‘With music, you can make something beautiful out of something ugly’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist (inthebucketplaylist.com)
Groningen, The Netherlands-based, indie band, The Vices, will release their debut album on 12 March, Looking For Faces, which is a tribute to friendship through the years.
The Vices comprise Floris van Luijtelaar (vocals /guitar), Simon Bleeker (bass), Jonathan Kruizenga (organ/guitar) and Mathijs Louwsma (drums). Van Luijtelaar and Bleeker met at school around 10 years ago and Van Luijtelaar and Louwsma played together in a former band. Their name comes from several things, according to van Luijtelaar: ‘I was listening to a song where they talked about vices, I think it was by The Growlers or Cage The Elephant. People used to say that we were irritating kids, so it suits us very well! And I love The New Vice EP (by Otherkin). It’s a perfect name for us, it’s not random, it really fits when you see us.’
They released the titular track of the upcoming album earlier this month, which followed on from their singles ‘Boy’ and ‘In and Out’. Frontman van Luijtelaar, who wrote the highly energetic ‘Looking For Faces’, describes it as ‘about finding your own face and the journey it belongs to’: ‘Along the way you find yourself on the highest peaks and lowest lows, “looking for love on the faces of the people on the street” after a break-up or the passing of a loved one. These experiences impact you,’ he said. ‘I wanted a song like ‘Portuguese Knife Fight’ (by Cage The Elephant), I wanted to make it as simple as possible but with swagger! The swagger overruled the simplicity. It only uses the chords A and D.’ (He picks up his guitar and starts playing and I instantly recognise the song.)
‘The record is saying that the friendship between the four of us is enough for us’
The song is also about your own identity, van Luijtelaar said. ‘You can put your own signature on yourself and on your face. Growing up, you have a lot of questions. There’s also addiction in the broadest sense. The record is saying that the friendship between the four of us is enough for us, even without knowing the answers to all the questions.’
Another single that they released last year, ‘In and Out’, is about internal conflicts: ‘It’s about messing yourself around,’ van Luijtelaar said. ‘It’s about addiction but it’s observing it rather than judging it. It’s a person having a conversation with him or herself. We all have things we don’t like but still do them. I have friends who are alcoholics or addicted to drugs or even love. Everyone is addicted to something. It’s cathartic to write songs like this. I wouldn’t have finished high school without a guitar. It keeps me together when something shits happens. With music, you can make something beautiful out of something ugly. There are different guitar parts for different feelings.’
That sentiment is best encapsulated by last year’s single ‘Boy’, which has a very poignant backstory that van Luijtelaar recounts: ‘We were in the UK for the first time. We were in Newcastle, in an area that was a bit rough. We were sleeping in our camper van and needed somewhere to park. It wasn’t very luxurious. This father walked out of his house holding his daughter’s hand and with a bottle of whisky in the other. Then he starts vomiting, it was only the middle of the day. I saw that and though that’s not fair and it broke my heart. I got back into our van and our photographer at the time had broken up with his girlfriend and was telling me about it. And that’s when I wrote ‘Boy’. The song’s about a grandad telling his grandson that life isn’t fair but it was my way of trying to turn something ugly into something beautiful.’
‘People can get into really dark places’
The upcoming album will likely comprise 10 tracks, including ‘Looking for Faces’, ‘Boy’, ‘In and Out’ and ‘Good Morning City, Now Let Me Sleep’ and six new songs. ‘The album’s a bit like a diary,’ van Luijtelaar said. ‘One of the new songs will be ‘Before Your Birth’. It’s about my father telling me stuff about his past that I just couldn’t believe. I don’t want to say too much but it’s real, I couldn’t grasp it as a kid. People can get into really dark places. He changed 12 years before I was born and when people change, you might not recognise them anymore. I love my father, so it’s a tribute to him. It’s like the river, it looks the same every day but everything in it changes every day, it’s changing indefinitely.’
The Vices hit the ground running in 2019, kicking off their career with shows at ESNS, supporting Yungblud and Feeder, and touring the UK. Their music is sometimes described as Cage the Elephant and The Strokes’ love child, with a hint of surf. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the band kept busy by putting on a number of safe, self-organised shows including a sold out edition of the first ever ViceFest in De Oosterpoort, Groningen.
Van Luijtelaar is a big fan of Amsterdam-based multi-instrumentalist Nana Adjoa: ‘She’s gonna be big, she’s getting attention in America.’ He’s also a fan of the live shows put on by fellow Groningen band, Mind Fuji: ‘I saw them live one and a half years ago and you don’t know what the fuck is happening but you know it’s good!’
(Photo from left to right: Mathijs, Floris, Jonathan and Simon)
You can pre-order a colored vinyl here: Platomania
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