Gallows brings hardcore punk to 15th Annual Vans Warped Tour | Music Features | Creative Loafing Charlotte
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Gallows brings hardcore punk to 15th Annual Vans Warped Tour 

Every summer for the last 15 years, the Vans Warped Tour has gone around the country bringing dozens of bands to a venue near you. Stages line the parking lot and walkways as the sweaty masses sing along and mosh their way through the day. Among the acts performing at this year's event will be veterans such as NOFX and Bad Religion and newcomers such as Shooter Jennings.

One act making its second go-round is the U.K. hardcore punk band Gallows who have gone from playing a smaller stage in 2007 for packs of 10 to 20 kids to one of the bigger stages for crowds of roughly 600.

"We stand out on the whole lineup because there aren't many bands who are doing the heavier, hardcore thing," Gallows guitarist Laurent "Lags" Barnard says during a recent tour stop in Pennsylvania. "Especially a band from Britain that hasn't been to the States that much. It's a good sign that 3Oh!3 fans are checking us out."

Many bands on Warped Tour complain about the heat and hectic scheduling, and Gallows is no different, especially coming from the more temperate climate of England. "You don't know what time you're going to play until the day of the show. It's a bit of a mind-fuck to be honest," Lags says. "We've done a couple 11:15 in the mornings, which is ... not ideal. We're playing to much more kids than we did two years ago, so it's fine."

As for the heat, he compared a recent show in Phoenix, Ariz., to the equivalent of being followed around by hairdryers all day. "Our best show was in Montreal when it was raining -- that pretty much sums it up," Lags says. "We're from England so we're not used to playing outdoors with the sun burning you while you're trying to do a solo. We're getting used to it. We play these dusty, muddy fields or carparks -- these places have everything against you."

While the band is used to performing in smaller clubs -- a recent tour in the U.K. sold out 2,000-seat venues -- they do what they can to translate that appeal to a larger scale venue.

The wide open feel of Warped Tour hasn't hindered one of the Gallows live traditions -- singer Frank Carter is known for some interesting antics while performing. He usually leaves the confines of the stage and makes his way into the crowd.

"He's everywhere," Lags says in his thick English accent. "He's one of the most uncontrollable people you can have in a band. It definitely helps give the band a bigger profile for the danger factor, but we'll be on stage and going, 'What the fuck's going on?' most of the time.

"He'll go into the crowd and disappear and we'll be like, 'Shit. Where's he gone?' and he'll pop up somewhere else. It can be hard at times, but we're just used to playing a lot of small club shows and we're trying to bring that back to Warped Tour."

They're also enjoying the challenge of going from clubs where 2,000 people are singing along to every word of their songs to trying to win over a lot of new faces. Most people have heard about Gallows by word of mouth or recent features in music magazines like Spin.

The band says it's hard to notice the growing popularity, however, because most fans at Warped Tour are so busy running around from stage to stage. "Warped Tour is such a crazy day and most kids aren't going to spend 40 bucks just to see us," Lags says. "We just take every show that comes -- we're not playing to Gallows fans, we're playing to punk rock fans who want to see something new. We've always been a piece in different lineups. All the cool kids have decided to stay at home because Warped Tour isn't cool anymore ... It's a matter of going out there and converting kids to your music."

Carter's brother, Steph, is also in the band -- the two are the only straight-edge members of the group, meaning they don't do drugs, or use alcohol or tobacco. Lags says it's not an issue and while they're brothers, Steph joined the band one year after they started, so "the dynamic was already set up. It's not like Oasis going on." Stu Gili-Ross and Lee Barratt are the final two pieces of the quintet.

Aside from any live antics, the band is also known for its politically charged lyrics that often berate England for the problems there. "I think a lot of different countries can relate to our lyrics because we all have the same problems and same issues," Lags says. "Great Britain -- we couldn't write an album against America because that would just come across as xenophobic. We're talking about the issues we know back home. As we travel the world, the same issues appear in many different places."

Lags says the band isn't big enough yet for people to get annoyed with or for them to feel backlash from the lyrics. They also don't feel like they're forcing their music and lyrics down anyone's throat -- "unless they come to a show, obviously."

While recording their latest CD, Grey Britain, the band spent a good amount of time keeping up with the news of the world. "When we were writing the record, in the studio, as a band we'd discuss what's been going on and it's really weird how we'd read the newspapers, especially after traveling the world and coming back home, and seeing the differences in different places," Lags says. "It sounds really lame, but we really did mature and become more knowledgable of what's happening around us. I think knowledge is the key to making things better."

As for the band's future plans, they'll continue to tour in support of the album and hope to do another tour here this fall. "We do well at home and we haven't really done much over here," Lags says. "I think the U.S.A. needs some Gallows."

The Vans Warped Tour will be at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on July 23 featuring Gallows, Shooter Jennings, Anti-Flag, Bad Religion and a whole lot more. Tickets are $23.25 in advance and $31.75 on the day of the show.

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