The rebellious spirit is really the lifeblood of rock n’ roll music, always has been, and always will be. Young musician GUNNAR is carving out quite a path for himself, with his middle finger firmly pointed in the air as he debuts his brand new single and music video for “Fuck a Broken Heart.” This is a significant moment for the singer and songwriter, still a mere 21 years old and already defining himself as an artist. The accompanying video for the single takes you right into the operating room as a team of doctors perform open heart surgery, and some heinous hilarity ensues.
GUNNAR is starting to arrive as an artist. Thanks to his talents and hard work, he has caught the eye of some very well-regarded, influential individuals, including Scooter Braun, who helped discover Justin Bieber. Braun signed him to his management company and has taken the Los Angeles-based GUNNAR under his wing.
In addition, the legendary producer and engineer Brendan O’Brien produced “Fuck a Broken Heart” and has been working with GUNNAR on a full spat of songs. O’Brien is arguably the most important rock producer of the 1990s, and it didn’t take him much to see the potential within GUNNAR as a musician and performer. Over the course of a year, GUNNAR set up shop in Los Angeles, where he wrote just about 100 songs, mostly all rooted in his impressive guitar-playing skills. Some of these demos caught the attention of O’Brien, who was impressed enough to want to write and record with the young artist.
In addition to debuting this brand new video for “Fuck a Broken Heart,” GUNNAR joins us today to discuss the background behind the clip, the concept, touring, and his new music.
Who directed the video?
GUNNAR: “My incredible creative director Nev, from The Young Astro’s.”
What’s the concept behind the video? Help us to understand the video’s concept in more detail and how it ties into the lyrics.
“This video is a comedic take on the title of the song ‘Fuck A Broken Heart.’ It’s about me coming in with a messed up heart, and when I get into surgery, it is a total mess. The things coming out of my chest are concerning, to say the least.”
Did you have a concept in mind based on the song, or was Nev given full reign to come up with a suitable visual companion?
“Honesty, we’re all so close that we came up with it together. We wanted to do something funny and random and tip the hat to old 2000s music videos a bit, so once we came up with the main concept, my creative director and her team helped actually bring it into a solid shot list and video.”
What was your favourite part behind the creation of the video?
“We just had the best time shooting it. It is also the first music video that the band has been in, which just took it to the next level.”
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do or seen being done during the making of a music video?
“Having open heart surgery and seeing guitars, chocolates, balloons, and other stuff being pulled out of my chest was definitely up there on strangest things I’ve seen in a video.”
Any mishaps on set?
“Somehow, we always end up breaking shit….”
How important do you think music videos are in terms of increased exposure?
“This is a big argument that I personally take the side of music videos being somewhat important for exposure. I think they are a staple part of the music industry and a crucial way to express a song in a visual way… But does a music video still have the possibility of breaking the internet? I don’t know… I hope so.”
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
“I would change what a lot of people view as the ‘most important.’ Nowadays, with TikTok and all social media, numbers mean so much to the industry. With that, I feel like there has been a loss of true care for artistic value and quality. Now I’m not discrediting all things social media and the artists who have succeeded off of it by any means, but I am saying I would love to see the industry swing back to prioritizing quality live shows and good music.”
What do you like most about playing music?
“I genuinely feel like playing a show is the truest and most expressive version of myself that I get to experience. The joy I get from sharing live music and energy with people is the greatest high in the world. It is all I want to do.”
What’s your favourite city or venue to play in?
“I bet after this tour, I will have a really good answer and reasoning for it.”
Which do you enjoy the most: writing, recording, practicing, or playing live?
“One-hundred percent playing live. I love writing and finishing records and becoming better army craft, absolutely… But the reason I write the records, and practice is entirely for the live show. I write songs imagining them being performed at a show.”
What are you still trying to figure out?
“Everything, constantly. How to grow a fanbase, how to get better at guitar, how to be able to sustain vocals every night, how to improve our show daily, how to dive deeper into myself for songwriting, how to just be me all of the time.. How to be comfortable being uncomfortable… How to trust everyone around me. There’s a lot I’m still trying to figure out.”
What is the story behind your forthcoming new record?
“The name of my debut record is called Best Mistake primarily because of its significance to the first few years of my career, where I just wasn’t sure who I was or what I was doing. A lot of mistakes were made, but it ended up leading me to where I am today; truly happy, and finally confident in presenting myself honestly to the world. So although I look at the past and find 100 things I could tear apart, all of those steps ended up being the ‘Best Mistakes’ I have ever made because it led me to where I am today. Also, the first song on the album is called ‘Bad Idea,’ and there is a fun lyric in there that uses ‘best mistake,’ so it just felt like it had to be the title of the album.”
Is there anywhere you would like to go that you have not been to?
“I am craving to go play shows in Brazil and South America… Fans from there are always so supportive and committed; I just want to go down there, play shows, and connect with people. I also want to tour in Europe… I haven’t really ever toured outside of the U.S., so I just want to go experience culture and share our show and energy across the world.”
What do you think of the current state of the genre you play in?
“I think that it is about to take over the industry. I think people want real quality live music and that this kind of music leans to deliver that. I think the industry will forever go in cycles, and I have a feeling that quality classic rock is coming back.”
What are some of the newer bands that you are listening to or enjoying?
“There are a couple bands I really like right now… One of them is the band Inhaler. I really like what they’re doing in music and bringing back to the U.S. I recently just got turned onto Mammoth WVH, which I love. Barns Courtney is really, really dope… Quarters of Change are cool and a good group of guys. Then there’s this band Wunderhouse, who I found that I like too.”
What is the music scene like where you’re based?
“A fucking mess (laughs). There’s just so much noise it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t.”
Do you have any rituals before you hit the stage? If so, what are they?
“Yeah! So after learning the hard way (laughs), the band and I decided that 30 minutes before we go on, everyone has to leave the green room… We need that time to just find our roots and remind ourselves that we do this because we love it more than anything else. No matter who’s out there or how important a show may be, it really just has to be about me and those guys doing what we love.
“When the green room is packed up until show time, I think our heads just are all over the place, and I know, at least for me, I can get lost in the noise, which is not how any artist should be before a show.”
Do you have any touring plans in support of your new music?
“Yes! I’m actually heading out at the top of February to go take this on the road!”
Do you use the same gear when recording as you do when playing live?
“Most of the time, yes. We use my Fender Stratocaster and Kemper amp system.”
For years, albums and, generally, all new music dropped on Tuesdays. Now it’s typically Fridays. What are your thoughts on the change?
“I get it… It’s all politics.”
Tell us about your experience going it alone as an artist. How hard is it to get your music distributed, promoted, shared, etc.?
“You know, obviously releasing an album independently is a bit scary because you don’t have ‘the machine’ behind you and promoting your music, but I will say having the artistic freedom and capabilities to make, release and tour music when I want to is really nice. Also, having all creative control is the most incredible feeling. I don’t have to worry about a label or group of people approving what I make… If I love it and feel confident in it, it gets the green light.”