Upbringing: Gary Powell

The Libertines drummer tells us about the music that’s shaped him.

Gary Powell is a busy man. Finding some time between being the energetic and iconic drummer of The Libertines (who celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut LP ‘Up The Bracket’ at Wembley Arena this Saturday), he’s set up a brand new indie label 25 Hour Convenience Store.

“I want 25 hour Convenience Store to be there for all the artists that believe their voice can’t be heard,” he explains. “Everybody has something to say and you should not be ignored just because you are not ‘En Vogue.’ I want the label to be there for the artists through thick and thin.”

With the label’s inaugural ‘The Steam Packet UK Tour’ kicking off on 7th October, Dead Freights are set to headline with support from Casino, Bear Park and Young Culture.

Now helping these new bands at the start of their careers, we decided to get Gary to look back on his for our Upbringing series…

What was the first gig you ever went to?
Apart from seeing Dennis Davis play with Roy Ayres (said with an air of smugness…), my first ever real gig was Miles Davis. I was into marching band as a kid and the older guys got permission from my folks to take me to the show. It was amazing and totally turned my eye towards the possibility that is all music, not just certain genres.

Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?
Yeah, there were jazz clubs that my pops was into. Luckily I had the sound bed of both sides of the Atlantic to trade off.

What was the first song you developed an obsession for?
Wow. I guess it was Cozy Powell’s ‘Dance with the Devil’ followed by George Benson’s ‘Nature Boy’.
I learnt how to play drums rudimentarily to ‘Dance with the Devil’, whilst also staring constantly at my dad’s vinyl. It was recorded at Rak Studios and had the half mast of a ship spinning through the centre of the record. Much later, I was able to record a single and album in the same studio.
The George Benson one was because I originally wanted be a roller skating lead singer guitarist - just like George, except for the fact that I couldn’t sing like him, was shit on roller skates and couldn’t play guitar.

What’s the first song you ever bought with your own money, and why?
That’s easy, it was Miles Davis’ ‘Boplicity’. I do however remember buying a record for a girl in my class in school’s birthday as I was invited to her birthday party. I hadn’t really heard it before but there was something about the artwork that drew me to it. The album was Japan’s ‘Quiet Life’. Unfortunately, I didn’t get permission from my folks to go to the party so I kept the record and grew to love it!

What’s your worst musical habit?
Self doubt, and not practising enough.

What inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?
Kind of a corny answer, but I inspire myself. Every day, I run the gambit of emotions from one moment to the next because of my own solitary confinement, my interactions with friends and family, sounds I hear on the street, stories I read of happiness and woe… All of these variations touch me on an emotional level and make me push to be more creative.

Tell us the best advice you’ve ever been given as a musician…
The best advice I have been given by a musician was to have faith in my ability to achieve and then surpass my own goals because there is no worse a critique of yourself, than yourself. That, and stay humble. Every day is a school day and you can be inspired and learn from the most basic source. Keep ‘em peeled and be willing to be inspired and learn from everywhere!

And if you could be in a band from the last two decades, which would you pick, and why?
Damn! That’s a toughy! To be honest, there are lots of bands and artists that I love from that period like Elliott Smith, Ben Harper, Raphael Saddiq, Snarky Puppy, Young Fathers, Sault (ok, may be Sault is the odd one out but I’d love to work with Inflow…), but not many that make me clamour to become a member of the band. Arthur Lee from Love once made me ask Sting for a gig, and then laughed his ass of at me cause he was stitching me up, but even that I wouldn’t be that bothered about. I have been in a band from the last two decades and I think I chose wisely…

Catch ‘The Steam Packet Tour’ at the following dates:

07 - The Rainbow - Birmingham
08 - EBGBS - Liverpool
14 - CLUNY2 - Newcastle
21 - Sebright Arms - London
26 - Joiners Arms - Southampton

Get your tickets here.

Tags: The Libertines, Upbringing

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