My Vitriol

Interview by Mark Bayross

Since forming in 1998, My Vitriol have been getting rave reviews for their live performances and have had earned hearty praise from music critics and radio DJs alike. Now signed to Infectious Records, they have just released their third single “Pieces” and have completed a headline tour and a stint supporting Mansun.

I met the two founding members, singer/guitarist Som and drummer Ravi, backstage at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, before they were due to go onstage for the last night of the Mansun tour.

You two met at college. Out of interest, what were you studying?

RAVI: Studying? I think I spent most of the time in the union drinking [laughs]… I was doing Biochemistry.

SOM: I was doing Genetics.

So you’ve given all that up to become rock stars?

[much laughter] Ravi: As a matter of fact we’re still doing it… this is just a hobby.

Do you have jobs?

RAVI: I’m working at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the moment…

SOM: Total crap of course… As a matter of fact, we have no time to do anything at the moment but this.

You have had some pretty good press coverage since you started, some pretty positive reviews…has that laid on a fair amount of pressure for you?

SOM: Err…as I keep saying, our internal pressure is much higher than any external pressure. We’re all perfectionists, we all have our standards that we all want to live up to.

RAVI: I think as long as we’re happy and fine, we don’t feel any pressure from outside.

SOM: You do get these questions where people say, “oh, you’re going to be the next big thing”…

RAVI: …How do you answer that, you know?

SOM: You can’t think too much about it…

So, have you got a release date for your album?

RAVI: Not a date, but we’ve got a month…

SOM: …Early March.

And are you going to release a single before that?

SOM: Yeah, there should be a single in January, I think.

I guess that’s when you’ll feel the most pressure, before your album comes out.

SOM: Well…as long as we make a really good album, then I think…we were just really lucky to get signed and that a lot of people know about us. If we make a good album, an album that we really like, then I think we’ll be fine.

RAVI: It’s been so intense over the past year, things have happened so quickly.

You’ve been on two consecutive tours – you’ve had your own headline tour and you’ve been supporting Mansun – how have they gone?

SOM: Not bad, but I don’t think we should have done the headline tour. We were trying to do five things at once almost – we were doing a promo for the single which came out last Monday, then doing the album as well as doing the tour and, like, organising some album stuff…it was just too much to handle in retrospect.

RAVI: We didn’t have that much time to rehearse for the tours anyway.

SOM: I mean we’d gone from the studio straight to playing live, which is quite daunting really.

RAVI: It might have been better if we’d done the Mansun support first, then did our headline tour, to sort of get us back into the ‘gig’ vibe of things, but it didn’t happen that way so…

Who’s been the most fun band you’ve toured with?

SOM: Fun band? The craziest band we’ve ever toured with was probably The Crocketts. They were great guys…

You’ve played with A Perfect Circle. What was Maynard like?

SOM: Yeah…quiet, but nice…Deftones was probably the…you know, it was really great to work with the Deftones. We all love Deftones. They actually said that we were one of their favourite bands in the world! We get emails from Germany saying, “Chino [Moreno, Deftones singer] says you’re one of the best bands in the world, so we checked you out, and we love you”…he was watching us from the side of the stage…

RAVI: It’s really cool when you’re supporting a band that you totally appreciate, and then they tell you that they appreciate you, and you think “fucking hell…” That’s good.

SOM: They’re really nice people as well, Deftones…We met them at the Kerrang! Awards as well, and afterwards, Chino said he’d like to do something together, so you never know…he wants me to do some guitar music so he can sing over it – we might do that as a free Internet thing.

You’re touring with VAST as well soon…

RAVI: Yeah, I don’t know much about them, but what I’ve heard is really good.

CAROLYN [bass player, who had entered the room a minute or so ago]: I heard one track and that was really outstanding.

SOM: We really like our epic rock stuff as well, so we like A Perfect Circle, we like VAST…

CAROLYN: I think anything anyone’s ever said about VAST has been pretty complimentary, so we’re looking forward to playing with them.

What would you say has been the biggest influence on your music recently?

SOM: It’s never one band. It’s like a cross section of, like, Massive Attack and Cocteau Twins records with At The Drive-In and Sepultura…it’s a big cross section of records. And it’s hardly ever a whole record, which is quite weird…it’s certain songs by certain bands.

CAROLYN: Sounds, really…

SOM: Yeah. I think the danger with a lot of bands is that they idolise one band and they think everything they’ve done is brilliant. That’s when you get into dangerous territory, because I don’t think there are a lot of bands like that…

CAROLYN: When you see most people’s record collections, they are always quite messy, and they’ll listen to one or two songs, then change the record…

I think that “Pieces” has a kind of Cocteau Twins feel about it.

SOM: Yeah, sure. “Darker” has also got a kind of Cocteau Twins feel about it…that’s another new one…and then certain other tracks, like “Losing Touch”, have no Cocteau Twins feel at all really [laughs]. When people say “Cocteau Twins”, they mean “ethereal” really…

That kind of chiming guitar sound…

SOM: Yeah…

Given what inspired the name of the band, are you big Graham Greene fans?

SOM: That is the only book [“Brighton Rock”] I’ve read by Graham Greene actually, but I thought it was great

It’s one of my favourite books. I noticed on your website, under the bands you like, that The God Machine was on there.

SOM: They were a great band. I think Seth saw them live…I never got to see them. I was too little. I wouldn’t have been allowed in…

They were an awesome band…

SOM: Yeah! Some of their records were amazing weren’t they? I hear Robin Proper-Shepherd’s new band Sophia is supposed to be good too.

Well, I could have chatted about Graham Greene and The God Machine all evening, but the band had a show to play and I didn’t want to outstay my welcome. Leaving them to get ready, I wandered down to the auditorium to catch the last few minutes of opening band King Adora, and their heavily made up lead singer venting some rock star fury on a defenceless amplifier with his microphone stand.

Soon afterwards, My Vitriol took to the stage and played a set of spell-binding power. They fit in new single “Pieces” and previous one “Cemented Shoes” amongst epic, soaring guitars and static, charged feedback. Those chiming guitars are all present and correct, but the much-discussed Cocteau Twins sound carries with it the darkness and, dare I say it, vitriol of My Bloody Valentine or the Pixies.

If you can, I recommend you catch My Vitriol before they hit the inevitable big-time. The band support the wonderful VAST on their UK tour this November. Sounds like an unmissable opportunity.

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