gully boys
[Photo courtesy of Gully Boys]

With an LP and an EP under their belt, Gully Boys are making head-turning moves with their music. The band home in on the special connection they can make with their fans while keeping them on their toes.

Being named Minnesota’s Best New Music Act in 2018 resulted in being able to play First Avenue’s main stage. Hypnotizing new listeners with their refreshingly unique sound, Gully Boys have made it clear that they’re here to embrace fun. Their sound is soulful, harnessing the way that masculine energy plays a part in their lives. With prominent individuality and a medieval-pop aesthetic, Gully Boys continue to embrace their rock-inspired roots and exude a love for their craft.

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How did you all initially form Gully Boys?

NADIRAH MCGILL: Kathy and I used to work together at a Ragstock in uptown Minneapolis, and we didn’t really know each other. One day we were closing and listening to Panic! At The Disco, and Kathy said, “One of my dreams has always been to front a band,” and I said that I had always wanted to be a drummer. She had access to a guitar, and I had a drum kit, so we played Best Coast’s “Boyfriend.” We jammed once, and it was so much fun, and Kathy said that her roommate had a bass. None of us knew how to play our instruments. We just all had access to the instruments.

Your songs vary in topics while staying cohesive. Is there a specific message you try to convey in each song?

NATALIE KLEMOND: We usually just write from a place of what we’re going through or what’s going on. We haven’t really worked on a plan of what we’re going to write about. We haven’t really wanted to write an EP with a theme. It falls naturally, given what we’re going through. Right now, we’re writing a lot of songs that are cynical and coming out of living in the pandemic, like I’m sure a lot of artists are doing right now.

KATHY CALLAHAN: Our songs become like diary entries sometimes. I just wrote a song about my grandma and this hard time that she’s going through right now, and it turned into a story rather than just words thrown together. We’re not super consistent. We do play around with masculine energy and how it fits in our lives.

Your 2018 record, Not So Brave, embodies emo and indie tones, while your newest single highlights an edgier sound. What motivates you to continuously diversify your sound?

MCGILL: We have no idea what genre we fall into. It’s so funny because I listened to our first album, and we didn’t really know what we were doing, and that’s why I think it’s so beautiful.

You can tell that there’s a hint of different genres throughout it. I think that Not So Brave was our most raw and unhinged because we had no limits and no expectations. With Phony, we were trying to reel it in a little bit. With this new music we’re about to release, it’s that sweet spot where it still has that raw, angsty energy that I love so much about Not So Brave, but it’s a little more polished and has a little more of that cohesiveness that Phony had.

KLEMOND: Something we figured out was that songs that hit well with other people are songs that are really the most fun to play. That was true of the songs that we still look back on on Not So Brave, and we still love those songs, but they’re everybody else’s favorite songs, and they’re our favorite songs.

With Phony, we were really proud of those songs and worked really hard on them, but in the time that we played them live, which to be fair wasn’t very long, they weren’t the most fun songs to play. We weren’t necessarily excited to play them. I think that with the new songs we’ve been recording and are going to put out this summer, they’re songs that we’re really excited about, and they’re fun to play.

As your fanbase continues to grow, what do you hope new listeners take away from your music?

MCGILL: For me, I want any listener to take away from our music that you don’t need to know what you are doing. If you want to be a musician, an artist or anything, then actually pursue it. There’s already so much gatekeeping that happens everywhere but especially in the music industry. Specifically with young women and young femmes in general.

I just want to see more people that look like me onstage, and I wished that for myself when I was kid because I was at so many shows, and it was all white men, and it still mostly is. I just really want people to have that courage to do it. You have to put your ego aside when you do it, too, because there are going to be lots of bad shows, and you are going to suck for a while, but it’s extremely rewarding. I hope that people see us and hear our story and realize that we came from being a group of fanboys to being in a boy band. You can just do it. There are no rules.

KLEMOND: As our listenership has grown a lot in the last couple of months, I’ve noticed it’s a lot of young listeners, and I keep thinking about how much of a role music played in my life and how much of an impact that had on me. The thought that our music could be that for kids that are going through whatever they’re going through and having that be part of the soundtrack of that part of their lives is the most meaningful thing I can think of. For us to be in that place for others is a huge honor.

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