-type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is almost certainly underdiagnosed - it took about 20 years for me to get my diagnosis. People who are hypermobile ('double-jointed') and have unexplained chronic pain should ask their doctor whether they might have the condition. Although there aren't curative treatments, getting a diagnosis makes a big difference, as at least you understand why you hurt.
I've written several songs about type III Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, exploring different reactions to the challenges of invisible disability (While I Still Can - here and Wait For The Storm -here ). I hope to help raise awareness of invisible disabilities. I also hope that the songs can stand on their own even if you don't know what inspired them.
The Music 'Me Again' is just me multitracked. It's got piano, bass, chugging distorted rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, and some twiddly lead guitar bits at the end. The guitar is a Strat, the acoustic, bass and keyboard Yamaha's. The electric guitar was recorded through a digitech RP250. I use Sonar X1 for recording. The vocals were recorded at Camden Recording Studios, London, UK. The rest was done on a laptop at home.
Listen to a free stream of 'Me Again' here and you can buy it on iTunes right here!
Those that know me know I’ve always been a proghead. Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis—the true pioneers of Progressive Rock—have been the cornerstones of my musical development. These bands not only changed the musical landscape, but it many ways came to redefine Rock & Roll as we know it. Their impact has reached far and wide, influencing everyone from David Bowie, Queen, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica and Anthrax, to No Doubt, Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, REM, The Flaming Lips, Queens of the Stone Age and practically everyone in between.
London based Prog Rockers Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate (HOGIA) have picked up the mantle and are carrying on with the Prog Rock traditions of the greats. Concept albums in the style of Rush (think 2112 and Hemispheres), combined with masterful, elegant and free-flowing guitars reminiscent of David Gilmour, bring their music to life in true Prog Rock fashion.
HOGIA is built around a core consisting of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Malcolm Galloway, with Mark Gatland on bass and keyboards (Mark also co-produces), although the band often includes other members, such as flautist Kathryn Thomas and guitarist Ibon Bilbao. Malcolm’s and Mark’s story stretches back to when they were 11 years old. According to Malcolm, “I started playing the tuba in primary school, then played guitar in school bands with Mark many years ago.” Mark adds that “Like Malcolm, I started playing in primary school, but my instrument was cello. When we met at secondary school and formed our first band a bass player was required, so I picked up bass from there and found my true instrument.” Since then, the two have been almost inseparable, playing in many different musical constellations over the years.
Music runs in Malcolm’s family. He explains that “My wife (flautist Kathryn Thomas) is one of the most musically gifted people I’ve ever met. Our kids are also musical and get involved with our albums. My mum sings in choirs. My dad was a big music fan (particularly Bob Dylan) but as a listener not as a performer.” Although Mark’s parents weren’t musically inclined, they were music lovers, and there was always music being played around the house when he was growing up. According to Mark, “I never had anything but total support from them all the time I was rehearsing and doing my first gigs. I think they thought that there were far worse things I could be doing with my spare time and it was a creative outlet for me.”
Having been influenced by musicians such as Pink Floyd, Marillion, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Rage Against The Machine, Jimi Hendrix, 80’s Synth Pop, Blues and Contemporary Classical music, it is easy to understand how HOGIA ended up on the cutting edge of the Prog Rock music scene. Malcolm explains that “I’ve been inspired by progressive rock (particularly Pink Floyd and Marillion), classical minimalist composer Steve Reich, and harder rock/metal for many years. With HOGIA we get to combine these various influences, although the style of individual tracks varies. Live we tend to play the funkier and rockier tracks.” Mark adds that “There aren’t any particular rules or expectations doing what we do which means that we can experiment with different sides to our musical personalities, whether it be harder rock stuff, the more electronic/sequenced side of things or just a simple folk tune. You can work outside of the traditional verse/chorus/middle 8 way of doing things. Hopefully, it’s all still very melodic, though!”
Up to this point, HOGIA’s three albums have followed particular concepts, with the individual songs telling certain aspects of that story. “A lot of the songs will come from a background of maybe having a bigger theme overall behind them”, Mark says. “That’s not to say that stand-alone songs don’t get a look-in. Sometimes things will get written that don’t fit the feel of the current project we’re concentrating on, so they get put in the bank for a later date.” Malcolm builds on this, stating that “I find having an overall story or theme helps with writing the songs. I hope the songs are able to stand on their own, but that there is something extra there for listeners who want to follow the story through the whole album.”
