NAUT’s Gavin Laubscher: The 10 songs that changed my life

NAUT singer Gavin Laubscher tells all about starting on goth’s dark path, trying to sing like Jim Morrison, and why he hates The Police…

NAUT’s Gavin Laubscher: The 10 songs that changed my life
Nick Ruskell
Paul Critchley

Here's how perfectly NAUT's Hunt debut album distilled goth rock cool: they're heading out on tour with Creeper this week by personal invite of the Lord Of All Things Dark And Spooky himself, William Von Ghould.

How did singer Gavin Laubscher learn the dark art? Through, he explains, a diet of The Doors, Type O, Bauhaus, and aspiring to reach the peak level of not-giving-a-fuck as perfected by prickly Sisters Of Mercy overlord Andrew Eldritch. Not a big fan of Sting, mind…

The first song I remember hearing…The Doors – People Are Strange

“I was probably about seven or eight, and I was having real trouble sleeping. My eldest sister said, ‘Why don't you try listening to some music at night to relax? Turn the lights off, put headphones in and just chill.’ So, I went through a few of her CDs and the first one that really grabbed me was The Doors’ Strange Days album, and People Are Strange was the first song that I really remember appreciating and taking on board. That's where I think music started to be a thing in my life, that's the first proper song that I have real memories of.”

The song that reminds me of school…Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust

“My mum has always been a Bowie fan. I grew up listening to his music, and she's got a story from when she was, like, 13 and he was 15 – she sat on the stage at his first show in London, which is pretty cool. I came across this cover when I was about 13, and it just properly blew me away. For me, what a lot of being at school was all about was pushing boundaries and finding yourself. I remember that period of my life very fondly when I come back to this track. It started off a bit of a lifelong obsession with Daniel Ash’s guitar work and with Pete Murphy as a frontman, thinking that's something I wanted to aspire to.

“I’d just moved to West Wales at that point, and I was probably the only person in a 20-mile radius that liked anything remotely dark or alternative. It was… ‘provincial’, shall we say? So my discovery of ‘alternative’ music, for lack of a better name, was very different to most other people's. I entirely missed the whole nu-metal thing; I didn't have one of the shirts with the flames on the bottom. I was always into that more gothy side of things, and so I went that way through Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus, and then into things like Cradle Of Filth and black metal. So, yeah, I was always a weirdo.”

The first song I learned to sing…The Doors – The Crystal Ship

“Jim Morrison's voice on this is absolutely class. Obviously, being 10 or 11 when I got into it, I was perhaps an octave too high to really nail it, but it's probably the first song I learned all the words to. I've since relearned how to sing it properly in the right range now that I'm a bit older. Jim Morrison's vocal delivery has always been something that I’ve looked up to – he had an incredible range in terms of the expressiveness. He could go from this, where it's really soft, to things like the LA Woman album, where it's got that gravel and grit to the delivery and all this shrieking and wailing. As a band in general, and as a frontman, I don't think you could really get much higher – pardon the pun – in terms of in terms of performance and delivery than Jim Morrison and The Doors.”

The song that reminds me of my first love…Type O Negative – Love You To Death

“I picked this, but it could be any song off October Rust, really. I must have been 17 or 18, and the girl I was seeing at the time put it on when we were getting ready to go for a crazy night out at Planet in Wolverhampton – one of the classiest establishments in the UK, for sure. I'd never heard it before, and I was just like, ‘Man, this is fucking class.’

“For me, it was the first time that someone had managed to meld the worlds of metal and goth, which in my head up until that point were very separate entities. You had Andrew Eldritch from Sisters Of Mercy, and you had Rob Halford, and they might both like biker jackets, but that was about as close as they got together, in my head. Needless to say, that coming together of genres has had a bit of an impact on my view of music ever since. But yeah, I always associate that album and this track with that girlfriend, because she introduced it to me, and even now I can picture hearing it in a small flat in Wolverhampton.”

