Interview: The Violet May

By on Thursday, 31st March 2011 at 12:00 pm

The Violet May are rooted in Sheffield, but their sound is influenced by a much broader spectrum. Formed in early 2009, the band has earned a reputation for a raucous live show with loud and lunatic tunes, leaving many a venue battered and bruised all across the UK and audiences hooked on the energy produced by a band in its raw stages. Exicting things lie ahead for the band. Just recently they were picked up in NME’s ’10 Best MP3s This Week’. Emmy asks the band some burning questions…

First off, when and where did the band form and how did the band come together?
Chris: We played our first gig in January 2010. We didn’t announce it, just turned up in a bar and played a 25-minute set. Me and John had met in an office over cigarette breaks and found out that we both shared the view that the British music scene was in a mess, a general feeling that there were no great British guitar bands around at the moment and decided to have a go at being in one.
Dan: John basically recruited us one by one: he used to work with Chris, knew Jono from his old band and lived with me and Al in the coldest house on earth. So when we all got together we didn’t really have a clue who each other were, but a bottle of cheap champagne and a jam later we were a band.
Jono: As things came together it just took over and we’ve been hard at it together for the last 18 months. It’s just 5 lads who are inspired by music that makes you wanna get drunk, dance, fight, fuck and smash shit up, haha….all the small pleasures in life. I think that’s what brought us together, making music for people to get off on.

Secondly, if you had to describe your music to a first time-listener, what are some of the things you would say?
Chris: It’s raw, its raucous, but it’s very real. The current indie bands all seemed very polite with lyrics about their day at the shops; we go for a more rock and roll sound, it’s loud and angry, but soulful in my eyes.
Jono: It’s what you wanna make of it really, if you look closely there’s influences of punk, American rock, metal, blues…but the live shows are just our soundtrack to a riot. You can analyse and catagorise all you want but we just want people to let go.
Dan: I’d say pour yourself a stiff drink, turn everything on full and make sure there’s someone around to complain about the noise. We’re trying to invoke some passion out of crowds, I hate it when people say they love the music but don’t express it in fear of looking ‘un-cool’.

If one were also to follow the band around for 1 day, what would they see, who would they meet and what would they learn?
Dan: Depends what day. One day they might see us bored out of our skulls trying to make money to pay the rent, the next would be sat in a van laughing non-stop, playing a raucous show and drinking ’til we hit the floor, the next sat in a room playing the same song over and over and over until it’s ready to unleash. Basically they’d learn its fucking hard work to do this but none of us would change it for the world.
Jono: Well we all work our fucking asses off 9 to 5 doing all sorts of shit, then when night falls we actually go to work, rehearsing, recording, drinking, smoking, travelling back up the M1 at 4 in the morning, playing rock ‘n’ roll shows. Sheffield has a beautiful array of the weird and wonderful, so we can usually be found with them putting the world to rights in some local boozer, wouldn’t change it for anything.

You’re all from the Sheffield area, correct? What bands are you influenced by that also hail from the same region? What are you influenced by in general?
Chris: Sheffield has such a rich musical heritage, it’s an industrial city, famous for making steel. When the government decided to cut thousands of jobs and rip the heart of the city out, it left a lot of empty spaces around. These rooms were soon occupied by musicians, producers in studios, singers and artists alike, and music replaced steel. The 1980’s was such an inspiring time for electronic music and bands such as the Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and ABC put Sheffield at the epicenter of electronic music throughout the world. And of course there’s the Arctic Monkeys and too many others to mention on here. You’re inspired by your surroundings and Sheffield is fruitful for this. We call it “a dirty picture in a beautiful frame”.
Dan: There are some really good bands in Sheffield at the moment who we’ve had the pleasure of playing with, Wet Nuns, The Hope Explosion, Lenders in The Temple, RSS, each one doing something different with music. But we’re mostly influenced by the shit bands, the ones that are reproducing the same old shit and sound like everyone else. They’re the ones who piss us off enough to write something different and change the formula to make it exciting again.
Jono: We all live in Sheffield but only Chris is born and bred. I think this probably worked in our favour as we all bring different musical influences to the band. Sheffield is full of loads of little scenes, anything you want is going on somewhere if you know where to look. There are some great local acts around at the moment that we love to watch and support but as for influences we just kinda get on with our own thing.

Speaking of Sheffield, your band’s frontman graced the album cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ debut back in the day. Do you as a band stay in touch with them?
Chris: I still speak to Alex and Matt when they’re around and our parents are really close; however a lot has gone down since we were fucking around as 16-year olds. I still see Andy Nicholson every day, he is the man. Jamie Cook is not allowed to come within 1 mile of me, I have a court injunction out on him, long story.

Do you remember what was the first record you bought? What are some albums from this year that you would recommend?
Chris: The first album I bought was ‘Oliver’ (Charles Dickens) the soundtrack, the songs were by a man named Lionel Bart, I loved the lyrics to them, I still play it now and again, haha.
Dan: First record I ever bought was Button Moon and the Singing Hot Pots, it was from an old kids show, after that I had no need to buy records (and no money), I just stole my brother’s music, he has a lot to answer for! As for records this year, the stand out one would be the Black Angels’ ‘Phosphene Dream’, what a fucking album that is!
Jono: Not sure really, although I remember hearing ‘Definitely Maybe’ (Oasis) for the first time at the start of the ’90s – the perfect response to the lightweight poppy guitar bands that were flying around at the time. Just from the first chord you knew it was something different. Bet some of the lads hate that album though, haha… As for this year, not really heard anything that’s blown me away yet. Black Mountain got a lot of air time in the van for a while though.

Finally, what’s on tap for the band regarding an EP or album and where do you plan to take your songs in 2011 and beyond?
Chris: We have our new single ‘TV’ coming out in May with a 5-track EP to follow in June. In-between we’ll be recording new material and continue to strive to be that great British band.

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