Hey Vanity have had an exceptional career as a band already; having only been together for a mere six months, the quartet are fresh off the sold out Priorities Tour with Don Broco and Mallory Knox and are now set for their debut EP release ‘Breathe, Bleed Grow,’ which drops in April via Small Town Records; British rock is looking truly promising.
We caught up with vocalist/guitarist Marc Hall and drummer Ash Clarke whilst they were out on the road in Leeds to have a chat about the band’s journey so far, their new EP and life on tour.
Already Heard: Hey guys! So first things first, how are you both doing?
Marc Hall (vocals/guitar): Yes lovely tar!
AH: How’s the tour been going so far?
Marc: It has been brilliant yeah; we are over half way through now which is kinda sad. It flies pretty quickly but it has been amazing; amazing crowds, amazing response especially because we’re the opening band so you kind of worry about that; but every night has been banging.
AH: Excellent, the tour has sold out as well with the same again in Leeds tonight, have you played in this city before?
Marc: Yeah well in my old band I have, I played this room with them; we haven’t played here with this band though because we’re really new, we’ve only been together for six months so it’s all really new for this band; but we’ve all toured and been in bands before.
AH: That was one thing we wanted to know, how did Hey Vanity come about? You guys were in other bands before but what made you decide to call things a day with those and now form this band?
Marc: There were a lot of reasons for me because me and Will [Phillipson, guitarist] are from a band and Ash [Clarke, drummer] and Dave [Ruffle] our bass player were in two different bands. For us it was a lot of reasons, I wouldn’t go into it all but long story short we kind of wanted to do something fresh and new; we loved our old band and we did it for years and then decided that we wanted to move on. Some of the old members are still involved like Jay who played bass for our old band actually manages this band; Mike who used to play guitar is our producer he worked on the CD so we’re all still good chums and everything.
AH: That’s great so it’s not like you all fell out at all…
Marc: No not at all! And with you [looks at Ash] it was sort of the same thing…
Ash [Clarke, drums]: Yeah because I filled in for a while in Marc’s old band because their drummer went down with some injuries so I helped in the last year for them, which is how we came to this.
Marc: Yeah we just got on really well, started jamming some new tunes and it just worked so we though sweet, let’s do this!
AH: So being such a new band is this the first time you’ll have properly been out on the road and played your new material?
Marc: Well we did a run of shows in October and we had literally just started; we did those shows with Floods and Verses; that was cool but again that was us just finding ourselves. Then we have literally just done like a weekender, a couple of bits and bobs but on the whole the start of this tour was probably our tenth show ever or something!
AH: In terms of these live shows and with you all forming from different bands have you recognised any familiar faces in the crowds?
Marc: Yes and no; this tour actually sold out before we were even announced on it, so we had loads of messages coming in straight away from fans of our old bands saying ‘Oh no, dates have already sold out is there any way we can get hold of tickets?’ So yeah there are some and I think there a lot who missed out so it’s not too bad.
Ash: Yeah a lot more new faces than old definitely.
Marc: Oh yeah the majority are new and that’s brilliant for us!
AH: Talking about touring in general, do you guys ever get homesick when you’re out on the road?
Ash: It’s one of those strange love/hate relationships; we love it, but at the same time we’re freezing, we’re tired, we’re this, we’re that and then as soon as we’re home we wanna be back out!
Marc: Yeah it’s like when you’ve got partners back home you miss them, you have all of that obviously; but you can never explain the feeling of both wanting to be home for that, but then the fact that we were just saying earlier that we’re already over half way through and we’re really bummed about it, you don’t want it to finish! So yeah like Ash said it’s sort of a love/hate thing.
AH: Yeah because I think fans who go out to shows must see touring as this amazing thing but there are blatantly a lot of downsides to it as well.
Ash: I think they see it as what it is, as a band on stage and they don’t really see us slumming it and sleeping in a van!
Marc: It really is so much fun I wouldn’t want it any other way but put it this way, it’s not for everyone. A lot of people wouldn’t be happy to sleep in a van for two weeks, or sleep on floors, drive for hours you know? You’ve got that kind of 15% of it that we really love doing which is just that short set on stage playing to people; then other than that it’s work and it can be hard work but it’s good fun!
AH: Are you guys well behaved out on the road or do you like to cause mischief?
Ash: Tour banter! Tour banter is at a very high level; on this tour everybody seems to keep messing with each other but it’s on a respectable level. It’s not like ripping legs off your jeans and stuff [Marc laughs] or being utter twats you know; we respect each other and it’s all a good laugh at the end of the day. I mean the stuff we moan about now, in a year’s time we will look back and actually cry with laughter because those were the times which were just so good.
Marc: Yeah I mean we’ll have a drink here and there and you know we have a laugh but on the whole we’re pretty responsible…ish, we try to be!
AH: That’s good to hear! So now let’s move onto the new EP which is titled ‘Breathe, Bleed, Grow’ which is out in April and your debut lead single of the same name is out now; what is the reasoning behind the name of both the record and the single?
