With three years since his debut album – having been delayed by a troubled personal life – and playing only a few sporadic live dates this year, Gabriel Bruce’s return is one of both triumph and torment. His compelling sophomore Come All Sufferers, released this year in May, received affectionate praise from long awaiting fans but fell short in pushing his profound voice out to the masses.
I was lucky enough to talk to him before his last date of the recent tour – a dazzling gig at Moth Club (the perfect ethereal, otherworldly venue for such a performance), and traversed the inner workings of the tortured mind of Gabriel Bruce.
Tell me honestly, how have things been going in the last few months in your world?
“Well it’s been a strange year – we were very lucky to do some dates supporting Florence + the Machine which took us all around Europe, and then did only a few small shows otherwise, and now this tour, which has been… an interesting experience. I’m just a bit tired and, well, disappointed – as I always am at the end of an album campaign. You take a long time to create this piece of work and then when it’s all over, you’ve got to deal with the reality of the situation and you can’t indulge your delusions of grandeur that you’ve built up in the lead up to its release. There’s always that slight feeling of being exposed once the bubble that’s been protecting you has burst.”
So the album didn’t live up to expectations in terms of its reception?
“I don’t know, I feel like the people that did hear it liked it a lot, but I think I was just hoping to be in a slightly better position than I am by the end of this album cycle. I’ve been making music and playing shows for ten years now, and you do want to see some progress, but it’s hard when you’re playing the same towns that you’ve toured before, but to less people. You start to think “Well, what am I doing wrong?”
Tell me about Come All Sufferers then, where did the inspiration come from?
“I made the album over a two-year period. I would have liked to have spent more time making the album in those two years but misfortune often intervened – there were various events that occurred which were significant and did make their way onto the album. I spent a lot of time just ruminating on darkness. However, I don’t think it’s a very dark album. There’s a lot more comedy than the first one, or at least it’s a lot more obvious now that you’re allowed to laugh at these things.”
You’ve also really developed your sound since the first album; this one explores so many different genres.
“Yeah, I’ve always been really interested in genre hopping. For me, what’s really interesting about pop music is when you can take two disparate musical ideas and force them together, and then in that collision and chaos is where some of the best music’s made, and where you can find a strange sort of conflict between musical ideologies and I find that really exciting. I also made this album’s creation a lot more about the recording process, so instead of doing it in a studio – and because I couldn’t afford one – I was able to produce it myself in different people’s bedrooms. I could use the original first takes of vocal tracks and make a song much more raw and honest – half the challenge sometimes is to not mess about with a song too much and to really keep it alive.”
There’s a lot of mention of religion on this album, how does that come into your life?
“I find religious imagery quite dramatic and exciting and you can use these images and ideas that people are very familiar with without having to explain an idea outright. But I hate religion. I loathe it. I think it’s one of the most destructive and evil institutions on this planet. Too many atrocities are committed under the name of God that would never happen if people didn’t believe in a higher power that they think is responsible. There is a lot to learn from the arts and the words of religion though. I think some of the Old Testament is very beautiful for example, there’s wisdom there and some important messages – but we’ve come to a point now where it’s been taken too far.”
And finally now that this tour is over, what’s next for Gabriel Bruce?
“I think I’m going to go to Spain for a while, shut myself away with no internet, read books, go swimming in the water, and write another fantastic album for very few people to hear.”