MUSIC REVIEW: Gentlemen Jackals

Photo courtesy of Gentlemen Jackals
by Brian Campbell

A Fife-based band is making its mark on the Scottish music scene thanks to a realistic approach to the entertainment industry and a penchant for infectious melodies.

Gentlemen Jackals were formed when lead vocalist Mark Wilson teamed up with guitarist Craig McMahon and bassist Scott Thomson, after answering an advert they had posted on Join My Band – a kind of social network for aspiring musicians.

Eventually the trio recruited Mark’s childhood friend Douglas Harden as drummer, something Mark describes as “the last piece of the puzzle”.

“Douglas and I have known each other since we were four years old”’ he says. “So he was the first person I turned to when we were looking for a drummer. I’d played with him in a punk band I formed at school so it was pretty easy to coax him out of drumming retirement.”

The trust between the band members, both on-stage and off, is evident as is the sheer joy they get from playing their brand of melodic rock music. Marrying 80s new wave dream pop akin to The Cure and Style Council with a 90s rock sensibility, their debut single ‘Hold My Body’ – available on iTunes and Spotify – is a musical ode to the quest for a partner. It underlines the band’s commitment to creating a catchy tune, too.

“The crux of what we’re trying to do is to just make good music,” says Mark. “Music people want to listen to. And music we as listeners would want to listen to as well. When you’re in a band with your mates, with no tension whatsoever, and you’re making great music together, that’s the definition of pure joy. I could do it all day, every day!”

Well on their way to becoming seasoned regulars on Scotland’s live music scene, the band has already taken to the stages of such iconic venues as Bannerman’s in Edinburgh, Glasgow’s The Box and Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow, and the Montrose Music Festival. Their favourite, however, is a now much-missed stalwart of the capital:

“We loved Electric Circus in Edinburgh,” says Craig. “It’s a real shame that’s closed – the promoters there were great to us, and it was always a banging night.”

PJ Molloys in Dunfermline is special to the band, too, so much so that they have chosen it as the venue for the launch of their next single, ‘Waiting for the Day’ on 28 July. And as Craig confirms, live performance is crucial to the guys’ enjoyment of what they’re producing.

“We don’t really think about genre when we’re writing songs,” he says. “I don’t think you can write music like that. We just write songs and if we like them then we’ll perform them live.”

Bassist Scott is not keen on pigeon-holing their sound either.

“I guess if we really had to label ourselves, we’d just be rock,” he says. “But the thing about rock music in the 21st century is that it’s so varied – every artist could technically be their own genre unto themselves.”

Obvious influences are there, however, with U2, The Stone Roses, Pixies and even Whitney Houston, cited as favourites. Inspiration is drawn from contemporaries on the Scottish music scene too.

“The live music scene here is great,” says Douglas. “There are so many interesting and unique bands – just look at the likes of Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad, they kind of created a sound unique to Scotland. And that’s the beauty of performing live – the more bands I get to meet and watch, the more great music I’m exposed to.”

The band has some sound advice for aspiring musicians, too.

“Be true to yourself,” says Mark. “Write the songs that come naturally to you and don’t try to sound or be like anyone else. Always try to make your next song your best song!

Gentlemen Jackals’ tracks are available on iTunes and Spotify. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Their new single, “Waiting for the Day” will be released on 28 July with a launch night at PJ Molloys in Dunfermline. Check the band’s Facebook page for more information:

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