You might be asking yourself who are The Lapelles and who is Gary Watson? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you were. The band in mention are a Glasgow-native indie five-piece with just one record out so far (and probably ever). Behind what appears to be your standard clan of happy-go-lucky gents brimming with creativity and charm soon becomes something of a tragedy. The sad fact of the matter is that Gary Watson, the lead singer, guitar player and ingenious force of the group died last summer on his 22nd Birthday. In what has been described as a ‘tragic accident’, Gary fell into the River Clyne in Glasgow and later died in hospital.
As sad as the news that anyone should die at such young age is, Gary’s death took a more personal effect upon myself even though I never knew him. The reason behind this being; I was there to see one of Gary’s final gigs. Supporting The Last Shadow Puppets at DeMontfort Hall, Leicester on a rainy Tuesday of May 2016, they really caught my eye. Having not heard of The Lapelles prior to the gig, I watched on with open ears and an open to mind to their music. For the record, support acts are a feature of live music which make it all the more worth investing your time and money attending. Often they are handpicked upcoming artists identified by the headline act as performers they’re giving an opportunity to. The Lapelles grabbed this opportunity presented by TLSP with both hands and really demonstrated their abilities. Blown away by their musical expertise in both song-writing and production, my intrigue in the young musicians was ignited. Kitted out in highly strapped rickenbacker guitars and funky shirts, they brought energy and drive to an audience of onlookers. Crowd interaction from the frontman was minimal as is understandable from a nervous band supporting two British icons of modern music, yet it was charming when it did occur. A comment made by Gary sticks out in my mind:
‘[in a strong Scottish accent] er, this is a new one… well, er, I guess they’re all new’ before tearing into their next track.
Demonstrating a humble charm and charisma reminiscent of a young Alex Turner, Gary embodied the necessary attributes for any successful frontman. Matched with a creative passion and an evident dream of becoming successful, I pinned them as ones to watch.
For the following couple of months, I did exactly that, I kept my eye on them. With little material in the way of studio performances or even tracks on Youtube, I accepted that they were a band in their infancy, at the beginning of a promising career and one I’d definitely get the opportunity to see again. I showed them to one of my friends from University and just a few months later on 13th August 2016, it would be that same friend who would send me the link to the news article to say Gary had sadly was dead. The news was a huge shock and it still saddens me to think of it now.
The reason I am writing this now, almost a year on from the tragedy, is that, like a phoenix out of the ashes of Gary’s death comes The Lapelles self-titled debut album. Released in honour of one of its creators with the apparent track-listing formed from a scrawled up piece of paper found in his room. It’s a sad story, but there’s something quite romantic about it ‘fulfilling his dream of making it to vinyl’ as the band have stated.
The music itself is a catchy, upbeat mash of indie guitar riffs, sleek synthesizers, tales of escapist ideals and alcohol-fuelled parties. Their best known song ‘Grab life by’ exhibits energy and lyrics you can imagine a crowd shouting back in chorus to. Alternatively, a more mellow yet passionate track ‘Toronto’ discusses the desire to escape to somewhere ‘no one gives a damn about you’ and illustrates their diverse skillset and unique sound fathomed in such a short space of time. Here are a band that, should this
tragic accident never have happened, I believe we’d all be talking about in a few years’ time. Unfortunately, all we’re left with is this one album. A sombre reminder of the transient nature of life that can be taken from us at any moment. RIP Gary.
Their record is on Spotify and you can catch the only video of a full-set of theirs below.
Go and check it out.
Album: The Lapelles
My favourite tracks: Toronto, Belt and Braces