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!
‘ARK’ – THE LATEST EP FROM HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE – IS AVAILABLE NOW THROUGH GLASS CASTLE RECORDINGS, AND THE BAND’S FIFTH ALBUM WILL BE RELEASED AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
FURTHER INFO ON HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: