From humble beginnings back around the turn of the century, Gunrunner have, via a series of natural events, evolved into today’s denim-clad beast, a tight, no-nonsense classic rock covers band that are well-versed in customer care and satisfaction.
This Chelmsford, Essex based 6-piece play genres across the spectrum from blues to hard rock, pop to prog rock, soul, and beyond. The band call it their “Classic Rock Jukebox”, an eclectic and well thought-out selection of both anthems and obscure musical gems, all designed to transport the audience back to their younger, formative days, awakening memories of great bands and great songs which are imprinted on their musical souls.
Founded by current rhythm guitarist Spencer Pratten, the aim was to play great songs and play them well. Musicians have come and gone, but the Gunrunner ethos has always stood firm. The early blues-based repertoire that leaned heavily on Cream, Freddie King, Howlin’Wolf and the like, gradually morphed into a more gutsy, rocky base, and in came legendary tracks from Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Thin Lizzy, The Doors, Journey, 10cc, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Queen, Small Faces, Bon Jovi, Bowie and Manfred Mann’s Earthband.
Here's some info about the Boys wot makes the Noise !!
Rhythm guitarist, founding member, and by choice, general dogsbody! Guitar lessons in the early 1970s led to a life-long love affair with the old six string, though semi-pro football was always first choice until playing, managing and coaching (and a catalogue of injuries) gave way to the lure of the Gibson Les Paul and partial deafness. Spencer founded Gunrunner in 2002 with old school mates and after the usual transitions every band goes through, we now have the present line up. His musical influences are wide and varied. Brought up during the 60s and 70s, he was influenced by albums like Led Zep II, Deep Purple In Rock, Paranoid and Split. Nights spent at The Hammersmith Odeon or Rainbow Theatre watching legends like Sabbath, Purple, Uriah Heep, Montrose, Doobie Brothers, Kansas, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Steely Dan, Foreigner, Boston, Bad Company and Motorhead live long in the memory. Gear includes his beloved Honeyburst Gibson Les Paul, and assorted Fender Teles and Strats. The din comes from a Marshall Vintage 40W all valve Combo. Spencer is eternally grateful to The Rolling Stones for making it perfectly acceptable for a greying person of pensionable age to prance about various pubs and clubs wielding an electric guitar and dressing like he did in 1972.
Barry started playing drums at the ripe old age of 15, and with three like-minded friends, put together his first band. After about four years together, he got an offer playing full time with a rock and roll band, which he stayed with for all of 18 months. In Barry's own words
"loads of laughs, but not the most challenging work for an ambitious drummer." From there on he was playing mostly in blues bands, and along with his bass player, performed together for 15 years. Later, Barry ended-up in a three piece band with a ZZ Top feel, but the usual call of family commitments led him to retire from performing. However, the lure of the stage proved irresistible, and Baz decided to get back in the saddle (well, drum seat actually), by joining a local Maldon band playing their own blues tracks. Eventually, he decided that his heart belonged to classic rock and that is when he found Gunrunner. His audition was damn good and the rest is history. Barry plays a six piece Sonor kit in natural birch with DW hardware and a mix of Zildjian and Paiste cymbals.
Vince is the type of guy every band needs...brilliant on the technical side and no mean keyboard player. Vince spent some time at the legendary Marquee Studios, Wardour Street with world-renowned producer Phil Harding (The Clash, Depeche Mode and Erasure to name a few) where Vince honed his craft. Live Gunrunner shows feature Vince nailing it whether it be the growling Deep Purple Hammond B3, The Stranglers punk synth, The Doors electric piano or the opening notes to classics like Don't Stop Believing and Jump. Vince is also responsible for the PA system, lights, smoke machines and video effects. If its gonna be in the set, then its gonna be done properly as Vince would say. More of a prog-rocker than Spencer or Baz, Vince's great heroes are Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.
An accomplished bass player and vocalist, Markus brings a huge level of enthusiasm and energy to Gunrunner. Music is his life but not his livelihood. Born and raised in Philadelphia, his musical influences are extensive. As a prog rock aficionado, Markus shares Vince's love of the greats such as Yes, ELP and Genesis but he also has a soft spot in his heart for Cream, Hendrix, the Stones, Queen, Bad Co., Mott, Neil Young and one of his favourite artists, the late David Bowie. During his formative years on the US East Coast, he was a founding member of New Jersey cover band Bare Wires, who played over 500 gigs during their 14 years together. This included a stint opening for the late E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemons during his solo tour. Upon his relocation to London in the late 1990’s, he joined South London original band Duplex Gage regularly playing to capacity crowds at Camden Barfly, Clapham Grand and Shepherd’s Bush Empire. In addition to his performing credits, Markus has over 25 years experience in live sound, production, recording, mixing and mastering. He currently runs a project recording studio where in addition to producing Gunrunner audio and video projects, he also develops and records unsigned local talent.
Paul Dennis has played in bands since the tender age of 16 but the zenith of his career prior to joining Gunrunner was a progressive rock band called Trilogy, formed in 1981 and lasting for 5 years. Highlights from this time would be a nationwide tour with fellow prog rock rockers Pallas and Solstice, regular stints at the Marquee Club, a Radio 1 session on the legendary Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance, playing at Stonehenge Music Festival, various recordings at EMI and Phonogram, with a track being included on the EMI prog rock compilation album Fire in Harmony. Pauls main influences are Rush, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Max Webster . Since his Prog Rock days, he has became increasingly fond of the blues, although, as he freely admits, he misses playing in his favourite time signature of 7/4. Paul says he will never be someone who copies other guitarists note for note, but we are sure you’ll enjoy his slant on things when you come to hear the band as this technically gifted guitarist is capable of great lead work. Although a lifelong Gibson player, (he owns a Twin Necked Gibson SG in the Jimmy Page mould), in recent years he has moved on to a PRS and uses a Custom 24 and Custom DGT model as his main guitars, along with a Line 6 Firehawk 1500 with an FBV3 Pedalboard.
If his first few months with Gunrunner are anything to go by, this relative newcomer to the music scene is a force to be reckoned with. Weaned on Classic Rock while listening to his father's music collection in the 1980’s, Aaron has influences spanning the heavier rock of AC/DC, Guns N Roses and Led Zeppelin, all the way to the soul tones of Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. Throw-in legendary blues/rock giants Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King and we have a front-man confidently able to sing in styles across the board - which is ideal for a covers band like Gunrunner. Aaron possesses a voice of true power and emotion, which at only 38 years of age, suggests a bright future ahead of him.
Away from music, he has been a keen rugby player, having played both in the UK and in New Zealand where he lived for three years. Married with a new-born son, Aaron and the band are excited to explore new musical avenues. With a vocal style and range that links Robert Plant and the late Chris Cornell, Gunrunner will no doubt be venturing into areas where Aaron's talents can best be highlighted. As they say, watch this space!