Posted June 4, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Forthcoming Gang of Four EP Pays Tribute to the Late Andy Gill

Artwork credit: Shepard Fairey
Artwork credit: Shepard Fairey

“Forever Starts Now,” a brand new Gang of Four track written by singer John Sterry and the late Andy Gill, is as John explains in a press release,
about “a character who sees himself as the hero of his own life and
manipulates his partner into supporting this fantasy. The line, ‘She
sings along with his song / she thinks it’s like having the radio
on…’ always brings a wry smile.”

The fiery single that’s driven by a thick bass riff and gang vocals comes from Anti Hero,  a forthcoming EP that reflects Gill’s “lifelong mistrust of narratives around supposedly great men.”

The band along with Gill’s widow Catherine Mayer will use the EP to raise
funds for St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, the London
hospital that tried so hard to save his life earlier this year.

“Andy always had a healthy scepticism about celebrity culture and
populist politicians,” says Mayer. “And he could always spot when
someone was blowing smoke. Even so, he would be moved and
delighted that artists he loved and admired have come together to
celebrate him by launching this EP and for such a good cause.”

The EP will be released on July 17.

The cover artwork is a variant of a full-scale portrait of Gill that artist
Shepard Fairey created as a tribute after the Gang of Four founder’s

 “Gang of Four has been a profound inspiration for me because the band
demonstrates that great art can powerfully merge pleasure and
intellectual provocation,” says Fairey. “I was devastated to hear of
Andy Gill’s passing, but honoured to make a portrait of him in the
hope of creating an iconic image of one of my heroes — with apologies to
Andy, to me he was a hero — to serve as a reminder that though life may
be fleeting, Andy’s potent art and ideas will endure.”

The second single, “Day Turns To Night,” will be released on June 26. Sterry wrote it just days after Gill’s death, and it will also be the first single for his solo artist project, JJ Sterry.

“I had no intention of it being about him,” says Sterry of the song. “It just came out that way and also I didn’t intend for it to be released. I often
cloak lyrics with ambiguity and this felt too raw. But listening now,
I’m glad I wrote it with no thought of where it might go — it’s just a
pure distillation of the years I’d spent with Andy and the band.”

Other tracks on the EP include new versions of Gang of Four’s “Change
the Locks” and “Glass,” both of which reflect the times we live

“Both tracks were completed at the time of Andy [Gill’s] death; yet both
have incredible resonances for these lockdown times,” says John. “His
ability to write songs that remain relevant was unparalleled.”

Gang of Four’s longtime bassist Thomas McNeice worked with Santi
Arribas of the Mixing Factory, another of Andy’s firm friends and
collaborators of many year’s standing, to produce and mix the EP.

“It was strange, to say the least, to work on a Gang of Four EP without
the wisdom and guidance of Andy, but it was nice to feel his presence
and influence again,” Thomas says. “I like to think that this EP
exhibits a progression in Gang of Four, while paying tribute to a
unique talent that I was extraordinarily lucky to work with.”

All the people who worked on the album provided their services for free. All net receipts received by Gang of Four from sales and streams of the
forthcoming EP and associated singles will be donated to Guy’s and St
Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
The album’s distributor, Republic of Music, has also waived distribution fees for this project to maximize the income
generated for the charity.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust provides 2.6 million patient contacts in acute and specialist hospital services and community services every year. Asone of the biggest NHS trusts in the UK, with an annual turnover of almost £1.6 billion, it employs around 17,100 staff.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health
Sciences Centre (AHSC), a collaboration between King’s College London,
and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and
Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts. 

Cover portrait of Andy Gill by artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the iconic Obama Hope image


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].