Marc: It’s kind of a bit of a catchphrase. Basically I was writing the lyrics to the song quite a while ago and I think I actually started writing those lyrics in my old band and it was one of those things where the songs about how us, as people, are always looking forward which is good; we are always thinking the grass is always greener all that kind of thing but when you get there, it’s still not enough! There’s nothing wrong with ambition but it’s about how sometimes you forget to just enjoy life; like when I was 16 if I could look at what I’m doing now, or even what I was doing a couple of years ago I would be like “wow, this is my dream!” Then when you’re actually doing it you get wrapped up in it and think ‘we’re not doing well enough, where is this band going?’ So the song is about that, but with everybody so ‘Breathe, Bleed, Grow’ basically means just live it; just realise you are in the moment and you are doing what you’re doing; you will look back on it and say “yeah, I had some sweet times.”
AH: Is that a central theme that runs throughout the whole EP?
Marc: Quite a lot, there are a lot of tunes that are, like ‘Terry Tibs’ is very much about people not really getting that we’re in a band because we love to do it again living life and enjoying it!
AH: So as mentioned the EP is due for its official release in April but you have been selling a limited run of them at the shows; what has the response been so far with those who have bought them?
Ash: Yeah those who have bought them have come back to us via some form of contact and said ‘ah the EP is so good’ and stuff like that, because I think it makes it a bit special as well; we only have 200 with us and that will be the only press with these cardboard sleeves so it’s like a limited edition kind of thing. You know it’s a nice thing to be a part of, getting the first listen and all of that sort of stuff as well.
Marc: Yeah and they’re selling really well…
AH: Lots of positive vibes then!
Marc: Oh yeah really good; just today actually I was looking on Twitter earlier and I was thinking sweet, so many people are coming back to us saying they can’t stop listening to the EP.
AH: Especially because you’re such a newly formed band as well.
Marc: Well yes, exactly! We couldn’t ask for a better head start than this.
AH: In terms of the writing process of the EP, have you found it pretty natural coming together to writing the music and lyrics or have you come across any hurdles along the way?
Ash: I think it was a case of piece by piece definitely, with me and Marc I became a part of what he used to do so me, Marc and Will instantly found it easy to be like we’ll do this, we’ll do that.
Marc: we had the bases of tunes already written and what’s good about both Ash and Dave is that me and Will will have some ideas that we bring to the live room and then literally within an hour we will have jammed the whole song out and we can all play the song from front to back. Then it’s just a case of perfecting a few things, tidying it up, changing bits here and there. I mean we’re all a big part of the writing process but whoever originally writes the line or the first riff or whatever, someone else will always put their own spin on it and that’s what I love about this band.
AH: So you have five dates left of this tour, then next up you’ll be releasing the new EP officially; what’s next on the cards with you guys?
Ash: There’s a lot in the pipeline but at the moment there are no real confirmations of what’s going on. Obviously we’re aiming for the festivals and going for that sort of thing…
Marc: Yeah we’d love to do some stuff over the summer: all dayers, I think there are a couple of things in the pipeline. It’s just again a band so new and at this level, you don’t get that sort of stuff confirmed as early; so I think after this tour we will start getting things confirmed. The overall plan is to bash this tour out, get the release out in April, some shows and some all dayers maybe we’ll see how it goes and then hopefully put an album out later in the year.
AH: For those who have been reading this interview and are new to Hey Vanity, why should they check you out?
Marc: [laughs] I think that’s a really good question, because we’ve been saying in a lot of interviews on this tour that everybody is out there: everybody is out on Twitter and Facebook and everybody is going “Check this out! Check this out!” You know we all do it, I go “yeah…later” you know, we all do it; so that is a really good question, why should you check us out? I guess that’s why playing live is wicked because people go ‘oh that’s why I should check them out,’ because they like it. In terms of if you haven’t seen us, then I guess I think there’s something about us that we seem to be getting back from people is that there’s a quirky edge to us you know? We’re not just a rock band: we tune a bit differently and we like to make sure that everything has a quirky spin on it. [Turns to Ash] It’s a really hard question; is there anything else you’d like to add to that, why should they check us out?
Ash: Yeah we aspire to be that little bit different but not in a weird way… Marc: It’s just so many bands say that it’s really hard; and there are so many bands out there and they’re all great, well they’re not all great but some of them are great…most of them are great, a lot of them…some of them… Ash: They’re all great, stop talking…
AH: Digging a hole…!
Marc: Why should you check us out? Without sounding too optimistic…it’s always good to be one of the first to know of a band and I think things are looking good. I’m hoping in a few years time this band is going to be in a completely different position so it’s always good to give it a go and say “yeah, I knew them, I knew them three years ago.”
Ash: It’s worth a shot, give it a go. Marc: Yes give it a shot, also there’s a track currently that’s still online for free (‘Colours and Signs’) so check that one out if anything else!
AH: And any final words?
Ash: Is that it? Marc: Nah I hope you enjoy the show, go and buy our single ‘Breathe, Bleed, Grow’ and check out the EP which is out in April; we have a video as well and please be our friends, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and all that jazz. Breathe, Bleed, Grow!
‘Breathe, Bleed, Grow’ by Hey Vanity is out on the 8th April via Small Town Records.
Words by Hannah Gillicker (@HannahGillicker)