What is your name and role within the Vessels?
I’m Tom and I play a synth through a Kaoss Pad, mostly on bassline duties.
Where are you currently based?
In Leeds, UK, where four-fifths of the band live. Our drummer Tim lives in Bristol.
How did Vessels form?
We formed way back in 2005 after playing together in another band since 2002, 15-times-around-the-sun ago! Pete played a couple of gigs with us in 2006 when we were adding an extra 3 or 4 guitarists for our big finale tune, and then joined properly in 2007.
What instruments / programs are used?
Me, Pete and Lee each have a laptop running Ableton 9, tempo synced using the Link feature, and through mine I play an Electron Analog Keys and an iPad running Samplr. Lee plays a Korg MS20 and a Roland System 1m, and Pete plays a variety of software-synths and samplers. This setup allows us all to loop to the click and means that delays and LFOs etc can be locked I time. Martin plays guitar which he mangles through some cool pedals and sequencers, and we have 3 SPD-SX samplers, a full drum kit, a mini drum kit and a bunch of shakers.
How did the musical concept of Vessels come to life?
We all have quite eclectic tastes in music but they overlap in many places, and we try to create music that reflects that overlap. We made a conscious decision to make more dancefloor-orientated music after the second album, as this was what was exciting and inspiring us. We try to create music that moves both the body and the soul, other than that there isn’t really much of a guiding concept – I just hope we add something good to the lives of people who listen.
Vessels’ fourth full length album ‘The Great Distraction’ has recently been released, is there a meaning to the title?
For me it’s about the forces pulling away from progress. We are at a strange time, when we have solutions to problems but the means to implement them seem stuck behind a wall created by a system that benefits from the status quo. I think it sums up the human condition in the early 21st century quite succinctly, especially in the online world which is a system that has monetised distraction quite aggressively.
Where and when did you record?
We recorded across the course of making the record, as and when the tracks were being written at our own studio. It was mixed in Brighton by Chris Allen.
What influenced the sound of the album?
The things we listened to over the last few years, the new musical toys we’ve acquired, the psychological states of mind during the composition, the loved ones we share our lives with, and the drive to make cool new noises that we haven’t heard before.
Is there a main song writer or is it more a collaborative process?
Lee is the principle songwriter and visionary, I write some of the melodies, basslines and details, and the others add their influence when we jam the pieces live and record the parts.
How does the album get turned into a live show?
With a fair amount of head scratching and months of preparation! There’s a lot of boring administration required in terms of making sure all the drum pads have the right sounds on and the synth patches are all doing the required thing etc. We then try our best to put a set together where it works as a single unit, and we like to mess with the structures of pieces where possible to create differences from the recordings, giving them new intros or endings, and stretching parts out and removing unnecessary sections.
Does the live technical setup differ much from the album recording?
Yes definitely. Lee uses a lot of modular equipment in his production these days but it’s not appropriate for touring so we recreate a lot of those sounds using our setups.
Vessels’ sound and live performance is quite unique, how has the bands sound and approach to music evolved as time has passed?
We’ve always been interested in taking people on a journey, I don’t think that’s changed, but obviously the path we take them on has changed significantly and therefore the scenery’s changed too, but it keeps it interesting for us and hopefully for the listeners too.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
A singer & acoustic guitar player called Angelo De Augustine is really bowling me over at the moment. Also, the new James Holden & The Animal Spirits album is awesome.
Analogue or digital?
Analogue for the sound but digital for the recall…
What can we expect for the future?
Lots more gigs in 2018, and maybe some new tunes as well!
When and where are you playing next?
We’re playing The Oval Space in London on 28th March next year.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
There’s a great place in Leeds called Bundobust that does great Indian food and nice beer too, although The Brudenell Social Club is the ultimate hangout for any Leeds resident.