There’s a lot of ocean between Kentucky and Liverpool but that didn’t stop two like souls from getting together to form a band. Gemstone Heist is singer/guitarist Ashley (from Kentucky) and keyboardist/drummer/lyricist Gail (Liverpool), who initially connected online discussing their similar musical taste. So of course the next logical step was to start writing songs together. After logging copious amounts of air miles and exchanging ideas across the net, Gemstone Heist was born.
Gemstone Heist bill themselves as Indie Folk but list Arctic Monkeys, MGMT, Ladytron, and The Strokes as influences. Their most recent single – Green Bay – is a moody and dreamy slice of Mazzy Star with Ashley’s voice invoking Hope Sandoval or Kristen Hersh over a Bon Iveresque melody. We look forward to hearing more from this duo.
In the meantime, Ashley and Gail were kind enough to answer our questionnaire.
50third: People say we sound like…..
Ashley: Decemberists, The Smiths, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Gail: We’ve had a diverse mix. Tegan and Sara, Jenny Lewis as well.
50third: We are originally from…..
Gail is from Liverpool, England – Ashley is from Eastern Kentucky.
50third: Who are some that have an influence on your sound?
Ashley: The Beatles, The Smiths, Arctic Monkeys and some country and folk.
Gail: Same again, everyone says the Beatles, and it has become a bit of a cliché, but yep, them.
A lot of indie bands such as the Smiths, Arctic Monkeys, Stone Roses. A lot of British stuff.
50third: The first time we all decided to get together and make some music…
Ashley: Around 2011, Gail sent me some lyrics for a song called ‘Suitors’ and I wrote some music for it, so it started from there.
50third: Tell us about your live show…
Ashley: We’ve only performed locally so far, in coffee shops and open mic nights in Kentucky and in Liverpool.
50third: What influences the band lyrically?
Gail: For me it’s writers like Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner. I guess they are all very Northern English. There is a certain type of humour and turn of phrase up here that influences me. It’s a toughness and softness at the same time. Just listening to people here can influence and help with song writing. Also book titles, films and phrases over heard.
50third: Our craziest/most memorable gig ever was….
Ashley: Hah, erm..we’ve only ever done small gigs so far, so no sex and drugs as yet!
50third: If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
Ashley: The 1960s, probably seeing The Beatles perform in the Cavern.
Gail: Same as Ashley, and also to see the Stone Roses first play – and also Pet Shop Boys in the early 80s. I like a lot of synth and electronic music.
50third: Growing up, at home we listened to…..
Ashley: Classic rock from the 70s. The Beatles, John Lennon’s solo stuff, Paul McCartney and Wings and old country artists like Alabama.
Gail: The Beatles, Abba, Pet Shop Boys and listening to 80s albums on repeat such as A-Ha. Dad used to listen to a lot of musical sound tracks and classical music as well.
50third: What tunes are on heavy rotation for you…
Ashley: Hozier, George Ezra, the new Decemberists album, Edwyn Collins and Led Zeppelin.
Gail: Hmm, I never listen to a lot of new stuff, mainly things that I like off new Spotify lists. I like the new stuff coming from Catfish and the Bottlemen though.
50third: If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Ashley: The Decemberists, love their songs and lyric writing.
Gail: Ahh, this is too hard. So many. I’d love to open for the Pet Shop Boys, always loved them and their theatricality for putting on a good show. The Killers for their tunes, and again Arctic Monkeys for amazing music and Alex’s charisma.
50third: When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
Gail: Probably at home reading, addicted to the Kindle, painting – or maybe fishing if I’m in the U.S.
Ashley: Spending time with friends or working out. Or walking the dog!
50third: The one thing we want you to remember while you’re listening to us….
Ashley: That we are grateful to people who listen support and download our music.
Gail: That it’s an opportunity for you to also go and write your own songs or perform. It might be that you write a book or have a conversation about something. We’ve been influenced by so many people, not just music – and it’s an opportunity for you to influence your world as well (hopefully for the better).
50third: What’s up for 2015?
Gail: Performing more live. For me, writing more lyrics and getting better at that. More instrument practice!
Ashley: Writing the new album and more travel – getting to see more of the world.