Great things come in pairs – gin and tonic, Ant and Dec... socks.
Well now the Ross twins can be added to that esteemed list.
Collectively known as Gallery Circus, brothers Graeme (drums) and Daniel (guitar) are not only creating quite a stir on Tyneside, but their experimental mix of indie, rock and blues is also garnering them a keen following in the US.
Sticksman Graeme says: “Our biggest following is in Chicago.
“We were there for six months and we didn’t have jobs so we were just out partying and playing shows every night.
“Those were like our craziest times.
“We had an apartment that we got kicked out of after two months just for partying.
“Before we went over we used to play folk music, but when we moved there everyone was a punk or metal band and our music didn’t fit in at all so we had to completely change what we did.”
When the duo returned to Newcastle they immediately started looking for opportunities to go back over the pond and found a start-up business in San Francisco willing to sponsor them each with an 18-month visa.
Graeme explains: “While we were in San Francisco we just had two mattresses on the floor in one bedroom so we were living together, working together and doing everything together at that point.
“It was just too much.”
The brothers, originally from The Boldons in South Tyneside, both studied computer science at Newcastle University and now work in software development in the city.
They still live together, now on King John Terrace, Heaton. But at least they have separate rooms these days.
“We are constantly jamming,” says Graeme. “I have an electronic drum kit set up and Dan has a few guitars and a piano, and every night we just play, not even writing, just playing whatever.”
The band’s riff-heavy single, Supercell, was the inspiration behind the pair’s recent increased activity.
Combining the aggressive nature of a Muse track with the experimental blues of a White Stripes song, it is a stunning success that has not gone unnoticed.
“It’s crazy that we only needed one song to get us going again,” says Graeme. “We wrote the song in America when we did a little bit of storm chasing in the Midwest.
“We knew it was one of our best songs and one of our favourites to play. But when it’s just the two of us, we both get really defeatist and disheartened.
“It has always been really hard to get what we do live and capture that on record.
“I don’t think we’ve ever captured it before this single.
“I think that’s why everything has taken off all of a sudden.”
Despite being renowned for their energetic and improvised stage shows, there is one gig in particular which stuck out for the twins... although they’re not suggesting anyone tries to replicate it.
“We played a rooftop party in Chicago and there was an over-ground subway system behind us,” says Graeme.
“Everyone had fireworks and they were firing them off. One hit a train, bounced off and went into this abandoned building next door. There were old aerosol and paint cans in there and it hit them and exploded the whole building.
“We had to drop all our gear and run from the venue.
“We hid. When we came back half an hour later there were eight fire engines and three police cars. They had literally closed down the whole road.
“So we wrote a song about it.”
The band’s antics and stories from their travels in America certainly affected their sound and created some vivid lyrical topics.
But on returning to Newcastle at the beginning of last year the brothers decided to commit their future to nurturing Gallery Circus’s reputation on Tyneside.
Having been signed up by the same booking agent as American rock bands Paramore and Sum41, momentum is now building behind the pair.
Graeme says: “We aren’t going to make the mistake of going away again when everything is kicking off, especially now good things are happening.
“So we are going to re-release Supercell with Club House Killer as a double A-side.”
Club House Killer was an early demo the band made, but in the wake of their new-found enthusiasm it has been re-recorded.
“We have some label interest but we need one to just snap us up,” says Graeme. “There are a lot of labels hovering around, but no one actually signing us up yet.”
* Gallery Circus will play Evolution Emerging on Saturday. For full details, visit www.evolutionemerging.com
by Tom Belcher