The Christians frontman Garry on playing the Summer Pops and why lockdown 2020 was one of their most creative years
2 years ago
For The Christians frontman Garry Christian, the lockdown of 2020 was a doubled-edged experience.
On the one hand, it took him away from performing; a charismatic presence in front of a live crowd, where he’s been for more than 35 years.
But at the same time it gave him a breather from touring, which in turn meant that suddenly there was a chunk of calendar waiting to be filled with writing.
“I’ve got my little studio in the garden so what I did was go in there and just created more music for the band,” he says, “I know for a lot of other people it’s been a terrible time but I was lucky, for me it was really a very creative 18 months.
“We wouldn’t normally get such a large block of time to devote to writing, because we don’t have a record label and there’s no set structure within the year of doing an album, rehearsing and then going out on tour with it.
“With us we just intermittently go into the studio within the time frame of being out on the road. Any downtime we get we go into the studio, so to have this 18 months has been good for us in a way because we could settle down and actually do something solid rather than fitting it in between the other things.
“With most of these tracks I’ve collaborated with Joe Ankrah so the two of us just sat there and one of us would come in with an idea and we’d build on that and we wouldn’t finish until there was a song there.
“Not every day was as creative as some of them, some days we were just sitting there looking at each other, but in the end I think we’ve got 18 new songs, maybe even enough for an album.”
Working while the restrictions crippled live touring helped keep him sane as well as busy.
“We had something to do and that stopped us going nuts, even though we did still sometimes go nuts,” he laughs.
“But I think we’re not back to normal yet. You go out and see people walking round in a bit of a daze sometimes still, and scared to do the normal things like cough or sneeze, so it’s all a bit weird.
“Some people like the idea of working from home and don’t ever want to go back to work, other people can’t wait to get out of the house and get back to the office or whatever. It’s just thrown everything up in the air.
“For us, getting back into the office is getting back on stage and seeing people out there, and that feels really good.”
With no shortage of new material alongside a back catalogue of hits like their cover of The Isley Brothers’ Harvest for the World, Forgotten Town, Ideal World and Born Again, demand for The Christians is very much there and now from an extra generation of fans.
The band has already played six live dates since restrictions were lifted, including the 25,000-capacity Rewind festival in Henley.
“When we got back on stage all together I thought, I hope I remember all the lyrics,” Garry admits, maybe only half joking. “But it was just seamless, like we hadn’t been away, we just fell back into it and actually it was better because we were all fired up again.
“We do get a wide age range out there but then there was a lot of great music done in the 80s and at the time I think it wasn’t that appreciated. You look back and listen to those songs and go, ‘wow these are really great pop songs’ and I think that’s why 30-odd years later people still really want to hear them.”
With live gigs now back on, The Christians already have 60+ dates booked in, stretching into next summer, including their Liverpool Christmas bash at Grand Central Hall.
They’ll also be headlining the Summer Pops at The Neston Club on Friday September 17, with fellow Scousers Tea Steet Band.
“I love playing Liverpool and Liverpool audiences because there’s a lot of warmth and a lot of love there,” says Garry. “Scousers stick together and we love our own so it’s great.
“When they all sing back to you, it’s such a good feeling and it gives me a break from singing. And if I ever do hit a blank and forget the words I can just go ‘help us out here would you’!?”