The Galileo 7: Viv Bonsels, Interview

Eyeplug met Viv Bonsels (G7) for a nice chat...

Prior perception is often so wrong, especially when it comes to The Galileo 7. This Kentish quartet have now been kicking out keen psych-pop nuggets since 2010, over the course of 5 albums and several 45s, but vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Allan Crockford’s illustrious past and parallel present, as bassist with a roll call of the greatest British bands of the past 30+ years – The Prisoners, The James Taylor Quartet, The Prime Movers, The Solarflares, Graham Day & The Forefathers – seems to have, weirdly, done ’em no favours. Their latest LP, ‘There is Only Now’ is their best yet and out now!


We caught up with Organist & Vocalist Viv Bonsels to chat about her musical life…

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01. At what age did you first take up your chosen Instrument and why?

Well, I had piano lessons for about a month when I was 5 (teacher moved away – was it something I said/did?!) but I only started playing organ for the first time for this band. I’m still not very good!

02. What are your earliest memories and influences for you that got you started?

The Byrds – the first album my older brother bought was “Younger Than Yesterday” in 1967 – I totally loved it. Equally true was that I loved everything I heard by the Who and the Monkees. I had a big crush (and still do have) on Pete Townshend and Mike Nesmith. Influences are anything with really good harmonies in – the more the better. I find it very difficult to listen to anything without b/vs (there are one or two exceptions) – but really – why would you not have harmonies in a song?!?

03. What was your first Instrument, where did you get it and how have you faired since in upgrades?

Bass. Interestingly(?) we are actually just a band of bass players in disguise! My first bass cost me a whopping £40 and sounded just great (to my ears at the time!). I think I bought it off the guy whose band I joined in 19eighty-something(6?7?) – Orangery Lane – swiftly moved on to a Fender Precision when I joined my next band a couple of years later – The Fireflies – and still got it; it’s very black!

04. What is your current set up for live shows and how does that differ from work in the studio?

The four of us playing our instruments as close as possible to each other onstage but Allan and me as far away from each other as possible! It’s not personal (luckily) – we just don’t need to hear each other that loud being in the same register! Same in rehearsals, same in the studio! But I guess you mean what do I use onstage – see below for that. I use either an Orange or mid-70’s Traynor amp – not fussed since both do the job equally well but on balance I prefer the Traynor because I can just about carry it and there’s more space in the back to put my percussion bits and pieces in!

05. Can you tell us how you technically shape your sound, what add-ons, bits of kit and tweaks do you make?

Well it’s changed a bit over the years as I’ve been through different organs but now, for ease of choice – and because I can go back to actually carrying my own instrument – it’s a Nord 5D, so it can make just about every noise you can think of. Naturally, as a result, I only use one or two. Well OK, a bit more than that really but it’s bit mind-boggling just how many different sounds there are in it – as someone once wrote: “Too Much Choice”!! Before that I had/have a Nord C1 – it’s a double-manual, which is fantastic, but is a lot bulkier & heavier than the 5D; plus the organ sound on the 5D is slightly better. The C1 comes along with me to the bigger gigs where space is never the issue.

Before that I had an early 80’s Elka Hammond-clone (liked it a lot but wanted more variation); and before that the very wonderful late-60’s Teisco Teischord C1 – proper 60s loveliness but only the one sound so just a tad limiting plus some notes were quieter than others (not ideal!) and it occasionally went out of tune. I could carry it though! (and it was proper cool to look at). I also have a late-60’s Philips Philicorda that mainly sits in the room I practise in – I would love to use live too but it doesn’t have a case so would potentially get wrecked if it left the house. On previous albums I’ve used a late 60’s (get the pattern here?!) Elka Panther and a 1967 Hammond L102 which abides in our cellar, never to be moved!

06. Can you play more than one instrument and if so how well? Can you sing too?

Well, as mentioned above – I used to play the bass (and was better than I am on the organ back in the day!) – I now play it barely adequately as can be evidenced on the 2 G7 tracks I’ve played it on! – my hands just aren’t as strong as they once were (and I totally fail to practise it like I should). What else? – the recorder! – I was the youngest in my primary school to join the orchestra when I was 8! I guess I can sing a bit – we all can – that’s the point of the band to a large extent (again though I used to be better when I was a lot younger!) but I’ve taken on lead on 2 tracks on our new album that Allan wrote with me in mind so I guess I do OK – you be the judge! Oh and the tambourine of course. And the egg. And I once played triangle on a single we recorded in the Fireflies too – it was a show-stopper and totally made the song.