So far, their songs have generally been about science, science fiction, and disability related issues. “Where we’ve written love songs,” Malcolm explains, “they are more likely to be ‘boy meets girl, boy finds out girl is an artificial memory construct and that he may or may not be real’ rather than a traditional love song. I don’t know whether it’s something that comes across in the music or not, but my general perspective in life is to judge people on their actions not on their origins.”
Their first album, Invisible, is about Malcolm’s experiences with invisible disabilities due to his battle with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic collagen disease that causes a wide range of problems, including chronic pain, vomiting, and fatigue. “I hope the album is less miserable to listen to than it sounds from that description”, Malcolm says. “The message of that album is defiance against pain.”
HOGIA’s second album, When The Kill Code Fails, follows the story of someone discovering they are an artificial intelligence, and then deciding to help humanity fight an out of control computer virus.
Broken But Still Standing, their third and most defining album to date, follows a science fiction story about evolution, with a general theme that revolves around the importance of coalitions. The story begins with the bacteria that rather than eating each other became entwined to form complex cells with organelles, moves on to human societies flourishing through co-operation, has a bit of a down-turn as humans and artificial intelligences fight each other, leading to the destruction of life on the planet. It ends happily, however, with machines terraforming Mars in order to create a new home for genetically engineered human/machine hybrids.
“The response has been staggering”, Mark says. “It’s very humbling to read some of the reviews and hear the comments coming back from either people who have played it on radio stations or come and see us at gigs and tell us what they think. For me personally, if that one person comes up to you and says that something you’ve created has touched them somehow then it’s job done.”
Malcolm comments further, saying that “We are extremely grateful for all the support we’ve had from broadcasters, bloggers, and reviewers. It’s also been interesting to see the huge range of shows that have played our music, including rock, metal, jazz, ambient, and electronica shows.”
But the boys are being a bit modest. What they have failed to mention is that in November 2017 they received a last-minute call to replace Touchstone as the opening act for Carl Palmer at the HRH (Hard Rock Hell) festival. Taking the stage as a duo, Mark took on the additional role of keyboardist and they added a drum machine and, on one song, a recorded track featuring the voices of Malcolm’s kids. HOGIA stole the show, and the accolades flowed in:
“The curtain came down on HRH with Magnum, Focus, Carl Palmer and unlikely stars Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate stealing the show…They hit a cracking groove and seemed genuinely amazed so many had stayed to hear them. Definitely a band to follow.” (Hard Rock Hell Magazine).
“Original songs, well delivered, style, stage charm, a great voice and great bass playing. Bloody marvelous. The highlight of the weekend.” (Paul Champion, eFestivals)
In addition to great reviews of their live performances, they have received considerable airplay in the UK, with their second album When The Kill Code Fails recommended by none other than Steve Hackett (Genesis, GTR), who commented “I particularly enjoyed this album and I thoroughly recommend it.” The album was also named Beastie’s Rock Show’s album of the year in 2015.
HOGIA is currently working on album number 4, though according to Mark it’s “early days yet, but the signs are looking very promising. In true Hats Off fashion we have an abundance of material which we will need to prune and edit down to an album’s worth.”
Their name, Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate, is playfully self-deprecating: “The original image in my mind”, Malcolm says, “was of Victorian gentlemen throwing their hats in the air, not because something was amazing, but because it was tolerable.” Maybe it’s time for a name change, because HOGIA are more than just “tolerable”, they are absolutely amazing!
So why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the band?
Hello, I’m Malcolm. I sing, play guitar and write songs in Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate. We are a rock band based in London, UK. We released our debut album ‘Invisible’ last year.
What’s the story behind the band’s name?
I’m not sure it’s a great choice of name to be honest (and it was my fault entirely). It’s too long and a bit silly, but I had in my mind the image of Victorian gentlemen throwing their hats in the air about something being OK rather than because it was amazing. Sometimes it’s abbreviated to HOGIA.
What’s your musical influences?
Prog rock (Pink Floyd, Marillion), classic rock (Hendrix, Led Zeppelin), Steve Reich (minimalist classical music), blues.
