If you’ve long been yearning for a throwback to the good old days of 90s grunge then you’re in for one hell of a treat with Leeds newcomers Vs.
The quintet of Shortie Himself (vocals and guitars), Sparks (guitars and part-time rapper, apparently), Ruke (guitars and backing vocals), Bear (bass) and Jungle Dave (drums), who I’m pretty sure are the band we’ve featured with just a two letter name, have honed an awesome sound of haunting, echoey vocals that lament over driving dirty riffs and booming bass and drums.
The band began when Shortie left an old band and ‘got the itch’ for making music again. In his words: “I wrote a couple things, and recruited Bear and Dave to see if we could pull this thing off. After a few months of being harassed by the guys, we kind of decided to get another guitarist – enter Sparks.
“Man, he was so good, I just stopped playing the guitar to concentrate on the writing and production side of things, and Sparks suggested getting another guitarist in to beef up our sound. That’s when Luke stepped in. I think for all of us, being in a band is a passion; It’s very much what we love doing, and all of us have been in previous bands, so Vs is just a natural formation of musicians who love what they do.”
The latest taste of what the band has to offer is new EP Alternative Reality, which came out a few weeks ago, on which Shortie told us. “Yeah, so far we’ve had a pretty cool reaction to the EP. Folks seem to be digging the tracks and giving us some good feedback, and we are getting some decent radio play and being listed on loads of different radio playlist rotations, so yeah, we are pretty happy with the response. If you haven’t heard it yet – why not? It’s got killer riffs, serious bass licks, mixed with the vocals and drums in a big post grunge pot, and dished back out.”
It opens up with a cool little looping riff in the intro to Escapism that continues over a big bassline, then feeds into echoey vocals of “You push me out, Hold me down” that kick off an energetic opening verse. The second chorus is followed by repeated ascending a guitar riff that continues under wild cried vocals that bring the track to an end.
Another cool riff opens up 18 Words, then more laid-back verse of haunting vocals continues into a more powerful chorus, with drawn-out vocals over repeats of the opening riff. A cool little guitar riff comes in after the second chorus, then repeated cries of “you try” give way to a little guitar solo that takes us into a final chorus.
And talking of awesome opening riffs takes us to (mY)fRAGILE, which opens with a booming riff, then a laid-back verse gives way to a somewhat terrifying sounding chorus of dominating echoey vocals with distant screams in the background. The big opening riff kicks back in after the second chorus and feeds into a final blast of the powerful chorus, then returns to finish the track off.
There’s a more subdued start to The Letter, with light guitars and echoey vocals “I wrote this letter for you, Does it make you feel, If I’m a disappointment, Are you hearing me?” Bigger guitars kick in and accompany the echoey vocals through a chorus, then give way to another laid-back verse. It goes out with repeats of the words “Save me” over palm-muted chords and lingering higher pitched guitars.
The EP ends in rocky fashion with bonus track One In A Millon, which opens with an awesomely heavy bass riff, bursts of guitar noise threaten then it explodes into a huge low-tuned guitar riff. The vocals completely change on this track, gone are the echoey effects and in come more screamed, intense vocals over the driving guitars. This is a huge track that sees the EP to an awesome rocking ending. Check it out below:
Vs’ grungey sound is amazing, and unlike anything else we’ve listened to recently. There’s a definite feeling of Deftones’ more atmospheric tracks, and a certain feeling of Vex Red about them. The echoey vocals are perfectly complemented by heavy guitar and bass riffs in a sound that both soothes you and makes you want to rock out.
The guys released the EP independently through their website, rather than the more conventional modern way of doing things. As Shortie explains: “We released it that way because we want to retain full creative control of our music, and not have to worry about the commercial viability of our material being stuffed down our throats by the industry.
“I think the industry is evolving, and loads of massive bands are starting to work with the independent release model a lot more now, so I think it’s really important to keep the band’s core values the same rather than worry about how many downloads the tracks get. Plus the fact that the internet is international, so it gives us the platform to share our music with fans across the world before any of the major online retailers.”
The band’s influences are fairly clear, the riff heavy sounds of bands like Nirvana and Deftones are most prominent, with the latter in particular coming across in the big atmospheric sounds and haunting melodies. While they’re keen to point out that they’re “better at post-grunge than Puddle of Mudd.”
But when it comes to their musical inspirations, Sparks says: “I think life influences us to write music – there’s nothing better than being on stage with your mates in front of hundreds of people sharing our life experiences and music.
“We all have a hand in the writing process and all bring something to the table, which is normally torn to pieces, rewritten, and completely different to how we had started off but it just works. As cliché as it sounds, our song topics so to speak are about our life experiences with love, friendships, and some of the more trying times we all have to endure.”
The band have a few festivals coming up over the summer, including WayneStock V Festival in Wakefield on Saturday (2 June), Peases Festival in Crook on 23 June and Richmond Live Festival on 3 August. More info on all their upcoming gigs is here.
There’s plenty more to come too, as Shortie tells us: “We are working on a new EP already actually. Our creative process is completely autonomous now – song writing just happens as a matter of course and, with recording our material independently, it’s a lot easier to churn out new material on a regular basis. Saying that, this EP is our first release in over a year, so we don’t exactly rush things when we are writing.”
And, as Shortie adds: “We are on the lookout actually for some bands to play shows with and collaborate with, so yeah, get in touch! Buy an EP or show up to a show and come over and introduce yourself – we’re always up for chat, hugs, and beers!”