Live! Vukovi @ Sound Control, Manchester 13/3/17
Before they hit the stage in Manchester, I managed to sit down with Vukovi and do a short interview. We discussed the creative process behind their debut and self titled full-length, with them stating pre-production was a new element of making the record, something they hadn’t done before, which the band felt made things easier for them compared to recording their previous material. Hitting a rehearsal room for a few days before recording began, producer Bruce was praised by the band for helping them whittle down their shortlisted tracks for the album, and they went on to say having Bruce present in the rehearsal space gave the band a fresh pair of ears for giving advice on trying new things songs they had to adapt them to how they appear on the album. Speaking on the actual recording of the album, the band said instead of opting for a big budget style take on recording, staying where they knew and with producers they knew at home in Glasgow worked best for what they wanted to achieve sound wise, manifesting the sound they’ve had in their heads for sometime now into the music.
The album features a mix of songs in terms of age, not just sound, some songs have been reinvented for the album from prior releases, and some were written rather “last minute” as Janine said, and the band mentioned their take on this, older songs can be looked at and changed over time, whereas with their more recent material, that was the band captured at that moment in time. For the record, Queens Of the Stone Age and Bring Me The Horizon we’re mentioned, however the sheer length of time between the oldest material and the release date, being around four to five years, compared to some songs being penned two months before hitting the studio was given as a reason to the eclectic nature of the album. The band, as everyone does, have aged and their interests and views have changed, with older songs being labeled “old songs with new production” so even years down the line the band are still changing material they’ve sat on for the record, and heralding such a mix of material as being who and what the band have been over the past five years.
The band noted a real change in the reaction from fans, after even just two dates of the tour. In Glasgow they played on the release date of the album at a sold out show, where Janine noticed girls at the front had the exact same style of make up as her, and plenty of people we singing back songs that had only just been released, blowing the band away! Something that made them realise that releasing the album has been a big game changer for their careers.
We also discussed Vukovi’s nostalgia rich image, and how genuine it was for them and how well it fit the band’s sound. They had wanted a ‘Smash Hits’ and 90’s pop style image with promo shots such as the one they used on the UK tour. Saying they’re not the “cool kids” instead they wanted to convey the fun they have onstage and that their music personifies, stating the current promo images will be hard to beat for them, even though the day-glo yellow colour was a mistake, it was supposed to be lime green to match the album cover. However with only a yellow back drop, it was dude to be edited to match the album, but the band loved the shots that much they stuck with the yellow, and it certainly is eye-catching as we noted comparing it to other posters next to it at the venue.
Opening band for the show were Blackpool group Jekyll (6), and they kick things off well. A standard yet well performed blending of pop and rock, mixed in with elements of brit-rock titans such as muse and operatic style influences, the latter vesting itself largely in a rather impressive vocal range. The band might not be at home in Manchester, but the crowd reacts warmly to them, and they get the atmosphere building with great stage presence and the occasional heavier hitting groovy hard rock riff and bouncy pop rock tunes. Definitely one to keep an eye on, Jekyll for me are a solid choice for the night.
The tour’s main support comes in the form of Critics (5), a band hailing from various corners of the country. Sadly for me, they didn’t really do anything to peak my interest, with the frontman seeming a little too sleazy and pompous for my liking however with tracks with the hook “I can’t wait till I’m famous” this could all be part of an act. Like the child of McFly, The Midnight Beast and The Hooziers, mixed in with a lyrical vibe that would have complemented a skins soundtrack yet vocalist Lynn Paighton, hits rough patches in his execution of this sound, at times coming off nasally and also a quazi-rap section to a song that didn’t really translate to what I feel the band wanted it to sound like.
Vukovi (9) close the evening with a superb set, bringing to life the record they’ve worked hard on over the past half decade. Opening with stomping alt rock hit ‘La Di Da’ the band kick off proceedings on a strong footing, and this is carried through to ‘Weirdo’ again not letting the crowd calm down as Vukovi show with everything they’ve got just who they are, and how much they want to take over the scene they’re in, and they’re pretty much fucking set to do so after seeing this performance on top of such an amazing album. Target Practise get a live outing, and while it too has stomping and moody rock vibes to it, the song also has a wonderful uplifting melody to it that is given fresh life live, but this pales in comparison to the beauty in their performance of ‘Prey’, the opening melody in Hamish Reilly’s guitar work does it all, and the entire band crush the chorus, a definite highlight of the set for me personally. However intense emotion isn’t just put into ‘Prey’, ‘Wander’ sees the band stipped back and raw, and again I can’t really fault much in their performance. The band’s encore comes in the form of ‘Animal’ another highlight in a superb set, and then ‘Boy George’. The band well and truly came on stage and played their songs with true grit, passion and honesty, and they showed just how big this band is going to be come.
If you missed the band on their album release tour, you can catch them in either May or June
24 Edinburgh Mash House
26 Newcastle Jumpin Jacks
31 Southampton Joiners
1 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
2 Norwich Epic Studios
5 Guildford Boileroom
7 Tunbridge Wells The Forum