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13 Questions

13 Questions with God On My Right

With the release of their new EP at the end of July, we chat to the Liverpool duo.

Electronic duo, God On My Right, have been bubbling under the surface for some time now.

Consisting of Liverpool-born brothers, Sean and Michael Hollywood, God On My Right are the kind of band that wear their influences on their sleeve, and to fine effect.

Following the release of their 2017 debut, the Swallow EP, in 2019 the Golden EPs I  and II were a one-two rabbit punch filled with industrial noise-scapes and abrasions that could very nearly incite a riot.

Two years on from the pair of EPs, God On My Right bring us Say If You Are Wicked, whereby the Hollywoods unashamedly excavate through the furrows of pop whilst contaminating those landscapes with their trademark industrial pesticide.

From the sonic brain scramble of Uriel to the pop malevolence of Killer Now and closing number, Chainsaw, God On My Right expand their sonic repertoire on Say If You Are Wicked.

It doesn’t stop with the above-noted tracks, either. There’s Peach, which flanks the origins of darkwave with mansion pop, while the paranoid bluster of Year Zero-era Nine Inch Nails on Why the Devil is full blown reverence and of the good variety.

In short, Say If You Are Wicked, is God On My Right‘s strongest offering yet.

Ahead of the July 30 release of Say If You Are Wicked, which will coincide with the band’s EP launch at Jimmys, Sean Hollywood was kind enough to partake in our 13 Questions feature.

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1. How have you been coping with lockdown?

Sean Hollywood: “Well, we were lucky enough to be able to continue our day jobs throughout a lot of the lockdown period, but although arguably there was some extra time that afforded lots of people the opportunity to exercise their creativity, we found we didn’t actually want to be creative and sort of struggled with that side of things really. And now we are wondering why we didn’t use the time more wisely! I think it’s hard to force it though and for us we’ve never really been able to fake it.

“When it comes to the band, we have to be really passionate about something to want to do it and for various reasons it really didn’t seem like a priority when you consider what’s been happening around us.”

2. Tell us a bit about the process behind the new EP. Was it written during the lockdown period?

SH: “Early incarnations of a few of the tracks were written during lockdown, for sure. Due to the fact that we spent periods working separately split between Liverpool and London it meant we didn’t have a place to write in the way we’ve maybe done in the past. Also, our guitars and a lot of our gear was locked in our rehearsal room, so we didn’t have access to any of that. What happened was that we both just separately wrote tracks that I don’t think either of us felt were GOMR songs, and I know I certainly didn’t imagine them being on the EP. Killer Now in particular was something that was written right at the start of the lockdown period and although it didn’t feel like a GOMR track in that it didn’t have those typically industrial elements that we tend to be more comfortable with, we kept coming back to it and it ended up being a focal point inspiring a new direction for us. But then just when we thought we were done with guitars and live instruments we suddenly found ourselves excited to get in a room and thrash out some riffs. So Why the Devil was a more recent addition and feels exciting to us because we managed to find a way to incorporate guitars again without straying too far from what the EP had set out to identify itself as.

“We’ve always worked quite separately to a point on songs but I do think we always have in mind what the live situation might entail and we’ve maybe realised on this EP that we might have been restricting ourselves for that reason. It was quite freeing to be forced to write in a different way for the band without worrying about how we might approach playing that live. Of course now we have the task of trying to figure that out but it’s exciting to us.”

3. I’ve always been interested in siblings in bands and the telepathy behind that dynamic. Did you always envisage being in a band together?

SH: “To be honest no not at all. We both grew up sharing so many of the same interests though with music and film. Michael studied Fine Art and I did Music at university and we sort of got on with our own thing for a while and then it just got to a point where we realised we could really help each other out. I think the medium isn’t as important as you maybe think initially. Filmmakers or musicians learn a craft but at the end of the day it’s about making art and I think it just seemed to make sense to combine our efforts. GOMR is a way of presenting that. It’s true though that we do ave a particularly telepathic dynamic. In some ways it’s meant we are too comfortable being at times brutally honest, but I think it has meant that we push each other to do our best work.”

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4. Nine Inch Nails are a big influence of yours. A lot of their fans seem to be on the fence with their later works, but what’s your take on it?

