By Peter Atkinson
Photos from www.facebook.com/gentlemanspistols
and Nuclear Blast Records
England’s Gentlemans Pistols have maintained a steady, if somewhat low-key – and apostrophe-free – presence over much of their dozen years together. Led by frontman/guitarist/founder/lone original member James Atkinson, they have released three albums – the latest of which, Hustler’s Row, arrived in mid-October – and toured mostly around their home country and mainland Europe, with a few gigs in Japan.
With Hustler’s Row, however, the band stand to make something of a bigger splash. For one thing, after two albums on the modestly underground Rise Above Records, the Pistols have signed with Nuclear Blast for the new record. For another, since 2009 the band’s ranks have included guitarist Bill Steer, whose other band – and fellow Nuclear Blasters – Carcass have experienced a remarkable resurgence in the wake of their 2012 comeback album Surgical Steel, raising the Pistols profile – even if slightly – by osmosis.
And Hustler’s is just an all-around more likable album than the previous releases, full of bouncy rhythms from drummer Stuart Dobbins and new bassist Robert Threapleton, fetching harmonies and hooks, and fantastic guitar teamwork from Steer and Atkinson. Its retro vibe channels everyone from Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple to The Sweet and Traffic, with just a hint of old Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, without ever sounding like mere idol worship.
Via Skype from the band’s home base of Leeds, Atkinson offered the following about the new album and the label situation, the evolution of Steer’s involvement with the band and its impact on their sound, and his hopes for the road ahead as the Pistols look to strike while the iron is comparatively hot.