Vinyl Jacket – Interview

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Vinyl Jacket

Vinyl Jacket are a band currently going from strength to strength. Their second single “Koala” completely sold out of all physical copies on its day of release. It has been awarded single of the week in several publications online and in print as well as being chosen as Huw Stephens “Tip of the Week” on BBC Radio 1. They have just played a prestigious BBC Radio 1 Maida Vale session. This is what Tom Robinson had to say about the band when he introduced them on stage at Glastonbury earlier this year – “My favourite band I’ve seen in the last year. Great playing, great songs, great performances, huge energy. It’s a wonderful group, please welcome Vinyl Jacket.”

Listen to Vinyl Jacket’s Maida Vale Session here:

First Track Koala is just after 16 minutes in. Second track Painting Stations, Interview with Huw and third track His Delicate Brain are just after 50 minutes in.

BBC iPlayer – Huw Stephens: Vinyl Jacket in session.

Can you take us back to what first got you into music, and what inspired you to start writing your own songs.

We’ve all been involved with music from a very young age. One thing we have in common is that we were part of a local musical theatre group, which gave us the desire and the hunger to perform.
We’ve all written and composed various bits and pieces individually for a few years now. As a five-piece we were messing about with various ideas as good friends before we decided to go ahead and push ourselves under the Vinyl Jacket brand. We were lucky enough to feel comfortable writing as a five-piece and it just felt naturally like the right thing to be doing.

You come from Wylam which is a fairly small pretty rural village by the River Tyne in Northumberland. Do you feel that has had any impact on your sound or approach?

I don’t think this has had an impact on our sound but I do feel where we live has had an affect on how we approach things and how we develop our ideas. We like to use Wylam and the local surroundings as a backdrop in our music videos as a reminder of how privileged we are to have grown up in such a beautiful place, and also I guess to say thank you for the unparalleled support shown to us by the local community. We do still write and rehearse in Wylam. Living in the village keeps us well grounded too.

You’ve used the term diesel-pop to describe your music. For anyone who hasn’t heard it can you describe what diesel-pop sounds like.

Diesel-Pop is pop with more miles to the gallon. We believe it is a very accessible genre – perfectly easy to enjoy but also intricate and interesting.

You’ve had an amazing year so far, what have been the highlights and what are you looking forward to for later in the year?

The main highlight of our year was playing the BBC Introducing tent at Glastonbury. It was such a fantastic, overwhelming experience and the whole atmosphere and general ambience of the festival was inspiring. We were lucky to open up the main stage at our local Evolution Festival in May which was also great. To see such a good crowd dance and sing along to our stuff was unbelievable and the whole experience taught us a lot (primarily not to forget your capo seconds before going on stage!). Another key moment this year was our latest single launch night for ‘Koala’. Again, we were blown away by the support shown, the ambience of the packed out crowd inside the Cluny 2 that night was incredible. It felt as if everything had been leading up to that moment, and not often is it that we can say this but everything felt ‘right’. We’re really working hard in particular at making our local shows more of a spectacle, and we were really pleased with the impact the added brass section had that night.

You’ve had great support from BBC Introducing. How important have people like Tom Robinson and Huw Stephens been in helping you break through to a bigger audience?

BBC Introducing is such an important tool for up and coming unsigned artists. Tom Robinson (BBC6 Music) has been so helpful and we will be forever thankful for his support. He has spearheaded our campaign for the past year, and to have such an enthusiastic, experienced character on our side has been phenomenal. To be gaining praise from the mighty Huw Stephens on Radio 1 too, we have seen our music exposed to a broader audience. We are lucky enough to have been invited by Huw to do a session for him at Maida Vale later next month which is a dream come true for us. BBC Introducing also provided us with the opportunity to play Glastonbury Festival this year and a feature on the Chris Moyles Show back in January, which was quite bizarre.

You got a great reaction at Glastonbury. How did it feel do be playing the iconic festival?

We were so pleased with the turn out at our show at Glastonbury. We had a packed out tent and the crowd were really responsive, making the whole experience incredible. To be playing the most famous festival in the world, especially at such an early stage, was an honour and something we will never forget. It has made us hungry to keep climbing the ladder.


Painting Stations

How much has your background in musical theatre had an impact on your live performance?

I guess having a background in theatre has given us great confidence in our live performance. We believe that enjoying performing is a huge thing in a live performance as it really helps the crowd to engage with what you are doing. If you are having a good time, it makes it hard for the crowd not to have a good time. We aim to have fun and to play interesting, exciting music.

Tell us about your new single Koala. How did the song come about?

The song is based on what Ben was experiencing at the time. It’s about throwing yourself into the unknown and making your own decision by staying true to yourself, without letting the opinion of others sway that decision. No regrets. We wanted to build on the platform we had created with our first single ‘Painting Stations’, so to write an upbeat summery tune was high on our agenda.

Koala – Promo Video

The cover designs for your 2 singles have been stunning. What led to you working with Emilee Seymour?