While I Still Can. Can you tell us more about the song?
While I Still Can is a song about defiantly trying to do something, even if it is inevitably going to fail, and getting on with trying while you can. It’s based on my experiences of type III Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic collagen disorder in which the connective tissues in the body are weak. It gives me a lot of chronic pain, and recurrent spinal and joint problems.
Didn’t you know that I could fly?
At least until I hit the ground
Didn’t you see me waving,
When I went past your window?
Didn’t you know that I could fly?
I found out on the way down
Please forgive the intrusion
As I go down past your window
I didn’t know that I could fly until I hit the ground
While I still can
While I still can
How was it like the film experience and what’s the concept behind the video?
The filming experience was great. This was my first time in a film studio, and we loved it. The film was producer/directed by The Cowboy Surfers (directors Andrew Richards and Mike Carr). They were really supportive to work with and we had so much fun.
The concept of the video was created by Mike Carr. It’s about the setbacks and frustrations of a man on a journey to give a present to his partner. Although the story is different to the original inspiration of the song, the mixture of desperation, defiance and playfulness seems to fit nicely.
We were delighted that the Voice Of America network selected the video for their pick of the week’s best new music videos and broadcast it internationally.
How you guys feel about playing the Fiddler’s Elbow?
We are big fans of the Fiddler’s Elbow. They are great supporters of independent music. We regularly play there.
Rock Band vs. Vampires. How you guys feel about having your music played in this film?
The selection of our band to provide music for the soundtrack was almost certainly biased by me also being the writer of the script…
What can you tell us about the film?
Jeremiah Winterford is an old-fashioned vampire who finds himself awkwardly out of place in a modern world. Forced to move from his castle following a torching from his vampiric rival, Winterford and his surviving acolytes find themselves making a new home in Camden (London’s musical capital). Where better for a vampire to hide in plain sight?
Sorcerer’s Tower, an unsuccessful prog-rock band who find themselves have been booked to play at the re-opening night of a Camden venue, now under new (vampiric) ownership.
Armed with their instruments, can the band save their small number of fans?www.fb.com/rockbandvsvampires
We are aiming at something like a cross between Spinal Tap and Shaun of the Dead in terms of tone.
It’s being made on an ultra-low budget by a team of enthusiastic volunteers.
Invisible. How was the recording and writing process?
I like it best when we are playing together as a band, but for practical reasons (my colleagues are all busy professionals with other groups as well), most of the writing, recording and producing was done on my laptop at home, by me at odd moments here and there.
Usually I start with a small lyrical phrase which seems to fit a melodic fragment, or a chord sequence, and it builds from there.
How you guys came out with the title?
The album is about the experience of invisible disability. There are many people with medical problems which you can’t see from the outside.
Where did you guys get the inspiration from, lyrically speaking?
Almost all of the songs on the album relate to my experience of invisible disability, however I hope it’s not quite as dreary as that must sound. Some of the songs are defiant, others more bleak. The album ends with more cheerful stuff – my son wrote a blues song ‘Just So Love You’ which is on the album, and there’s an electronica piece with a sample of my son saying ‘hello’. It’s like a wake-up from my kids not to be too introspective."
Good evening one more time and thanks for sticking with me fellow progheads! Moving into the February section of the 2016 calendar, my search for all things prog continues to shine a light on fresh, new, and unique music and artists taking root in the prog garden. I extended my London stay an additional seven days so as to explore one such band that is unique in several ways...
Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate has a sound that roams through many sub genres of progressive rock; confining them to one area of the prog garden is not only impossible it would be unfair to the talents and abilities of the band's founder Malcolm Galloway. But aside from their distinctive sound, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate does a lot of "extra curricular" work and gives back to the community from which it draws...more on that later.
This tour through London I decided to not only dive into the sounds of Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, but also peel back a layer of the onion and have a chat with the aforementioned Mr. Galloway, the mastermind behind the curtain. So a bit of a melange here as I intertwine an interview with a music review...The prog buffet is the best place to start and a serving of "Head In A Jar" is the right antidote for what ails ya... The vocals are piercing as the drums and guitar almost plead with you; keyboards slide through the middle like the creme brulee hiding under a layer of caramelized sugar...one pleasure after another.
