Getintothis’ Matthew Wood caught up with the magnificent five-piece, The Vryll Society who divulge their recent change of pace, touring desires and their wackiest fans.
Already having cemented themselves as a great monolith on the landscape of Liverpool’s psychedelic scene, The Vryll Society have been working very hard in expanding their presence globally. With SXSW appearances, massive UK tours (including one supporting Blossoms) and a bright festival season ahead, these fellas are just a few steps away from pure stardom.
For those of you still unaware of the GIT Award nominees, first of all: where on earth have you been? Secondly, I’ll save you further pain and deprivation by getting you in the know. The genre-warping five-piece comprises of Michael and Ryan Ellis, Lewis McGuinness, Benjamin Robinson, and Lloyd Shearer. Having carved a path to success for themselves in recent years, the band’s artistic progress is beginning to gather momentum as well as attention; things are just getting started for Liverpool’s finest psych outfit.
Despite the band’s formidable presence and undoubted impact, it’s still astounding that they’re yet to release their debut album. The quartet have taunted and teased with their expertly crafted singles of shimmering psych, but have yet to satiate our hunger for a whole lot more Vryll.
For a band with a moderately short history, the term ‘leaps and bounds’ comes to mind, having seen them live several times, they’ve continued to refine and improve their sound for the stage to a point where we can safely affirm they’re one of the best live bands you will see.
Since their debut EP, Pangea back in 2015, the quintet have treated us to just four tracks, individually fantastic and proof that patience really is a virtue; the finest art can never be rushed. Among these are La Jetee, sharing its name with a French science fiction short film on the topics of time travel and nuclear war; the band like to dig deep for influence, capturing the obscure and mind-boggling in their own infectious, accessible way.
Still emptying their pockets of the sand from the Texan desert after their SXSW appearance, we caught up with Ben, Ryan, Lloyd and a hobbling Mike ahead of the biggest summer of their careers so far, keen to know how 2017 has treated them thus far.
Ryan: “We haven’t really done much, put out a tune (Scared Flights) and played little gigs…”
Ben: “We went to Texas as well!”
Ryan: “Oh yeah of course!”
Ben: “That was amazing, the gig went really well, one in, one out, full capacity so we have a really good crowd and a big reaction.
“The people over there were so sound, we heard there would be a different vibe over in America but they were just like Liverpudlians.”
It’s true, Liverpudlians do set the bar for the highest levels of ‘sound’. And with SXSW being one of the premier events to discover new music, we’re naturally keen to hear about who they managed to see on their trip to Texas.
Ryan: “No One!” [they laugh]
Ben: “We wanted to lots of other stuff, like swim in rivers and explore.
Mike: “And Kayaking!”
Ben: “We saw these bats too, every night before the sun sets, millions of bats fly under this bridge.”
Mike: “I spent most of the time in the Spotify lounge getting free drinks and free SWAG.“
Ryan: “SWAG!?” [they laugh]
Congratulations on your GIT Award Nomin…
Mike: “Have we won!? Oh… Nomination…”
Haha not yet, but who do you think will take the crown, apart from yourselves?
Mike: “We won’t win, The Coral will win! The Coral had one of the albums of the year so it’s gonna be difficult to eclipse them. I can’t really see anything else other than The Coral.”
Ryan: “I Hope it’s us!”
Ben: “The Coral are the obvious one but you never know what the judges are looking for.”
Mike: “We’ve got out of our first gear but not even in second or third yet, we haven’t even put an album out yet. For us to be nominated is great.”
Fantastic news for all Vryll fans, they’re yet to even shift into second gear, but what can we expect from The Vryll Society in the coming months? Having only recently got back in the studio and given time to themselves from their managers, the boys are more eager than ever to get writing once again…
Ben: “It’s [the music]sort of changing, it’s not a massive change but it’s going in a different direction. Before it was quite loose, but the new material will have more of an impact, it’s more upbeat.”
Mike: “The tunes are more direct, but they’ve still got that left-field kind of thing.”
Lloyd: “I think it’s more thought out, it’s not just a vibe or anything.”
Mike: “Still loads of vibe though!”
Ryan: “Yeah! Vibe-y songs!”
So, we wonder, does this signal a move away from the lengthy kraut-infused jams?
Mike: “That’s still gonna be there but there’s gonna be songs around that too… if you’ve got both then you’re in a great place. If you’re just doing one of those things it’s a bit boring, but if you’ve got both that’s when it’s serious.“
Perfect Rhythm is a perfect example of that, right?
Mike: “Yeah it’s cool but it’s a pop song.”
