When meeting a band, there is always a side of you that wakes up from the inside.
You know, that sixteen-year-old girl that keeps shouting after every song during a concert and wait for hours in front of the venue in the hope of meeting the band after their show.
If you manage to tame that animal, you usually find yourself able to fight the star struck syndrome.
After a few dead ends and several misleading paths, the studio is in sight and when the guys welcome me, I am given a drink and a comfortable sit while everyone prepares for tonight’s session.
As everyone finally sits down the bond that links all those young lads is almost perceptible.
You guys stated a few months back that this year was going to be your biggest year, can you give us a little more insights?
In terms of the biggest year, it sort of has been the biggest year for us, we’re still growing as a band and just played ABC (selling more than a thousand tickets), sold out a gig in The Arches and we’re playing in ABC again in December.
But behind the scene there’s good things happening and if it all goes to plan it will definitely be the biggest year as a band.
When you say good things, what do you mean exactly? Are we talking about the release of an album in the nearby future?
Well we have enough music to release an album, at the moment we are writing a lot of new stuff, better stuff, we’re just waiting on a few things to be sorted out first to put a plan in action.
The next step for us is probably to release a new EP, because we’re planning on going to America next year and we’d rather go with an EP than with an album yet, just so we can rely on what we consider being solid and familiar material to attenuate the pressure of playing abroad.
So you think that releasing an album is a lot pressure.
I wouldn’t call that pressure but when you release an album you want to do it correctly with the right tools.
One of them being be able to release it on a major record label, we’re trying to play the biggest songs possible and if we released anything too quickly on a smaller record label, it wouldn’t do justice to those songs.
So we’re trying to find the right way to release the album and the right person.
I suppose the right person would be the biggest record company?
Basically yeah and that is what it would take to do the band justice, we’re constantly trying to emulate bands like The Killers, Kings of Leon or even Coldplay and what we want is the same level of exposure and that’s what we hope to get once we put a couple of final bits of the jigsaw into place.
Do you think that by traveling to the States you will be able to get a better exposure and therefore attract the right people?
Yes, in a certain way, we are in talks to be part of the SXSW festival that is happening next March and I think the time is right for the band because we’ve been working hard on and off for about six years now, however we didn’t become a proper band, and play the songs that we’re doing now, until Chris joined the band a couple of years ago.
I suppose it’s the path you have to take when you want to find your own sound?
At the start you’re just testing the water you know, that’s why we were on and off for all those years, you play covers to ease yourself into this musical universe you’re trying to create, you don’t usually take things too seriously.
But the epiphany for us was when we met a guy who managed The Zutons and Bloc Party and he told us that if we wanted to be taken seriously we should stop playing live for six months, then go away and write an EP and build on that.
That’s what we did when we released Heart & Soul pt.1, which features ‘Heartbeats’, a song that was used by T in the Park as a kind of theme tune for the festival and that basically marked the start of it all.
From T in the Park to supporting The View at the O2 Academy everything accelerated from this point.
Talking about ‘Heartbeats’, I think some congratulations are in order since I think the video reached more than a 100 000 views on the internet.
Yes and thank you very much, for us it’s pretty amazing because we knew that from doing everything ourselves, the feedbacks would come directly to us and not through a management process.
For any contracted band the focus should be on writing songs, writing the best records then playing them live.
For outsiders like us, you have to think about writing the songs, releasing those songs, making videos for those songs and how to release those videos, selling tickets, selling merchandise, all these different aspects you wouldn’t really have to worry if you were under a contract with a big record label.
Hopefully in the next six months we will come to that point where we only have to focus on the music, because that’s what matters for us.
At this moment you have to think about all the other aspects which drain concentration out of those future songs.
It’s not a question of thinking, it’s more a necessity because without those different aspects the band wouldn’t survive, you have to keep your eyes open all the time.
So being in a band is a 24/7 job?
That’s how it goes and if you talked to any other bands in Scotland they’d tell you the same thing, there are a lot of good bands here and they do the same thing as we do, it’s like a second job except you don’t get paid for it.
We have the chance to live in Glasgow, which is such a big musical scene, you can go to a gig in a different venue almost every night. Do you guys think that it pushes bands to be better and sound better or that the competition just drags everyone to the ground?