There is a sense of urgency riding the under current here; I get a scent of Uriah Heep jamming with Atlas Volt on this cut. Hats off Gentlemen is definitely forging their own identity...
Closet Concert Arena: First off, the name of the band...unique is an understatement. Any back story here?
Malcolm Galloway: The band originally started as a vocals/guitar and flute duo with my wife Kathryn Thomas. We had a gig the day before our youngest son was born and had to give a band name for the introduction. I'd always had an image in my mind of Victorian gentlemen throwing their top hats in the air and shouting, "Huzzah!"; not because they think something is amazing, but because it is adequate. It is also a playful reference to Robert Schumann's review of Chopin (hats off gentlemen, a genius). I'm pretty self-deprecating so the name suits my personality. But on the other hand it might not suit the sound of the music very well--and is poorly suited to Twitter. Once the band name is written, most of the 140 characters are gone.
CCA: Malcolm, you are listed in the music credits as as either playing alone or with colleagues...is the band a full time gig for everyone involved or are you the driving force and bring others in for live performances and recording when necessary...in other words; who is Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate?
MG: I'm very fortunate in that I get to play with a group of outstanding musicians. Our flautist Kathryn Thomas is a professional classical flautist who is regularly heard on the BBC with her wind quintet The Galliard Ensemble. I met Mark Gatland (bass) in school; we have been playing together for decades. Rudy Burrell (drums) is an extremely musical drummer and has an excellent ear for song structure. Ibon Bilbao (guitar) is a much more technical/pyrotechnical guitarist than I am; his background is classic rock and metal. Live we play in any combination of me solo or with one or more of my colleagues. For recordings so far, it is initially me composing on a laptop. Some tracks remain that way multi-tracked while others feature one or more of the band.
CCA: How long have Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate been around and how many albums on the resume?
MG: We've been going for about four years and released two albums; "Invisible" (about invisible disabilities) and "When the Kill Code Fails" (about artificial intelligence). I have also released a couple of albums of contemporary classical minimalist music under my own name.
CCA: Your sound has flavors of jazz, metal, ambient, and classic prog just to name a few. Who/what do you consider the biggest influences on your writing?
MG: Pink Floyd/David Gilmour, Marillion, and Steve Reich are big influences for me. In terms of lyrics I am inspired Philip K. Dick.
Time to give a listen to a song that wanders off the "standard" prog path; a piece with an electronic bent a la Tangerine Dream called "Freerunning." The sci-fi connection hits you right out of the gate (thank you Philip K. Dick), and the pulsing drums carry the heavy-laden bass line and strong layer of guitar quite nicely.
The terrestrial-like keyboards hover overhead and reign down like shards of crystal...Hats Off Gentlemen defies categorization with pieces like this. Imagine Geoff Downes collaborating with Pat Metheny and a mellow Carmine Appice and you start to get a feel for this tune...
CCA: You perform a lot of charity gigs and do a lot of fundraising for very worthwhile causes...what is the connection to this side of your music?
MG: There's a lovely atmosphere at an event where everyone has come together as volunteers to make something happen. We put on an annual "Save The Children" fundraiser at The Fiddler's Elbow. Even small donations can make a big difference to vulnerable children. For example; it only costs about 50p for a sachet of rehydration medicine to prevent a child from dying of diarrhea. We've also done events for Ehlers-Danlos Disease charities (my link with that is I have the condition), Brain Tumor UK, and Marie-Curie.
CCA: What can fans expect from the band as 2016 progresses?
MG: Next we are on to playing in Camden's Dublin Castle on February 11th, while simultaneously working on our third album as well as the music for the comedy/horror feature film "Rock Band vs. Vampires."
CCA: That is a fairly full schedule... If you could play a gig with anyone alive or dead, who would you be on stage with?
MG: That's tricky. It would be lovely to do something with Steve Hackett, David Gilmour, or Steve Rothery; they are very inspiring musicians. I'd quite fancy a jam with Eminem. I am though quite spoiled already in having incredible and supportive musicians in my band--and very grateful for that.
Liner Notes time...As Malcolm mentioned earlier, in addition to himself on guitar, vocals, and keyboards, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate will consist at one moment or another of Kathryn Thomas on flute, Mark Gatland on bass, Rudy Burrell on drums, and Ibon Bilboa on guitar. Malcolm has shed some light on what drives Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate as well as what separates them from others in the prog garden. More than simply music, this is a band with a cause--a worthwhile cause.
