Gary McGuinness’ story is one that’s fraught with setbacks. Unreliable band mates, absent producers, and dodgy managers have threatened to throw The Survival Code off course time and time again. Many would have taken the relentless bad luck as an omen and packed it all in for a handsomely-paid job in finance, but if anything it’s made Gary more determined to surge ahead regardless. “You need a tough skin for this business, it leaves you guessing all the time,” he explains. “But at least I’ve stayed true to my ideas.”
Since relocating from Ireland to London in 2010, he never has given up on those ideas. The front man has had a prolific approach to writing, releasing a handful of songs and EPs. Now, he’s gearing up for his most extensive offering yet in the form of a sophomore album. The ‘Hopelessness Of People’ is due late summer and will feature recent singles ‘Not Working’ and ‘Along The Way’, each now available to buy as a digital download.
The aptly-titled album sees Gary harness his frustrations with a brand of high octane, no frills alt-rock. Along with doorstep-sized riffs, his emphatic vocal lies at the heart of the record, bellowing out calls to arms at every chorus. Of course, credit goes to regular drummer Tom Cook, whose battering drums and on-record energy bolsters the mix.
Band aside, the title of MVP goes to producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Parkway Drive), who stepped in after the original producer bailed in the eleventh hour. “Matt mastered our first album, ‘MMXV’, so we contacted him,” says Gary. “He’s one of the guys that’s made everything work and helped us adapt in situations where you’re fucked overnight.”
With Matt enlisted, the duo swapped their planned studio retreat in Cornwall for the producer’s preferential South London spots, and came away with a record that they couldn’t be more proud of. “Even though I’ve had the album for a year now, as it stands, I can’t find another album that I love as much as ours,” Gary gushes.
As well as being the band’s saviour for the record, Matt also played a big hand in helping realize The Survival Code’s live sound. Having stripped down from a quartet to a duo, Gary’s biggest quandary has been how to reproduce the band’s on-record sound in a live setting. “I’m not a technologically savvy music guy so I didn’t know how to do it, but we’re now at a point where we’ve got all the backing vocals and bass on track,” he explains.
Though the front man expresses concerns about whether the use of backing tracks will compromise his credibility, he believes that The Survival Code’s live show will unlock their music for many people. “I’m certain if someone cracks in for a song, they’re not gonna leave,” he insists. “It’s not necessarily because of the songs, it’s because the experience is so full on.” It’s true; he manages to conjure the sound and energy an extra band member might provide. If he’s not tap-dancing across his pedal board, he’s capturing the crowd with his emphatic and theatrical vocals. True to form, he’s no nonsense, no compromise, no prisoners.
‘Hopelessness Of People’ is due out in August.