Leeds band Vessels have been around a while now, well records have them forming way back in 2000-2002ish. Tim and Lee met Tom and then Martin, Tom and Lee moved in next door to Pete in 2005, became friends then asked him to join circa 2007. It sounds a bit like a Neighbours storyline albeit set in Yorkshire.
Having toured round Europe on the back end of 2010, the five-piece are now set to tour the UK in order to pimp up their second album entitled Heliscope, to be released on the 21st March.
Since reviews of their new album have been met with high praise I managed to snag Vessels vocalist/guitarist Tom and ask him a few questions.
“We just wanna keep playing together, writing new music, and sharing it with as many people as possible for as long as possible.”
Loosely described as ‘post-rock’ (whatever that means) by some how do they depict themselves ‘These days, I generally say “groove-based mathy-post-rock”, or just “prog” (to save sounding like a pretentious cock, which of course, I am)’. Being fair prog covers a multitude of reams, they don’t play any of that weird shit that days gone by have seen or indeed heard. In the very early days and not so pretentious it seems it was all ever so slightly different. Tom tells me that they ‘used to play some fairly questionable post-hardcore style music in our old band’ before they changed to Vessels, he continues ‘so by the time we started this band we’d been playing together for years anyway and had a better idea of what we wanted to do and what we didn’t want to do. We wrote and recorded our first EP within a few months of starting Vessels, and I think it still sounds pretty good’.
It appears the quintet have learnt from times gone by. Given that everyone is influenced by someone, who influences them ‘I think our influences generally spread to cover everything we enjoy musically. Even music that has no relevance to what we play can influence the approach, style or mood we are aiming for in a composition’.
Tom then reels off ‘a few important bands’ that they’d ‘probably’ have to include the chosen few are: ‘Do Make Say Think, Fourtet, Caribou, The Appleseed Cast, Battles, Explosions In The Sky, Isis, Nathan Fake, Mogwai, James Holden, Oceansize, Shpongle, Low, Elliot Smith and a million others’. Though he admits that personally, his ‘biggest influences are female singers such as Beth Gibbons, Hope Sandoval, Liz Fraser, Billie Holiday and Cat Power’. Tom continues on about influences and tells me that when it comes to inspiration ‘generally, the music we’re listening to and excited by at around the time we’re writing it. It generally filters it’s way through your brain and into your fingers eventually’.
Having been around music for a while now and having a heap of influences who do they listen to in the down time. Tom states that ‘I’m really excited by two UK bands at the mo, Three Trapped Tigers and Zun Zun Egui. Both playing really ambitious music that’s danceable as fuck’. He then expands into more artists around ‘other good bands around include Berg Sans Nipple, Twilight Sad, Pantha Du Prince, Bill Callahan, The Pattern Theory, Cougar, Sufjan Stevens, Stuart Warwick (who we collaborated with on the new single)’. Also cited is the Janelle Monae album and I have to agree totally here when Tom says it’s ‘cool as well’.
It seems Leeds at the moment is pumping out a heap of musicians of great quality, being a Sheffield girl I have to know who to watch out for, I’m simply told ‘loads’. Then Tom lists, Humanfly, Sky Larkin, Napolean IIIrd, Middleman, Printed Circuit, Quack Quack, Itch, Two Minute Noodles, Yonderboy, I Like Trains, Lone Wolf, Bilge Pump, Cowtown, Worriedaboutsatan, People in Jars, Glissando’ and then says ‘I’m sure there’s more I can’t think of right now as well. This place is a gold-mine of great musicians’.
As previously mentioned the Vessels toured around Europe last year, alongside that they kept a well informative blog running on their website which allowed us to be part of their experience. Reflecting on their 2010 events, which was their favourite city to visit? ‘My favourite town was Dordrecht, purely because they had a shop dedicated to selling harps, so we went in and had a jam on some ￡3000 full-size orchestral harps. Don’t get the chance to do that very often’ declares Tom. As for most memorable gig, that turns out to be ‘Madrid, for sure, simply because the crowd went fully apeshit, which seeing as there must have been only a small number of them who had heard our music before, was very flattering. They went even more crazy for Oceansize, and we had ladies fainting onto the merch stand during their set’.
It does seem that back in their homeland, their target audience appears to be ‘mostly men with beards’. Tom reiterates, ‘Big men, with big beards’. At this point, I have to admit that sod the music, I want to see the men with beards! So with the UK tour taking off and a new album out soon, what is on the cards for Vessels? Tom simply states ‘we just wanna keep playing together, writing new music, and sharing it with as many people as possible for as long as possible. Hopefully the music will keep getting better, and the audiences larger, until circumstances change so that we can’t do it anymore, which will suck, but hopefully be somewhere in the distant future, by which time we’ll have created a respectable and quality body of work which we can look back and be proud of’.
Finally, I ask Tom if he could give one piece of advice to the world, what would it be? He tells me ‘Eat hallucinogenic mushrooms’. Though he doesn’t give any recipes or recommendations on how to eat them…guess I’ll stick to everyday mushrooms probably smothered in garlic.
Vessels UK tour has just started, catch them at a venue near you soon, you really should you know…