Matt Jacobson interviews Liverpool band, The Banshees, Vinny Pereira & Paul Holligan to discuss the impact of lockdown on the band, radio play in Texas and and using a motorway in Birkenhead for a video shoot.
How have The Banshees coped with lockdown?
(Paul) The same as everyone else I suppose. Somewhere between climbing the walls and doing prison workouts with hints of wrapping your head in a roll of tin foil (laughs)
It is a very strange time. And to be honest, for me, the hardest part of lockdown was not seeing my son Gabe, it nearly killed me, although we face-timed everyday.
The hardest part for Vinny was his son, Danny, he lives with him and there is an issue regarding dishes, hoovering and cleaning (laughs), but you know, Danny is 16 years old and I’m surprised both of them are still alive. Danny is the young lad boxing in our video “Tell Me Everything“, so my advice to Vinny was – if he won’t wash his dishes and you get frustrated, watch out for his backhand it’s a killer !! (laughs)
Has lockdown provided the space to write and create new material?
(Vinny); In all honesty, life has been so intense and insane before lockdown with The Banshees. So lockdown gave us much needed time to reflect and think about what we’ve achieved together, and what’s actually happened. You know, thinking back, it really has been a whirlwind of recording, final mixes, mastering sessions, promotions, radio, interviews, gigs and press etc and we never really stopped over Christmas. Then, after Christmas, we were back out playing shows and promoting in January (laughs)…………….working hard!
(Paul) About two weeks before lockdown, we were on the way to play a show in Chester and our phones and Emails had not stopped for 24 hours with interviews, radio and press coming in and travel plans of promoters for shows over in Belfast. There was a moment when me and Vinny agreed we needed to take stock here. We asked ourselves, is this really what we want, are these the songs that portray us, is this what people want?
And we have ideas with new songs and new sounds. So in lockdown, we got that breathing space to think, to write, to explore and evolve in some surprising ways!
Have you been using the latest technology to keep in touch, to discuss future direction or demo new music?
(Paul) To be honest, me and Vin have been obviously writing and sending stuff to each other on WhatsApp, or as my Nan used to call it – What’s Happening? (laughs). We kind of stayed out of the whole live stream thing really. From our point of view some bands, some great bands used it to play songs together, and push out across social media, to very little appreciation at the time.
Maybe, people’s heads were in different places with real life changing their priorities, so the last thing they wanted was another band slaughtering some cover.
What put the knife in for myself so to speak, was our mates in a band called The Montagues, put time and effort into a zoom cover with very little appreciation for it, While a guy who has never played guitar in his life, learned three cords in lockdown and put out the worst Beatles cover I’ve ever heard, it received rapturous applause and hundreds of likes and shares!.
Madness, so for me, it showed the lay of the land. If a good band with good musicianship can get nothing more than a sniff, and Billy from down the road can get world wide streams off three chords, it is probably not the right social mindset to promote professional standard material.
(Vinny), Yeah live stream is too unreliable and glitchy. Doesn’t present you in the best light really, but I applaud the artists who put up with all this! That’s the thing about musicians…we are very, very adaptable!
Congratulations on the single ‘Tell Me Everything’, such a great song. I noticed it received lots of radio play, was it an exciting time for the band?
(Vinny) – Ahhh thank you very much Matt, we are glad you like it and yes, it’s been unreal! Thank you, to everyone who streamed, bought and loved the song. And there are thousands and thousands of you. It is unbelievable!! Yes, the song received radio play world wide to excellent reviews.
(Paul) I had this strange experience. We were told it was getting featured on quite a big radio station over in Texas , so I managed to tune in to the show. I was working with my Dad at the time and just as I found the station. I just heard this American accent saying The BANSHEES and then they mentioned mine and Vinny’s name. The DJ then spoke for around 10 mins about the song, how much he loved it and how he had been playing it while driving around Texas!
He also mentioned, people had called in and asked about The Banshees after he played the single on the show. As this is happening , I’m standing there in a kitchen in Halewood helping my Dad fit a kitchen worktop (laughs).
