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Waterfront Festival

Vaccine Interview and Audio

12 October 03 words: Jared Wilson

"A lot of people get put off by pure industrial drum and bass. With what we're trying to do you've got all the punch and the energy in the music but we do it live as well."

Drum and bass is all done by a load of computers and mixers, isn't it? Well, not always, If you want a fix of live drum and bass look no further than hot Nottingham three-piece Vaccine. The band are made up of drummer Alex Lucas, bass player Chris Gittins, and engineer/producer Andy Oakley. The guys have been playing together now for just over a year, having been formed from the ashes of another Nottingham based three piece Catfish. When an important member of that trio left it gave the other two a chance to sit back, take stock and plan a change in direction.

While they do use computers, mixers and loops to make their music, they also play real instruments. Rather than forming a live project to tour a studio album, as has been done by many, they have worked the other way around moving on to recording tracks from the basis of being a live act and tweaking their live performance in the studio.
Vaccine try to play out whenever they can and you can also catch them appearing as DJs at various venues (Synergy Sunday) or on their radio show on Switch 107.9fm Fridays 6-8pm.
Describe your sound 
Chris: "It's very hard to pin down. We incorporate the harder side of Drum and bass but  It's a lot more melodic than a lot of what's out there. It's more than just dirty noises, as there's a lot of tunes in there as well. We've got a strong techno influence. It's very violent."
Andy: "I'd say it's a really big and punchy sound. It's a crossover between dark drum and bass, with a strong melodic content. A lot of people get put off by the pure industrial stuff because there's not enough for them to grip onto melodically speaking. With what we're trying to do you've got all the punch and the energy in the music but we do it live as well."
What influences do you think you all bring to it?  
Alex: "I'm influenced by so many different styles and I think that's the same for all of us. On the live front I do the loop triggering and the playing of the drums and Chris does the majority of the writing. We all have our own input."
Chris: "We've all got so much enthusiasm of our own. We all love it so much that once we get together in the studio and we've had a few pints and start twiddling around with noises it's just great."
Andy: "I'm basically the engineer so live I'm the person who helps stitch everything together and provides everyone with what they need to play on stage.  A lot of bands don't work with an engineer all the time and with this type of music, if you don't then you can be guaranteed it'll sound fairly bad."
So how does this band differ from Catfish?
Alex: "Catfish was what was formed in 1996 by a guy called Rupert or 23hertz. Andy and I joined in 1999 and we were doing it with him right up until last year. Then Rupert decided he wanted to leave the country so Chris came in to do what Rupert was doing and the three of us played as Catfish for a while. Then we started to develop our own style and sound and we wrote a load of new material that wasn't the same any more. It was completely different so that's why we decided to change our name."

And these days the three of you live together. I bet there are some stories... 
Alex: "Andy and I have lived together for getting on for a couple of years now. In February of this year we moved to Arnold and Chris moved in. Round about the time we got robbed. We had our studio burgled and months and months of work got taken. It's only recently we've actually managed to get back on our feet. It's a pretty crazy house. We've had some good parties. It's probably only recently that we've come together and started doing things from a band point of view though because of the robbery."

Any messages for the people who stole your stuff?
Alex: "We only hope you know what it is and make full use of the equipment..."
Chris: "I think well done. It was a very professional job. It happened while we were all in the house. Hats off to the professionalism. You've got to admire a job well done!"
What are your hopes for the band?
Alex: "We're really just getting on with writing a lot more tunes. We've hopefully got a lot more live gigs coming up. We're still doing the radio every week and we play our new tunes on that show. We do regular slots out in town like the Westside Bar (1st Wednesday of every month). We'll also be sending our music out to a lot of people, but even if they don't like our stuff we'll arrange releasing it on our own. We'd like to release some vinyl, ideally through someone else's label."
Chris: "Releasing our stuff is what we're trying top push most right now. We've finally got the live show sorted. Now we know we can do that comfortably the majority of the time we can concentrate on writing tunes and pushing them."
If you could work with any other musicians who would you choose?
Alex: "I think what we've been seeking for a long while is a vocalist and I reckon working with Ms Dynamite would be good on our front."
Chris: "Brian Wilson out of the Beach Boys."
Andy: "Nitin Sawhney or Talvin Singh. I really respect their production, writing and musical ideas. Even through the music they make is really different to ours, I feel like in a lot of ways they are coming from the same angle with their jungle/drum n bass blueprint."
Chris: "Or the American boys that are coming through now like Hive and Dieselboy. I think they're progressing DnB far more than it is in England at the moment so to get together with any of those would be great."
Alex: "We've always liked working with vocalists. As Catfish we did a lot of stuff with MC Ninety and MC P-Fine (a resident at Detonate) did the last carnival with us. We really like what they've done but we've always fancied the idea of working with a vocalist and an emcee. It's just hard trying to find someone that's up to it."
What's the best gig you've ever played?
Chris: "I think for sheer pleasure it was the Carribean Carnival on the Forest Recreation Ground in 2002. We did it this year as well, which was brilliant as well, but the year before seemed to be a lot more packed."
Alex: "The tent was full and there were a lot more people down there. It was absolutely rammed. The PA sounded stupidly loud."
Andy: "It sounded huge and people were coming up to me and shouting at me at the desk. It was fucking brilliant!  We were setting off car alarms and everything."
"It was also one of the first gigs that we had done as the unit we are now. We were trying a lot of new things and it was the first time we had showcased Vaccine. The buzz of seeing it go down well was a great feeling."
What's the worst gig you've ever done?
Andy: "We played a certain late bar/club in town. We played well, but it was the worst gig because of other factors. It was a fundraising event and we took the syringe sound system down and played for free. It's quite weighty but we need something that will play the low frequencies and give clarity. Unfortunately their electricity supply wasn't quite up to the demands of it. A band went on before us and it just about got through their set. Then we did about thirty seconds of our first song and all the power went."
Alex: "We'd only just started the set and everything went off. All the lights, all the fridges. Obviously everyone wanted to know what the hell was going on. Because we use samplers, everytime the power goes off we have to reload all the samplers, which takes a while. It did it about three times! We eventually had to get a fan on the main fuse board. We switched all the fridges, lighting and cigarette machines off. Anything we could get them to turn off we did."

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