What makes Malcolm and the rest of Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate unique is their understanding of the role the music plays in the bigger picture...and their ability to make the music a vision one can "see" with eyes and ears. Hanging in the jazz/metal/ambient corner of the prog garden means there are few direct peer to relate to, but an incredible opportunity to expand on a point of view. The band's latest release is called "When The Kill Code Fails." I found a gem quietly inserted into this concept album called "I Still Remember You." The song opens with gentle drum and keyboards as a backdrop to painful vocals appealing to the emotions buried deep in a heart coming to grips with the reality of who/what he is. The soft layers of sound continue throughout and belie a dark gripping pleading that leaps through the vocals. Hats Off Gentlemen emit top notes of Marillion and Alan Parsons Project on this tune...I detect traces of Gentle Giant permeating the air as well.
CCA: What else do you want the world to know about Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate?
MG: Our live gigs are fun and playful, even if the lyrics are quite dark--defiant rather than bleak. We tend to play our "rockier" tracks live. We are aware there is a lot of music out there, and we are extremely grateful to all those taking the time to listen to what we do.
And that in so many paragraphs, words, videos, and explanations, is Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate...or is it? Being of the cynical variety, I tend to doubt that anything is as simple and obvious as it seems. Here is a an up and coming band, tending its own little acreage in the prog garden. Upon first listen you find a sound that is distinctive...coming from nowhere in particular yet bouncing through your prog consciousness like Tommy's pinball...stirring up images and emotions you weren't aware of prior. That, my fellow progheads, is why I so enjoy the search for all things prog. The prog garden is quite lush with quality bands that push the envelope and musicians that push the genre in new directions. It is not, however, flowing over with bands and musicians that understand the frailty of it all...that everything can be taken away in a second so best to enjoy the moment in the moment and give back what you can while you can. Enter Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate and the prog world's axis tilts just a bit...you can feel the difference in the emotions; much like the difference between velvet and corduroy. One last music link for your enjoyment; "Solace." The laser no sooner starts to read the disc than you pick up a Pink Floyd vibe...this is a song that will burrow deep into your emotional lock box. The gentleness and innocence that lead you down a friendly path of ferns and moss slowly morphs into a dark trail fraught with uncertainty and suspicion. Hats Off Gentlemen ride the pendulum back and forth from dark to light in a way that might have taken Edgar Allan Poe off his game.
So fellow progheads, we have travelled yet another tangent road in the prog garden. Malcolm provided quite the glimpse behind the curtain, and Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate illuminates a side of prog not often glimpsed--the human side. Progressive rock is an outlet for so much, providing the artist the opening necessary to walk the listener into the labyrinth that is prog...so just relax, open your mind, and prepare to be transfixed...you're welcome......and the search for all things prog continues on its way...rummaging through the garden for still more as yet undiscovered treasures...until next week..." Vincent Iacocca
Interview with Patrick Hickey Jr, Review Fix (11/27/2015)
Review Fix chats with Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate’s Malcolm Galloway, who discusses the band’s new album “When the Kill Code Fails,” his unique creative process and more.
Review Fix: How do you think your unique backgrounds affects your music?
Malcolm Galloway: I used to spend most of my working life looking down a microscope, but due to a genetic collagen disorder, this has become progressively more difficult for me. A few years ago I had to cut down to three days a week in that role, but more positively that lifestyle change gave me more time to pursue my musical passions. Both my experiences as a neuropathologist and my experience with a chronic invisible disability have affected my creativity – experience with challenging subjects and difficult situations. My first album, Invisible, was about invisible disabilities, which I suppose isn’t a typical topic for a rock album. A fair bit of my creative work is playfully bleak, although I’m told it sounds more defiant than miserable.
Review Fix: How was the album written? What inspired it?
Galloway: The album follows the story of an artificial intelligence construct that gradually becomes aware of itself, and deals with the issue of what consciousness means. I’ve always been interested in both science and science fiction, particularly authors such as Philip K Dick who question what ‘real’ means. My background in neuroscience also feeds into this. Does consciousness require a biological brain, or would a model of a brain, if sufficiently complex, produce something similar?
