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Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Matt Jacobson Interviews Liverpool band,The Banshees, Vinny Pereira & Paul Holligan

The Banshees formed in 2018, through a mutual friend, what was the instant connection between you all, similar music tastes, or your outlook on music in general?

(Paul) What drew me to Vinny in all honesty was his sheer passion for music in general, his drive and love for it was really something I’d not seen in years from anyone. I could just tell. If there was never a penny to be made in the industry, he would still be in it, it’s his life and that’s the same for me.

You can just tell when you meet your kind, and that’s something I’d missed for years when playing session guitar for various other artists. A lot of the time you don’t get to see their spark, or passion. You come into the room as the guitar stunt guy, do your work and leave. I could just tell that Vinny had that spark in him, that’s the only way I can put it. And for me it was refreshing to meet someone still alive with music and belief!

(Vinny). Aww thanks Paul! That’s dead nice that mate! Ha, and you’re totally right. I would do this for free and I do…WE DO! We all have that passion for music and that’s why I think it works, but we actually don’t see eye to eye on a lot of music!

We have kind of come from different ends of the musical spectrum really! Of course there is a middle ground somewhere around Bob Marley, but that’s what’s interesting about us I think. It’s a bunch of people all pulling in the same direction with a constant evolving fight to deliver good music to the fans, so I would say our passion was the instant connection.

How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard you?

(Vinny) For me, I would say we are a guitar-based band built on the influences of The Beatles, with a splash of The Doors playing a song to Oasis – which was written by the Arctic Monkeys, while they were chilling’ with The Kinks – can you imagine that?

(Paul) That’s actually a really tough question. Some of the reviews I’ve read on us go through everything from The La’s to Arctic Monkeys. Most agree, if not all, that we have a unique sound and flavour. I call it baddie music, it is the type of music you would put on if you were going to hold up a bank! A lot of the middle ground between myself and Vinny is Reggae and Ska music, so I suppose a lot of the grooves come in to play with us and a cross mesh with the greater vibe we all have and that gives us our baddie sound!

The Banshees’ sound seems to be ever evolving though and in some really interesting ways. At the centre of it all though is good music and great grooves. We had the chance a few times in the beginning to bring in different types of synth players, but it just wasn’t what we were looking for.

Who are your main influences?

(Vinny) My first real influence was John Lennon. The Beatles made me think about songwriting for the first time in my life – that’s my main influence. I love Bob Marley, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zep and many more, they were all a big part of my upbringing. But I have an unhealthy fascination with Justin Timberlake too, only messing – I meant NSYNC, ha-ha….. joke !

(Paul) I’d say within The Banshees, we all listen to pretty different music to be honest. I grew up learning how to play guitar from listening to Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Steven Stills and trying to replicate what I was hearing in their recordings.

It was when I was given a Smiths’ cassette when I was about 12 or 13 years old that things started getting interesting for me. And I’d say Johnny Marr has influenced me greatly. And to be honest, Bernard Butler, Suedes first guitarist also turned my head when I was a kid. He doesn’t receive a lot of recognition or mentions, but his tone on them first two Suede albums is something to behold.

I really like Johnny Marr and his melody throughout songs on their guitars. And that’s what I try to do with The Banshees, make the guitar an entity, not something that just coasts along!! I see a lot of coasting guitar music these days and I don’t like it.!

The band has a plethora of experience behind them, has this experience helped the band and in what way?

(Paul) Yes, definitely, musically we’re at a certain level, so nothing is off limits to us at all musically speaking. We don’t have a problem like some bands you see and hear who are limited to their musicianship, we can be messing around playing Latin grooves one minute and when Vinny goes out to grab a brew, myself and Jay, our drummer, usually break into some Pantera stuff or something heavy then stop quick before Vinny gets back – Ha-ha. It’s good to have the experience in the music business side of things though, seriously, knowing what we know has progressed us a lot quicker on that front.

(Vinny) Yeah, I’m not into all that Pantera! but I think I was a bit naive in the early days, thinking everything I did was going to be it, but looking back, it has all led to The Banshees!

What did you learn from those you have, individually toured with, such as Noel Gallagher and, Pete Best?

