Gang of Four

SINCE the 70’s, Gang of Four’s high energy music has gained them fans around the world. BBM’s Urby Urben caught up with lead singer Jon King to discuss their set at Soundwave as well as a bunch of side shows.


Why has it taken you so long to come to Australia?

We never got offered a tour, it’s no more complicated than that. I’ve never understood why that was, I’m so excited about coming.


I’ve never been to Australia at all. My daughter has visited Australia, she thinks it’s marvelous. All my friends have visited, I have excellent Australian friends in London.


The influence Gang Of Four has had on bands like Bloc Party, Futureheads and Radio 4 is well documented, was the success of those bands part of the reason for the reformation in 2004?    

Yes it was. It had been a long time since I’d done any work with Andy, it had been over a decade. I hadn’t even seen Hugo and Dave for about 14 or 15 years because they’ve both been living in North America.


Who influenced you when you were first starting out?

I particularly love dub reggae and guitar music like Jimi Hendrix. I love the lyrics of Bob Dylan and The Band and even pop music like Chic. But it did seem that when we started there was almost like a musical apartheid where if you were in a rock band you couldn’t play anything that had any groove or soul, unless you played in a funk band. All of these things are in this big soup. I suppose for me, listening to very old blues music has always inspired me because there’s nothing going on except a singer, a guitar and a microphone.


 What ratio of new to old tunes can we expect when you play here in March?

We will be playing in a set of 14 songs, probably 6 new songs, and then it depends on the encore. Sometimes we do two encores so that could be another 5 or 6 songs. You can never predict whether or not an encore will happen, but it could be as many as 21 songs, 6 of which will be new.


 I couldn’t help noticing that Natural’s Not In It was used for a recent Xbox advert, that couldn’t have been a decision that you made lightly. How did that come about?

Actually it was a decision that I made lightly. Some of the bands that I most love in the world like The Clash, The Stooges, The Velvet Underground and Blur have all used their stuff in advertising.


 I have been very weary about music being used on stuff, but because Andy and I both actually rather like playing games I thought it was good.   The conundrum these days is that you can’t make money from selling recorded music, so you have to somehow pay for your gas and lighting bills somehow or other.


Gang of Four play Soundwave across Australia, The Hi-Fi Brisbane on Feb 25th, Gaelic Sydney on March 1st, Melbourne’s Corner Hotel on the 2nd and Perth’s Bakery on the 8th.