SH: “There isn’t an era of NIN that we aren’t obsessed with. For us it’s more about what NIN album we are currently using to inspire us this month. I mean, we both have NIN tattoos and it’s no secret that they are a huge influence so can do no wrong for us. I mean, very few artists are creating their most exciting material that far into their careers. The new track they released with HEALTH has been rinsed by both of us since it dropped. Normally when two artists you like collaborate it tends to dilute both but that track seemed to bring out the best elements of both bands. Very excited for the prospect of that being played live.”

5. Do you see social media as a distraction to writing music or have you found a balance between the two?

SH: “We don’t have a great relationship with social media, to be honest. We actually really value it as a way of presenting part of the experience. So the way we ideally want to use it is as a platform to enable part of our art to be experienced. The problem with that is that it ends up having to become more personable at times and for us that tends to break the fourth wall in a bad way. We like the mystique of not engaging really. I mean, maybe it’s because we grew up not being able to see behind that curtain with the bands we love but either way we do struggle at times with it.”

6. Some fun questions now. Have you got any hobbies outside of music?

SH: “I don’t know if it counts as a hobby really but I do a lot of score work for short films and Michael is a really talented artist and filmmaker. The problem is we are clearly so arrogant that as soon as we found things we loved doing we just assumed we should try make a career out of it!”

God On My Right - Say If You Are Wicked

7. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?

SH: “Well, for me it would be the last time I did any actual exercise. I do it occasionally but I definitely hate it. Michael got into running a little bit and keeps trying to convince me of the benefits but I’m not having any of it.”

8. Films or boxsets?

SH: “Films for sure!”

9. Can you cook?

SH: “I enjoy cooking when I have the time to make a bit of effort but I’m not particularly good at it. I’ve got the basics down, though.”

10. There is a healthy dark wave/electronic community in Liverpool, however like metal and hip-hop it doesn’t get as much attention as perhaps it should. What are your thoughts on that?

SH: “It’s truly exciting that there might be more of a darkwave/electronic community in Liverpool and metal and hip-hop for sure. Honestly I’m sure there are loads of artists who are doing their thing in these genres and have been going for a while but it just doesn’t feel like there’s been a scene for it and we certainly haven’t been aware of it until more recently.

“I think thanks to Moonfrog we’ve been introduced to a little world of artists who maybe we have things in common with. I know in the past we’ve had to go to Manchester and I’ve been to a few things in London that are more relevant to what we are into and because of that a lot of the time we haven’t always identified with the city in the way we’d have liked to.”

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11. Name some Liverpool artists that we should be listening to?

SH: “Honestly, we are hoping to discover more bands from Liverpool now that live music might be on the horizon again because mostly up to now we have to look elsewhere for artists we like. There are a lot of European bands who are exciting us right now, but thanks to the Moonfrog shows we got to see LONESAW and Double Echo who we always have a soft spot for and who are both doing different but exciting things.”

12. You’ve got a gig booked for the end of the month. Firstly, it must feel good to have gigs back, and secondly, how important is it for a band like yours to present your music in the live arena?

SH: “Personally, I’m just really looking forward to the prospect of standing with a Jack and Coke at the back of a sweaty venue watching some live music so that will feel great in itself. But yes, it’s always been really important to us. The idea of presenting electronic music in the spaces that we play in alongside other live bands is so important to us. The live experience and performance has always been a vital part of the music for us. When we started out we were so particular about everything we played because we constantly needed to be authentic about what we performed. We honestly had a nightmare trying to perform everything with just the two of us because we thought that’s what we needed to do. We always have those discussions before designing our live setup for a show to make sure we feel things are authentic. But now, as long as we feel like there is a performance then we are happy to utilise different tools to help us achieve that. It’s always different when you don’t have that guitar/ bass/ drums setup but for us we’ve always been excited by that and actually thrive off of getting put on a bill with a metal band for example.”

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Any last words?

SH: “Been a pleasure, thank you.”

Say If You Are Wicked is out on July 30. Pre-order from the band’s website here.

God On My Right play Jimmys on July 30, presented by Moonfrog. Purchase tickets here.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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