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Interview: Wylam pop band Vinyl Jacket

DIESEL Pop ... pop with more miles to the gallon. That’s how Vinyl Jacket, a five-piece band from Wylam, look on their music as they are driven by one of their dads in a packed minibus to play a gig in London.

Wylam-based pop band Vinyl Jacket

DIESEL Pop ... pop with more miles to the gallon. That’s how Vinyl Jacket, a five-piece band from Wylam, look on their music as they are driven by one of their dads in a packed minibus to play a gig in London.

Radio One’s Huw Stephens invited them to perform at a special Huw Stephens presents … gig at The Social, an intimate venue just off Oxford Street with barely enough room for them all on stage and the crowd which turned out to see them.

The band, who grew up in the same village, have turned into one of indie’s hottest properties, performing at 2011’s Glastonbury and Evolution festivals, recording a Radio One session at the famous Maida Vale Studios and now being hand- picked by Stephens to play this show.

Brothers Ben and Jack Dancer, Sam Quilliam, Andrew Roberts and David Pullen are now hoping to build on that success with the release of their third single, Red Light, on Monday following a launch concert on Saturday at NewBridge Project on Newcastle’s New Bridge Street.

Keyboardist Sam said of the Stephens gig: “It’s nice to have someone on your side who is interested in new music. You don’t get many people like him who genuinely want to support bands like us.”

The band was invited to perform at Evolution, on Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides, following a lot of BBC exposure. Shortly afterwards, they received an invitation none of the group was expecting.

“We were sitting outside in the garden having a cup of tea in the middle of a practice session when we all got the same text from our manager, Bob Allan,” Sam recalled. “It read ‘Urgent. Check your inbox.’ We ran to the computer and found out we had received a Glastonbury invitation. We all went mental, and Jack cried.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” bassist Jack said. “It was such a good feeling. A tiny village band being selected to play something like that was fantastic.”

Ben added: “When we were asked to play that, there was a slight element of, ‘Is this too early for us?’ But, if anything, it made us work harder towards it and we had one of the biggest crowds of the weekend on that stage.”

The band are often described as off-kilter pop, believed by drummer David to come from each member’s individual tastes in music. He said: “We all have different favourite bands and when it comes to writing we all bring different ideas to the table.”

Despite the intricacies of the band’s sound – full of samples, keys, harmonies and the odd slide-whistle – lead singer and guitarist Ben thinks that the band’s eagerness to play these songs live has driven them further, and brought them greater success than relying solely on studio recordings.

Jack said: “We’ve worked hard taking our music and making it fit a big stage. We thrive on the challenge of playing the songs. We feel as though we have a festival sound – big songs with lots going on.”

Although the band want to be as accessible as possible to mainstream radio listeners, they still want to keep the songs interesting to what Ben describes as “fellow musos”.

Sam said: “We want to be as accessible as possible, but without losing the intricacy and the musicality.”

Four of the members were in a band together before Sam joined, and they are keen to make sure they all play a large role in the band’s sound.

Jack continues: “We don’t want to lose the musicianship. We’d all be bored without good parts. When you write something big it’s exciting to play.”

After taking their EP to Generator, the music agency based in Newcastle, Vinyl Jacket performed at a showcase event in front of BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson. Ben said: “We played that and everything stemmed from there.”

Vinyl Jacket released their first two singles, Painting Stations and Koala, last year and their latest, Red Light, debuted on Huw Stephens’s show in January.

Red Light has also been remixed by indie rock group Everything Everything.

Although the band has enjoyed a large amount of success, most of their time is spent away from each other. While Sam and David are still in Wylam, Ben, Andy and Jack are studying away from home.

“Summer will be exciting because we’ll all be back together,” said guitarist Andy.

After releasing three singles, the band had explored the possibility of writing an album but they admitted that, for the time being, they would rather put more effort into singles.

“Rather than rushing to release an album, we prefer taking our time over individual songs,” Ben said. “We’ve developed a good relationship with our producer, Liam Gaughan. He understands what we want and where we are going.”

Vinyl Jacket’s single release is at Newbridge Project, New Bridge Street, Newcastle, on Saturday at 8pm with support from Shields, also from Newcastle, and Birmingham-based Pandas and People. Tickets: £6 on door. More details on www.vinyljacket.co.uk

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