I hope that the music and songs stand on their own as well, so that if someone has no interest in philosophy of mind issues they will still enjoy the album, but hopefully there’s also something extra of interest for those who want to engage with the lyrics.
In terms of practically how it was written, I generally write in Sonar on a laptop. Often there is a small piece of lyric that pops into my head and seems natural to go with a melodic pattern that starts the song-writing process. Then the song evolves from there. Sometimes it’s the other way round, and it starts with a chord sequence or a riff, and the rest of the song follows from there.
Review Fix: What’s on your musical bucket list?
Galloway: I’d like us to keep building up our support, play more gigs, keep on recording. I’m pretty happy with what we are producing at the moment, and keen to keep up the momentum.
Review Fix: What inspires your style as a group?
Galloway: There’s a lot of prog rock influence in there – Pink Floyd and Marillion particularly. Also, there’s classic rock – Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Queen, and metal. My voice and a lot of the guitar playing is quite bluesy. I’m also very influenced by the classical minimalist composer Steve Reich.
Review Fix: What are your goals musically for the next year?
Galloway: Next year I’m hoping we’ll complete the comedy-horror feature film I’m co-directing with Raed Abbas. That features a lot of our music, and also includes me having a go at acting, as the slightly odd and not enormously practical singer/guitarist of an obscure prog rock band. This obviously was an enormous stretch… As well as the rock music in the film, there will also be more traditionally ‘film-music’ type bits that I’m writing. I’m very keen to get on with writing and recording the next album, which will be our 3rd as a band. I should also be releasing a third album of my classical minimalist music, which I release under my own name.
Review Fix: Bottom line, why should someone check out your tunes?
Galloway: Well, I’d be very grateful, but that’s probably not an entirely convincing reason. Our style is quite varied, but if you like the idea of classic prog rock with an angrier edge, you might like our stuff. And if you like electronica, you might like the instrumental tracks between the songs.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Galloway: In the immediate future we’ve got our album launch event on December 3.
Then we’re putting on a Save The Children fundraiser at the Fiddler’s Elbow on January 7.
Then in February we’re playing at the Dublin Castle in Camden.
The physical CDs of the new album should be arriving from the pressing plant in the next few days.
We’re hoping to tour a bit further afield in 2017."
We are very grateful to the Music Street Journal for their extensive interview with us for their magazine and printed book. The full interview is at their website. Here are a few highlights -
MSJ: Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a ‘highlight reel’?
Mark Gatland: I've been playing bass since I was about 12 or 13 at secondary school, and my first ever school band was alongside Malcolm, so we've been playing for a while. I've played with a wide variety of bands since then, playing all musical genres and still enjoy collaborating with other people and getting asked to add bass to their projects. But Malcolm and myself have a great synergy and musical understanding of each other which always leads to (hopefully) great results.
Malcolm Galloway: I started off learning the tuba (the huge brass instrument) when I was at school, playing in brass and wind bands, orchestras, and brass chamber groups. At the same time I was teaching myself the guitar and keyboard. At school at breaks Mark, I and others would often go to the music rooms to jam. I then got a bit distracted by becoming a neuropathologist. Many years later, I became involved in a hospital pantomime. I enjoyed singing and playing the piano in that ("Alone" by Heart was my big duet in the show) and realised how much I missed performing. I spent a few years building up from open mic nights to small sets in local Camden venues, either on my own, or with my wife, the classical flautist Kathryn Thomas. I was delighted that Mark wanted to get back to playing together again, and we just click musically so easily.
I think we bring complimentary things to the band. Mark always knows exactly where we are in a song, what lyric comes next, what key/chord is coming. That allows me to be quite free and exploratory, without being allowed to drift too far away from what we are supposed to be doing.
We’ve released three albums so far, and are working on our fourth. The first (Invisible) was about my experiences of invisible disabilities due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The music, I hope is more fun that that sounds like it would be.
The second album (When The Kill Code Fails) follows a science fiction story about artificial intelligence. The third was about evolution and symbiosis (Broken But Still Standing). Our current album explores issues relating to memory and its role in identity.
The kind encouragement of Steve Hackett (former Genesis guitarist) was a huge boost to our confidence. That was very significant in making me think, "OK we might be extremely obscure, but if someone like Steve Hackett thinks our music is worth listening to, then maybe we are doing something worthwhile.