It definitely does help, first and foremost you always have to look at yourself and focus on yourself, but you also want to look at other bands and how they’re doing too because that keeps you motivated to do better and be better.
If some bands do a bigger show you might think to yourself ‘I want to do that, I want to make big things happen like that’.
That is the nature of an unsigned band, you’re always looking to see who’s doing the right things and who’s making waves and try and follow that, but the main focus has to be on yourself, you can never lose that.
You guys always hint that this is what you want to do for a living, I suppose it’s happening right now you guys are just waiting on the rewards of that hard work?
You know, when we go on tour and all the boys are in the van, you’re having the best time ever.
From being all together to being on stage and playing live, it’s amazing and that’s the dream to do that over and over again.
At the end of the day if people come to your shows and pay money for your records well it’s already rewarding.
Because the music industry seems over-saturated with bands that come and go faster than the speed of light, do you still think your ultimate goal that is living off music will happen?
ABSOLUTELY, we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t sure.
I wasn’t expecting any other answer.
You know, I think we’re really close to doing something and again I won’t be shy by telling everybody that we want to be one of the biggest bands in the world.
From day one we’ve been self-managing and I see this process as character building.
I’m very sure you guys have been approached by different labels, right?
Yes of course, loads of people, but I’ll tell you one thing, if you can yourself do the job better, why would you want someone to represent you?
We’ll see how it goes but we’ve chatted with a lot of people and it’s not been worth it and we don’t want to lose anybody else’s time as well.
Like I said earlier on in the next six months things should move quickly even in terms of management.
We already have a great booking agent and a great PR team and radio plugger, so finding the right management team logically comes next.
Being where you are and doing what you do at the moment without any representation is fascinating, very honest and also courageous, how do you guys see this experience from the inside?
We collectively set things as a band, everyone has a voice when it comes to the band, everyone has a certain job too and we all stick to it and that’s how it functions but you can only do this for so long and you want someone to come up and help you move to the next level, that’s what we’re trying to finalize.
Explain to us the usual music-making process of the band, how do you guys create those songs?
I usually write a demo in my house then I’ll just program the song on how I think it should sound like.
Then Chris will usually come up and help with the vocal parts and help layer everything then the guys will bring on their own visions, trying different things, jamming together, but the essence of the song is usually written down from my bedroom.
It’s usually where people feel the safest and the most comfortable, it seems easier to write something when you’re in your own space.
That’s it, when we started the band before Chris joined we would collectively sit around and jam and we were never going anywhere and I thought that maybe we should try something different, so we took a leap and started over-polishing every demo and since then that’s what we’ve been doing song by song and it works.
Well it does seem that your sound changed a couple of years ago with the addition of new instruments, you guys turned everything into a more atmospherical sound, giving you the chance to be compared to U2, Coldplay and even Simple Minds.
The bands that you’ve named there are the ones we have in our headlights, you know massive bands with huge songs and this is exactly what we want to do.
Well you seem to be on the right tracks.
Thanks very much, like I said we’re trying and everything is ahead of us.
For a lot of listeners, ‘Forever’ is when you guys became more U2-ish, more anthemic
Every song we try to create these days has this anthemic potential that we want to push out and expose it.
You are compared to a lot of prestigious bands, which is, I’m sure, a delight; but where does your musical influence come from? Five different people usually means differences in music tastes.
We all listen to very different types of music, but when it comes to songwriting we collide on U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, those people are the sort of influences we want to emulate.
In terms of what we all listen to, it’s completely different from one another; New Order, Bob Dylan, 50 Cent (laughs), some of us are really into hip-hop especially Al (drummer), he thinks he’s Biggie Small!
You said you wrote the essence of those songs in the comfort of your own house, do you base your lyrics on anything particular?
I think the themes for the first two EPs were being young and not having any fear (‘Forever’, ‘Heartbeats’) it was focusing on something positive and there wasn’t any negative in those two releases, we’re trying to focus on the making of the everyday life.
And that’s what touches people I guess, using everyday themes
That’s it, there’s nothing too complicated and intricate, it’s all straightforward and that why it resonates with so many people, because the lyrics you’re singing resonate with them and that’s what makes a difference.
The intimacy that the lyrics create must be a plus, especially when you’re about to go on stage and sing the first lines.