07. You are currently working on the new G7 LP, can you tell us about the process and an average day in the studio?

Ah – better ask Allan that one! – he’s the sound engineer, producer, master, mixer, fixer. No such thing as an average day! Unless you mean the mixing; which involves him in the cellar for hours. Essentially we record backing tracks live in Mole & Lois’s wonderful studio at the bottom of their garden – North Down Sounds – and then overdubs are done in our home studio (aka our non-sound-proofed cellar – we have very understanding neighbours!).

08. How do you go about developing the songs, the sound and ideas that end up being used? What about out-takes?

All songs are written by Allan – he pretty much demos everything apart from keyboards (unless he has a particular hook line for a song that I use) and then we all put our take on it. I think he’d probably rather I didn’t warble all over some bits of songs on the organ but sometimes I just can’t help myself! When it happens, organ harmonies just spring into my ear. Out-takes usually get recycled somewhere down the line on a future album when Allan goes back and realises it was a good song after all when time and distance have done their thing!

09. If money was no object, what would be your dream Instrument, set up and kit list?

It’s not money that’s the issue for me really, just time. Work gets in the way (or did – see below). I think bass is still the instrument I truly love playing. Don’t get me wrong – I love playing the organ too – but there’s nothing like the feel of playing the bass – it hooks everything together. And you can move about a lot more onstage!

10. How do you feel about Vintage Kit? Do you ever include more Modern bits of Equipment in your work?

I cried the day I sold my Fender Bassman amp and speakers! (they had to go unfortunately as we a) just didn’t really have the space to keep unused gear hanging around and b) they deserved to go to someone who would actually use them regularly – they deserved to be heard and I’d stopped playing by then). Vintage gear is great but it will keep on breaking down on you (aforementioned stuff above aside as that combo never broke down on me, even when a wheel broke off and the cab crashed to the ground!). I used to play the lovely Teisco organ and have a great Leslie but, as I said above, the former has notes that are so much quieter than others and keeps going out of tune, and the latter just refuses to work properly as soon as you wheel it out onto a stage. And it weighs a ton – it’s all just too much hassle! Hence the Nord.

11. What advice would you give to new players and bands to save them years of pain?

Years of pain is what makes you! Just do what you love and keep on doing it.

12. Can you end by talking about some of your own highs and lows and the journey to where you are now with the Band and new LP and tell us all why and how we should actually go and get a copy?

Highs are always playing live – I love it and always have, whatever band I’ve been in – I just wish we could do more of it (life and the millions of other bands that Mole is in generally get in the way of that!). Going on tour is the business – it’s such good fun no matter where we play. Lows aren’t lows – they’re just bits between the highs. Actually, tbh I struggle sometimes when an organ part doesn’t come to me immediately, and then I severely put off getting to grips with it until I really *have* to – like we’re due to record it the next day or something! – then I have to bend my mind to it wailing and gnashing and tearing my hair out and lock myself in my playing room till it comes. (Or I ask Allan to help!). Thankfully that’s pretty rarely. Work gets in the way of a lot of things so it’s a lot better for me now I’ve gone part-time. A couple of our albums took far too long to record to a very large extent because of me being stupidly busy with work (and Allan’s got a couple of songs out of that! (you’re welcome!)). Work should never get in the way of what you love so I was wrong right there, and then. This last LP was so much more fun for me to record – Allan was on fire when he wrote these songs – they were just oozing out of him so quickly, like a melodious frothing volcano! And organ parts just came to me really quickly (with one or two exceptions but when I did get the parts right – they were right I think!). And the songs he wrote for me I really love to sing too. Essentially everyone needs to hear this album and get a precious one just all for themselves because it really is the best thing we’ve done to date! The songs are the business and the overall sound is better (Allan can probably explain why) and I think it’s got an overall great vibe to it. Go on – get it – your turntable will love you for it!

‘There Is Only Now’ LP

The G7 New Album: There Is Only Now is Out Now!

Brand new album from Medway’s finest psych-beat combo!

Date: 2019 Release Format: Vinyl, CD, Download.
CD Album 12 tracks £9.99 Available 21 June 2019


The current band line up is:

Allan Crockford – vocals, guitar
Viv Bonsels – organ, vocals
Mole – drums, vocals
Paul Moss – bass, vocals


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