Interview: Shaun Hood from The Van T’s

The Van T's
The Van T's

The Van T’s are a West of Scotland four-piece comprised of Chloe Van Thompson (vocals, guitar), Hannah Van Thompson (vocals guitar), Joanne Forbes (bass) and Shaun Hood (drums). After creating a stir in 2015 with a bold and noisy surf-rock sound showcased on the EP Laguna Babe, The Van T’s made a swift return with their follow up EP A Coming of Age. Appearances at T in the Park, Wickerman, Electric Fields and Tenement Trail followed as the band brought their sunny 50’s jukebox style melodies mixed with a twist of cathartic 90’s grunge to a wider audience.

This Saturday you will find them on stage at TRNSMT festival. We sat down with Shaun Hood for a chat.

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The demands on rock bands, or any kind of musicians at your stage, there’s all kinds of things going on, so how do all co-ordinate to make sure you focus your creative energies at the right time?

Yeah well, we’re all certainly kept busy. We tend to work it on a who is available to do what thing at what point in time basis, because we all work jobs as well. We sort of try to work as a team and get it all done. It does really definitely depend on everyone’s schedule, so depending on what time of day the thing is happening you’ll probably get a certain different band member each time.

I suppose, technology helps these days. You know, you can come up with an idea, record it on your phone, tap it off to the rest of the group..

That’s pretty much the way we work in terms of writing, at least for the last couple of tracks. It’s always started just by Hannah or Chloe doing a recording on their phone with bare chords and vocal ideas, and then we’ll take it from there.

Me and Joanne will work on it and we’ll bring it to the studio, and it gives us a better idea of what to expect going in, rather than just going in and introducing ideas blind.

How do you then take things to the finished track?

As we keep doing it, the process always develops. It’s not like we have a set thing that we’re going. We’re changing as we write new songs. The last two we ended up doing proper demo versions for the first time. We went to our friend Gian, singer from The Vegan Leather, and recorded just two demo tracks in his parents house, and listened to it back, and took that to a recording studio.

It’s a learning process as well. The more opportunities we get to write and make music, the better we get at doing it, I guess.

Is it useful for sharing ideas that Glasgow has so many musicians around on the circuit?

Yeah, it’s a very D.I.Y. social thing as well, going on underneath. There’s all the local labels. And everyone, even people who play in one band will end up doing recording for other bands, and everyone has their hand in everything. It’s a good scene to be part of because you get lots of friends and everyone’s good to help each other out and stuff.

Part of TRNSMT is a platform for local talent, to let those bands be on the same bill as more established people. I mean, you’re kind of opening for Kasabian.

[Laughs]. Yeah, you could say that. We had a funny one, actually, at Electric Fields last year. We ended up playing the main stage, but very, very early on, so like 10:30 in the morning. It turned out the headliners for that night were Primal Scream. So we were walking about for the next couple of weeks: “Yeah we played the same gig as Primal Scream. We supported them, sort of”.

There’s other events like Tenement Trail and Stag & Dagger. I think the way that multi-venue music festivals are evolving these days is incredible.

Do you find people that go to music festivals are more open to discovering new music?

I would say that they are. From my observations, there’s a clear difference between how distinctive people are in their tastes for local music, and certain music of a bigger scale. I think with larger acts people are very much like: I like the sound of this, or I don’t like the sound of that. And they’re a lot more selective. Whereas local music, because it’s there right in front of you, and a lot of the time you’re seeing these songs played live, and they might not have even been recorded yet, it’s real. Everyone, I think, is a lot more open to genres that they wouldn’t necessarily listen to, if it was bigger more established acts.

It’s a great thing. Because, who knows, it might open people’s minds to listening to genres that they wouldn’t normally listen to, outwith the local acts.

Which bands do you look to for inspiration?

A lot of different artists and styles for all of us. A lot of the time with us, it’s not necessarily what music we listen to that’s coming out, of course there’s always that essence there, but I think the girls, they’re inspired by loads of different things, particularly other bands in our scene in Glasgow and people that we’ve met and bands that we’ve played with.

I guess in terms of influences Chloe’s very much a fan of Smashing Pumpkins. Hannah really likes Ty Segall. Joanne’s a big fan of the Pixies. I like Le Butcherettes, and the Bronx and sort of things like that. So it’s a good mix of stuff.

So there’s a bit of a musical conversation going on within the band.

Yeah you could say that. It’s just mixing bits and pieces. It’s always funny how the bits come together eventually to create the song. It’s a fun process and it’s just what we do.

So what about the set list for TRNSMT? Are there festival bangers that you just put down every time, that’s always going to be played for a gig like this?

The hits are going to be there, but I believe since our last Glasgow show, there will be at least two new ones that we’ve not played yet, so that will be exciting. One that we’ve never played live at all, and one that we have played in other places, but not since our last Glasgow trip, so that’ll be good. And then there’s another new one that we played for the first time at the King Tut show. There’s going to be quite a bit of new material as well, but we’ll play all the classics.

The Van T’s play the King Tut’s Stage powered by Utilita on Saturday 8th July, you can buy tickets for TRNSMT festival here.



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