How Gang of Four’s Andy Gill survived the Balboa Park Carousel

This year marks the 40th anniversary of their Entertainment! debut

Gang of Four play the Casbah on Tuesday, February 5th.
  • Gang of Four play the Casbah on Tuesday, February 5th.

Andy Gill’s the guitarist, lyricist, political and cultural commentator, record producer, photographer, and last remaining founder member in Gang of Four, and surely no shrinking violet. But he just about met his match at the Balboa Park Carousel.

“Scary as hell!” he sums up the Carousel. “’Cause it looks like it's going to fall to pieces.  I remember doing an interview actually on it, and talking quite calmly, and then when it got up to speed I was just screaming.”

Surving the Carousel, he fell in love with the historic Hotel del Coronado, shelter to celebrities, sixteen Presidents, and allegedly, one ghost. Gill doesn’t mention seeing a ghost or any Presidents, but he logged many hours at the Hotel through the ’80s, flying down from the band’s unofficial home away from home in L.A. He brings the act back to the Casbah on Tuesday, February 5.

Past Event

Gang of Four

  • Tuesday, February 5, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+

The Four’s other three include drummer Tobias Humble, bassist Thomas McNeice, and singer John “Gaoler” (pronounced “jailer”) Sterry—all considerably younger than Gill, who co-founded the band at the University of Leeds in 1977. His dry, jarring, and grating guitar tone grabbed the audience’s ear from the first.

“When I was a kid,” he remembers, “I absolutely loved Jimi Hendrix. Not a day would go by that I wouldn't listen to that.  But at the same time, a very different player, Keith Richards, I loved the Stones, back then anyway, great sound, great riffs. I also like the Stax Records [with] Steve Cropper, that kind of tight, very funky, thing...

“One of the most exciting guitarists I've ever seen was Wilko Johnson, [with] Dr. Feelgood, a British band, did incredibly well here, did okay in America…over here they'd call it R&B, but nobody in America would recognize that as R&B. 12-bar, often, but not always. His style, sort of mechanical and robotic, sort of the antithesis of feeling and emotion, and really exciting to watch.”

The new album Happy Now grew out of the Complicit EP, released last year, and finds Gill running over his time-honored obsessions; real vs. fake, words vs. deeds, and the true nature of history—is it a linear arrow, a repeating, rotating circle, or some of both?

The band’s breakout LP Entertainment!, turns 40 this year. Asked what he’d tell his 1979 self if he could, Gill groans, “Oh God...I’d say, 'Don't waste so much time, work a bit harder. Opportunities don't always come along every five minutes.'”

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