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Things I Have Learned

Gabe Factory Floor On: Caring For The English Bulldog
Luke Turner , September 10th, 2013 04:53

In the second of our series of Factory Floor features, drummer Gabe Gurnsey tells us about the pleasures, pongs and musical potential of his English bulldog, Vince. Photos by Anna Stroe, classic album covers feat. Vince by Gurnsey

Dogs bring responsibility

The family never had a dog. We had two guinea pigs, a rabbit, and I had some quails. Four quails that I kept in a rabbit cage, but they started laying loads of eggs, that's all they did, and we had to give them away. I always wanted a dog, but we never had the space, so I got a guinea pig instead, which isn't quite the same. Then my brother got a dog, and I wanted a bit of normality while we were doing the album, a bit of responsibility and routine in my life because it was getting a bit 'what the fuck's going on'? So I decided to get Vince, which was a bit of a gamble because he's old and a bit smelly.

Dogs decide where they want to be

I got Vince on Gumtree, and he wasn't a rescue dog because he's still got his balls. It was a Gumtree ad: '£300, pick him up now'. He was seven, and I thought it was mad that people could get rid of their pets at such a late age because you become really attached to them - I've only had him a few months and it'd he heartbreaking to get rid of him. I drove down to Kent with my brother, Vince came snuffling out of the kitchen of this house with his little squashed face, and I was like 'fucking hell, he's massive'. He got in the back of the car, he just jumped in the back and wanted to go - 'fuck this, I'm out'. He was sat behind the gear stick all the way home looking proper menacing, but he settled in straight away.

Purebreed bulldogs are the most man-made dogs on the planet

It's just the most mutated and deformed thing. Bulldogs actually can't breed on their own, they have to have human assistance for their breed to carry on, it's very rare for them to be able to breed together. So they've been manipulated from the very beginning by introducing mastiffs, I think there's a bit of pug in there and bull terrier as well.

They're misconstrued as aggressive dogs

They're totally the opposite, Vince is the most placid dog I've ever seen. I think because he's been bred in that way, he's a perfect companion for the studio. Aesthetically, he just looks great, doesn't he? He's soft as anything, but walking him in the park people sometimes turn away because he's stood there, bow-legged, going 'hmmmph'.

People look at you differently with a bulldog

If I take him on the tube there's always someone looking at him, because they're quite rare in London. He is an attraction, especially when you turn up at Highbury and the football match is on, and all the blokes, big football guys are going 'corr, check it out, English bulldog', but I didn't buy him because he's an English icon. People walk past and go 'Churchill', but c'mon man, that just shows you're a little bit thick.

Bulldogs have very delicate stomachs

They're quite a muscly dog, but they have delicate stomachs so you can't feed them table scraps like you can other dogs, because they've got low tolerance. He does love chicken though, and he eats much better than me. He gets a cooked dinner now and then.

They've got so many health problems

His second home is at the vet. I've been there about 30 times already with him, because of his airways and things like that.

He doesn't need much exercise

He only goes for one walk in the morning and a piss later at night. He's happy to sit in the studio and go to sleep. That's part of why I got him. The dog I always wanted to get was a husky, and I went to see one. The owner gave it to me on a lead and it dragged me across the park with its sheer power, and they always try and escape. Running around Seven Sisters trying to get a husky back would be totally mental, but Vince is entirely the opposite - he doesn't want to get up and go anywhere.

Bulldogs can be used in music making

When we collaborated with Simon Fisher Turner for the ICA we decided to get him to come up and do some field recordings in the studio and warehouse. He ended up recording Vince snoring for a few minutes, and he used it in the live show at the beginning, and it ended up sounding like a Harley Davidson starting up. I think I could get some kick drums out of it, or some claps from the farting...

Bulldogs are prone to wind...

...but the secret to curing that is to give them yoghurt, and they don't do it any more. I think I found it online, it helps the digestion and settles the anus down a little bit. The farting is difficult. Me and my brother and my nephew went up to Scotland for a couple of days holiday, and took Vince. We were sleeping in the car overnight, and there was this point where all of us were so knackered that we didn't wind the windows down, and we all woke up at three in the morning because Vince had inhaled all the fucking oxygen and then farted out this toxic gas. I've never felt like I couldn't breathe like that before.

Bulldogs are very affectionate

They're very loyal, and they always want company. When I go out if there's no-one about he'll bark, and he's always very happy to see you when you get back. Everyone likes Vince when they meet him. He's hard not to like.

Vince's face changes so much

...from being well to being ill to being happy or a bit fucking miserable. Sometimes he looks at you like an old man, just sitting there, and it's freaking me out. His eyes have got a lot of depth to them. He's a reincarnation of someone. He's a funny little bastard.

It's odd when he looks at you like you're a sausage

He has got quite a dark look in his eye, but he's never hurt anything.

Vince is relaxed in life

It's like reaching 30. You go 'ah, fuck it'. Vince, he gets treated like royalty round here.

Factory Floor's debut album is out now... buy it on iTunes here, listen loud.