(Paul) Playing with Ex-Beatles drummer Pete best was a great experience. I was only 20 years of age when I landed the job of his lead guitarist in the band! It was kind of my first insight into music and the business side of the industry. I learned loads about the industry from his team. It did give me a work ethic with music. At the end of the day, it was a lot of responsibility for a 20 year old at the time, in regards to touring Europe and being told to basically not mess it up as you’re getting paid for this!

I was handed a set list of around 40 songs and basically got told to go and nail them note for note. I had roughly 2 days to do it! Musically, it put me on the big stage. With Pete, you can play from any audience from 500 people up to 30,000 people. So you had to be ready for those shows across Europe.

People were paying good money to see a Beatle, so you had to deliver and if you say the word Beatle – there is an expectation to deliver! You can’t say the biggest band name in the world then go mess it up! Musically it made me tighten up in loads of ways, but when you’re playing to people who have played on the same stage as the likes of Chuck Berry, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, you listen, and you listen with respect!! Without those artists, there would be nothing in my opinion.

After 12 months, my tenure finished with Pete. I was 21 years of age and music was moving in a really good way outside of my work with Pete. I wanted to pursue that more than anything! I think The Banshees is the only band that can boast two members that have played on the same stage as a Beatle and that blows my head off at times

With regards to Noel Gallagher, I was in a band at the time with an old mate, Russ Pritchard who is actually Noel’s bass player in the High Flying Birds. We had this band going in Liverpool at the time and we got this call from a journalist in Manchester who we knew – a guy named Joe Cusack.

There was a gig happening down in London where a number of major artists were performing, it was a benefit gig for the Liverpool Dockers who were on strike at the time. They wanted a band to represent Liverpool and we received a call play at the gig.

At the time, Oasis had just released their second album ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’. Oasis were the biggest band on the planet and we were about to take our band onto the same stage as Noel Gallagher who was absolutely flying at the time (pardon the pun)

I remember being in a room about 8 foot long and 6 foot wide with a few people from different bands all way bigger than us! There were a couple of members of The Farm, Noel, Inspiral Carpets and me. It was a bit surreal!

Noel was just sitting on a guitar amp playing through some songs warming up and I remember just sitting opposite him as he played the songs that I really loved from the first and new album. I remember thinking, it was just so easy, simple cords, simply melody, direct and no frills! – Just class.

I come from a guitar player’s view, the guitar should be complex, interesting, and melodic and also have many layers. It’s also the reason I’m a massive Johnny Marr fan. But on that day just seeing a songwriter at the top of his game at the time, sitting down 6 feet away from me, knocking out some chords like he was one of the lads – just turned my head. Maybe I’m looking too hard at this guitar thing – maybe it should be that simple!

Once my band had played our set to a sold out venue (Mean Fiddler) I walked back into that room to a round of applause from people I’d admired musically for years and years. I have their records and here they are, applauding my band! Nuts!! Oh and I remember getting the drummer from Dodgy in a headlock hug and telling him he was the best drummer I’d heard in years ha-ha…he was though…that lad can really play!

(Vinny) Yeah I saw Dodgy at the Hillsborough Justice Concert at Anfield, they were spot on! But that’s amazing that mate!

Noel…Liam…If you’re reading this…call us! Ha ha – no seriously though! Give us a bell! I’ve had a few great support slots, but nothing like that from our Pablo though and I haven’t been on tour with any legends myself yet, – but I’m looking forward to doing so.

The recording process, are you constantly thinking about writing, or is it more mechanical and you think, it’s now time to write a song?

(Vinny) Well, all demos are recorded in my house more or less. If it is something I have come up with on my own, I record while they are fresh and exciting to me, but I am always thinking about songwriting whether I like it or not to be honest!

It doesn’t take much for me to be inspired musically. It could be as simple as hearing a word I have never heard before, so I google it and find out what it means, which triggers a scene or melody in my mind and the next minute – the guitar is out. Or, I use my notepad or voice memo. It’s really full right now, but I have never sat down and made myself write a song. I’m not sure if it would work that way for me really.

When I first heard The Banshees, I played ‘Let Me Know’ nonstop and then I stumbled across the video and liked the fact it’s just lads in a house with guitars! It’s very Northern and very real, how did it come about, and was it fun to make?

(Vinny) It’s funny because that song was not the first song written by us, but it was the first release as we thought it sounded the best out of the 3 on the Ep (Self Medicated) and it had the most immediate impact!

