My Music DNA: Gaz Birtles of The South

With the news that live music venues will be re opening across the UK comes the welcome information that The South, (featuring former members of The Beautiful South), including singer Alison Wheeler and lifelong sax player Gaz Birtles will be touring once again.  Since Dave Hemingway, the original singer, left the group at the end of 2016, Gaz has moved across to front the band with Alison and taken on vocal duties.

The South featuring Gaz Birtles & Alison Wheeler are touring again in 2021

The band are currently preparing their forthcoming UK Tour (including a date at Cardiff’s Globe on August 22, 2021) of which they will perform classics such as A Little Time, Perfect 10, Rotterdam, Song For Whoever, Old Red Eyes Is Back, Good as Gold, Don’t Marry Her plus a few choice South originals.

Gaz Birtles recently took time out to reveal his Music DNA to Andy Howells.

What was the first song that made an impact on you?

Virginia Plain by Roxy Music had an immediate impact on me. It made me want to be in a band. And Sax player, Andy Mackay was as a cool as a cucumber, so I immediately went out and bought a saxophone on the strength of that. I’ve never looked back. AND, incidentally, I got to meet Andy Mackay in Bonn when I was playing sax with The Fun Lovin Criminals supporting Roxy Music there!! I met him and got him to sign my Tenor Sax. Which I still have 😉

What was the first single you bought?

The first single I bought was Paperback Writer by the Beatles when I was 10.

It was to learn the words so we could mime it at our end of year concert in Junior school (don’t know what that relates to in todays ‘Year’ terms)

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I bought was Led Zeppelin 2. With Whole Lotta Love on it. It was the first time I’d really heard a ‘Stereo’ recording with the sound panning from left to right on my speakers! I couldn’t believe it.

What’s your constant go to track?

I do find myself digging out Jah Guide by Peter Tosh from his Equal Rights album several times a year. Such a great record and takes me back to my Punky Reggae times in 1977/78. Reggae from this period still plays an important part in my listening habits

What’s your constant go to album?

Over the years I find I always have time for the great album by The Beach Boys, Surfs Up. The production and lyrical content were different from previous Beach Boys albums mainly because Brian Wilson wasn’t heavily involved in this record after his drug fuelled failure to get his Pet Sounds follow up, Smile off the ground. Title track Surfs up was Brians main contribution. And what a beauty!

Who’s your latest music discovery?

“PLUG ALERT!!’ My new favourite band is my son’s (Jordan Birtles) band, Easy Life, who are doing fantastically well at the moment. Check out all 40 of their releases on Spotify or wherever.

Their debut album, LIFE’S A BEACH, was released a few weeks ago and went straight into the Official Charts at number 2. Proud Dad! AND the music is brilliant. Great lyrics and great music. Watch this space!

What’s your own track that best defines you as an artist?

Blood Tainted Love by Yellowbelly. My own originals band Yellowbelly recorded lots of our own material of which I sang, wrote the lyrics, a lot of the music and recorded and produced most of it. I love this track which I wrote around the time of the Gulf War but could be relevant to most religious based wars and conflicts.

What’s the track that best defines you as a person?

 I’m not sure what this means but a track that could help get an idea of me is Up with People by Lambchop – Very laid back. Hard to understand lyrics. Happy. Friendly 😉

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