Another big encouragement for me was being awarded "Prog Rock Album Of The Year" in 2015, and overall "Rock Album Of The Year 2017" (jointly with Roger Waters and Alice Cooper) by Beastie’s Rock show. Just to be considered in shortlists that included some of the musicians I greatly admire was an extraordinary experience.
The next big break for us came when we were invited by the Hard Rock Hell Prog Festival to fill a cancellation slot on the main stage, opening for Uriah Heep, Magnum and Carl Palmer, with 48 hours notice. To play to over 1,000 people in one of the world’s leading indoor progressive rock festivals was for me a life-changing experience.
Up until that point our gig line-ups were somewhat unpredictable. We were fortunate to play with a group of extremely talented musicians, but everyone has busy lives and different commitments. Our gigs ranged from solo acoustic or electric sets to five piece rock shows. Our drummer Rudy is one of the best musicians I’ve ever played with, or listened to, but when he moved out of London, it became difficult for him to commit to playing regularly with us. We had settled into a pattern in our live shows (and increasingly in the recordings as well) in which the key core of the band was myself and Mark (with Kathryn on flute particularly in recordings), sometimes joined by guests, and this was working well for us.
I used to be quite shy about using backing tracks, but Mark encouraged me to explore this, and I think he was right. In the albums I write most of the drums and keyboard parts myself, so when we play on top of these live, its still all us playing, just some bits we played earlier. I love playing with a full band, but Mark and I know each other so well, (having been close friends and musical collaborators for decades) and are both quite energetic performers, that the duo setup for touring seems to work. It also means we can travel light. We only need what we carry on the train, plus a PA to plug into, and we are ready to gig.
Before we played at the Hard Rock Hell, I was worried that we’d be laughed off stage playing with this setup alongside some of the greatest legends of the genre (prog isn’t known for its small band setups). I was blown away by the reaction of the audience and press from the event (Hard Rock Hell Magazine described us as "unlikely stars who stole the show"). It made me realise that even though our setup isn’t traditional, it works for us, and seems to come across to the audience with the authenticity and passion which we hope we bring to our performances.
After that we’ve had invitations for more festivals this year and next, and are collaborating with bands we’ve come into contact with via Hard Rock Hell on a series of Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate and friends progressive rock events at the Fiddler’s Elbow in London.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Mark Gatland: Early musical influences were things like Queen, Iron Maiden, Peter Gabriel's first four solo albums, '80s pop stuff, Joy Division and New Order, synthy stuff like Depeche Mode, '60s soul and Motown/Stax stuff.....loads, really - just a massive melting pot. My bass style is a mash-up of all those things, too!
Malcolm Galloway: I’ve also got a very wide range of musical interests and influences. I used to write about classical music, particularly contemporary chamber music and minimalist music. I’m greatly influenced by the interlocking shifting patterns pioneered by Steve Reich. Other big influences for me were Marillion and Pink Floyd.
In terms of bringing influences into our music, I tend to go for classic rock vocals (except for the songs that sound bleakly melancholic), funky bass and drums, proggy keyboards, and bluesy guitar solos.
MSJ: What’s ahead for you?
Mark Gatland: We're putting on a series of gigs throughout the year with other UK prog bands that we admire, including L’Acina, Bird Eats Baby, The Tirith, IT, Servants of Science and The Wood Demons. We'll be playing Fusion festival in March next year near Kidderminster, and hopefully as the band gets more coverage and better known we'll happily do more gigs and festivals. At the time of writing we're deep into recording our fourth album to hopefully be made available at the end of the year.
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labelled, but how would you describe your music?
Malcolm Galloway: Our music covers quite a wide range in terms of genre, but I’d say the centre of gravity on average is progressive rock. Some of the tracks are almost ambient, some almost metal. It is very gratifying, but also confusing in terms of labeling, that our music gets played by specialist rock, metal, ambient, folk, jazz, punk, and electronica (although not always the same songs) shows. We’ve played at venues ranging from the Hard Rock Hell festival to the National Gallery.
