||INTERVIEW WITH VANTAGE POINT
Touted as "Edinburgh's premier Metal band", Vantage Point are just about to celebrate ten years of heavy guitar riffs and thundering drum beats and I caught up with the band to find out how they started, what they really think about the internet and what plans they have to mark their tenth anniversary.
So how did the band come about in the first place?
Derek Mitchell: "The band really came into existence when Murray (Graham, Vocalist and Bassist) joined. I'd been trying to get a band going with a friend who played drums but it never really took off. Murray and I met at a Post Office training day and felt I was the person to talk to because my denim jacket was adorned with (Status) Quo patches. After lots of discussions about music, we were talked about having a jam together some day and that was how we started working together. Our drummer left not long after, so having known Dave (Cumming) from school we asked if he fancied joining the band and he was in place by the time we did our first gig in 2004. Dave had played in another band with Liam (Kane - lead guitar), so when that position became vacant it was an easy decision on who to ask first".
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The band released their debut album, 'Daredevil On The Shore' in 2008 – how did it feel when it was released?
Liam Kane: "Really happy actually. The songs were all worked out really well before we entered the studio and a few of them had been in our live set for quite a while before we recorded them, so we had plenty of time to work out our parts and get most of it sounding as we wanted. Yeah, we were well chuffed to get it out there for people to hear."
Derek: "Fantastic! It makes you feel like you've really achieved something, even if the band had ended at that point, we'd always have the album as a record of what we did."
The band's second album, 'Tomb Of The Eagles' came out in 2011, how did that feel compared to the debut album?
Liam: "Being honest, if we had a bit more time, there were a few bits that could have turned out better but every album's the same, y'know? You always think you can do better when you go back and listen to it, but overall it felt like a natural progression from the first one. It was a little bit harder and heavier too."
Derek: "Again like the first album there was a huge feeling of accomplishment and it's good to see that you're building up a back catalogue of songs. Remember that we didn't just have the two albums either, because we released an EP, 'Driller Killer', in the gap between the two albums."
Did the band find it easier to book gigs once these were released?
Derek: "Sometimes, but I think promoters seem to respond better to something visual like a link to a YouTube video. It's easy to email a link to a video directly to a prospective booker so they can check out the band quickly and they can instantly see what the band is about. In Vantage Point, we try and put together proper promo videos as often as possible and then put these up on our official YouTube page (youtube.com/user/vantagepointrocks) which helps us too."
The band's third album, 'Demonic Dinner Dance' is being officially released at a special gig on Saturday 21st June, so how easy was the process for this album?
Liam: "All the songs were pretty much all written by the time the second album had been released (laughs)."
Derek: "The vast majority of it was recorded at Split Level Studios (located in Ingliston, just outside Edinburgh) where we recorded the previous two albums with in-house producer Neil McNaught overseeing once again. We also recorded two tracks, 'High Maintenance Girlfriend' and 'Reverse The Charges' with Tim Young at Electric Studios (located ten miles south of Edinburgh in the Pentland Hills) as well as some alternative mixes of tracks which have already been released on the 'High Maintenance Girlfriend' EP."
I ask the band to talk me through the song-writing process, and it's Derek who once again takes the lead:
Derek: "Murray is a songwriter and he writes most of our material. For the 'Demonic Dinner Dance' album he did everything – words and music. I've contributed some tracks to previous albums, but generally though I'll come up with some riffs and lyrics and then Murray will take them away and ditch the lyrics before re-writing the music! (laughs) There's usually about one riff that he's left alone that I can lay claim to."
Murray Graham: "Yeah, in the main I'll come up with a melody and from there I'll work out the chords and rhythm to go under it. I'll take it to band and if they're happy with it, I'll go and write some lyrics to fit the melody. For the new album I had the concept first so I had the lyrics written first and then worked out the melody and music. To me, the melody is definitely the most important part of the song."
What are the themes you use in your songs?
Murray: "In the case of the 'Demonic Dinner Dance' album, it is about a horrendous dinner party!"
Where do you get your song writing inspiration from?
Murray: "Everyday events really, or in the case of 'Demonic Dinner Party', events that will never happen again – hopefully! (laughs). For songs on previous albums, inspiration comes from all sorts of places - some are inspired by the films while the song 'Tomb Of The Eagles' came from a medieval site in Orkney. On the other hand someone arriving at a pub once proclaiming that there was a daredevil on the shore, which sounded to me like a great song title, so I wrote a track around it."
With the new album nearly released, do they have any other projects planned?
Derek: "Everything we're doing at the moment is geared towards the official release of 'Demonic Dinner Dance', so we've arranged a gig to officially launch that and to celebrate our tenth anniversary at the same time. Having said that, though, while we were back in the studio recently, we started work on four new songs, three of which are earmarked for the next album while the other track called 'Tutankhamen' is something we plan to release exclusively as a digital download sometime in 2014."
Have the band got a lot of other gigs planned for 2014?
Derek: "We've already played in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh so far this year, and we have some confirmed dates over and above our tenth anniversary gig that we were just talking about. We're booked to play at the third annual Les-Fest at the end of June, so that's something I think we're all looking forward to."
So what can someone coming to a Vantage Point live show expect?
Murray: "High screams, fast double kick drumbeats, pounding bass guitar and some widdly guitar solos (laughs)."
Derek: "As long as they leave at the end of the night with a smile on their face and want to come back and see us again, then we're happy with that!"
Are there any venues the band would like to play but haven't done yet?
Liam: "Lots of places really, but we're happy to be on stage as long as there are loads of people there to buy the CDs at the end of the night!"
Murray: "To play places like the O2 Academy or The Barrowlands in Glasgow would be a dream come true. If we could play anywhere though, it would be legendary venues like Hammersmith Odeon in London or Long Beach Arena in California – both venues where Iron Maiden recorded their legendary 'Live After Death' album."
How has social media helped the band's profile?
Derek: "Well without it it's unlikely that anyone in other countries would have heard any of our songs but because of things like Facebook, YouTube and Spotify, we've had our music heard and bought in places we have obviously never gigged. Closer to home, though, it's another tool we can use to publicise the band and the gigs that we are playing but it definitely isn't the be all and end all of promoting a gig. It certainly doesn't hurt to use it, though."
Bringing our chat to an end, I ask the band what they realistically want the band to achieve?
Liam: "Realistically? Some recognition (pauses) and to be able to reach a point where we could make a living from what we're doing. That would be awesome!"
Derek: "Yeah, I would agree with that – plus an extensive back catalogue of recordings!"
You can see the official video for 'Demonic Dinner Dance' here:
You can catch Vantage Point live here:
Saturday 21st June - The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh (Tenth Anniversary gig with support from The Amorettes)
Saturday 28th June – Les-Fest, Wiston Lodge
Friday 25th July – Eagle Bar, Inverness
Vantage Point are:
Murray Graham - Vocals/Bass Guitar
Liam Kane – Lead Guitar
Derek Mitchell - Rhythm Guitar
Dave Cumming – Drums
Vantage Point Online:
Thanks very much to Murray, Liam, Derek and Dave for their time.
Promo photography - (c) Waysted Photography 2012
Live photography/Demonic Dinner Dance cover - (c) Vantage Point 2014