Monday, 22 December 2014

INTERVIEW: Vladimir - The year that was...

As I walk into Gorbals Sound to meet Vladimir, the four piece have just finished their weekend of recording laying down their next single In My Head,  which will be due out in February/March of next year.  The studio complex on Pollockshaw Road has seen the likes of Glasvegas, BMX Bandits, and CHVRCHES through it's door, and boasts one of Scotland's best mix of digital and analogue recording set ups.  For Vladimir, it's been a weekend also spent in the company of former Soup Dragons and Teenage Fanclub drummer Paul Quinn.

"When we first walked in, I kind of went 'woah are we in the right place?'" laughs lead singer Ross Murray as I ask how the weekend's recording has been.  "It's been amazing.  We're kind of having to pinch ourselves and ask how have we ended up in here!" 

Hailing from Dundee, the band have had an eventful 2014; touring with The Twilight Sad, playing with The Fall,  and playing festivals such as T in the Park, Wickerman and Tramlines.  Yet they've only released the one single Smoke Eyes, complete with B-side cover of the club anthem Born Slippy.  That's something the band are looking to put right with the new single.

"It is a massive massive song", says Ross of new single In My Head.  "We are really determined to put out a great single" explains bassist Josh Gray.  "It'll be more poppy, more catchy and have more energy" he goes on.  The band seem confident that their road earned energy and tightness will translate well onto record, with some of the credit for this going to producer Paul Quinn.

"We've learned a lot" explains guitarist Peter Mackenzie.  "We've always wrote songs thinking of them being played live, but Paul's made us think about writing songs to go on record.  He's been really hands on with it."  This bodes well for the band as they look to make 2015 the year that they'll record their debut album.

If 2015 is the year the band record their debut album, then 2014 has been the year they've took their brand of bleak rock on the road.  The band played a headline tour of 8 dates across Scotland, which was a big step up for the band.  I asked Ross how the band have progressed due to this.  "We've been on the road loads, which we've never really done before, and you know staying overnights after gigs as well.  The gigs started off small and have got bigger and bigger."

As well as their own tour the band have hit festivals across Scotland; playing the T-Break Stage at T in the Pack, also GoNorth and Wickerman.  Again, as Ross explains, it was a learning experience.  "Festivals taught us a lot as well, because you don't get your usual sound checks and you've just got to be on it"  Outside of the Scottish festival circuit the band have also played Sheffield's Tramlines Festival and the Artrock New Blood Festival in London.  How was the experience of playing these festivals I ask?

"For our bands it's not really been that much of an issue, because Dundee has never really felt like a musical home town.  So we've always kinda felt wherever we are playing it's like going away" answers Peter.  "We're actually quite familiar with Sheffield anyway" points out drummer Sam Taylor.  Indeed the band have recorded down in Sheffield previously.  "Going down south it's not really a lot different, you just do the same thing.  Every time we've gigged we've took it in our stride."

Perhaps one of the biggest things to happen this year was the invitation to support The Twilight Sad on their run of gigs playing Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters,  which saw the band play Leeds, London, Manchester and Bristol back in April/May.  It was a big jump for the band, but they took it in their stride

"Those guys have been touring for years, so we learned a lot from them.  Things like how they conduct themselves and the day to day managing of the band.  They gave us tips, and it's improved us as a band as well."  I asked the band how touring with The Twilight Sad was, expecting to hear some rock and roll tales of debauchery.  It was the more practical things though that Ross and the rest of the band focused on.  "They were great with us.  I mean we knew them before the tour, but they were fantastic.  Let us use their dressing room, told us if we needed anything just to ask.  And we did go on nights out with them as well!"

Overall the year has seen the band progress a lot.  They have garnered more attention and press, from national outlets such as NME, and have also developed personally too.  "We've grew a bit as well, off stage stuff, and grew up a bit too" explains Ross.  "It's because we've been in each others company doing this [playing and media stuff]" interjects Josh.  "Touring also teaches you to know when people need their own space as well.  We've matured a lot, you know we still go out to have fun but we're learned not to piss people off as much!"

With personal highlights for the band including The Sad tour, meeting Mark E Smith, and playing to a packed T-Break stage at T in the Park, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they are looking forward to winding down for Christmas.  No such attitude just yet though as the band finished 2014 in style making their bow on the main stage of Glasgow's ABC venue, again in support of The Twilight Sad, on Friday 19th December. 

Before we part ways into the crisp Glasgow night, I ask how they plan to celebrate after the gig.  There's some smiles and laughs as they answer.  "We'll probably have a wee party after the gig" answers Ross.  I suspect the phrase 'wee' might just be underselling the celebrations a tad.  It's been a fantastic year, but you get the feeling that this is only the beginning.

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