INTERVIEW: Vanguard Party

Vanguard Food Party on the frontier

After years of devotedly playing the local rounds, Jared and Mark of excellently-hatted revolutionaries Vanguard Party take some time out to talk to Radar about the synth that started it all, the Wollongong music scene, and explain the Party line using a brilliant array of food-related analogies.

Radar: How would you describe Vanguard Party?

Jared: Like a big delicious sandwich.

Mark: One that’s a bit intimidating at first, and you hesitate before you bite down, but once the flavour hits everything’s fantastic.

Jared: At least until the aftertaste kicks in, it’s not pretty. Plus we’re a band, we play songs.

R: Who are the members and what do they play?

Jared: Well Mark here plays bass, and we try to get him to sing backup, but he usually can’t be arsed unless the lyrics involve some kind of rabbling or shouting. I play guitar and I sing. There’s Tod on synths and vocals too.

Mark: And Mitch on drums, who would sing if we let him.

R: Tell us about the history of the band. How did the band come about?

Jared: I wrote a song called “Bitch, You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. I wrote it completely on a sequencer, and I used this 8-bit sounding synth patch, which was probably the first time I’d seriously used a synth prominently in a song. It’s a very serious meaningful song by the way…

Mark: We’d all played in local bands before and we knew how each other worked, so we put the band together based on that synth-related epitome.

Jared: I’d like to think we suck that little bit less these days.

R: What would you say inspires you as a band? What are some of your interests as a group?

Jared: Well the inspiration for the synth purchase came from a Welsh band called Future of the Left, who use a Juno synthesiser in a couple of their tracks. Most of the other bands I draw on for inspiration are pretty different to the core of what we do, save for maybe the Aquabats and Devo. But I like listening to diverse kinds of music in order to try and take concepts and try them in a different context. We try to keep it upbeat.

Mark: As a group though we’re mainly interested in the finer things in life. Wine, cheese, opera, that kind of thing.

R: The new-wave punk vibe that you have isn’t something that’s very prominent right now, especially in Wollongong. What compelled you to start a band like this?

Jared: It’s something different. Plus I’m a melody freak, so the more melodies I can cram into a song the better. Vocal melodies, harmonies, synth melodies, you name it, preferably all at once. It’s happy music for the soul.

R: How do you approach the writing process?

Jared: It’s very much like baking a cake.

Mark: At least in the sense that Jared bakes all the cakes. The rest of us will occasionally bring ideas to the table and jam on different parts, but the stirring and oven supervision is all on his side of the kitchen.

R: Any plans for a proper EP or release?

Mark: We’ve been planning an EP since about the time the band started. It’s really a conflict of schedules – finding time to record around everyone’s work commitments. Plus Jared usually demos any new tracks he writes at home before we play them anyway.

Jared: There are some tracks up on our Facebook page for download, plus we have a little sampler disc that we hand out at shows. But an EP would be nice, I’m sure we’ll do one eventually.

R: You guys have a pretty consistent presence playing local gigs. How do you guys tend to approach performing?

Mark: …with a zesty vinegarette.

Jared: It’s usually on a gimmick by gig basis. At least half the show is in the visual spectacle, so new hat themes are pretty much always a must.

R: How do you find the Wollongong music scene at present? How do you think it has changed?

Jared: I don’t really think it has, to be honest. Venues come and go but I think lot of people are fixated upon this ideal of “the good old days,” which I’m sure becomes a fonder memory as time goes on.

Mark: The main problem with the local music scene at the moment is that crowds are mostly made up of the mates of the bands playing. People support their friends, not local bands. There’s not a lot of people willing to take a risk in seeing a band they don’t know.

Jared: At least in the younger demographic. Owls is taking the right steps towards getting a solid rotation of out of town acts going, but realistically the capacity is probably about the size of my living room. But a positive nonetheless.

R: Who are your favourite local bands?

Mark: Alotta Presha, for sure.

Jared: Leo J is a great local act. And I should probably name drop God Rest the Good Doctor, goodnight sweet princes. Among many others.

R: What can we expect from Vanguard Party in the near future?

Mark: More smoke and pyrotechnics.

Jared: And hopefully we’ll suck even less.

Vanguard Party play SOL Studios on Thursday night, with Tommy M and the Mastersounds

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