If you’re looking for indie meets punk rock that’s upbeat, hard-hitting and generally a lot of fun then exciting Glasgow newcomers The Riot Vans are just the band for you. The quartet has honed a thrilling sound that fuses relatable vocals and angry, zaney guitars with driving dance beats, which they describe as being “shit-hot, lethal and kinda cool.”
And, on their formation, frontman Charlie Stewart tells us: “It all started on one dark thunderous day. Aidan (Armory) was a sword maker, a blacksmith, and I came to him looking for an axe. It just so happened he was looking for a trusty steed, a companion. And there forged in the crucible were the two founding members of THE RIOT VANS!
“We studied the fundamentals of baroque and the romantic periods, and created a new sound; we called it indie. From then on developed into what today would be known as Punk Rock. We travelled a far and gigged hard. Picking up disciples, followers along the way, their names: Jack Rennie and Adam Neville. Two great men. This brings us to the current day, no longer fresh faced and adolescent. The lock down brought us beards and 4 new singles. The sacred texts.”
And on the sound the quartet have honed since, Charlie explains: “Big big punk vibes, but always with a little bit of something going on in the background if you just tune out of the forefront. We always try to really craft our tracks and I think that shows in the production, maybe not though.”
Our latest taste of this is new single Scary Faces, which opens up with drawn-out guitars that develop into a funky little riff. The riff continues as big shouty vocals come in then a heavier version of the riff takes over. More lively vocals end with a big shout and heavy guitars, which drop into another cool little stabbing riff. And it builds up to a lively smash of big guitar chords.
On the track, Charlie told us: “The reception has been fantastic, loads of awesome reviews from loads of awesome people. To be honest it’s always messages from fans that I love the most, to hear some one loved our track means the world to us. For anyone who hasn’t listened yet, it’s pretty mental, not for everyone. My gran loves it. That’s a start.” Give it a listen here:
Previous single Memory Lane is described as “spoken word hooliganism at its best” and opens up with stabbing guitars that develop into a fun opening riff. A darting little riff supports engaging fast-paced vocals that briefly give way to a little riff then return and feed into a lively chorus. The pace immediately drops with stabbing guitars but picks up with a funky little lick, then a cool noodling guitar line under another engaging verse.
Another chorus ends with screeching guitars that feed into a lively solo over driving drums, which drop into a final verse and chorus. Check it out in the video here:
That was preceded by the angsty Scotrail’s Stealing All My Money which, as the title suggests, is an assault on the Scottish train company’s extortionate ticket fares. While previous single Street Fighter is an engaging spoken word track that opens up with the lines “First rule of street fighting, Don’t get into street fighting, Second rule of street fighting, Run away from street fighting.” While a second verse opens up “Third rule of street fighting, No rules in street fighting, Fourth rule of street fighting, Don’t tell your mum about street fighting.”
And all of these tracks followed debut single BLAZIN’, which opens up with fun stabbing guitars and drums that feed into spoken vocals and a catchy chorus that ends on the line “Come on Davie, let’s get blazin’.” A funky little solo drops into a little bassline and drawn-out guitars that you think are bringing the track to a close, only for a lively riff to kick in and lead into a total change of sound to bring the track to fun more melodic ending. Check it out in the video below:
As Charlie mentioned earlier, those lesser known artists The Jam and The Beatles have been major influences on the band. However, so has their home city. As he explains: “Glasgow has a tonne of great artists who we shamelessly steal every idea from.
“There’s an amazing music scene happening here and I think the biggest influence in all seriousness is the Glasgow music scene, maybe not this year but it was essential in the formation of our sound. Glasgow goes more mental the louder and the faster you play, so we basically just became a product of our environment.”
And on what inspires them to write music, Charlie adds: “I think the thrill of the chase writing a song is just some of the most fun you can have, big dopamine hit when you think you’ve done something pretty great. Basically the same as a runners high.
“To be honestm themes seem to come and go with us. We used to do a lot of social commentary stuff, couple of dirty protests here and there, couple of tunes about old guys getting pished and chatting to 16-year-olds. But come to think of it, I think our most recent single is inspired lyrically almost wholly by DreamWorks® Rango.”
There’s plenty more to come from The Riot Vans, including gigs and summer festivals, which are of course “Niccy Sturgeon dependant.” And as Charlie adds: “We have a lot a lot of new material we have written over lockdown, to be honest our sound is pretty drastically different so that’s gonna take some rehearsal, but hopefully we’ll be back in the studio mid to late summah.
“We have a quality selection of fairly well made, taking the piss music videos on YouTube which we think are famously under appreciated and they are so worth a watch it’s not funny.”