The video wasn’t planned. Paul and I were just talking about our songs in my house and we said should we do a video. I just said roll the camera and let’s see what happens. Paul filmed me, and then I filmed him. The rest of the band came round the next day to add their bits. It was a funny weekend!

(Paul) Thank you!! We’re glad you like it. It was one of those songs, you know, the classic – we wrote the song in 5 minutes. Everything flowed and the planets aligned. I like it, because I can bang out some Arabic Spanish riffs at high pace.

The video I suppose is Northern and real, because that’s what we are! We really can’t be anyone, or anything else otherwise we would be fake and we couldn’t deal with that. The video was actually shot on an iPhone 6.as you can probably tell! We were honestly considering releasing the song without a video!

We didn’t have many resources, just an iPhone and Vinny’s house. There was a big debate at the start of the video by myself and Vinny over whether he should take his shirt off or leave it on. He said “I don’t sleep with a shirt on“…I said “Leave it on”, because it’s just weird me filming you half naked mate – ha-ha…

I still take stick for being in the cupboard under the stairs for the guitar solo. There was nowhere else to go! My son now thinks Vinny’s house is famous and he wants to bring his friends around to show them the cupboard under the stairs, ha-ha!

The Ep, ‘Self-Medicated’ was released last year and you have another on its way called ‘Tell Me Everything’ – could you tell me more about it, its style and lyrics?

(Vinny) Yeah, of course, the new Ep ‘Tell Me Everything’ consists of 3 new songs and our first release from it will be a track called ‘It’s Alright’. Released as the 4th single, but it was actually the 1st Banshee song written by me and Paul.

Paul had a chord progression that he showed me,  and the following night, the melody just came to me, pretty much instantly. Lyrically, it is about me reflecting on my life so far and letting people know, I would always be there for my friends and family, plus it’s also about how life can change in an instant and not to waste it!

(Paul) – Yeah it’s an interesting one, I suppose as I said the Banshees are constantly evolving musically. I really do believe that’s down to four people with completely different musical tastes. The tracks on the “Tell Me Everything” EP were the first three songs that myself and Vinny wrote together as a pair. They were songs by two musicians who were basically finding their footings together as a team in some ways, but in other ways, they are songs by two musicians who have spent probably 20 years writing and crafting what they do.

For me, within there are tons of The smiths, Bob Mould and The stone Roses maybe in the EP, but with a very grounded North Liverpool view on life in the lyrical content. I think it’s a fantastic blend. We recorded it in at The Motor Museum in Lark Lane, Liverpool. Loic, our producer – is a fantastically talented musician and engineer. After a guitar take, he said he had goosebumps!! I could actually see the hairs on his arms stand up!! Never experienced that before in my life!!

I read a review on us the other week and we had been tipped as one of the bands to watch out for in 2020. The main thing that stood out to me was he was saying we had such a familiar, yet new type of indie music. That rang bells with me. Something so simple. Yeah of course we sound familiar, because we were involved in this 20 to 25 years ago when British Indie was growing into a commercial animal in its own right.

I suppose that’s The Banshees common grounding in what we do and where we come from. It’s just now we have grown 20 years and we’re using that experience in what we do musically and it just keeps growing!

Will an album follow?

(Vinny) Yes!! We have a lot of songs we want to record, so we will definitely be following up with an album. We are in the process of recording it right now actually. It’s there! It’s done! Well, the demos are laid down. We have about 3 albums worth of material. The plan is for a mini album to be out in June of 2020.

What next for The Banshees?

(VIinny) World domination…only joking! We are just going to carry on, doing what we enjoy. That’s my personal plan, but what I want to happen is for us to get our tour booked and get out there! Like most bands. It’s a big world and I’m a big boy now – ha-ha!

(Paul) There seems to be a lot happening for us this year. The release of our second EP in March and promoting gigs is obviously the target in front of us. The bigger picture, the mini album hopefully released in June, that’s something I’m really looking forward to. For me, this year is about taking us to a bigger audience and making more people aware of us and what we do – just doing our own thing and enjoying it!

Vinny , Paul  – thank you for your time and best wishes from myself and all at Explore Liverpool.

Matt Jacobson

Author/Music Writer

Visit www.thebanshees.co.uk

READ MORE: Matthew Jacobson “On The Streets I Ran” Interview with singer Nick Ellis

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