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The Vryll Society On Course for the Satellites

We spoke to Scouse indie band The Vryll Society about their debut album, Course of the Satellite, and joining Deltasonic.

Since forming as a five-piece indie rock outfit, The Vryll Society have been honing their soaring melodies on record and on the road. By following in the esteemed footsteps of fellow Scousers The Coral and The Zutons to sign with psychedelic imprint Deltasonic, the band landed in the perfect setting for their debut album, Course of the Satellite.

We fired some questions in the band’s direction ahead of their upcoming tour, which includes a show at Manchester’s YES [NB – this tour has since been cancelled], and they told us about recording habits, their native Liverpool scene and creating zombie post-nuclear discos.

You started off in 2015 with your first single, ‘Deep Blue Skies’. How hard was it to translate that initial momentum into a full-length record?

Really hard, yeah. Between that and recording the album, the sound changed and we learnt a lot of stuff in terms of song writing. It went from being a six-minute epic tune to ones that had more pop viability, if you know what I mean? Not every tune can be six minutes long! Money, as well, that properly slows us down – if you’ve got no money, you can’t just go in and record or do anything for that matter.

Who or what would you pick out as your main influences on the new record, including outside of music? It seems like you’ve covered a lot of ground in terms of creating your sound.

David Axelrod, DJ Shadow, Pink Floyd, Can, Stereolab, Kraftwerk, Aphrodite’s Child… There’s many, the list goes on. Also people like Ennio Morricone, because we take a lot out of film scores, things like that. Anyone who’s good really. If you’re good, we’ll nick stuff off you, but if you aren’t any good, then we won’t.

Describe your writing process for your songs. Where does the initial spark come from? Do you find going on tour becomes a creative outlet?

There’re loads of different methods, really. Louis (guitar) can have a riff, Ryan (guitar/keyboards) can have a riff on his guitar or the keys or Ben (drums) and Lloyd (bass) can have a nice groove going on. There’s no primary kind of way of doing it.

As for going on tour, I don’t think so, no; it slows down. You’re too busy doing stuff. I guess if we had more money we could go from the hotel and go and have a jam, but you can’t – especially when you can’t play music in the venue until like 4pm or 5pm. When you’re on tour, it depends what you’re writing about as well. We wouldn’t really write about situations on the road. It’s best for us to be in a room for weeks just jamming and sorting shit out. I guess eventually we will have to get our heads round working that way on tour, but that’s well off.

The track ‘Inner Life’ off the record is a highlight for me. It’s a bit different to the rest of the tracks with those disco sounding guitars and the synth bass. How did that come about?

That was actually the last tune that was written for the album and we wanted to make a dance tune, really. We’d describe it as ‘zombie post-nuclear disco’.

Looking forward your next album, do you have any idea where your sound’s going to go?

Well, we’ve already started writing a few tunes for it; started basically straight away off the back of these album sessions. We’ve got about six or seven new ones, but we’ll do what we did last time, where we write 15 or 16 and narrow down until they end up on an album. They are going a different way though; a bit more Talking Heads-y, funkier. ‘Inner Life’ is towards the end of the album and is sort of a vibe of what’s coming next. We seem to go through a journey when we’re writing songs, so we’ll keep going round like that.

Your artwork for your earlier singles and album is really distinctive. Could you tell us who designs them and what influences them?

Those early ones for ‘Self Realisation’ and ‘La Jetee’ were actually really off-the-cuff. Emma Basnett did those two covers. She took a picture of oil in a puddle and zoomed in on it loads of times. The EP was Dom Foster and the album now is a guy called Jack Hardwick. Jack’s really good though.

You recorded the album at Parr Street studios back home in Liverpool. Did you feel any pressure working there at all?

No, not at all, really. We’ve literally been there from the first time we were in a proper studio at 17. We did try and record somewhere else, but it didn’t turn out that well. There was no outro on ‘…Blue Skies’ and they cut it out, so we had to go back to Parr.

Having been writing the record for so long, is it a release to finally be able to play the songs live and hear reaction to them?

Yeah, for sure. One thing I was saying the other day was that the tunes that we’re writing now, we won’t be able to play them live for about a year, maybe more. People are already getting bored of the ones we’ve just written! The first gig that we did on this tour in Bristol, I was just so up for it. People know the songs now and it’s well exciting.

Where did the name of the record come from? Any sort of proggy concept vibe flying about in there? There are a few tracks that tie in with the album title.

At first, it wasn’t a concept that heavily, but then as it moved on we tried to make it into a concept. It was a nice progression, created about halfway through. The artwork’s a bit spacey and Jack (art director) gave us a few cues with his art ideas – lots of Kandinsky – and we sort of went from there.

Do you have a favourite track to play live? Do you find that certain venues or gigs lend themselves to different songs?

At the moment, probably ‘When The Air Is Hot’ for all of us. For Louis, each night it’s really a different one. ‘When The Air Is Hot’ is more of a vibe one, a bit looser. Sometimes you can play the tunes better live than what they are on the record – a lot of people say that actually. Live, there’s more kick going around and it’s definitely a bit rawer sounding.

There are a lot of great bands coming out of your Liverpool hometown again. You’ve got yourselves, Psycho Comedy, Spinn, Her’s and The Night Café. What do you think keeps the Liverpool scene moving forward?

Never knew Her’s were from Liverpool, but there you go. For the scene, I’d definitely say more venues, because they keep getting knocked down. But stuff goes in cycles – stuff can’t keep coming from the same place all the time, everywhere has their moments. Liverpool’s a very DIY city, so they don’t wait for people to come and give them some money, so they just do stuff. That will never go away.

With events like National Album Day, a weird industry manufactured celebration of all things albums, what are your thoughts on the future of the album? Do you think it will still exist in 20-30 years’ time?

We’re only at the start, so I hope it sticks about! It could be like a Velvet Underground thing where someone in 2050 re-releases our record and everyone just buzzes off it. But we’ll be dead, so we won’t get any of the fame or anything. Our kids will be all right. Scary thought that, though.

If you could support one band, dead or alive, who would it be?

Dead or Alive. There you go. In one.

Learn more

Course of the Satellite is available now.

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Next article in issue 62


Curated by Elizabeth Gibson.

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