A chat with... VANT
VANT are the punk-rock four piece leading the way for the wave of exciting new bands producing politically based music. Four of their singles have made it as 'Hottest Record In the World' on Radio 1 and they've played wild shows at Reading & Leeds and Glastonbury.
Now, having just released their debut album, 'DUMB BLOOD' a record packed with lyrics demanding discussion they're out on their biggest tour yet. I caught up with Mattie and Henry before their Manchester show, read what they had to say below.
You've just released your debut album, how does that feel?
Mattie - It's good, yeah. It's exciting to have a full body of work out for people to listen to and immerse themselves in. It's had an impact on the shows already, every song we play now is met with the same reaction that our singles were met with before.
Was the reaction what you hoped for?
Henry - It's been amazing, yeah. I guess you don't know what to expect but it's amazing. It's really nice in the first couple of shows 'cos you're still in the headspace where even though the record's out it's still the same reactions as before, even when it's songs that you haven't released the songs before it's like a really nice moment and it makes you smile.
Your music is obviously very political, has it always been about politics or did you start out with a completely different theme?
Mattie - For this project it was, that was kinda the mentality of it from the beginning to have political undertones to it and to be socially conscious. Before that I was very self indulgent as a writer, I'd write about love and my heart being broken and all that kind of nonsense. Then I got to a point where I just felt like I was being far too self indulgent and I didn't really feel like I was benefitting anyone, least of all me really. I find it quite interesting like the more older stuff I was listening to like The Rolling Stones or The Kinks or whatever, not so much The Kinks as they split up but The Rolling Stones I think the whole reason they have stayed together for so long is because their songs aren't really self deprecating, I think when you listen to a lot of artists that sing about heartbreak or whatever, I think if you're singing that every night for like years and years it kind of bums you out and I think for me it was also like I was making this persona for myself where I was like a depressed alcoholic basically so for me on a personal level it was important to start writing about other things and because I'd become interested in politics and philosophy at the time I wanted to incorporate that into the lyrics 'cos there's not a lot other people doing that. So that was how it all started and I just kept writing in the same way.
Your fans are mostly younger people, do you feel a responsibility to make them aware of current politics?
Mattie - Hopefully, I mean I guess a lot of the kids are a bit of an inspiration. Whenever we talk to people that are really young, especially those who aren't old enough to vote, for their voices to be heard it feels good that you're representing them in some way and that our voice can hopefully speak for a lot of people. But I think in general most young people are way more active and aware about those kinda issues anyway, or certainly the ones we get to interact with are. So I think it's important to be a soundtrack for a generation but also I think you've gotta appreciate that the majority of people kinda feel the same way anyway.
So you said the album has had an impact on the shows, has this tour been different to your previous tours?
Mattie - Yeah it's been mad.
Henry - Really incredible, yeah.
Mattie - I mean these are like the biggest shows we've ever done, most of the shows are sold out and yeah it just feels like the next step up. It's what we hoped, you get the record out and you reach a new audience and a bigger audience so yeah I think it's been very nuts.
Are the crowds still as wild as your usual shows?
Mattie - Yeah I mean it's kind of continued from that point, we try to calm them down a little bit 'cos it gets a little bit too much sometimes.
What's the strangest thing that's happened to you while you've been on tour?
Henry - It's hard to think of one specific thing, there's plenty of things but you become so, like nothing is that shocking really. I could probably say things but I can't think of anything particular, there's just been plenty of strange things.
Mattie - I think my life in general is pretty strange now. To a point where I'm just like, oh that happened.
Henry - It's just normal now.
Has there been any particular highlight of being on tour?
Mattie - I guess it's just getting to go to new places. That's the best thing about it, we got to go to Japan last year and we've seen a lot of European countries that most of us hadn't explored a lot of. We've been to Norway a few times and the Netherlands, parts of Austria and Switzerland so loads of places that you'd kind of like to go but like it's weird with holidaying. There's loads of destinations where you'd be like, it's not really hot so I won't go there. So we've had that nice experience of getting to indulge ourselves in some culture and places that are like, amazingly beautiful but you maybe wouldn't go to just to get a tan.