The first NAUT song I heard on the radio…NAUT – Dissent

“We heard it on Radio 1. I think we'd been on the radio since but I didn't actually know when it was meant to be so I didn't hear it. But this got played by Daniel P. Carter. He put that on for us on the Rock Show. It felt pretty good to go straight in on Radio 1!”

The song that picks me up when I’m feeling down…Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again

“I’d always been aware of Depeche Mode, but they were one of those bands like U2 who are so massive that everyone just has this passing knowledge of them, and they'd never really stuck with me. And then in my mid-20s, life was especially tumultuous and I had a lot of less-than-ideal things going on – relationships, moving around, home problems, all sorts of stuff. I was in a charity shop one day and bought a Depeche Mode Greatest Hits compilation vinyl for a quid, just because it was a pound. That kickstarted a year and a half of listening to nothing but Depeche Mode. It just clicked.

“I don't know whether it was the band's own chemical tribulations and turbulent times that resonated with me – maybe I was in a similar mindset to the state of chaos they were when they wrote some of that stuff. Who knows? But I've now come out of that time, I look back at Depeche Mode and how that music really helped me, and it's 10 times better. It gives me a kind of sense of, ‘Well, I've been through a lot of stuff, and it was fine.’ This one just tickles the back of my brain, and I'd say it always picks me up in a sense, because it's a reminder of what I've been through.”

The NAUT song I’d go back and change if I could…NAUT – Semele

“I like the track, it's good song, but I'd love to do it with a drum machine. We've always written with a drum machine, and then we used to translate that to a drummer, and I think something got lost along the way. The vision of the song in my head didn't always align with the end products, partly just because, as I'd written it, I'd heard it almost with this programmed drums and then a real person putting their flair on it. I think this is one that could benefit most from having the drum machine. It could be a bit more pounding and robotic, which would suit the lyrical themes.”

My favourite NAUT song to play live…NAUT – Nightfall

“It's got some real energy to it, and the way people tend to tend to respond to it live is just class. Part of our music is all about getting people to move and feel the music. It's almost dance music but not, if you know what I mean. It's nice to have that vibe to it. Also, this song’s quite satisfying, doing the big chorus and really letting rip with the vocals. So yeah, it's just a fun track all round, and that was always the plan when writing it. The fact that it's translated to live really well feels great. A job well done.”

The worst song ever written…The Police – Message In A Bottle

“I actually I almost drew a blank for this one. I was going to pick Death Of The Celts by Iron Maiden as the most disappointing song ever written, but there’s something about this one that just fucks me off a treat. I think it might be that I will forever associate it with an ex-partner. Also, I just find the chorus really, really annoying.

“I used to quite like The Police. Like, Roxanne is a good track, but then the more you learn about a person, in this case Sting, it becomes harder to separate the art from the artist. You know when you listen to someone and you just picture their face? This song does that for me with Sting; it makes me think of a smug picture of him. He’s telling the world about spiritual mindfulness and all that but all you can think is: you’re still just an arsehole.”

The song I want played at my funeral…Sisters Of Mercy – Dominion / Mother Russia

“It's inevitable that a Sisters Of Mercy track would sneak into this. This is the one that epitomises that definitely-not-goth-rock cool, that combination of ’80s bombast and the biker jacket sleek. If you were to put a very short epitaph to my name you could sum it up with the feel of this song and this video. It’s Andrew Eldritch with [bassist] Patricia Morrison dicking around in the desert in Jordan in a white linen suit. That's a level of ‘I don't give a fuck, I'm going to spend the studio's money’ attitude that I aspire to. He clearly fancied a holiday in Jordan looking at some ruins and thought, ‘I guess I’ll have to do a music video as well, whilst being unnecessarily cool.’ That's a life goal, isn't it? And I think it’s a fitting way to go out. It's also epic enough that I think it would be a good send off.”

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