Is that the aim then, to write pop songs?
Ryan: “Yeah we want to write more great pop tunes!”
Mike: “But at the same time we don’t want to lose the other sides – we want to keep both of them.“
There’s a clear shared goal between the lads, they frequently finish each other’s sentences, complementing one another’s ideas and comments.
It’s great to see and is a key factor in the band’s success so far; they know what they want to create, and they’ve got the ability to do it exactly how they wish, no punches pulled.
Direct, punchy pop songs may just be their winning formula, too. Having astounded many with their adept psych talent, crafting a dominant wall of sound, layered with infectious hooks and iconic musical motifs, they aim to channel this into something that’s guaranteed airtime and isn’t going to dwindle as mere ‘vibe’.
With the band having toured a fair bit recently, particularly last year, we ponder whether touring is becoming more important for bands these days over perhaps releasing an album.
Ben: “I don’t think for us it is – we like to be in the practice room or the studio, getting better. Touring is obviously something that we love to do.”
Mike: “But it has to be worth doing!”
Ben: “There’s times when we’ve been out and there’s been like 20 or 30 people for four gigs when really we could have been in the studio or in the room writing. If it’s worth doing…”
Ryan: “It’s game on then!”
Mike: “Our next tour will be October.”
Ryan: “That’ll be a good one because we’ll have more tracks out and we’ll be saving ourselves for then. Last year I think we did 3 tours and one of them was 3 weeks long at loads of tiny places, but then we play the big city venues and it’s chocka, so that when it’s good.”
Mike: “The last tour we did was great but we could have done without doing it to be honest. It was a good gauge on how far we’ve coming playing wise though because I think it’s the best that we’ve ever played. But we didn’t really have anything to promote, it was just touring for the sake of touring, but it was a good experiment for us.”
We’ve been fortunate enough to have seen The Vryll Society on a number of occasions yet feel compelled to ask about a particularly memorable show at Night & Day last April.
Mike: “That was the good one out of the three. The first one we played to nobody and the second one was boss but I was off my head.”
Lloyd: “You were good when you were off your head!”
Ryan: “Nah you were you know, you were still good!”
Mike: “I fell over man!”
Ryan: “That’s boss!”
We’re minded to concur agreeing that it all adds to the sense of occasion, the sense of drama that live music can bring.
Mike: “The last time we were in Manchester there was loads of people at the front off their heads at the Deaf Institute. I love all that though.”
Ryan: “It was class in there you know, we had the lights and everything. This bird was going wild and then she came to Sheffield and apologised and we were like ‘Well in!’”
Mike: “Yeah it’s cool man!”
Ryan: “You can do what you want.”
Wearing their party antics proudly on their sleeves, it came as no surprise to find out who the band would love to join on tour…
Mike: “I‘d like to tour with Dj Khaled but I can’t see that happening – I think his audience would get us. Who else would be good? Growlers…”
Ryan: “King Gizzard”
Mike: “Fat White Family”
Lloyd: “The Moonlandingz!”
If there’s one thing these bands all have in common is their love to party, let’s just hope The Vryll Society can hit the big time and join these fellas on stage before the parties take their toll. There’s no denying that Vryll could capably support any one of those bands and blow their audiences away… dream big lads!
Ben: “In terms of Liverpool bands though, we’ve been trying to tour with our mates FUSS for ages but we could never get it working.”
Mike: “We are playing with them though in Magnet aren’t we? This would be a good time to plug it!”
Ryan: “Is that confirmed though?”
Mike: “I think so?”
With our interest sufficiently piqued, we can’t help but probe for more details on a potential gig alongside FUSS at The Magnet.
Ben: “And a few other Liverpool bands, I think the idea at first was to do one a month in Liverpool for three or four months, we might just do one… we might do none…”
Lloyd: “We could do half…”
Ryan: “We could do ten!”
Just come on and do one song and then…
Ryan: “Get off and do the same next week!“
With this in mind attentions naturally start to wander towards the GIT Award ceremony at Constellations on May 13.
Mike: “Do you know if we’re performing?”
Ryan: “I think we are, you know.”
Mike is surprised the band have been nominated again due to their staggered release of music and no album just yet, but with SXSW under their belts and a whole host of summer events, it’s as justified a nomination as any; they’ve worked fantastically hard to get where they are now.
Mike: “The stage between August to Christmas you’re gonna see a lot of action from us. Someone’s come in and given us a bit of money which is good. So we’re getting to do the stuff that we wanna do.
“It’s been a bit debilitating at times because we’ve been doing it on nothing – running it on fumes. So it’s been hard on the spirit, but now someone has come in and funded it!”
