Article by KevW
This coming Monday (24th September) will see the release of the new EP, 'Hotel Monsoon', from London experimental/indie types Vices. You can read our review of 'Dying Day' here or skip to the bottom to watch the video and nab a free download of 'Human Being'. But before that, Sam from the band talks to us about playing gigs on stadium-sized boats, DJing with transvestites and being "neo swamp soul".
TSOC: Hi Sam, your sound seems very eclectic, does this come from different members of the band being into different genres of music or do you share tastes and generally agree on what goes on the stereo?
Sam: A mix of both really. You'd probably end up a covers band if you all only listened to one artist. It helps a lot with songwriting as there is always an exotic spice to add to the broth.
TSOC: We struggled to pigeonhole you (which must be great from your point of view) but is there a genre that you think your music fits in to? If not, how would you describe it? Can you make up your own genre?
Sam: That's probably good. Recently someone said we were 'neo swamp soul,' which I'm happy with. More and more people are just choosing a graphic for their genre, like Prince. I guess it looks better on iTunes.
TSOC: You're currently writing the next record, are we likely to see any change of direction?
Sam: I think it will just be an evolution. Like we did from our first record. We enjoying varying our recording techniques and approach to song writing too. I don't think there has been a better time for out there creativity and ingenuity being accepted in music.
TSOC: Is writing something that comes easily? And do songs begin as one person's idea and are then worked on by the band or do you all hit the studio and piece together ideas as you go?
Sam: There is no set way for us. It's normally fairly fluid writing songs. On this record I think a couple came from jams, one was a dead set written song and another was written about 4 times in different styles. We record a lot of stuff all the time and bank it, it's fun to throw it into live sets at any given time. Keeps you on your toes.
TSOC: With the Mercury shortlist having just been announced, who would you give the prize to? Someone off the shortlist or some entirely different? Could you be up for nomination next year?
Sam: To be honest I haven't heard many of the nominee's music. But I did find it odd when I saw Sam Lee was up for a nomination, as that is my name. So I might not have to wait till next year. As for Vices, who knows. That would be nice.
TSOC: It's been a busy year for you, touring the US and Europe with the likes of Everything Everything, Dry The River and Band Of Skulls. Were any valuable lessons learned from travelling with more established acts?
Sam: Well the last tours we did were our own but when we have played with bigger artists you get a lot of knowledge on how or how not to come across. As with any band big or small, some come across all arsey and wanky and others blow the roof of the place. It's important to take in all angles not just the great ones. We have played with some insane musicians who have since broken up but at the time, changed the way we looked at playing live.
TSOC: Any examples of rock 'n' roll behaviour that took place on tour? What's the most clichéd rock star moment been so far?
Sam: Errrrm, DJing with transvestites in Berlin and baffling Czech police on the state of our transport would be another. What goes on on tour, yada yada yada...
TSOC: What level would you like Vices to reach? Are you aiming for U2 or Muse type stadium sell-outs or will you be happy to simmer away in the background with a decent sized fanbase?
Sam: Whatever comes naturally really. I imagine playing a sell out stadium tour would be fairly enjoyable across the board but at the moment we just want to play the sweatboxes and get the grass roots thing going. There's nothing better than a little one on one. It would be fun to rewrite the stadium show as I think it can get a little stagnant. Like do a stadium boat that pulls into ports and plays like a great marauding Galleon. The wind normally makes the acoustics pretty bad. I think Cortez beat me to that though. Worth a look.
TSOC: With music being more accessible now than ever and so many styles being mixed, are there any current bands you'd put in a similar bracket to yourselves and do you have any tips for new bands we should be keeping an eye on?
Sam: Someone said we were on the lines of Alt-J, a bit wonky, but other than that I would need more in depth knowledge. Look out for Born Blonde and Will Samson, they are always impressing us. It's always good to check out Warps latest editions. Tame Impala's new album, Gonjasufi, Flying Lotus is releasing soon, really interested in Daughn Gibson.
TSOC: Finally that tricky one: Fantasy festival time. Vices are headlining and you get to pick 5 other acts, current or past to add to the bill. Who do you go for?
Sam: Cor that is a real tickler. So as the appease the other boys I'd say Tom Waits, The Beatles (After Acid - or if unavailable just John and his troop), Queens Of The Stone Age, Flying Lotus and Ali Farka Toure playing 'Savanne' with Jack White, Howlin Wolf and Jimi Hendrix. Can Black Sabbath be supported by Brahms and The Dirty Three on the Radio 1 tent?
TSOC: Certainly not! But maybe we could set up a Sound Of Confusion Tent. Spacemen 3 would need to headline over Black Sabbath though. Thanks Sam!
Catch Vices live at South Street Arts Centre Reading September 28th.
Stream or buy the EP
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