ANTHEA WILSON | FEATURES
Features Section Editor Anthea Wilson met with indie rock band Gully Days to discuss how they got their start and their aspirations as a band.
After battling my way through peak hour Sydney traffic in the pouring rain, I finally made it to Bondi to meet indie rock band Gully Days.
Gully Days formed in the early months of 2020 unaware of the challenges they were about to face as a newly formed band. In their home studio rehearsal space, I was introduced to lead singer Ethan, guitarist Luke - nicknamed Pookot (it’s a long story) - bassist Holden, and “captain of the engine room”, drummer Lewis. Their rehearsal space is small but full of character with guitars lining the wall. I later found out that Luke’s dad had made most of the guitars, including Luke’s guitar that he plays with. The Gully Days boys were very welcoming and down to earth, I really enjoyed getting to know them.
When I asked them how they got together Luke told me, “I think we all knew each other from surfing, just down around Bondi, Brontë, we didn’t really know we all played a bit of music. First we started out with Lewis, Ethan and myself and then started jamming … then Holden came along.” They started jamming in 2019 and became Gully Days in 2020.
I was very curious as to where the name Gully Days came from. Luke explained the origin: “We originally wanted to call ourselves ‘Salad Days’ which is actually a Shakespearean idiom, but we decided that it would be really good to give it a bit of significance within the local community. So we decided gully, Brontë gully, is just a sentimental place within the local community, so we decided Gully Days would give us some real local value to it.” I never did find out what goes on in Brontë Gully, but rumour has it, it is where Pookot was born.
Gully Days get together at least once a week to rehearse, depending on if they are playing a gig or writing a new song. Ethan and Luke lead the creative process, with Luke coming up with a guitar riff before bringing it to Ethan to craft the melody and lyrics. Luke said, “I kind of imagine Ethan singing something over it and that’s how I kind of give reference to what might be good.” Luke praised Ethan on his lyric writing ability. “Ethan does write about some worldly issues, he doesn’t give himself credit for but he does write some very interesting lyrics.” Gully Days calls it as they see it; their songs comment on society, materialism and they satirise the eastern suburbs. Luke and Ethan then bring the new song to the rest of the band to build up the rhythm and bass.
The members of Gully Days all expressed their musicality from a young age, except for Holden, who said, “I’d never played bass in my life… I just picked it up when they offered.” Each band member came from different musical backgrounds. Ethan grew up singing pop songs, Luke has punk rock influences that he owes to his dad, Lewis learnt jazz and orchestra and played for his school band, and Holden first found his sound with Gully Days.
Luke detailed the experience of their first gig. “The first gig was for Brontë Boardriders which has been like a long running relationship between us and the beach community. It was sort of like an informal gig. We brought our own PA system and everything, we didn’t even, like, have a band name.” Luke described what it was like to play for the first time: “It ended up going absolutely crazy, it went off essentially… I still put that gig as probably one of the best feelings.” Lewis chimed in and said, “But technically speaking, compared to now it was so ‘loose’, we weren’t technically playing properly as a band back then, but like in terms of the euphoria of playing live as a band was pretty sick.”
I then heard all about the first official Gully Days gig. Luke said “The next gig for us was at the Robin Hood hotel in Waverley. We’re actually going to be playing there in about a month’s time. So we’re calling it, we haven't played there since we’re calling it; back to where it all started, back to the hood something along those lines. That’s where it all started. That’s going to be hopefully be an exciting gig. That was our first official gig and that was March 2020 that was like our first gig and that was before what was about to come, because two weeks later we were in a full lockdown.”
Gully Days expressed feeling defeated by the Covid lockdowns but they were still determined to make a name for themselves. Luke went on to describe how they navigated getting gigs during Covid. “So we went around and organised some gigs at local bowling clubs, bought our own PA, ticketed the gigs ourselves. Kind of a DIY little thing. Taught ourselves the sound engineering specifics. Put on our own shows, they were 50 people sit down shows. That’s kind how it all started out. As the restrictions eased slightly more and more we were playing bigger and bigger shows so it was just like we just constantly wanted to play bigger shows.” He continued to describe the first gig once lockdown had ended. “I remember the first gig when the restrictions ended and you could finally stand up, it was at this place called the Spring Street Social and it went absolutely wild, like it went crazy.” Gully Days advocated for themselves, walking into venues asking to play there, and essentially walking out with a gig.
In a suburb full of DJs, Gully Days infiltrated the eastern suburbs pub scene with their live performances. The band just wants to get people up on their feet and experience live music. They indicated that their gigs have a more electrifying atmosphere than DJ concerts. Luke explained, “It’s great to see that live music can still have such an impact. A lot of kids have never felt the drums and the guitar, just the rawness of it all going straight through them.” Gully Days ultimately just wants to “play fat gigs.” They have long term goals of opening for someone big and playing a stadium show one day.
Gully Days is playing their first festival later this year at the Relish Music and Arts Festival in Bellingen. Lewis told me, “We always said our goal was to play a festival and we’re playing a festival at the end of the year. Now we don’t even consider it as achieving a goal, but looking back to two years ago, it's massive.”
Gully Days has grown as a band in the two years, they attribute their success to working collaboratively together and being good mates. At the conclusion of the interview I stuck around to listen to them rehearse. I snapped a few photos and had a groove. It was a fun afternoon getting to know the boys. Listen to their latest song “Ay-Oh” on streaming services and follow them on Instagram @/gullydays to keep up-to-date on their latest gigs.