We’ve had a lot of support from metal broadcasters. Even though our music is fairly clean (in terms of not very distorted), I think the passion and sometimes anger comes across in a way that people in the metal community have engaged with.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you’d like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Mark Gatland: All dead unfortunately, but, John Entwistle on bass, Jon Lord on keyboards, John Bonham on drums and Freddie on vocals.....no explanation needed.
Malcolm Galloway: I’d be interested in hearing musicians collaborating in a way that was outside each other’s traditional comfort zones, so I’ll go for –
Vocals – Julianne Regan (All About Eve), Steve Hogarth (Marillion) and/or Eminem
Keyboard – Mark Kelly (Marillion), Lang Lang (classical pianist) and/or Philip Glass
Guitar – Two or more of Steve Rothery (Marillion), Steve Hackett (Genesis), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Jimi Hendrix
Bass – John Deacon (Queen) or Pete Trevawas (Marillion)
Drums – Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), or Ian Mosely (Marillion)
I’d give them a weekend in a studio, and each would choose a couple of songs they’d like to include at a charity gig at the end. Then they’d pull out of a hat which of the various musicians are going to collaborate on each song.
I’d like the show to include "Comfortably Numb" (Pink Floyd), "Are You Lonely" (All About Eve), and the opening group of songs from Marillion’s Clutching at Straws. I’d also like to include a pre-gig afternoon concert performance of the musical Chess with these performers, supported by one of the major London symphony orchestras.
I’d then like the show to end with a surprise appearance by Flight of the Conchords, who would be backed by selected members of the supergroup, and then end with everybody joining in with "Hey Jude".
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Mark Gatland: I keep stopping and starting A Book of Dreams by Peter Reich which is about his father, the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and was the inspiration for "Cloudbusting" by Kate Bush. Apart from that, I've just finished Underground England by Stephen Smith, (his follow-up to Underground London), which is a fascinating book on various old smugglers' coves, lost cities, ancient burial mounds, etcetera dotted over the country.
Malcolm Galloway: Audio books are probably my most extravagant vice. With my condition, it is useful to keep moving my back, so I spend quite a lot of time walking around while listening. I’m currently about half-way through Daniel Ellsbery’s The Doomsday Machine. This is an insider’s account of nuclear war policy making. I think this is an extremely important book. The description of the entirely detached way in which policies were made which would knowingly kill hundreds of millions of your own allies (in addition to the devastation to the populations of enemy states) highlights how group think mentality and dehumanisation readily take over if we aren’t careful.
I’ve recently enjoyed Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem series. I hadn’t previously read any Chinese science fiction. There are lots of interesting ideas in there about why a planet might not necessarily want to advertise its existence too widely.
I’ve also been impressed with Robert Newman’s Neuropolis. Robert Newman is a comedian who has turned his attention to challenging the assumptions we make in modern neuroscience. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but he argues his case well and very amusingly. I recommend this book to my students.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Mark Gatland: A couple of weeks ago I went and saw Steven Wilson at the Royal Albert Hall on his To The Bone tour. It's the third time I've seen him there, and he was staggering as usual.
Please go and see him when he hits North America, (if he hasn't done so already by the time this comes out.)
Malcolm Galloway: I recently went to the Prog Metal Madness festival in South London - a day of mostly unsigned independent bands. A very interesting mix of music, delivered with passion.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Mark Gatland: I'd say the first two would be Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers so they could recite old "Goon Show" sketches and do silly voices at each other. They both had fascinating lives and both were very complex characters. The third would be my dad, as I could tell him all about the daughter-in-law and grand-children he never got to meet and generally fill him in about what's been going on in my life.
Malcolm Galloway: I’d also say my dad. He died just over a year ago of bowel cancer, so there’d be much less detail to fill in than Mark would have with his dad, but I’d still love to see him again.
I’d like to invite Aristotle. Of the ancient Greek philosophers he was one that probably came closest to being a scientist. Although most of his scientific theories were wrong by today’s standards, I think he would be very interested in what’s been discovered since his death.
Unfortunately, I don’t speak Greek, however my third dinner guest, Charles Darwin did, and would be able to help with the translation. Darwin’s theory of evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology. Without an evolutionary perspective very little of biology or medicine makes much sense. He suffered from terrible self-doubt, and I think would be reassured to know how recent advances in understanding genetics have confirmed his predictions.
The full interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.