Leeds-based The Varletts are intriguing concoction of screaming guitars, raw vocals and in their words – a head-case on drums, over a heavy alt-rock base. As they describe it to us: “Probably the worst smoothie you’ll ever taste.”
The trio of Laurie Rowland (bass and vocals, Matt Drinkwater (lead guitar and vocals) and George Topham (drums and percussion) formed back in 2016 after playing together in different bands around Nottingham for years, then kept it going as they moved away to study. As Laurie tells us: “I think initially I put forward the idea of forming a three-piece, having always liked the raw, unapologetic aesthetic of guitar, bass, drums and vocals – there’s nothing to hide behind.
“We played in Nottingham for almost a year and a half and then moved to Leeds in 2017 to study. That’s where we’ve been since, but we always treasure the fact that we started and had such a great community in Nottingham.”
The band released latest single Social Aversion earlier this month, which gives us a great insight into their loud, brash style. it opens up with a naughty little bassline that continues under little guitar bursts and raw vocals “Social aversion, total immersion.” The instrumentals build gradually to a more shoutalong chorus with a meandering guitar riff.
Random guitar noises follow the second chorus and continue under spoken vocals, then gradually build up with “nah nah” backing vocals into the funky chorus. It goes out with a big darting riff and a final blast of the chorus. Give it a listen below:
On the track they told us: “The reception has been great! We were nervous about how people were going to react because it’s been a while since we released any recorded music. And I guess that also with releasing anything nowadays you open yourself up to the whole of the world’s criticism. But we were met with such a wave of positive energy from people that we know but also complete strangers who have listened to it. If you haven’t heard it yet we’d say expect some loud, visceral alt-rock being jammed into your earholes.”
We’re also loving the sound of the almost psychedelic sounding Spiral Staircase, released a couple of years ago, which features a really cool jumpy riff and ends on a big smash of guitars. Check it out in the video below:
They have a cracking little back catalogue of tracks, including the delicious City of Sin, which features an awesome rocky guitar solo. Give it a listen below:
The band pride themselves on having a wide selection of influences. From George’s jazz and metal percussion, through to Matt’s classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Laurie’s rawer influences such as The Cribs and Comet Gain.
And Laurie adds that their local music scene also has a major impact on their sound: “I think it’s almost impossible not to be influenced by the places you live and play in. Leeds has certainly done this for us, especially for the new tracks; local bands like Menace Beach, Fizzy Blood, Pulled Apart By Horses, Cowtown and Dinosaur Pile-Up have interested all of us, there’s just such a great scene in Leeds at the moment and you can’t help but want to be part of it.
When it comes to writing music, Laurie tells us: “Writing music for the enjoyment we get out of it has always been a key part of our ethos as a band. We’ve seen so many bands come and go even in the three years that we’ve been together that just lost the enjoyment of writing and playing. We write tons of songs we never use, but that’s part of the enjoyment that keeps us going.
“Themes differ all the time, topics like social anxiety and depression have often featured in many as they’re things that are close to all of our hearts, having affected each of us directly and indirectly. But then we can write on something stupid another day. We have no agenda we want to achieve, we just want people to enjoy listening as much as we enjoy writing and playing.”
There’s plenty more coming our way, including a second single recorded at the same time as Social Aversion, which should be coming our way soon. And there’ll be opportunities to see them playing live across the country