Most college students are guilty of chasing outside interests rather than knuckling down to study. Unfortunately, there’s no formal qualifications for playing Call Of Duty instead of completing coursework. But, for four Gloucestershire teenagers, an obsession with writing music rather than essays has proved to be fruitful.
“All I did when I was a teenager was listen to new albums and find stuff online,” says bassist and vocalist Becky Bloomfield. “I just didn’t have any other hobbies.”
Hailing from Stroud, a town with little musical background except for the “crazy man who plays piano down the road”, Becky’s sole hobby was shared by college friend, guitarist and vocalist Josh Bannister. They were soon joined by guitarist Chris Webb and drummer Olly Holbrook and listened to “anything you can bang your head to”. Pretty soon, the song ideas started to flow.
“The week we got together, we had a practice and wrote four songs,” explains Josh. “The following week we wrote two more, then recorded our first EP. We played our first show the following weekend.”
Given how quick the turnaround for their debut EP was, it’s unsurprising that more songs came thick and fast. Those songs – a captivating blend of raw and fuzzy grunge, groove and scrappy punk rock energy – make up their follow-up EP, Sad Sack, a collection of songs the band have been sitting on for over a year. The band are quick to state it is their ‘grown up’ record.
“It’s louder and more aggressive than the last one, but it’s catchier as well,” says Josh. “We like our dirty guitars and shouty vocals, so it’s a good mix. It’s a noisy pop record.”
It’s certainly that. Vitamins is raucous punk at its most fun, poised to get just as many people wiggling as stage-diving. Melon Blade’s ‘so I’ll eat the moon with nothing more than a crooked spoon’ may be one of the more bizarre lyrics you’ll hear this year, but one that’ll be stuck in your head for days. And when Josh screams so hard he threatens to cough a lung up on Linda, it’s a gruelling listen – but in the best possible way.
Well-received shows at last year’s Download and as support on Jaws and Nothing’s respective tours helped catch the attention of Gallows. The Watford punks signed them to their Venn label and will release Sad Sack on January 26, setting them up for even busier 2015. All this attention is something the band welcome with open arms. In fact, the only times butterflies take up residency in their bellies is when their own family head down to their gigs.
“I find that I get nervous at really random shows,” says Becky. “We played The Garage in London with Jaws, and I found that OK. But when Josh’s mum came to a show the other week, that scared the shit out of me!”