Arriving on stage and singing and hearing the audience singing along is also a plus. it takes the pressure off, especially when you forget the words of your first song…. (everybody laughs).
It happens at almost every gig, because what happens is if it’s a big gig, everything flies out and you kind of lose your focus but only for a few seconds, we’re only humans after all, but if you know you’re going to mess up you just pull your face away from the mic and let yourself be guided by the crowd, or the band will start laughing at me which will release a bit of pressure as well.
I suppose it’s better for these kinds of mishaps to happen in the beginning.
Yes, we get the bad ones out of the way and move on, but that’s what makes us a band, you learn from your mistakes, you learn from all that and yes when it happens it’s not funny but in the end we always remember those moments and laugh.
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Anything more bizarre ever happened to you?
Well… One time Gordon played with his bass completely turned off, he was so proud of himself that night, he kept telling everyone that it was such a great gig.
Is that the most bizarre thing that ever happened?
Is it, but if you wanted to hear every single awkward thing you’d be here all night, you need to note that what happened with Gordon was when he played with his previous band and it’s actually that night that we decided he was for us, we were trying to get him for the band for a while and that night was the night, some might say it was luck.
What would you say is the hardest thing is when being in a band?
Work, constant work, you need to want to do the work each day.
Also every year, a week before T in the Park you seem to have a lot more mates than before, everybody tries to get free tickets from you and sometimes it’s flattering but sometimes it’s not… I mean some people don’t realise that you work so hard and that tickets are a way of being able to keep on doing this.
They are two ways to get a record deal: the first one you have to be really good, have exceptional contacts and the second one is to be really good and to work your ass off so as to be so good that you can’t be ignored.
Unfortunately we don’t know anybody so we have to work hard.
The rewards you get must be more fulfilling then.
I think a lot of other bands when they look at us are not envious, however they’re really complimentary in what we’re doing because they know that we work probably the harder than anybody else.
We know we have something seriously special that nobody has heard before and what I’m going to say might take the roof off this studio when I say it but nobody has heard that before.
It’s the natural progression from where we are as a band and it’ll put us up there when we get it, right now it’s a lot of work.
When you say progression as band, what do you mean?
In terms of songwriting, in terms of sound, in terms of performance this EP we’re going to release will be our defining moment because we know we have all those songs we’ve released before that are great but we’ve got at least six or seven that we’ve worked hard on for the last year that will top them up.
Are you guys excited by what’s going to happen?
Completely and undoubtedly. We just need to make sure that all the things we’re doing behind the scenes are tied up so that when we release something big we’re bulletproof and nobody can touch us.
For the sake of that interview I tried to download your music illegally, it’s impossible to find it in those platforms.
Someone makes sure that none of our songs reach those websites, to be honest right now I’m happy for everybody to listen to our songs it doesn’t matter how they get the songs but obviously you want people to buy your stuff because it’s your work.
But then it’s music and the most important thing about music is to be listened to, music is one of the weirdest things though, because you can pay for it after consuming it.
Yes nowadays people can buy only one song from the internet and leave the rest of the album out, but I believe an album should be solid from start to finish and for that it takes time.
I think it’s important to make a good album but it’s completely impossible to define how the listeners are going to react to it.
Timing becomes defining and also uncontrollable and that’s the sad thing sometimes about music, some people actually determine what one should listen to rather than people making those adjustments for themselves.
The key in this industry is to adapt to change and that’s what we try to base our band on, it took us that long to find our sound now the only thing we want to do is play those songs with our entire hearts every single time, because that’s what motivate us and makes us want to move forward.
We try and make sure that we believe in every song because if we played just for the sake of playing we would turn into an X-factor manufactured pop band that does this only for the money.
It is always interesting to set yourself on a different path just to see where you can go and what can happen to you, putting yourself at risks might sometimes have good consequences.
When bands agree to meet for an interview a certain dose of uncertainty always floats into the air, the persons you see and hear can sometimes differ from your expectations, sometimes for the worse, but sometimes for the best.
Tonight the latter hypothesis transpired, Vigo Thieves stand for what they truly believe in, hardwork, passion and humbleness, their talent is being cultivated everyday while forcing themselves to create musical gems.
Words: Jeremy Veyret