Is there anywhere that you really want to play?
Mattie - I'm excited for the states.
Henry - I'd like to go to South America.
Mattie - Yeah, I'd love to go to South America.
Do you have any hobbies or interests that aren't music related?
Henry - I play footie, and I like planes. I went and saw some planes today at the Science museum, the area was lovely too and the buildings were really nice.
Mattie - I like art. I went to an art gallery today, I'm just learning, I'm not an expert but my girlfriend is very much an expert at art so she teaches me. Both of our girlfriends teach us about art. But yeah I always try to go to different galleries when we're out, I find it really inspiring.
Back to the album, which is your favourite song from it?
Henry - I can't say. It's really hard 'cos as cliche as it sounds they're all great for different reasons.
Is there any that mean more to you than others?
Mattie - I really like Lampoon, not for any particular reason like lyrically or anything I think it's just a really great song and I think it's one that particularly in a live sense I've always wanted it to be like, this is great and now it kinda feels like that now we have the record out. So that for me has been really exciting to finally see that have as much impact as I wanted it to.
Henry - Yeah I agree with that, like you would probably say as well like Time & Money is a really beautiful song and one of the early ones that we wrote so that's really nice.
Was the writing and recording process for the album different to with the EP?
Mattie - No it was kind of all in the same go, that's how we ended up with the deluxe album with 22 tracks 'cos we recorded a lot and recorded them to a high standard that we were happy with so we kind of didn't want anything to go to waste so that's why we did the EP prior to the record and then included a couple of songs from the EP on the deluxe record as well. But yeah I think we did it in a kind of strange way really, we've had a bit of freedom because our producer Sam Miller has kind of allowed us to go in and out of the studio and not have any time or money restrictions to things, we were just doing stuff til it sounds good. So I think that flexibility made it quite an easy album to make but at the same time a bit laborious.
Henry - Yeah I guess 'cos we did have time it's kind of like, I guess if you have a shorter time to make a record then you kind of have to be like, it's done. When you have a large amount of time you definitely go back and revisit things which is sometimes really great but sometimes not. It's been a really interesting process as well. But I guess the next one will be different.
When you write the songs do they all come together in the same way? Do the lyrics come first or the music?
Mattie - Not really, I mean there's a rough formula of like I'll get the basis of a song and then Henry will come and we'll write it and finish it off together. Then we take it into the rehearsal room and then into the recording studio but I guess that's kind of been mostly because of the instrumentation of the first record and the fact that it was always two guitars, bass, drums and some vocals so it was pretty easy to kind of formulate in that sense. I think moving forward we're gonna be looking at things in a less formulated way and kind of writing it very much like what parts are needed for the song and all that sort of stuff. I don't know I think you need to keep challenging yourself and keep yourself guessing because it's the only way that you'll survive as an artist. If you continue to do the same thing then you'll just get bored.
You've got some really good support acts on this tour and you've played plenty of support shows yourselves, who was your favourite artist to tour with?
Henry - Fidlar was great.
Mattie - That was actually the first time we had a really crazy crowd in Manchester, across the road at The Ritz. I really hope we get to play that venue one day on our own. But yeah Fidlar was really great, the couple of times we've been out with Royal Blood were good.
Henry - Yeah really nice, You Me At Six are good guys and Catfish and The Bottlemen was great. Biffy Clyro was good and really lovely guys as well. We've been quite lucky.
If you could have any artist, dead or alive to support you on your, who would you choose?
Henry - U2. No, I don't know.
Mattie - Someone that we'd really piss off. Like someone who things they're like god.
Henry - Chesney Hawks, Craig David.
Mattie - Metallica.
Henry - I'd love Metallica to support us. They'd have to share our backline.
What's next for VANT?
Mattie - We'll be moving into festival season fairly swiftly, and just writing and working on the second album. Keeping things ticking over. So, yeah whatever the wind brings.
'DUMB BLOOD' is available now on Parlophone. Listen to latest single 'DO YOU KNOW ME?' below.