By Alisa Wylie
The Vegan Leather are a four piece from Paisley that make infectious, experimental pop. They have branded their genre as ‘art pop,’ and while that phrase may make you think of Lady Gaga, there are only moderate similarities between the two.
Their penchant for colourful, coordinated outfits onstage, attention to detail, unflinching talent and banging tunes have enabled them to amass a confidence that commands attention. The Vegan Leather are a band that look to go far next year and they’ll be taking their all of their energy, synthesisers and lipstick with them.
Could you introduce yourselves and tell me what you do in the band?
Marie: I’m Marie, I play guitar, synths, percussion, sing; basically just whatever they want me to do.
Matt: I’m Matt and I play bass.
Duncan: I’m Duncan, I press buttons and hit things.
Gianluca: I’m Gian, and I’m the overlord. No, I’m Gianluca and I play guitar, keyboards and sing.
So give me a bit of background about your band – how did you all meet?
G: Me and Duncan met a long time ago at the Loud and Proud rock school in Paisley, back in 2008. We kinda formed a stupid, garage rock band, a two piece drum and bass band. We played dubstep and a lot of dancey drums and keyboard. So that was cool. We still consider it band, but it’s on super hiatus.
In 2013 I started making music by myself with the sole production and writing the songs. Then I played two gigs under Vegan Leather, just me playing keyboards and drum triggers. After that, me and Duncan were on a night out in Propaganda and I went up to him and asked him he wanted to start another band. We knew Matthew anyway, so we started playing with him. At that point, it was a very different band. It was very spacey, kind of warp-y, kind of proggy. We had one heavy pop song.
We played as a three piece for about 11 months, and Marie had sung on our song Days Go By, which we put out in the June of 2014. After that we thought ‘Marie’s great, let’s get her in the real band,’ so we started playing as a four piece from November 2014 onwards, and that’s how we all came together. As a three piece though, that’s when we started writing more poppier songs with…
Matt: Something you can shout along to.
G: Yeah and now we are still kind of this pop outfit but we want to keep the progressive aspects there.
Then why did you make the shift to pop in your sound?
Matt: A lot of people did the spacey vibe [at the time] but we wanted to go for something poppy, that no one’s ever heard before. Something that we can comfortably say is that there isn’t anyone playing songs like us. We’re very unique in that way.
G: I’d say crowd reaction as well. There was a transitional period where we were playing half progressive, spacey songs and half were pop songs, and people would love the pop songs. So we thought, ‘let’s just write more pop songs,’ but let’s keep our integrity a wee bit but still keep it interesting.
Where did the name ‘The Vegan Leather’ come from?
G: It’s a pair of trousers that I have from Topman that I got a few years ago. They’re fake leather, and just thought it was really cool. I’m a vegetarian myself but vegetarian leather didn’t roll off the tongue as well. So I used that and it stuck.
Your most recent show at Broadcast, there was a point during your song This House where everyone got down on the floor then jumped up. Where did that come from?
G: I’ve been to two Slipknot concerts.
Marie: That wasn’t even us.
Matt: I think a couple of our friends started going down, and I just thought, yeah, we’re gonna harness this. So I just started motioning for people to get down. Then it exploded.
At the show you were all wearing pink, and your graphics on your EP and single both keep with the pink theme. Why all the pink?
G: Kate Miller did a lot of the graphic design for the band, she designed all the artwork for the EP. When we were getting everything together for it back last March, we asked her if she had any ideas. She heard the songs and she just went “pink,” and that’s all she said. And pink’s cool. The 1975 are like big fans of us, so they started doing it. We picked it because it sticks out. It’s beautiful.
Gian, you’ve also been known to wear lipstick onstage. Any particular reason behind that?
Matt: We’re massive KISS fans.
G: Make up in the show has a theatrical element. It doesn’t really mean anything, it’s not really a deep thing.
D: It is, he just doesn’t know about it.
G: Make up’s just make up. It’s flairy, it’s not tramp make up. I am not a tramp. I’m not a wee tart, right? It’s just a bit of theatrical, a bit of flair.
Matt: It gives a bit of edge to the live performance. I think people could be like, ‘Why is he doing that? Oh, but the music’s good.’
If you were to try and sell your band to someone that’s never heard you before to come to a show, what would you say to them?
D: The drums are good! That’s not an easy one because no one really knows what to call us. We call ourselves ‘art pop’ but…
Matt: Basically, there’s no one in Glasgow like us. There’s no other band that’s doing what we’re doing. So, come and experience it.
Marie: You can definitely hear loads of individual influences, and there’s so many instruments on stage. It’s always good fun. I always say that I have so much fun when I’m playing, like it’s not serious.
G: That’s what people have said, seeing this band is just straight up fun. That’s what we’re trying to be. Maybe not so much that we’re marketing ourselves to be like LMFAO, like a party band, but like Arcade Fire type of fun, where there’s lots of people trying to jump about and stage dive. It’s big poppy. Cool pop, though. No one’s ever kissed anyone at our show though, that’s a guarantee. We’re all VL’s.
Now your EP and single are out, what’s next for the band in terms of recording and gigs?
G: We’re just writing constantly at the minute. We’ve got another single in the works, so we should have it out in 2016 at least. Probably not another EP, but most likely remixes. That’s something we’re really into – doing remixes for other bands. We’re currently working on ones for Miaoux Miaoux and Strawberry Wine. We mixed the Static Union a few months ago. I think the more constant thing that will be coming from us will be remixes I imagine.
As far as original material goes, maybe another two singles? For live shows, we’ve got some Ayr and Edinburgh dates in the works.