Lloyd: “It’s been hard to capitalise on some opportunities because we just haven’t had it there.”
Mike: “But it kinda puts a spring in your step. We knew we’d be coming off that this tour and going in to an album. It’s all we’ve been talking about for ages is making an album, but we’ve had no way of doing it, and then finally someone’s gone ‘if ever there was a band ready to go and make an album it’s you. There’s the money, go and do it!’“
There is the growing feeling that the time is ripe for The Vryll Society. With the hard hours of practice and performance set to pay off there is a sense of a city waiting expectantly for the boys to explode at some point.
Mike: “We’ve gotta act upon it though, I think we’ve got so much potential but we need to do something with it and I think we’re starting to really do that now.”
Ben: “That’s what we were saying about touring this summer, we don’t want to go out on tour we really want to knuckle down and write.”
With a debut album seemingly imminent we feel compelled to ask for an update on its progress thus far.
Mike: “We haven’t started yet but it won’t take us long to do it – I reckon it will take us about a month to do it.”
Ryan: “We’ve got songs that we’re writing now that we want to put on the album so we’re just waiting to finish those. Probably about ten or twelve tunes ready and a couple extra in the vibe we’re going for now.”
Mike: “In the meantime though, we’ve got another two singles coming out and they’re pretty serious! Big tunes; a step up from what we’ve done so far.”
With the band having perfectionist tendencies and unwilling to release an album just for the sake of it when they perhaps weren’t ready, talk turns to the finances of music and particularly whether the availability of funds might have resulted in an earlier album release.
Mike: “We would have done.”
Ryan: “I’d rather wait until it’s full perfect myself.”
Ben: “We’ve always wanted to do an album, is it perfect though? If we’d have released it earlier, it wouldn’t have been perfect!”
Mike: “It would have been good though!”
Ryan: “But now we’re in the best position we’ve been in and it’s just going to fall nicely.”
Ben: “I’m happy that we haven’t released an album earlier, it’s going to be better, it’s going to be the best!”
With the band set to play Sound City at the end of May, we’re naturally curious as to how a gig on home turf compares to elsewhere. Is it as special as we all might suppose or just another day at the office.
Ryan: “It’s boss!”
Ben: “We know like 70% of the crowd so it’s just like playing for your mates, it’s a lot more relaxed and you know everyone’s gonna be up for it. Sometimes touring round it’s not the same.
“We have had boss shows in Birmingham, there was some 40 year old fellas all smashed at the front of one gig. They’d got a poster for the gig and photoshopped their faces onto our faces and it said ‘The Jolly Boys Society’ or something like that.. it was awful!”
Mike: “All the kids that were there couldn’t get to the front cause these fellas we’re giving it loads, and there was 16 and 17 year old girls who couldn’t even see the stage. Liverpool is always the best, Manchester and London are good too.”
With the band’s approach having shifted to something more direct we can’t help but wonder if that has resulted in a change in the recording process.
Ben: “The recording process is pretty much the same, but every time we go in it gets better. We build and build on what we’ve done previously. It’s nice to take your time and really get into it, but because of the money we haven’t been able to do that.
“So I think this time, especially with the album we’ll be spending a lot of time putting little finishing touches on it.”
Mike: “We rush it because of outside pressures, but now we can really get inside it.”
Ben: “It’s not like the tunes we’ve put put aren’t to a good standard but we always think we can do it better. We know and our producers know that it could be so much better, and it will be for the album.”
Mike: “We’re getting extra equipment too which is going to help, both in the studio and live. We’ve stepped up in that department, we were always happy with how we’ve played live but on the last tour there was a cocksure confidence in our playing and it was good seeing.
“I‘m really looking forward to the next couple of dates. We’ve got Sound City, TRNSMT Festival on the King Tuts Stage (T in the Park replacement festival).”
Ryan: “Welcome To The North at the Brudenell – Leeds is always a good gig!”
Mike: “We’re supporting The Kooks in the Olympia!”
Ryan: “It’ll be good that! It’s only them and us too.”
Mike: “If we get a 40 minute slot we’ll be happy.”
As ever when drawing such chats to a close we look to the future and, in particular, what listeners and fans can expect from The Vryll Society for the remainder of 2017 and beyond. In this instance it seems like the band are being deliberately coy,
Ryan: “Good vibes!”
Mike: “Yeah… good vibes!”
And with that final pithy and philosophically rich quote, they went their separate ways, and even paid for our can of Ting on the tab, ta lads!
The GIT Award 2017 takes place at Constellations on May 13. Tickets are available here.