INTERVIEW: Vulpes Vulpes

Of all the new young acts emerging in post-Oxford Wollongong, Vulpes Vulpes are surely one of the brightest and most promising. Blending rock’n’roll, post-punk and indie into a very slick, very British-sounding brand of guitar-pop. In a short space of time, the four-piece have made a sizable mark on the local music scene; enjoying success in various band comps, headlining venues both in Wollongong and Sydney, playing the Huchi Muchi launch party in September alongside Chicks Who Love Guns, and impressing us here at Radar enough to score a slot on the Radar Illawarra Music Awards earlier this month, Vulpes Vulpes are fast making a name for themselves.

They were recently selected to play the Foreshore Music Festival in Canberra, alongside the likes of Gotye, Boy & Bear and Ladyhawke, and have just finished up recording their debut EP, ‘Vol-Pez Vol-Pez’ (see the band’s video tour/recording diary here). With a quickfire EP launch tour through January, including a support slot for US indie royalty Lydia and a spot on the Stacked Music Festival, 2012 looks bright for the young four-piece. Ahead of their EP launch on January 1 at the Illawarra Brewery, alongside Tainted Fist and Round The Corner, we caught up with Jack and Anton to chat about all things VV.

Introduce the band for our readers.
We’re four guys from the Southern Highlands that now live in Wollongong (apart from Tim who lives in Sydney). Tim sings and plays guitar, Jack plays guitar, Matthias is on Bass, and Anton plays drums like they did in his homeland (Croatia.)

How and when did Vulpes Vulpes come together?
We all knew Anton, and he was in a bad place, at the start of 2011, he needed a distraction so a few of us that played instruments basically got together and started a band to give him a bit of purpose in life.

How would you describe your sound? What influences do you draw from?
Most of the band enjoy the Arctic Monkeys, Joy Division and Kasabian, but we also take influence from ‘Claptonesque’ era rock. We also are really big fans of The Walking Who. We cover ‘Candy Flu’ frequently, possibly better than the Walking Who play it.

What are some of the venues you’ve played since forming?
All over Sydney and Wollongong really. Our first show was at the Clarendon in Surry Hills for one of the Bat Country nights- which are awesome for bands just starting up. The Mum nights at World Bar in Kings Cross is always a good night. Same as the Wolfden nights at Phoenix in Sydney. For Wollongong our favorite venue is probably Yours and Owls but the highlight so far would have to be the Foreshore Festival in Canberra.

You were recently selected to play the Foreshore Festival in Canberra, alongside the likes of Gotye and Ladyhawke. What was that like?
Awesome. The sound on stage was the best we’ve ever experienced. We also got to meet some cool bands like Boy and Bear, Architecture in Helsinki and Bombs Away. Check out there hit single ‘Super Soaker’! No, actually, don’t do that.

You’ve also played quite a few shows in Sydney. How do you compare the vibe in Sydney to that in Wollongong?
Pretty different. Sydney venues are much more setup for bands, better sound setup and equipment, usually a better turnout, but Wollongong is still good too. Yours and Owls has been excellent for both touring and local acts in Wollongong, it’s rare to have a venue that prioritises live music over djs these days.

Would you encourage other local bands to make the leap to playing in Sydney?
Definitely. We actually found it easier to get shows in Sydney first off which was strange.  Sydney venues seem more willing to give bands a go. It’s always cool to get away and play out of town, one of the best things about being in a band is travelling to new venues, partying with new people and discovering cool new bands.

You’ve just finished up recording your EP at Def Wolf Studios in Sydney. This will be your second EP, correct? Tell us a bit about the recording process.
Wouldn’t say second EP, those older tracks were sort of demos… or that’s what we tell people now. Recording was tiring. But fun, very fun. We worked with Dave Hammer from Def Wolf studios. Really cool guy, knows his stuff and wasn’t afraid to contribute or kick our arses. We are very proud of the end product. We experimented a bit with the drums, we ended up recording the cymbals and drums on separate tracks, it was probably more time consuming but it definitely made a stronger drum sound. It was also the longest the band had spent consecutively with each other, which we thought could get interesting, but in the end it was a really cool week playing music and hanging out.

'Vol-Pez Vol-Pez' EP cover

Why did you decide to record in Sydney, rather than locally?
We wanted to make sure we recorded with a sound engineer that suited to our style. It was definitely a good choice. It often seems that the limited number of local studios means that most Wollongong bands go through the same studios no matter what their style is, and we wanted to make sure we captured a more unique sound suited to us. It’s a costly process recording properly, so we were pretty determined to find the right studio.

What can we expect, sound-wise?
It’s a four piece indie rock and roll record all the way through. Two tracks on there have a pretty epic feel to them- Mirrorvine goes for about 6 minutes and is probably the heaviest song we’ve written as well as one of our favourites. The last song (The Struggle of the Pieces) is pretty epic too, the end especially as it’s got an intense end with some cool delays. When we do the song live we generally have a pretty loose jam at the end to it was cool to sit down and actually write and record a concretee ending for it. We’ve kept a pretty striped back classic rock band feel to it, no computerized effects or extra percussion, so it comes across as close to our live shows as possible. (Take a listen to a few new tracks at the band’s Triple J Unearthed page)

You’ve booked a tour to launch the EP, with dates in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Looking forward to it? Playing to new audiences?
We sure are! We started out booking this tour looking at it more as a road trip with the novelty of playing some shows along the way but then we ended up booking some pretty awesome venues. We made a few contacts throughout the year that helped us lock in some cool shows like our Canberra one at Transit Bar run by the Purple Sneakers guys. Johnny Rock and the Limits from Melbourne were really helpful and set up one of our Melbourne shows. So hopefully we can pull a few new fans along the way.

What do you think, generally, about the state of music in Wollongong?
It’s getting pretty good. Yours and Owls has helped so much to get interest back into live acts by providing a venue that’s for once not just interested in getting numbers through the door. The Wollongong scene probably gets put down more than it should- it’s actually really going well at the moment from our perspective in terms of bands. There’s a few awesome people out there getting things like LAZE nights, Huchi Muchi events, that are really improving the live scene in the area.

What could be changed, or altered, to better support music in the region?
That’s a hard question to answer. A lot is being done to try and support live music in the area, the Illawarra has such a wide mix of people, some who prefer to lose their shit to some guy playing music from his ipod, rather than seeing a live band. Perhaps more venues like Yours & Owls that appreciate the live music within the area would be a good start. It might also be that lots of people in the area aren’t aware of how good the live music scene is. But a bunch of organisations in the area are starting to change that.

January 1 – The Illawarra Brewery
January 5 – Revolver Upstairs, Melbourne
January 8 – Worker’s Club, Melbourne
January 13 – Cabbage Tree Hotel  (supporting Lydia)
January 14 – Transit Bar, Canberra
January 20 – Candy’s Apartment, King’s Cross
January 27 – Stacked Music Festival


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