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Interview: Gunning For Allie Discuss Their Latest Single, ‘Stay’

Australian duo Gunning for Allie have just revealed their glowing new single ‘Stay’ – mixed and mastered by Liam Quinn (Peach PRC, Lime Cordiale, ILLY). We had a chat with the pair to find you more about their sound.

Congratulations on the release of ‘Stay’! Can you talk us through the process of creating this song and what it’s about?

Thanks! It’s been a long time coming now. We originally wrote and recorded the song back at the beginning of 2019 when my girlfriend and I had started doing long distance. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t survive the separation but gave way to the song. It was a strange writing experience for me as I wrote the song in stages as the relationship broke down. Initially, I had started writing the song as more of this hopeful, “we’ll get back together someday”, love song that I would have written for this girl. The story didn’t turn out quite like that, but there is always this underlying optimism throughout the track. It was a cathartic process in the end, and I think it helped me out of a dark time following the breakup.

Interestingly James and I wrote the song in different states. I was in Melbourne at the time doing “Jersey Boys”, and James was in Brisbane. We had done a similar process on our first EP, so we practised writing in isolation. Luckily, we have a similar creative process! In the recording studio, the track evolved massively from this sun-soaked punk track to the more synth-driven pop song you have today. It was never really our intention to go down a synth-pop direction, but we loved the sound so much we based the rest of the EP off the vibe Stay created.

You must get this question a lot, but how did the band name come about?

I originally had the idea for the band name back in high school while James and I played together in a different band, “Dakota Calling”. After graduating and going down a different career path of musical theatre, I knew that I would want to release music under another moniker eventually. In our senior years, there was a girl that James was interested in at one point called Allie Gunning. They didn’t work out, and she’s now happily married with kids. But I loved the play on words of “Gunning for Allie”. Some of my favourite artists like Jack’s Mannequin, Jimmy Eat World, or Breaking Benjamin contain names within their names, and I think my teenage music years influenced me. I mean, even Dakota’s name must be a habit of mine.

Your influences are widespread throughout your discography, who have been some of the most effective inspirations in your musical careers?

Hands down, my most significant music influence is Andrew McMahon (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness). Back when I was in high school, he was the piano playing punk-pop rockstar, my generations Billy Joel, and was the reason I started playing the piano and writing originals. His music and lyrics are clever, heartfelt and personal, and I try to embody that in the way that I write. Growing up, my music tastes constantly evolved, and I’m somewhat more alternative leaning, lots of obscure bands—stuff like The Rocket Summer, Mayday Parade, The Fray, Death Cab for Cutie. I went to a lot of Soundwaves as a teenager. There’s always something nice about singing in your body to all these angsty songs about growing up and learning who you are. These days I’m gravitating towards the synth revival that’s blossoming, like Chrvches, The 1975, Nightly and Smallpools, to name a few. What’s respiring now is seeing all the Australian artists taking off. Cub Sport, Troye Sivan and Holy Holy are crushing the synth-pop scene at the moment, and we’re hoping to make a similar splash.

What are some key messages you hope to give to fans and listeners through your music?

We started with our first song Braille, which was initially just a side project that we released back in 2017. That song I wrote about a friend of mine that was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. And I write it kind of like a dedication to her and the struggle she was going through. Lyrically I didn’t want the track to be really heavy and poignant about the topic, so I made the chorus have a broader message about fighting even when there’s no hope. And that seems to be an underlying theme through a lot of our songs. There’s a track on the upcoming EP that touches lightly on suicide and again gives that message of pushing through unbeatable odds. I think that’s why a lot of our songs, while musically super upbeat, have really interesting messages in them. And while they’re all written about someone or something that happened to me and or James, there’s a lot of room for listeners to interpret their own stories within. That’s the great thing about music, and it connects people through the stories it tells. With Braille, many people messaged saying that they had a loved one going through something similar, and the song gave them hope.

Is there anywhere in particular you love to perform once borders open again?

Anywhere and everywhere! Crazily, we’ve never played a live show. I’ve always been off touring in a musical, and then covid hits! But I think we’ll find that there’s going to be so much hunger from music fans to have live shows played again. So hopefully, we can get on the road and play in most of the major cities. I haven’t been back to Melbourne since we wrote the song, and I know there are many people down there waiting to get new music. So definitely playing in Melbourne is on the list. The Forum Theatre down there is stunning and such a great venue to play at. Another dream would be to play at a festival. It’s going to be a big year for the Australian music scene.

Can you tease us any forthcoming plans for Gunning For Allie after this single?

Absolutely! We have a full six-track EP that we’ve been sitting on since last April. Lots of fascinating songs in there that will hopefully get to have their film clips. We got a few fun ideas for things we want to do on the following few tracks. Just waiting to see the year out and then finally get back to normality, where you can go to a show and see your favourite bands play. So many musicians and bands spent the last couple of years making some great music, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s out there. It’ll be nice to get on a stage and see a crowd out there singing back the songs.

Written by Chris Lamaro