I shot a few questions to VANT‘s namesake and lead singer Mattie Vant following the success of a UK tour that saw the boys join FIDLAR on their journey to musical infamy. The music that VANT produces collectively makes a statement and expresses very specific opinions in a very unfiltered, imperfectly perfect, poetic way. Laden with expletives and dripping with cymbal-aided riffs, their music is powerful. After hearing what Mattie had to say about about their influences, past experiences and hear him comment on various aspects of modern society – I can’t help but think…what would the music world be like if we gave a microphone to a young, educated, fearless voice like his? Here’s an attempt at providing that platform overseas.
You said supporting Blossoms on tour was “fucking awful” because your audiences were different – can you pick an ideal band you’d open up for and one who’d open up for you?
Funnily enough the last support tour we did was with FIDLAR and that was fucking awesome. I’d love to play with those guys again, the crowds went wild for us. In terms of openers, I really like this Spanish band called MOURN, I saw them in London earlier this year and they blew my mind. I’d love to bring them back to the UK just so I could watch them every night!
Was there a moment at a gig that made you think, “This is un-fucking-real, I have to make music” when you were growing up?
The first ‘proper’ band I ever went to see was The Subways, I think watching the frontman Billy Lunn jump of a 12ft speaker stack in my hometown of Sunderland was enough to convince me that I need to do this for the rest of my life.
BBC Introducing is so influential in young group’s lives, how important was the guidance and support from guys like Huw Stephens in your progress as a band?
We are incredibly grateful for all of the support the BBC have given us so far. The momentum continues to grow for us and we owe a lot of this early success to airplay from the likes of Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Phil Taggart & before he made the leap across to your side of the pond, Zane Lowe.
Social media is something you’ve talked about in the past – it must be awesome and surreal to interact with fans so quickly but do you keep relationships with your earlier fans in person, at all?
It is cool to have that instantaneousness at your fingertips but I also think it’s important to not get to wrapped up in it all and concentrate on being a band, not forgetting what you set out to do in the first place. We have a great fan base, we’re starting to recognise more and more familiar faces at the shows and it’s humbling to talk to like-minded people who get what we’re about and what we stand for.
In other interviews a word you used quite a few times was ‘honest’ – how much of a role does your authenticity play in every song and live show?
Honestly *insert comedy drum fill here*? In all seriousness it is vital, the only thing that got me through those gigs immediately after the Paris bombings was the fact that every line of every song we play holds it’s own importance and is genuine. If we had to sing songs that were self-absorbed and meaningless then I would find it impossible to justify what we do. Practice what you preach, as the saying goes!
I read that you’re philosophy is influenced by bands like Fugazi and The Clash but that comedians and artistic outlets are also up there. If you recommend us to see one comedian, watch one film and read one book – what would they be?
An ever changing list but my current recommendations would be Stewart Lee, Cowspiracy and Billy Bryson: A Short History Of Nearly Everything.
You’re signed to Parlophone, who count The Beatles, Queen and Iron Maiden as past and present signees – what’s it like having the support of such an iconic label?
It is bananas. I do often have to pinch myself when I think about the artists we sit alongside. Knowing what those bands have achieved and the legacy they have left inspires our work ethic and drives us to aim for those dizzying heights. With a label like Parlophone behind us we have every chance.
You’ve written songs on really important, but also polarizing, issues like immigration. Have you noticed backlash and if so, does it just motivate you to keep making music that generates conversation?
Surprisingly no, which is an encouraging sign. I think people have been waiting for a band to say something important for a long time, maybe we can be that band. Inevitably the bigger we get the more likely it is that backlash will start to come our way. However, it will never sway us from what we want to achieve as a band.
I think one of the most enchanting parts of a show is the whole idea of the ‘occasion’ where people from all different backgrounds, beliefs and way of life can connect to music for different reasons – do you ever think about how powerful that is when you’re up there?
It’s very tribal isn’t it? We’ve been banging rocks and dancing around fires since the dawn of time. The only difference is now everything is much louder and way less likely to end in combustion. I feel privileged to be part of a discipline that impacts the human soul more immediately than anything else known to mankind, other than sex that is.
If you could generate a 10-song playlist of your current favorite tunes – what would they be?
Spring King – Who Are You?
Dan Croll – One Of Us
Thundercat – Them Changes
Alessia Cara – Here
Nadine Shah – Ville Morose
Arthur Russell – A Little Lost
Low – Dinosaur Act
The Modern Lovers – A Plea For Tenderness (Live at The Longbranch)
Clean Cut Kid – Vitamin C
FIDLAR – 40oz On Repeat
I wanted to give you a chance to explain why you’ve said it’s a “horrendous time to be alive” and how your music can shed light on that belief.
Obviously when I said that I wasn’t referring to my own existence, I’m very lucky, I was referring to every deep, dark corner of this planet we call Earth. We look back at crusades and wars of yesteryear and hold them with such high regard and horror forgetting, of course, that these acts are still happening around us every single day. You’d think in a world that is now so connected through the internet and social media people would be more involved and more willing to help (and of course a lot of people do, don’t get me wrong) but instead of sharing articles about female genital mutilation affecting up to 98% of women in some parts of Africa, we’d rather just share another fucking cat video. Most of us don’t care, most of us would rather turn on the TV and escape from of our own troubles (“Oh no Gemma from marketing won’t go on a second date with me because I’m a closet racist”) by watching celebrities embarrass themselves or some mind-numbing ‘talent’ competition. What we should be doing is turning on the news channel and realising how lucky we are to live in societies, where we have access to clean water and a roof over our heads and not somewhere that is being bombed, more often than not by us or some other Western society that believes violence is the solution to all humanities problems. We are fucking terrorists as well, do you realise that? We should be actively engaging each other in conversation about the rest of the world and believe that what we are seeing isn’t right and something has to change. Belief is the only way we can change the world, if enough people believe in something then it can become a reality (just look at religion!), we need positive, unified belief in love and peace, not radicalised hate, fear and acceptance that the path we have laid for ourselves is inevitable, we cannot accept defeat. Turn on the news tonight and tell me it’s not a “horrendous time to be alive”, then more importantly do something about it, otherwise we’re all fucked.
Before getting signed to Parlophone, you’d kept a lot of music under wraps – that organic pull towards your sound and belief in what you’re doing can really only stem from your willingness to be unflinching in your authenticity – do you have any advice to younger bands who struggle to gain awareness?
It is a cliche, but if you don’t love your own music, than what is the point? You have to love what you do and you have to be obsessed with it. I’d been writing and playing music for 10 years before I got a break, people will tell you to stop and get a real job but if you are determined enough then you can succeed. Fuck everyone that tells you otherwise, this is your life, do what you want with it!
You tried out a few genres before finding your way with punk, I have to ask how EDM went for you?
It was quite simply awful. My friend who I was writing with at the time sent me some of the stuff we produced back then the other day, it was about 18 genres forced into one with no consistent direction or vision. We had no idea what the fuck we were doing and it was basically the equivalent of musical diarrhea, thank fuck I stopped taking hallucinogenics.