Interview: Factory Floor on debut albums, Chris ‘Throbbing Gristle’ Carter and making crowds go ‘batshit’
Drummer Gabe Gurnsey: the band captures 'the human side that good dance music should always have'
The London acid-synth / industrial dance outfit Factory Floor talk to David Pollock about their debut album, working with Chris ‘Throbbing Gristle’ Carter, and making crowds go ‘batshit’
It took eight years for Factory Floor to release their critically-adored eponymous debut album this autumn. But it seems to have been a relatively minor step – creatively, at least – in the evolution of a group which comes to life onstage. ‘We just wanna keep pushing,’ says drummer and sole remaining founder member Gabe Gurnsey. ‘The album’s almost like a starting point for bigger and better live shows. The way we improvise onstage it’s inevitable those tracks will turn into new variations. We’ll probably get a new album out of it.’
Formed in London, Factory Floor never play the same set twice, and their history has enjoyed a similar state of flux. Founded in 2005 by Gurnsey and Mark Harris, and joined later by synth player Dominic Butler, they initially employed a diverse sound which drew in elements of post-punk, industrial and classic electronica to create a sound which touched a number of bases for listeners with a particular underground sensibility.
But Gurnsey is clear about the point at which the current-model Factory Floor was created. ‘It was when Nik [Colk Void, singer and former member of KaitO, replacing the outgoing Harris] joined in 2010. Dominic moved from bass to synthesisers at the same time, and when we started rehearsing it had a really physical feel but was still quite organic, unlike a lot of people who make electronic music but rely completely on machines. You can’t force chemistry like that in a band, it just happens.’
The mighty, if understated, combination of a minimal acid rhythm and Void’s droning vocal on ‘Two Different Ways’ (2011) was the first evidence of this new iteration. ‘At the time we started getting a lot of feedback from the audience,’ says Gurnsey. ‘Our sets were becoming bigger and more elongated, more intense in a lot of ways. We wanted to involve people more and it turned us into a kind of dance crossover band, but with the human side that good dance music should always have. Watching audiences go batshit for a so-called dance track was great, so we wanted to tread that path more.’
All three of the band are from outside London (Butler from Weymouth, Void from Norfolk and Gurnsey from Leeds), and are one of those typical groupings of artists and musicians who came to the city to find creative like-minds. It’s gone somewhat better than planned, having slipped into the company of definitive alternative artists. Back in 2010, New Order’s Stephen Morris remixed their track ‘A Wooden Box’, and a year later, Optimo Music released ‘Real Love’. Ever since, DFA have been issuing their music.
‘Yeah, we feel incredibly lucky,’ says Gurnsey. ‘When we played Primavera a couple of years ago Dom couldn’t make it, so we asked Chris Carter [of industrial icons Throbbing Gristle]. He did it, and two weeks later he was at our studio. We felt incredibly nervous the time we met Stephen Morris at the train station in Macclesfield to go and work with him, but music is the mutual ground and it’s fine when you start talking about it.’
For anyone on the outside looking in, Factory Floor are on their way to similar levels thanks to something a lot more concrete than just association.
Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 6 Dec. Factory Floor is out now on DFA.