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For many of us, our 20’s are a time for self-development, exploration, and experimentation, which is all fun and games until the rent is due and you’re staring down the barrel of your 30’s. It’s a reality check that comes at you fast, but maturation seems to be something that Brighton punk trio Gaffa Tape Sandy have been able to incorporate into both their lives and music, whilst thankfully still leaving room for their art to flourish.

“We were little babies when we started Gaffa Tape Sandy!” laughs Kim (guitar). “The world is pretty fun and open when you're younger…we've all graduated now and discovered council tax, car insurance, and nectar cards. I think discoveries like that make everyone darker in some way or another…”

Now standing on the precipice of releasing their long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated debut album Hold My Hand, God Damn It on 31st May 2024 via Alcopop! Records, the past few years have been anything but plain sailing for the trio.

Formed in 2015 by three friends with a simple desire to make loud and exciting music, Gaffa Tape Sandy’s popularity quickly escalated thanks to a series of notoriously incandescent live shows and a seemingly endless hit parade of instantly memorable garage-punk-rock tunes.

Their 2017 debut EP Spring Killing led to them performing at Glastonbury Festival, with their next single ‘Beehive’ gaining much support including Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 Tip Of The Week, before being included in NME’s 100 Essential Acts for 2018.

In 2019 they announced their signing with Alcopop! Records, who released their second EP Family Mammal on vinyl and digital platforms, and their brand of giddily frantic, high-octane hyper rock ‘n’ roll landed them support slots with acts including IDLES, Peace, Art Brut, Weakened Friends, SuperGlu, Bloody Knees and UK tours supporting Indoor Pets and Skegss. Appearances at Live At Leeds, Liverpool Sound City, Latitude and The Great Escape Festival followed, as well as a number of international festivals across Iceland and Germany.

Riding high on their early success, the band piled into the van and hit the road for their first UK headline tour on what should have been a poignant and memorable victory lap in March 2020—a date which was to become otherwise notorious in memory for all the wrong reasons.

“Having our headline tour cut short by lockdown really felt like having the wind completely taken from our sails,” says Kim, remembering the period. “We didn't really get a chance to process it, as suddenly there was this catastrophe happening that hugely outweighed it. Things felt pretty rocky for a while, and we all had to step back from the band and music in general. Thankfully, we're all just really good mates, and that friendship between us all pretty much kept us together, and also really inspired the writing of the album.”

It wasn’t just the pandemic that threatened to derail the trio, though, as a personal crisis loomed internally with the breakdown of Catherine and Kim’s relationship.

“In some twisted way, we got lucky,” explains Kim. “Catherine and I broke up just before the headline tour; it was an emotional rollercoaster and I'm considering the option of making a sardonic rom-com out of it all, or maybe a disaster movie. We were lucky though, as after that, the lockdowns forced us to have a huge break from the band and touring, which is exactly what we needed in the circumstances.”

During that time the pair kept communication open, and ultimately remembered how important the band was to them both. “We never stopped valuing each other as people, and in the end that triumphed,” says Kim. “We still feel immensely proud of our previous releases. They had so much love put into them and they kinda remind us all of a somewhat easier time in our lives. There are still songs on the album which wouldn't seem out of place on those EPs, so I think the development has been pretty smooth for us.”

The majority of their forthcoming debut album Hold My Hand, God Damn It was recorded in November 2022 with longtime producer George Perks (Wargasm, Enter Shikari, Skindred) at Vada Studios in the countryside surrounding Birmingham, with ‘Split’ and ‘Get Off’ being the only notable exceptions, recorded in earlier sessions at Brighton Electric Studios.

“We’ve worked with George since the very beginning,” enthuses Cat. “He’s been the mastermind behind every release we’ve ever done as a band, and it’s been amazing watching him explode into this incredible producer. Because we’ve worked together for so long he knows how to pull the best out of us, and isn’t afraid of pushing us when we need it, like making us continually run ‘Queasy’ deep into the night when we had totally mentally tapped out, because he knew we could do a better version. Turns out, he was right, and that’s now one of my favourites from the album.”

“We’ve known each other for over a decade,” she continues, “so previous sessions have also been comfortable, but I think this time round we were a well-oiled machine, and it meant we were able to really throw ourselves in without having to worry about upsetting each other if we had differing opinions, and we trust him so wholeheartedly with our songs.”

With their previous back catalogue consisting solely of EP releases and singles, the band faced the challenge of a full length album head-on for the first time. “It definitely felt like more of an undertaking,” says Kim. “We wanted this album to have very few songs that we'd played live before on it, so I think the difficulty came from trying to develop and firm up songs without the crucible of touring. Playing songs live really puts them to the test, so without that we had to make some bold decisions. The pressure is real.”

At its core, Hold My Hand, God Damn It is a testament to enduring friendship and mutual respect, and as such it’s a theme that courses through the album, but it also hides a dark underbelly of anger and hatred which bubbles below the surface. The closing track on the album ‘Queasy’ was written in the weeks after the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, and ‘Energy’ is essentially a breakup song for Kim and Catherine—as such it's a record that’s certainly not without bite.

“There are lighter tracks on the album too though,” says Kim, “as whilst we do feel it’s incredibly important to talk about the things that matter, we think it’s also very important to give people a place to mentally clock out and just enjoy the music. We hope we’ve managed to meld the two different elements together on this release.”

Many of the tracks on the album were written collaboratively, a marked departure from their previous process, which saw Kim responsible for the structures, lyrics, melody, and feel of the songs. “With this album we wanted it to feel more like all of us,” says Catherine. “There are still ‘Kim songs’ on the album, but there are also ‘Catherine songs’, songs that were totally written round the drum lines, and even songs that were totally born out of jams or spontaneous moments in the rehearsal room.”

It wasn’t just the band’s lives that changed in those tumultuous years between releases, but their musical tastes too, with the trio collectively developing a taste for heavier music. “I've been listening to a lot of hardcore punk,” says Kim, “and Robin has always had a bit of a heavier alternative taste in music. I think this album suits Robin's taste more than anything we've written so far. Previously, our sound was a touch lighter and more juvenile.”

“We all took a step back from music, and when we came back to it I think we just naturally found that things had changed, and we were going to have to embrace that or fall apart,” he reasons. “I think it forced us to mature; as people and as musicians, and actually at first, that was a hindrance to our songwriting while we adjusted to what we'd be making. I think to all of us, when it really comes down to it, Gaffa Tape Sandy is joy, expression, and friendship.”

2023 saw the band kickstarting preparations for the forthcoming new release as they launched into a wave of live activity taking in a full UK tour supporting The Subways and several sold out nights supporting Mom Jeans within the first few weeks, followed up by a packed summer of festival appearances. With their sights now firmly set on launching a full scale assault on 2024, the trio will be pulling no punches as they reveal further new music and live dates over the coming months.

“We've been blessed this year with gigs and festivals,” says Kim of their much-anticipated live return. “We've met so many great people and we've been so fortunate. We can't wait to get back on the road in 2024 and we've got some really exciting opportunities coming that weren't available to us before. See ya soon guys!”