If The Van Ts had been around in the 90s, they’d most likely have been massive. The Glasgow-based alt-rock quartet, helmed by twin sisters Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson, make an art of cherry-picking the finest the decade had to offer, weaving shimmering shoegaze in with dirgey, grungey riffing and snarling rock’n’roll – and then dressing it up for a decidedly modern audience. It’s no wonder they’ve been making waves Stateside; fans of Wolf Alice, Lush and Veruca Salt will find plenty to sink their teeth into here.
We catch up with drummer Shaun Hood below, to find out more about the band, their recently-released single Fresh Meat, and what they’ve got planned for next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
“My name’s Shaun and I play drums in a band with a bassist named Joanne and twin sisters, Hannah and Chloe, who play guitar and sing. We’re called The Van Ts and are all currently living in and around Glasgow. The twins were born in Dundee but grew up in Johnstone, whilst Joanne was born in Dundee and grew up in Dundee, [and] I’m from Clydebank.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
“Once upon a time, Hannah and I worked together at Primark. She was always telling me about a band she had with her twin sister, at the time it was more of an acoustic duo type thing but after deciding that they wanted to expand their sound, I was recruited for a gig along with our first bass player Iain, and the band pretty much started from there. We picked up Joanne from another band that had just broken up after Iain moved to London and have been playing together ever since.”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
“You’ll always get different answers depending on which member of the band you ask and we certainly all have our own thing in terms of the music we listen to, but there’s also quite a bit of common ground too. I don’t think there was ever a point where any of us were ever like “I want the band to sound like…‘”
What’s the story behind the name of the band?
“My understanding of it is that the twins befriended some Dutch boys when they were much younger and were so impressed by all their fancy names that they started calling themselves Van Thompson rather than the boring original Thompson. This caught on with their friends at school and ended up becoming a bit of a nickname. When it came to them naming the band, they chose this as a work in progress and no one has ever bothered to change it since!”
There’s a lot of great underground music coming from Glasgow at the moment – where do you see yourselves within that?
“There sure is, everyone says this all the time but it really is great being part of something bigger than just the bands that you play in. I see us in the middle of a large group of peers and musicians.”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
“The combination of our influences (musical and non musical) and personalities in the art that we create. That’s what I would consider what makes any band different.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
“Loud, driven and energetic.”
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What’s the story behind new single Fresh Meat?
“Chloe started playing one or two of the riffs at a rehearsal and we played around with it but ended up finishing working on another song before anything really became of it. It got brought back out when we were recording a demo version of the other track and had some spare time which we used to record a demo of this too and liked it enough to properly record it with the other track and release them both as singles.”
What were your key influences on the song/what drew you to the themes it covers?
“The track is generally about getting a little older and observing people and things that remind you of a younger self.”
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the single?
“The first thing that springs to mind is how uncomfortable the video shoot was. We’re all really happy with how out turned out but you can imagine that the shooting of it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for us!”
Do you have any other new recorded music to look out for soon?
“We recorded another single at the same time as Fresh Meat which should be released around September, as far as I’m aware.”
What do you hope people will take away from the single, and your music in general?
“I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily an expectation on what people should take from the single or any of our music, people will always take different things from music and we’re never really trying to send a particular message as such.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
“Getting to play in so many great venues and cities, then probably some of the festivals that we’ve played!”
What are you most looking forward to about the future?
“I think releasing our first album will be a real milestone, if we ever get that far.”
What do you have planned for next?
“Got two festivals left (Carnival 56 and Stowed Out) before the season is over, and then a run of shows in September including a couple support slots with the Jesus and Mary Chain. That, releasing the next single and writing as much as we can.”
Fresh Meat by The Van Ts is out now via LAB Records. Check out their Facebook page for more info.