As the figurehead of Leeds hailing post-punk icons Gang of Four, Andy Gill sowed musical seeds across an array of artists with his four-decade spanning song writing reign: from the likes of St. Vincent, who declares Gill as her favourite guitarist, to the Red-Hot Chilli Peppers (whose debut album was produced by Gill). It is therefore the ultimate tribute to the late revolutionary guitarist/songwriter that his remaining recordings are given a reverential and typically brazen Gang of Four treatment. The band previously released This Heaven Gives Me Migraine, an EP which collected reinvigorated versions of past tracks (the 1979 classic Natural’s Not In It included), in addition to two spoken pieces of Gill’s. Forever Starts Now is the first single of Gang of Four’s Anti-Hero EP, with the second (Day Turns To Night) due June 26th. The EP’s remaining tracks are in the vein of This Heaven Gives Me Migraine, with updated editions of 2019’s Change the Locks and Glass of their unflawed original album.
Forever Starts Now, as the sole track from the EP to feature entirely “new” Andy Gill material, gives off both intensely familiar and distinctly refreshing impressions. Gang of Four fans may be reminded of the instrumental consistency of most recent album Happy Now, with Gill’s strides to constantly reinvent stamped firmly upon it (and this new track). Similarly to Happy Now, the new track boasts the band’s trademark jolting guitar patterns. This offering, however, stumbles malevolently with juddering instrumental breaks, giving the track an unpredictability alongside a modern tinge. As co-writer of the track and lead vocalist since 2012, John Sterry adds notable pop principalities to the track with the relatively pure vocals, but a Gang of Four stance is still gleamed from the lyrics’ fervent desperation. The bass is thudding and industrial, furthering the bleak urban landscape painted by the words.
Anti-Hero will be spearheaded by a production team of the band’s bassist Thomas McNeice and Santi Arribas, a beloved collaborator of Gill’s. The bassist admits that it was “nice to feel (Gill’s) presence and influence again” and this is astoundingly true of Forever Starts Now. Going further, McNeice hopes the “EP exhibits a progression in Gang of Four, while paying tribute to a unique talent that I was extraordinarily lucky to work with.”
Anti-Hero features an artwork series of Andy Gill portraits, which holds as much gravity as the music. The artwork is created by Sheperd Fairey, the man behind the historic “Obama Hope” imagery, in a similar way of evoking the subject’s powerful presence, with Fairey aiming to “create an iconic image of one of (his) heroes”, to emphasise that “though life may be fleeting, Andy’s potent art and ideas will endure.”
This iconoclastic approach to their work also runs through their new EP and single, just in a more destructive manner. In a ying and yang to the EP title, Forever Starts Now was initially titled Hero, due to “a character who sees himself as the hero of his own life and manipulates his partner into supporting this fantasy.”, as Sterry describes. Anti-Hero reflects Andy’s cynical view of supposedly great men, with his widow Catherine Meyer explaining his accuracy to “spot when someone was blowing smoke”. However, she maintains that he would “be delighted that artists he loved and admired have come together to celebrate him by launching this EP and for such a good cause.”
The Anti-Hero EP is out July 17th through On Republic. Profits from the label’s sales and streams, will be waived and instead go towards Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, who gave the late musician unending kindness. In the words of Gill’s widow Catherine Meyer, the staff went to such lengths as configuring the medical equipment to help “his musician’s brain try to build something interesting out of the cacophony.”
Listen to the single here.