It then became very strange when Daniel Tinitist, North America’s biggest music critic got hold of the track and reviewed it to over half a million people !.He reviews some of the major artists, the likes of REM, U2 and Bob Dylan. He’s a massive name and he just found us and found the song and really rated us and the song. It is a really weird feeling to get that recognition!!
Tell me more about the video for ‘Tell Me Everything’?
(Pau) Well, first of all that video could not have happened without 5 people;,Vinny and Vinny’s son, Danny, myself, Dave Worswick and John Watson – ex professional boxer. The video is shot in New York, in the Bronx. Only joking, it is actually recorded under the motorway in Birkenhead, as you come into the Mersey tunnel (laughs).
We just needed a creditable video to portray the story of the track. I’ve got zero acting ability, however I once played a mean innkeeper in the nativity in school. “No room, sling yer hook” (laughs). Vinny has great acting ability and could probably be an actor as well as a director, Danny is a talented boxer and a great kid to be honest and I’m a good mate of John Watson Junior.
Boxing is kind of a big thing in my own family, my Grandad was a boxer and my cousin, Andy Holligan was the 3 time British and Commonwealth champion. He fought for the world title over in Mexico against arguably the best boxer that ever lived, Julio Cesar Chavez – so I know my boxing!
(Vinny) We actually filmed the video for the song twice, but it was just me on my own running around. I twisted my ankle on take 1 and then had to run around the underpass about 13 times!
I went home to edit the footage and it was awful (laughs). So, we then put in place a storyboard and brought in my son and John Watson and we took two days to shoot the video. Everybody’s roles were simple, me – act, Danny – boxing., John – boxing and all of them to make me look good on a professional level!
Dave is a cool person with a good eye and…. a camera (laughs). Dave is probably reading this now thinking “I’m not ready for this type of exposure!!”, Dave is cool though!!
Paul’s role was to carry everything and then check how it looks on screen as it was being shot. Oh and to stay OUT OF SHOT (laughs). I had so’ooo many failed takes because Paul’s shadow was in the shot, or as the camera swooped around, Paul was running away from it, but the team worked together well, it was so funny.
(Paul) I’ve boxed Danny in Vinnys’ back garden and I won. Don’t listen to the rumours that Danny battered me, they’re not true! (laughs) the kid is lightning quick!
Have you had to delay any single releases because of lockdown?
(Vinny) Yes, unfortunately. We had our 3rd single “Walk Away” ready to go for May 3rd. We could have actually still gone for it to be honest, but we decided to hold back for the simple reason that, as everyone can probably remember, there was a block period of around two weeks, when the virus was just about to hit the curve and people were terrified.
Also, we were both dealing with family situations, so it was just a point blank call to stop it in its tracks and just deal with life. It has also been so hard for some people; losing family members, losing jobs and worlds falling apart in hours. So, music at that time was the last thing on my mind and I’m sure it was the same for a lot of people.
On the plus side though…when I got back into it, I wrote a few songs which allowed me to get lots off my chest and I can’t wait to record that.
What will it feel like to be back out there, gigging and on stage?
(Vinny). To be honest, it will feel like catching up and I hope we can just take the odd minute to just stand back and really enjoy and appreciate what we have created or what’s the point?!
(Paul). The Banshees are an ever evolving entity musically speaking, and now after 18 months it’s finally progressed into something closer than what we ever intended to do.
Behind our closed doors, nobody has heard what’s coming – it’s in demo stages now. A new sound, maybe, but musically it’s pushed forward even more creatively. We have moved now to the next stage. We look towards music in New York and Berlin and what’s happening there and we are drawing In on them to bring it all home.
The Banshees will probably be, well better, most definitely, but at the heart of it – is great songs. It is all about the songs – the pallet and colours are always up for debate.
Thank you Vinny and Paul for your time, best wishes for the future…..and ill be there at your next gig!
Best wishes from Matt and all at Explore Liverpool.
Check out The Banshees at www.thebanshees.co.uk