MTV Interview With The Vandas
After four years together and two successful EP's, The Vandas have finally released their long-awaited debut album 'Slow Burn'.
While it may have been a long time coming, there is no doubt the defining moment of their career will be the release of this album, where the band showcase an accomplished maturity in their shambolic and energetic brand of rock. These Melbourne lads are no strangers to the live scene, with slots supporting You Am I, Elvis Costello and Dallas Crane, but now they're ready and rearing to take it up one more notch with a string of live dates in support of their release!
MTV rings in for a chat with lead vocalist ChrisAltmann to discuss live sounds, expectations, and what The Vandas have in common with Eminem!
MTV: I read that playing live is your greatest strength, so how did you try and achieve this sound on your album?
Chris: Well, we went into demo the songs for our record company, and ended up really liking the takes we did, and we didn't think there was much point going back and re-doing it. So that's why it sounds live, because basically that's what it is!
MTV: Is the title 'Slow Burn' alluding to the fact it took you a while to release the album?
Chris: (Laughs), well no not really, there's been a few parallels drawn between that and our speed on releasing things but no, not deliberately.
MTV: Loving the cover art for your new album - can you tell me a little about it?
Chris: That was a good friend of ours David Bromley, he's a really talented visual artist and we got to know him about three or four years ago through a friend, he heard some of our stuff and really liked it and wanted us to do some music for a film project he was working on. He's always been willing to help us out any way he can, and so when the chance came to do the album, and we weren't sure what we wanted for the cover. We didn't want band photos so we thought why don't we leave it in the hands of someone who's going to make it original and striking and not like anything else? His paintings sell for upwards of $20 000, so we were very blessed to be able to use it, because the artwork would cost probably as much as the album cost to make if we had to pay for it!
MTV: Your album is due for release on the 6th September are you nervous or anxious about how it will be received?
Chris: Well, with every release your expectations get less and less (laughs).
It's been very promising lately, for ages we've been getting reviews where people listen to it and think 'same old Australian rock and roll stuff' or 'Vandas don't do anything groundbreaking but do it well', but lately we've been starting to get in-depth reviews where people pay more attention to what's going on, and it's great; it feels like people are finally starting to understand what we're trying to do. So it's looking good so far, I hope that that continues, whether it becomes a commercial success is still to be seen!
MTV: So for you, is success 'commercial success' or the feeling that the album meets your own expectations?
Chris: It depends on how much commercial success we're talking here! (laughs). It would be great to get some financial reward from it, but at the end of the day we're already 100% happy because the albums turned out the way we wanted it to.
MTV: You're starting your tour on the 13th September. Where is one place you'd like to tour, if you haven't been yet?
Chris: I would love to go to Perth! I've been there once, but I really liked it over there, everyone's all nice and tanned and the beaches are good, but it's always the money thing, getting your whole band and gear all the way over there! We played in Tasmania a few years ago that was really nice, and I'd like to go back down there.
Chris: Probably for our band, the US. I was over there a few months ago and there are some really great places to play. But the place I'd really love to go would be Spain, because apparently they're pretty receptive to Aussie bands over there.
MTV: How would you to define a true Aussie sound?
Chris: Maybe it's an attitude towards it; a lot of Australian bands I like have a certain attitude to the way they play. They sort of come off as they don't really care, but they do (laughs). I think a lot of bands fantasise about cracking the over sees market going to the states and doing really well and showing them how it's done!
MTV: Is that what you guys want for yourselves? To have commercial success in the states?
Chris: Well we'd just love to have commercial success somewhere (laughs) but yeah the states would be good because it's so big and you can spend 12 months travelling around playing and not play the same place twice.
MTV: What acts are you listening to right now?
Chris: We all listen to a lot of different stuff, but I'm really big into vinyl, so most of my record collection is older stuff! I do try and keep a look on what's going on, but lately I've been listening to a lot of 70's Americana, country stuff. I've always been into bluegrass too, whereas the other guys [in the band] probably wouldn't look twice at that kind of stuff!
MTV: I notice there is a slight country influence in your music?
Chris: Yeah that's probably my thing more, it's always a bit of a thing for us because when we started we got labelled as a country band so we worked very hard at trying to get rid of that label because we didn't want to be put in that category. But I still listen to that music a lot through, so when we play stuff that's how it comes out. Whereas Mikey, our other guitarist and songwriter comes from a rock n roll angle, so what we get is a mixture.
MTV: What is one thing you'll request on your rider, when your rich and famous and playing to 60 000 plus stadiums?
Chris: Pumpkin pie. I had one the other day for the first time and it was delicious. No actually, I would request a masseuse and a sauna and a spa!
MTV: That's what Eminem requests!
Chris: Really? Wow! Me and Eminem, we're not that different. (laughs)
By Penny Newton