Music editor Jamie Shepherd sat down with Mattie from Vant, who just so happens to be an old pal of his.
How’s your mam doing?
Haha she’s good, man.
Last time I seen you she was in the process of moving house is that all sorted?
Yeah, she’s got a new bloke an’all. She’s settled in. It’s all really good.
I’ve seen you evolve musically over the years. I remember watching The Small Screen Lightshow which became Molk Vant and now obviously you’re Vant. Do you ever revisit your roots or your past incarnations?
I guess this band is totally of the philosophy of The Small Screen Light Show in terms of not particularly thinking about anything too much. We obviously had quite a lot of success with Small Screen in terms of gigging, radio, video, and getting to travel but it was always so easy for us because we didn’t have to pander to anyone else’s opinions. When I moved to Brighton I started thinking about what was popular and whether I should adapt to be more mainstream. When I started doing this project I just came back to my roots and I was like “Y’know what, fuck everyone else. I’m just going to do what I love doing” and that’s making punk music.
You were previously in bands with members of Demob Happy. Do you still see those guys?
Not as much as I’d like to. When I used to live in Brighton I used to hang out with them all the time but since I’ve moved to London it’s been a little bit more difficult. Especially seeing that both of us are touring quite a bit now. We bumped into each other at Leeds festival which was really nice. You occasionally end up at the same places at the same time. We ended up in Edinburgh together at the same time earlier this year and there’s weird moments where we try and hang out where we can.
Well, I bumped into Tom from Demob Happy at a funeral at the end of last year.
Fucking hell, that’s weird man.
Aye, when I saw him in the crowd I was like “who’s that weird looking girl?” but then I realised it was Tom with his hair in a ponytail.
Was he a nice person?
Oh, well Tom’s a lovely person.
No, I mean the person who died.
Well, obviously. I’m not gonna go to a shit person’s funeral but I digress! You live down in London now, what’s it like returning back to the North East?
It’s nice, but I’ve literally only got here 2 hours ago. It’s weird when you’re on tour because you don’t really feel like you’re anywhere. You kinda just feel like you’re in a different venue or a different hotel every night. Sometimes you might get a day off like tomorrow. I’m gonna show some of the lads that aren’t from the North East Newcastle. Then we’re gonna go to Seaham Hall.
Oooh treat yourself. Ya can pop round your mam’s while you’re there an’all!
Aye, have a chat and a cup of tea. It’s nice to be back though. It’s nice to be reminded of where everything started. It’s also interesting to see the evolution of it all. It’s so much nicer here compared to when we were growing up.
What do you make of the North East music scene when you come back?
One thing I’ve found with music is that it’s so easy to be trapped in your own area codes. When you’re in Sunderland and the North East it’s all very insular and quite a tight community. It was the same thing in Brighton. You find that to try and find ground anywhere you really have to break the local scene first. It was the same thing when we moved to London. We stayed really removed from everything in London and we just bided our time and made sure that everything was right with the writing side of things and the recorded stuff. To be honest, apart from the bands that I know and love from round here like Hyde and Beast, Frankie and the Heartstrings, and The Lake Poets, I’ve never really kept track of anyone else. Occasionally I’ll get a recommendation from people about other things but it’s so hard because there’s so many bands everywhere to keep up with.
some girl had travelled all the way from Japan to come and see us. She’d bought us presents and started shaking and hyperventilating when she met us. I was like “We’ve only got 1000 likes on Facebook!"
We’ve talked about local scenes but you’ve also attracted a lot of attention internationally. I’m thinking specifically of a certain YouTube vlogger from France. How was your reception to that guy?
That guy… OH! That guy! The crazy guy? That was fucking bizarre. I don’t even know how that came about. I remember watching it back and thinking my mind had exploded. There’s some weird stuff happening. Bear in mind how early on everything is with us, but earlier in the year we supported a band called Blossoms in Manchester and some girl had travelled all the way from Japan to come and see us. She’d bought us presents and started shaking and hyperventilating when she met us. I was like “we’ve only got 1000 likes on Facebook”.
I mean you’re good Mattie, but I wouldn’t say you were that good.
It’s nice to see that it’s spreading slowly. It’s good cos this was before the labels even pushed for territories and we haven’t officially released anything anywhere other than the UK. Australia’s gone bananas for us.
Annie Mac chose ‘Parking Lot’ as her Hottest Record in the World right now. What’s the hottest you’ve ever been?
Ermm… That’s a good question. Probably when I was in 14 when I was in Florida.
What was the sweat situation like then, cos obviously 14 is a dodgy age for BO and hormones?
I had quite a lot of puppy fat at that stage of my life, so there was quite a lot of underboob sweat.
I feel ya, Mattie.
Aye, we were both in the fat boat back then. I remember getting back from some theme park or something and the car didn’t have the air-con on and my dad wanted to get away quickly. Instead of waiting for the air-con to kick in he just left and I think he almost passed out behind the wheel it was that hot.
One of your big hits is called ‘Parasite’. Have you ever had an encounter with a parasite?
What an actual parasite?
Interpret that how you n will.
Like a person?
Literally whatever. Have you had an encounter with a parasite of any form?
I’ve met some slimey fucking people in my time. Parasite is quite a metaphorical song. It has many meanings but it’s one of those songs when artists are like “yeah, make up your own mind about shit”. I know what it’s about and it’s so fucking stupid what it’s about but I just want to let everyone else have their own opinion about it.
Am I allowed to know what it’s about?
Nah not yet. When you work for Rolling Stone or something, maybe.
Well I graduate next year, so who knows what’s gonna happen.
How is uni going?
I’ve made it to third year now which is good, and I live in Jesmond now so I feel like I’ve upgraded. Still partying hard. I was in World Headquarters last night giving it the big’un.
It was the most bizarre sequence of two things. Really chilled out reggae music with Nazi zombies.
I fucking hate World Headquarters.
I’ve never had a good experience there. I once went to this horrible reggae night there, and I hate reggae, and they were playing that Nazi film with zombies and snow.
No it wasn’t Sophie’s Choice. It was some really horrible, gruesome Nazi zombie movie with reggae over the top. It was the most bizarre sequence of two things. Really chilled out reggae music with Nazi zombies.