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Matt Jacobson interviews Liverpool band the Banshees, Paul Holligan & Vinny Pereira

Liverpool band, The Banshees were flying high with accolades from close to home and then even more accolades from around the globe. A lockdown life halted life for us all, but not this band. The Banshees used lockdown life to let inspiration flow and to create a new vision and journey. Their true energy, desire, grit, and passion has been rewarding as the they bounce back with a new single with a rich darker sound but a vision for a brighter outlook.  

I recently met singer, Vinny Pereira and Guitarist, Paul Holligan to discuss lockdown life, their new single, and Joe Wicks!  

The last time we spoke was during lockdown, what has been happening since?

(Paul) Lockdown, but I think are we heading back there? I don’t know if I can go back to Joe Wicks, daytime drinking and online poker! (laughs). Yeah, a lot has been going on since we last spoke, don’t think we know the meaning of a quiet day to be honest Matt! 

(Vinny) Yeah, we’ve been really busy finalising the new sound of The Banshees. Doing a lot of recording, writing and rewriting and a lot of making new friends in the States, oh and two video shoots!! 

Congratulations on the single, Silent Nightmare / Chasing Pablo, how did this song come to fruition?

(Paul) This has been an interesting one for me and Vinny. If I’m being 100 percent honest, all the new music literally fell out of my fingers in minutes! I don’t know what it was – maybe some kind of universal alignment, but the general musical melodies and progressions came naturally out of nowhere. And then, there was the process of myself and Vinny working through what was being channelled and I was almost translating that feeling and working on that aspect. 

(Vinny)It was a little bit magical creating the track Silent Nightmare/Chasing Pablo because as Paul said, it just happened! A layer of guitars was put down and then another layer of guitars recorded. Then I just ranted and vented a little bit over it while recording and it pretty much wrote itself! There was a lot of improvisation. 

What is the concept behind it?

(Paul) Tough question! Musically, for me it is a pop song all day long, but it does have a dark twist and that’s hard to achieve.  In fact, that whole world really fascinates me. To take a sound that is not mainstream so to speak and push it into a darker territory, and to still come out with a radio friendly song. Don’t ask me how, but it happened!! 

When I first heard the draft of what Vinny was doing with it I was so scared to give him feedback because, even from a draft and one vocal take, I could hear he was pushing it into a direction I never saw coming and I wanted him to go there without any influence from me.

(Vinny) I scared myself a bit to be honest, Matt, because it’s kind of out of my comfort zone, but the flow of the song took me to that place where there was no turning back. So naturally the melody and emotion had to progress to the point of crescendo and that’s the whole package! 

It also feels much darker lyrically is that a true reflection? 

(Paul) For me, I could really hear that Vinny was on to something. I really didn’t know what at the time. I just knew lyrically he was going in a different direction and I was right behind him. But I didn’t really want to add my opinion to it – even when asked, because I really think with the new music direction, Vinny had addressed his lyrics and thoughts in a different way. And to have someone that keeps coming in and suggesting new things every five minutes could make him second guess his path. It is so hard to provide input at times, but musically and creatively we work as a tight unit. When recording, I’ll play more of a co-pilot’s role in the setting and Vinny will produce and sculpt the sound back to me. If we are both happy then we are both on it. Lyrically, I wanted Vinny as a lyricist to really open up about what was going on in his mind and that is a personal thing. 

Matt Jacobson interviews Liverpool band the Banshees, Paul Holligan & Vinny Pereria
Vinny Pereira

(Vinny) Well yes, there are a lot of personal feelings in the song and things I wanted to say, but on this song, but going with the flow was the way to go – because I didn’t have time to think about what I was saying. It was just pouring out of me like water from a tap and I didn’t turn it off till the cup was full (laughs)

Paul Holligan & Vinny Pereira

Is the new sound a risk, but an exciting one to take?

(Paul) There are no risks that I can see. I suppose that’s because it’s always been a part of the bigger plan for The Banshees really. When we formed, we never started just to form a band and give it a go. We started with an ethos of let’s form a songwriting partnership and make music that of course incorporates influences of what we like, but let’s create something that sounds like nobody else. Let’s create a sound and direction that is just us and that’s what we have done. I suppose we wanted to cross drum machines and hip-hop beats with club beats and bring that together with the Lo-FI guitar tones of New York. the type you hear in Talking Heads, The Strokes and Velvet Underground and a bit of the Voidz band, but also to experiment sonically with that and that’s what you’re hearing in the new Banshees material, but the song always comes first.

(Vinny) We wanted to keep this in the setting of being truly independent. We write, produce, record, mix, master and we make our own music videos and edit them too! We even deal with our own publicity and press. The Banshees are truly independent in every sense of the word and yes, it’s exciting! It was great to see the shock on people’s faces when they heard the new us, electro punk pop! For us, it comes from the time we spent over in New York and Boston. 

How much are you missing playing live?

(Paul) So so much! We were obviously at the point, before the world stopped, commanding so much attention and gig tickets were being sold rapidly in great numbers, but now I’m just really itching to get back out there with this new sound and direction. I think people will be truly shocked in a really good way, there is nothing and noone around sounding like this, And the way the live set up will also work. The all new ‘Banshees will be truly fantastic! You will just have to wait and see. If you like hip-hop, dance music, Indie guitar music, Lo-Fi experimental electro punk, plus you like going to gigs, or going to nightclubs, you are going to love this!!

(Vinny) As Paul said it was all going so well, then lockdown etc was like a massive door closing on us, so I decided to get busy on the engineering side of things and set up a little studio at my home, which is where Silent Nightmare/Chasing Pablo was born and recorded and this opened another door for us. We are now basically a fully operating record label in a sense! Well…at least for ourselves anyway. 

What’s next for the Banshees

(Paul) Now Matt, that would be telling!! (laughs) but I’m sure you’ll hear and see! There is so much happening. You see the thing is, when we talk people seem to try and pinch our ideas so for now .. sssssshhhhhh its a secret!!  (laughs) 

(Vinny) That’s true, but what we can tell you, Matt, is there will be so much new exciting music coming from us and it won’t stop!! 

Vinny, Paul – from myself and all at Explore Liverpool, I wish you all the very best and I can’t wait to see you on a stage soon.

Matt Jacobson

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Music Writer

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READ MORE: ‘On the Streets I Ran’ With Liverpool Actress, Eithne Browne

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