VANT are our generation’s new rock band. They’re political and unmissable – they have already been featured as one of Annie Mac’s Hottest Records. Josie interviewed lead vocalist/ guitarist Mattie Vant and guitarist Henry Eastham before their support slot for You Me At Six at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Their album will be released February 17th 2017.
You can listen to the full interview here:
If there was something you could change overnight in the world, what would it be?
Mattie: I think it’s all about recalibration of the human mind to make people understand what’s actually important. It’s not important to look at cat videos on the internet or follow celebrity bloggers and all that sort of stuff, it doesn’t do anything. But what is important is that we’re destroying a beautiful planet through greed and selfish nature, so I think it’s all about having more universal awareness, not only for our species but for the rest of the animals and nature that exists but is also being destroyed.
Do you think change is possible within the next 10 or 20 years?
Henry: There’s going to have to be
Mattie: It’s all about getting out of the fake world that we’ve created for ourselves. The internet doesn’t exist, it’s just in space, in our minds, and the way the algorithms work on there you’re only seeing what you want to see, not seeing the other side of the argument. It’s like if I write about Brexit, for example, on the internet the majority of people that will see that will be people that agree with my point of view, so I’m not directly affecting any opinion on the other side. Whereas, the reason that we make music and we play shows is that it’s a direct form of activism. We’re physically going out and protesting against what we disagree with whilst simultaneously allowing people to form their own opinions which is the most important thing; you can’t shout at someone and expect them to start agreeing with you but you can present information and offer an alternative, and if they feel compassionate and excited about the prospect of change then they might come round to that idea.
With your music videos, do you have a direct relationship with how they’re produced and what’s seen in them?
Mattie: Absolutely, particularly with the latest one we did, ‘PEACE AND LOVE’, it was really important for us to start using that platform as an extension of what we do musically. There have been elements of that in previous videos but maybe nothing as direct as this one. The directors and producer really understood what it was that we were trying to achieve, the two stories told within that, the kids from the Ukraine and the kids from Jordan, have simultaneously experienced important moments in their history. The Ukraine recently had the revolution in 2014 that overturned a dictatorship that was basically put in by the Russians to control the Ukraine and stop them from entering in relations with the European Union, which is something we have so easily given away recently. Hundreds of people died, thousands of people were injured and hundreds of thousands of people protested for their right to be part of something, to make Europe a more unified place, because they want peace and they want their country to be part of a bigger system that can protect them from superpowers like Russia.
‘PEACE AND LOVE’:
Do you think that because your songs are topical and relevant to right now whether you’ll continue to do albums or EPs, or just throw a few singles out there?
Mattie: I think it’s something that could be looked at if something’s relevant. To be honest, the themes are so universal, some of them reference articles, but overall the themes of the songs are something that unfortunately will continue to exist long after the album is released. We released ‘BIRTH CERTIFICATE’ two years ago and it was about a totally different subject matter: my ex-girlfriend, who’s Australian, her visa running out and her having to go home, and that was a real moment for me when I completely lost faith in the idea of borders and the fact that we are all the same and we just happen to be born somewhere at a moment in time. More recently we had the EU referendum and suddenly it was massively relevant again and even before that you had the rise of UKIP, Donald Trump and the Mexican border. It’s still so hate ridden and there’s so much loyalty to the patriotic ideals of our forefathers that shouldn’t exist anymore and are the things that are really stunting the growth of humanity and continuing a cold war that never really ended.
Henry: It should be going the other way whereas everyone is getting this kind of nationalism and division.
How can you branch out and get to these new audiences, such as you’re supporting You Me @ 6 now, how do people go about reacting?
Mattie: It’s not about how many people you affect, it’s who you affect…You’re constantly building an audience. I think that’s proof when kids come to our shows and hold up EU flags or we’ll speak to them after the show and they’re telling us that they’re really disappointed that they couldn’t vote in the EU referendum because they’re too young. All of this stuff shows that we’re giving people a voice and that they’re reacting to it and talking about it, and sharing our stuff on the internet whether that does anything or not I don’t know. That’s how you change things, you change by doing. It’s all very well going ‘yeah but it’s not really going to do anything is it?’ well fuck that. Just fucking do it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but at least try.
How do you go about writing things in terms of music, like guitar, bass, drums, where do you actually begin there? You’re strong with your lyrics but then you say you get inspiration from The Clash who are, or old rock and punk, who are very… not necessarily simple but it’s very kind of…
Mattie: Me and Henry write, the majority of the stuff we started writing together as a band more, but that’s the thing, I’m a writer, I write chords, I write lyrics, and I write rough structures. Whereas, Henry comes from a much more theoretical, musical background and he can formulate it all into something that takes it above that level of simplicity that I have. It kind of works really well together, and quite often now we’ll bring each other individual ideas that started as one of us writing then we’ll work together to make it into something that we’re both happy with. There is that huge aspect of music of growing up and discovering new things and we take real joy from that, and we take real pride in creating something that is aurally interesting and is good as we think we can do. And by doing that your message is even more powerful
Henry: …because it gives an even bigger platform for the lyrics and the content
Mattie: We’re a band that are on Radio 1 playlists now, we’re signed to Parlophone who are a prestigious label that have produced some of the biggest rock bands the UK has ever seen, we are a real band and it just happens that we also use that skill that we have to actually do something important at the same time.
Could you each, one after the other, summarise the new album in 30 seconds only?
Henry: Fucking hell,
Prep yourselves, I can give you a countdown
Henry: oh god no
Mattie: I think we’ve sort of touched on it before, to me, it’s sort of a marker in history, it’s how I see the world at this moment in time, it’s a spectrum of all aspects of humanity and where we are at this moment.
[To Henry] Do you want to give it a go?
Henry: Nope (laughs) No, I agree, I completely agree with Mattie, and I think musically as well it’s a really complete record and there’s a lot of ebbs and flows in it, it’s really fucking exciting.
‘DO YOU KNOW ME?’: