Not gonna lie, the video for Vuromantics debut single ‘Vultures’ is all sorts of creepy madness. The track itself is an intriguing insight into their brand of dark pop, a brooding mix of ‘80s-inspired driving rhythms and hypnotic piano, all leading into a Editors-esque booming chorus with ominous lyrics: ‘Break my body // Take my bones // They wait for us to fall // So they can tear apart us all’.
‘Vultures’ was one of three tracks released by the band in 2017, with their debut EP Waiting On A Storm scheduled for release later this month. With our ears pricked and intrigue very much piqued, we invited the lads – Sam Christie, Ben Rooker, Jake Christie and Callum Hall – to tread the Exposed In Session boards this month.
So: the band is a blend of members from Stop Drop Robot and Monoking. When was the idea of Vuromantics first floated about?
Ben: A while ago we did a bit of a reboot for our old band Monoking, which saw us bring Callum in to go more down the electronic route. That brought us to the attention of Sam at Stop Drop Robot, who asked us to support them at a few dates on their UK tour. Last year, Sam was doing promotion work, booking gigs and putting on shows etc., so we got to know each other a bit better through that. Around that time he showed us some demos from his solo project, tracks like ‘Vultures’ and a few others, and we liked what we heard so offered to get involved if he ever wanted to put a band together.
And what made you think that you could all work together well? Are you all on the same page musically?
Sam: I think, first of all, we were all friends anyway and spent a lot of time at gigs and out drinking, so it was a very natural process the way that it came about.
Sam, you’ve obviously been in bands for a long time now and have also managed to see another side of the industry through promoting. What sort of lessons have you learnt that you can bring to this project?
Sam: From a music perspective, we’ve been pretty strong on the song structures and stuff like that. I think, for the first releases, we wanted them to be quite short pop songs so we could get in there and make a statement in 2-3 minutes.
Ben: Yeah, almost like an advert. We want to develop people’s intrigue, draw them in and then blow them away.
Callum: When we were in Monoking we were always more concerned about catching people’s ear and making them dance. So we’ve been focused on making things groovy, something people can move their feet to, rather than the quite straight beats offered by a lot of guitar bands nowadays.
The debut track, ‘Vultures’, is a good example of that – there’s the dark intrigue but also a lot of nice energy towards the end.
Callum: I definitely like stuff to be bleak, because that’s how I see the future at the minute! [Laughs]
Ben: But there’s always a glimmer of hope in the tracks too. It’s not completely bleak. There’s an uplifting, energetic feel to it that makes you want to get up and want to do something.
As musicians, does it make your jobs a bit easier when the world takes a turn for the hectic, as it seems to have done recently?
Callum: I’m not sure. I guess we would never have had Bob Dylan or Bob Marley if it wasn’t for hardship. But happiness can breed interesting and good value creative work. We want to be something of a seasonal band I suppose, so we’re currently working on some summer tracks which sound entirely different.
Ben: Pop music is supposed to be a reaction to what’s gone before. In my opinion, guitar music is becoming very vanilla and bland. You take a band like Catfish and The Bottlemen, for example, and I’m bored stiff straightaway. It’s that ‘bomber jackets and skinny jeans’ look that is so dull and needs shaking up. You know, everyone likes vanilla ice cream – but it’s no one’s favourite flavour.
Wise words. How do you plan on shaking things up?
Ben: I dunno. I might wear women’s clothes, throw a cape on or maybe some goggles. Everything’s just so shallow at the moment.
Sam: That said, I also want to write simple pop songs too. I’ve written songs about politics, science, history – but it can be just as hard to write a song about a relationship.
There’s definitely an ‘80s feel to your music thus far, with obvious nods to The Human League and Co. Does it surprise you the lack of bands in Sheffield today that are directly influenced by the big new wave bands considering how important the city was in that scene?
Sam: Yeah, there’s a massive gap for bands to move in there and experiment with those kinds of sounds.
Ben: A lot of it’s down to Britpop, I think. After the ‘80s New Wave stuff came the ‘90s and bands like Oasis, who were part of the biggest band phenomenon the country’s ever seen. Take gigs like Knebworth for example: loads of kids saw that and that’s what inspired them. Even in a city like Sheffield, that stuff seemed to overshadow what happened before then. Electronic pop will come back around, though, it’ll just take a bit of time.
Let’s talk synths, as they’re a big part of your sound. From a creative perspective, what do they bring to the table for you?
Ben: You can get a good range of emotions in there. We’ve also got the option to build and develop our sound as time goes by. I guess the reason why not too many bands use them now is because they sound shit if you don’t get them right. Now we’ve established the band’s sound in a more basic sense, we can move forward and really experiment, which is obviously exciting.
You’ve got a UK tour coming up in which you’ve picked your own venues and booked your favourite bands to join you on the bill. If you could design the perfect venue for Vuromantics to play in, what would it look like?
Ben: If you could take somewhere like the Hope Works warehouse and cover it all in Tokyo neon, with everyone in the venue on Smarties, and that’d be pretty much perfect.
Exposed In Session
An exclusive YouTube gig from some of the city’s finest musical exports, filmed live every month at The Greystones.
Filmed & directed by: Tristan Ayling www.rentonproductions.co.uk
Recorded & Mixed by: Big Sky Records www.bigskyrecords.co.uk
If you are a band/artist interested in playing a gig at The Greystones, contact firstname.lastname@example.org