Hey thanks for chatting to Forte! First up, can you describe Vessel in a few words?
Fuzzy bluesy desert rock with a few twists!
Congrats on the release of Vessel’s new album Vagabond Blues. Can you tell us about the process of pulling this one together?
Thank you! Ideas for this album came about after living abroad and travelling extensively a few years back. Moving home and transitioning back into the Australian way of life inspired some of the lyrics, including the title track. It felt familiar to be back in some ways, but like I was a foreigner coming to Australia in others. Very strange!
You’re also releasing it on vinyl, which is rad for the music lovers. Why was vinyl an avenue you decided to invest in? Is it something that’s always been an interest for you?
It was always a goal to release our previous album Nostalgia on vinyl, which came out back in 2016, but we were never able to make it happen. It is a format that really lends itself to the genre; fans around the world really seem to love it! There are some fantastic and thriving underground labels putting out excellent music and they are selling really well on vinyl, so it is a world we wanted to be a part of. I hoped that it would expose us to new audiences and get our music into some different ears!
In terms of lyrical content, we believe a lot of it comes from travelling, with subjects surrounding racism, conservative governments, organised religion, and climate policy. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Going a bit deeper into what I touched on before, returning to Australia at the end of 2015 after a couple of years away was a bag of mixed emotions. At the time, there were right-wing groups all over the media and Pauline Hanson was back on the scene. It did not feel like the country I had left behind at all. In the years that followed, we’ve seen the horrors of the Catholic Church on trial and Australia an embarrassment on the international stage with regard to climate policy. Having experienced life away from Australia I’ve felt like we’ve moved backwards instead of forwards in many ways, and that really bled into some of the songwriting.
Is there a song on the record that is particularly special or meaningful to you as a musician (we get that’s like choosing a favourite child but still!)?
The songs vary from personal to observational and there is a narrative one in there as well. I think The Void Tempest is the most personal and it is the longest song on the album as well (which might be turning into a theme given our last album!). I can’t say it is a favourite though, too hard to choose!
We understand Vessel began as a solo project. What was the process in it evolving to a desert rock, psych metal band? Is the crux of Vessel still the same?
It evolved into a band making this new album! I hadn’t taken any Vessel songs to the stage before, and while putting Vagabond Blues together it felt like a good time to consider making the jump. Maybe because of the strength of some of the songs, I was just itching to play them with a live band. The crux is still the same, it’s my baby, my vessel for creativity (get it!?), but working with a consistent vocalist in Mason and forming a live band has given it more legs!
What are some of Vessel’s main influences?
Sabbath have always been my biggest musical influence since I was a youngling. The juxtaposition of heavy, scary riffs with danceable grooves and bluesy licks just gets me. Aside from that, I hear a bit of my love of post-punk and goth in there (The Sisters of Mercy anyone?), and of course, the psych-rock of Monster Magnet is something I aspire to! I’ll give a shout out to some newer underground bands that are really inspiring too such as Samsara Blues Experiment, Black Pyramid and Egypt. Some of my favourite music of the last decade right there.
Is the band more at home live on the stage, or in the studio/jamming?
I love listening to albums and digesting aural art, and when it comes to Vessel nothing pleases me more than when a song comes together sonically on a recording. That said, we’ve had a lot of fun putting a live set together since finishing the album!
You’ll be launching the album at The Golden Vine in Bendigo on Friday the 13th of March with Melbourne bands 29 Bones and Peeling Sun in support. What can punters expect from this gig?
It will be awesome to share a stage with old mate Brock from 29 Bones again, the first time in 8 odd years! We’re really looking forward to hearing his powerful pipes! Peeling Sun is one of Melbourne’s best up and comers and I think they will help merge the metal and desert rock sounds together on the night with their heavy grunge sounds. From us, we just want to share our new music, and we’ve put a couple of covers together for the night as well because we just want to have fun with it!
Now with the album out, what are plans for 2020?
More shows where possible, and hopefully working on an EP or something like that later in the year! And if the vinyl goes well, maybe we will finally look at getting Nostalgia pressed as well!
Catch Vessel at The Golden Vine in Bendigo on March 13.
Photo by Mason Jordan