09/04/2013 08:31 BST | Updated 06/06/2013 06:12 BST

Arthur Gun: Shooting From the Hip on the London Music Scene

Serious-minded songwriters have returned. Gone is the foul, metastasising era of Stock Aitken and Waterman and their 'Hit Factory', swept aside at long last by a tide of musicians dedicated to making music of depth that resonates with a music-loving public, a public which is awakening from its own bad dream of botox, gussets and 'Zig-a-zig-ah'.

'In times of recession, people turn inwards. They buy what matters. They buy music,' said Acid Jazz boss Eddie Piller in an interview with the Huff Post UK last year.


Which is where north London four-piece Arthur Gun comes in, one of the most interesting acts on the live scene, and not just because of the moustaches. Downstairs in Soho's Little Italy, the band convenes around a white table cloth to discuss how the major record labels have enervated an art form which is arguably this country's greatest export.

'The internet and blog culture is one of relentless replenishment,' says Jack Mullinger, 24, Arthur Gun's rhythm guitarist and lyricist. 'This makes it hard to find new bands. But they're out there, that's for sure.'

Jack started out listening to Arthur Lee and Love, Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills and Nash. 'I was, of course, also drawn to Bob Dylan. The lyrical content of our songs is quite snipey,' he says, 'but I have no political allegiances. Instead, I write about people politics in a wider social context.'

This smacks of wisdom from a man who has realised he can only be sold a political pup if he allows himself to be.

'Musically, we're adapting all the time,' says bassist Perry Neech, 23, sipping his breakfast beer. 'Jack will write a basic track on an acoustic guitar and then he'll bring it to us in the rehearsal room.'

The other band members are lead guitarist Tom Young (aka 'Soup' for obvious reasons) and drummer Grant Marsh whose immaculate playing is reminiscent of a young Rick Buckler. None of the four come from musical families. 'The only instrument I knew of as a kid was a trowel because my dad was a builder,' laughs Jack.

And the band's name? 'Years ago I wrote minor music reviews under the name of Arthur Gun. It's a name that I've been kicking around for years. It seemed appropriate for the sound we make,' says Jack, arcanely.

The sound pays fealty the late Sixties and early Seventies, with astute studio production rendering it modern and free of overkill. A song like Here Out West bares this out.

Gigging at famed club night This Feeling and counting power trio Little Barrie among their musician pals has seen Arthur Gun cultivate a large and appreciative audience. Theirs is a live act of old-school poise and stage craft which makes for a tight, gelled band with a clear vision.

When Jack first met Perry at Northern Soul Allnighter Crossfire in 2010, their friendship clicked. Soon after, they went in search of a lead guitarist. The story goes that when George Harrison-influenced Tom Young responded to an ad placed on Gumtree by the band, he sent in a photo of Adolf Hitler when asked for a mugshot of himself. 'I thought if they get that, then I'm onto a winner,' says Tom.

'We've all got a similar sense of humour which means that when we're making serious music, it prevents it being a chore,' adds Jack.

The band has played 16 gigs in the past six months. 'We're trying to be more specific with where we play,' muses Neech. 'It's tough to find suitable shows because a lot of the time offers come without contextual continuity. If you're playing an indie scene club night, it can be a little like flogging a dead horse. We're not a straight-up indie band, because that has just become a generic term denoting a guitar-band sound.'


With albums no longer the artistic statements they once were owing to the arrival of the download culture, are they keen to write and record a considered long player? 'Given the right circumstances and resources we'd love to be able to craft an album,' says Jack. 'An album is an artistic body of work listened to from beginning to end. The download culture has sidelined the communal aspect of listening to music and we're not concerned with social posturing because there is too much rock posing going on right now.'

Neech agrees. 'So much has been done to death and regurgitated in the rock world. It's time for a change.'

With things never tougher than now when attempting to secure that elusive record deal, the band hopes to work with a booking agent to gain greater exposure. 'When a band cracks it off its own back, that is to be admired,' says Neech.

So it would seem that this surge of London creativity has little or nothing to do with the worship of Mammon. Instead, all these brave stage dwellers are working for a higher cause. Call it a movement, and one which must not break rank because corporations, clueless at the best of times and run by bean counters, will eventually be unable to ignore them. The market will always dictate.

'Our ultimate aim is to connect with people while also entertaining them, but you also have to be true to your vision,' says Jack. 'You have to stick to your guns. Your Arthur Guns.'

© Jason Holmes 2013 / / @JasonAHolmes

Photograph by George Stavrou (@GStavrouFoto): (L-r) Jack Mullinger, Tom 'Soup' Young, Grant Marsh & Perry Neech

Graphic courtesy of Arthur Gun

Follow the band on Twitter @ARTHUR_GUN

Listen to Here Out West here: