The Violet Shakes Interview

Introducing The Violet Shakes, a new re-branded version of St Albans three piece Pages. The Violet Shakes are made up of Matt on vocals and lead guitar, Danny on bass and drummer James, and the band have been playing together for around two years now. The band used to play under the name Pages, and are certain to carry on their brilliant local reputation under their new formation. Having interviewed them last October and being really into their music, both new and old, I was keen to catch up with the band under their new name and image.

The Violet Shakes essentially are a new band; new, fresh music, and a more defined new image. Name wise, ‘it came from a night out’ Matt tells me. ‘We went to watch Concrete Caverns’ Danny explains, ‘and we were just standing there and Matt turned to me and went The Violet Shakes.’ ‘I was just mesmerised by the lights, the name just kinda came to me’ Matt grins, James laughing ‘it was meant to be.’ With the new name and image, new music is something the band are working on. ‘We’re finally getting round to properly recording in a studio with a producer. Our debut single will be called Fresh, with a release date to be confirmed’ Matt tells me. ‘We’re doing a few more tracks’ James explains, ‘hopefully a couple live sessions, a live EP.’ The band won’t be recording to tape with their new music, instead they’ll be ‘recording it normally then exporting that to tape, so more vintage sounding’ Matt explains.

violet shakes polaroid
The Violet Shakes, on polaroid film

‘Over the next year we plan to do a couple of EPs’ I’m told, with 2018 being the year the band want to focus on, as James will be back from uni by this point. ‘We’re always writing aren’t we’ Danny muses; ‘Matt will be writing lyrics and riffs, then me and Matt get together.’ ‘We just jam it out really’ Matt explains, ‘like we’re leaning more to the side of on the day we just get together and find some really cool chords and sounds.’ ‘We’ve been through the covers phase’ Danny tells me, ‘and we just wanna be doing our own stuff now, we have cool fresh material of our own.’ ‘The new sound uses a lot of delays and chorus’ Matt tells me, ‘it’s got that openness to it too.’ Regarding the band’s technical set up, James currently plays a Mapex kit, Zildjian K cymbals, and an SPD-SX drum pad, Danny a jazz bass, and Matt a Fender duo sonic guitar with a custom built pedal and Memory Man delay pedal.

The Violet Shakes

‘I don’t want us to be an indie band’ Matt argues, ‘I don’t think our new sound is going to be very indie.’ ‘It’s all getting a bit the same now’ James agrees, referring to the current music scene. ‘We’re getting a bit more punky, I try not to listen to much indie anymore’ Matt tells me, but he also expresses a love for the 80s; ‘they’re ironically really good feel-good songs to listen to!’ We talk about upcoming gigs for the band too, which includes a set this weekend at Wilkestock festival. ‘It’s gonna be sick’ Matt tells me, Danny agreeing ‘I can’t wait to play that one.’ ‘I’m looking forward to Concrete Caverns, Arcadian, Artisans, Vant and October Drift’ Matt tells me, with Danny picking out his highlights as Yak, Vant, Concrete Caverns and J.W. Paris, James mentioning Vant and Artisans. I ask the band about artists they’re currently listening to, to which James tells me ‘I like female pop stuff like Pale Waves.’ For Danny, ‘I’m listening to bands like JAWS and Sundara Karma, a lot more uplifting music at the moment. There’s some heavier stuff as well, I like to listen to a bit of a variety. You know Bring Me The Horizon are a great band live, I like a bit of everything.’ The band all agree on Yonaka as a favourite new band of theirs too; ‘they’ve got a really different sound’ Danny tells me, ‘there’s something really interesting in their sound, something no one’s really heard.’ ‘She uses her voice really well too’ Matt adds, James laughing ‘it’s an almost scary stage presence!’ ‘Yeah we all really like them.’ As mentioned before, with regards to upcoming releases The Violet Shakes are working on new single Fresh which will hopefully be ready very soon. ‘The idea of it lyrically is that the government’s shit’ James grins, Matt intervening ‘we are talking about that, but the idea is more that things are looking new but just staying the same.’ ‘Like back in the 80s people were worried about war and shit, and look we’re still worried about war now.’

The Violet Shakes

‘It’s important to write politically’ Matt tells me, to which Danny disagrees at the exact same time that ‘it’s not important.’ James leans to a more politically neutral side, telling me ‘when I think ‘political band’ I think of shout-y stuff.’ ‘Nah,’ Matt disagrees, ‘I think it’s important to be socially aware. But I like songs that are cleverly disguised, have clever lyrics. It’s good to touch on a lot of subjects really. Like I want the band to be accessible to people.’ With politics, ‘I don’t think that should matter in music’ James insists, ‘if someone likes it they’ll listen.’ ‘Politics shouldn’t take control of absolutely everything’ Danny agrees. ‘I guess we’re really about bringing people together’ Matt tells me, ‘mostly it’s about having fun.

Production wise, the band’s music is being produced by Ian Flynn and recorded at Haggerston Music studios in Dalston. With regards to upcoming single Fresh, ‘it’s quite an upbeat single’ Matt explains. ‘We wrote it about three months ago in my bedroom, me and Danny’ I’m told, James adding ‘the sounds are going to be quite chorus-y, quite chant-y.’ ‘Like it works really well’ Matt adds, ‘hopefully there’ll be people that can sing along.’ Back in July, The Violet Shakes launched their new sound at The Horn, a gig James describes as ‘the best gig we’ve ever played.’ ‘When the crowd are singing along it gives you such a buzz’ Danny tells me, ‘jumping around gives you a lot of energy!’ With James about to go back at uni for his final year, ‘we’re just getting ourselves completely ready for summer 2018’ Matt tells me. Watch this space.

The Violet Shakes play Wilkestock festival at Stevenage this weekend; you can purchase tickets here, or pick up a ticket on the day.

Read my festival preview piece here featuring The Violet Shakes

© photos by smallgreycat photography & Polaroid by Sahera Walker

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