Raw and deep with dark garage rock undertones is the perfect way to describe the sound Nottingham three-piece The Varletts create. The band released new single City of Sin on Friday (13th January) and I was blown away by the cutting edge grit the track has. It is a bit slower than your typical rock song, but it’s brooding and dark, with a really intriguing mysterious bite to it. Laurie’s vocals go from deep and low to longer projections on the chorus, which remind me a bit of vocalists like Ian Curtis; but their music possesses a lot more gravel and grit. City of Sin has the heaviest bass accompanied by a raucous, blaring guitar which glides over Laurie’s dark brooding vocals perfectly. The little guitar riff and deep bass which end the track are what makes it for me; throughout the track these little intricate riffs play, intertwining with the richness of Laurie’s vocals and the dark beat of George’s drumming perfectly, very melancholic and almost haunting. It’s the type of rock music that gets you in the gut, and really makes you think about the lyrics and feel the music. The accompanying B-side to the single is entitled Accused of Effeminacy. Laurie’s vocals are a lot higher in this track, with him pushing that raw cutting edge voice he has just a bit more than he does in City of Sin. The guitar riff and the rolling drums in the verses match his vocals, which is just Laurie casually talking over the music. The sharp ‘oohs’ which follow give the track an undeniably catchy sound, amplified by the blurred vocals and bass over the sharp drumming. Everything about the Varletts’ music blends together brilliantly; the guitar and bass blur so well together, all brought together by George’s sharp riffs and clever little drum loops. The overall sound of the band is hard to describe, purely because it’s so unique. The blurred blaring guitar lends an ear to alt-rock/ heavy post punk indie, with Laurie’s vocals (particularly on City of Sin) reminiscent to me of artists like Leonard Cohen or October Drift’s Kiran; an unreal sound for a debut single.
The messy amped up sound the band have really stands out, making them a band to watch this year for sure. For more on The Varletts, you can read my exclusive interview with them below.
Tell me about the band; who’s in it and how did you form?
Laurie: There’s me Laurie (I’m lead vocalist and bassist), Matt who is guitarist and backing vocals, and George the drummer. We formed mid-2016 and we’d all been friends for a while and played and written stuff in a previous band and we decided to start something new and take it seriously (well as seriously as you can take it)
How did you come up with the name The Varletts?
Laurie: I came across it whilst reading and I was just drawn to it for some reason, it’s a word that really isn’t used much today and means a ‘dishonest man.’ Then when we were trying to come up with a name I just remembered it and we thought it just worked
Where are you guys from and what’s the local music scene like?
Matt: We’re based in Nottingham and the local music scene really is awesome. Anyone asked this question would state that their town or city is great, but Nottingham at the moment is just packed full of some really good and unique artists
George: There’s so many venues in Nottingham too, especially smaller venues like The Maze which are so important to artists just starting out
Laurie: Yeah, it’s such a shame places like that are disappearing
Which artists have influenced you the most?
Laurie: That’s a tough question because I think we all have so many influences. For me I can undoubtedly say The Cribs, but so many other bands like The Wytches and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have really been my newest interests
George: But we also all love Led Zeppelin, I think that for all of us we are completely inspired by the individual musicians in that band
Who’s the dream artist to collaborate with?
Laurie: Again I’m going to have to go with The Cribs, as well as being such great musicians they’ve also self-produced several of their own tracks, so to have something produced alongside them would just be unreal. I know that Matt would definitely go with Green Day though
Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?
Laurie: There are loads, we supported a Notts band before Christmas at The Bodega called Ashfields who we love, as well as this two-piece synth pop band called Cherry Hex and the Dream Church who I like especially because I’m a bit of a stickler for 80s pop- imagine a female singer in Japan
Matt: There’s also a great all-girl punk band called Babe Punch, we’re big fans of the Riot Grrrrl movement in the 90s and having it here in Nottingham is just awesome. Menace Beach are also up there as one of our favourite new bands, as well as Vulgarians from Hull
George: There’s countless more outside of Notts too; Vultures, Unqualified Nurse Band, The Shrives, Cassia, Mint, & SKIN
What’s been your favourite album release of the year (2016)?
Laurie: It’s on everyone’s list but I think Blackstar by David Bowie is such a powerful record in the wake of his death, listening to it as a posthumous album makes it so impacting and it makes you view it in a whole new light. I’ve always been in awe of Bowie’s songwriting, and this album is no exception
What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?
George: For us all growing up around Nottingham our ultimate dream would be to headline Rock City, it’s our biggest local venue with so much history and memories for all of us. It’s just such a great venue, and to play on the same stage as some of our idols to a home crowd would be the dream
What influences your lyrics?
Laurie: It’s a bit of everything really, it can be something from my own experience, something I feel strongly about like in our B-side Accused of Effeminacy, or from something I’ve read- one of our tracks is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I never feel like I have to specially write my lyrics one way, and I don’t ever like to write about something that I don’t feel passionate about, but at the same time I want my lyrics to make other people feel passionate about those things too
How about politics; is that something you’d ever consider writing about?
Laurie: I think that politics is something that some bands either go fully into and all they write about is “fuck this person” and “fuck that person,” or they’re afraid of even touching politics because they feel like it might effect their fan base. For me though I feel like politics doesn’t have to be at the forefront of my writing, but if it falls in at one point or another and it’s there for a reason I don’t see why I wouldn’t write about it. Both the single and the B-side’s lyrics focus on big issues- or at least big issues for me- and although I wouldn’t say they were ‘political issues’ they are social issues which to me are more important than shouting about politics to the wind