We actually met Emilee through Sam’s brother. She had worked for artists such as Biffy Clyro and Adele in the past so we knew exactly what she was capable of. She is such a talented artist and the most important thing for us is that she listens to our briefs and understands exactly what we want.

How do you find working with Liam Gaughan as producer? Have you any plans to work together again?

As Liam says, “we’ve always got plans”. We love working with Liam (or ‘Weez’). He, like Emilee knows exactly how we work and what we want to achieve. We got asked the other day whether we think consistency is important for things such as recording and we definitely believe so. Especially as a new band, when you are trying to establish your own sound and an image. Working with Liam is ideal – he is a brilliant producer and great to work with. We trust his opinion massively and he is an integral part of the team.

You made a brilliant video for your first single Painting Stations with Matt Brown. The video shows your individual “dream sequence” ideas for the video. Can you take us through the brain storming, sorry ideas shower you went through in making the video. Were there any even crazier ideas that had to be rejected?

The video came about because we wanted to portray the variety of ideas and thought processes that were brought to the table when thinking of ideas for the video. We wanted to show the creative process that we actually experienced and it also gave us great scope to do things slightly out of the ordinary and create something which was very watchable. This was particularly important with it being our first video. One of the ideas rejected was to re-enact a game of cluedo on a lifesize scale. We also remain oddly determined to get a wide-lens shot of Andy wearing nothing but a pair of long johns in there at some point.. if that can’t get you excited for the next video, then nothing will.

Painting Stations – Promo Video

Music from the North East is attracting a lot of attention at the moment with the help of organizations like Generator and Amazing Radio based in Newcastle. How much do you feel a part of the North East music scene? Which bands would you recommend checking out?

Organisations such as Amazing Radio and Generator have been the backbone of the development of the scene; the work they are doing and support they offer for new and emerging artists is crucial to its recent success. We are so lucky that they are on our very doorstep. We are big supporters of the North-East music scene and repeatedly talk about how fantastic it is, because we really do believe that at present in the UK it is second to none. What makes the Newcastle scene in particular so exciting is that there is a distinct coercive network between the bands, promoters, venues, radios etc. which serves only as a means of promoting one another. The support we have received from other local bands, particularly when we first brought out the video for ‘Painting Stations’ has been phenomenal, and we will continue to actively promote other bands from our region. It is no coincidence that the North-East is churning out some of the best bands in the country at the moment, with many being nationally recognized on BBC6 Music and BBCR1. It really does feel like a big happy family, and we’re honoured to be part of that community. The North-East is simply the place to be.

What influences have helped shape your music?

David likes Usher best. Individually we have an eclectic mix of influences which makes our writing process very interesting. Strangely we don’t seem to clash much with our ideas but instead try to nurture what we believe to be the Vinyl Jacket blend from the cauldron, or just what feels right. In terms of other bands, from the very start we were influenced primarily by the likes of Everything Everything, Paul Simon and Little Comets. More recently we’ve been listening to a lot of Friendly Fires’ new stuff, Phoenix and Metronomy. David likes Usher best.

With the growth of music sharing on the internet it’s much easier to discover new music through platforms such as Soundcloud or Spotify. Have you made any new musical discoveries you can recommend?

As mentioned, a plethora of talent has emerged from the North-East over the past year. One band in particular that we enjoy playing with from up here is Shields who are receiving substantial support from Zane Lowe at the moment. They are absurdly talented and a really sound bunch of lads too.

Toodar (London) are a band we have played with a few times and are repeatedly blown away by their unique character, intelligence and powerful live performance. I first met the singer Tom Grundy at one of Tom Robinson’s songwriting weekends down in Surrey. Since then they supported us at our single launch in Newcastle and we supported them down at the Bull and Gate in Camden. They play gorgeous lo-fi electro-acoustic pop.

We played a couple of dates with The Cads (Ipswich) on our recent UK tour. We loved them so much that we invited them to support us at our recent single launch for ‘Koala’ in Newcastle and they went down a storm with the Geordie crowd. Their identity lies somewhere between Two Door Cinema Club and Foals. They are also very good at drinking and their manager is allergic to the Head Of Steam… when we took him there, he went all puffy.

Any more gigs in the pipeline?

We have a few local festivals remaining this Summer. We are looking forward to playing Corbridge Festival, the mainstage at Newcastle’s brand new Ignition Festival, REC-fest (Ashington) and also the mighty Split Festival in Sunderland. You can find full details of our upcoming shows at

What’s next for Vinyl Jacket?

Currently we are enjoying a sustained period of writing which is an absolute luxury for us; something we have been looking forward to for a very long time. If all goes to plan, we intend to be back in the studio by September. The Maida Vale session will be an important marker for us, and we’re doing everything possible to make sure we get that nailed absolutely on the button. Apart from that, we’re generally keeping our heads down and being nice to Sam’s parents for letting us sabotage their house for writing and rehearsing purposes. Thanks Jo and Steve, we do love you!


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