Scene Point Blank (Matt T): Given the recent success of the Leeds scene in a more mainstream sense with people like Kaiser Chiefs and Pigeon Detectives, but also with slightly more underground bands like I Like Trains and ¡Forward, Russia! – is that something you see as a positive or negative impact on the band? Or neither?
Vessels (Lee): It's all positive. I'm not a massive fan of – well, I don't like the Kaiser Chiefs and I don't really like the Pigeon Detectives. But they do bring the spotlight to this city and it's great for all the bands concerned. It gives us all a bit of a better chance I guess, we're more susceptible to press profiles and that sort of thing. It's not a negative thing. It's just their music is shit.
Scene Point Blank (Matt A): In relation to that, I guess you have Leeds Academy just opening and Leeds Arena getting planning permission – how do you think that's going to affect you? Because there's bands coming through now, and before they had the choice of either The Cockpit or Elland Road so bands who are a bit smaller can now play to a bigger room. Do you think that will have an effect on the scene here?
Vessels (Martin): I'm not sure it will do because they're like two different worlds. A band like us will play at the Brudenell Social and maybe support some cool bands coming through.
Vessels (Lee): And given the choice we would as well. If it's The Cockpit or here, we'll play here.
Vessels (Martin): But at the end of the day, the bands that play your academies or arenas – it's a different live circuit and it's dominated by the big booking agents and big corporations respectively. You have to be in with that kind of scene to be playing those kinds of shows.
Vessels (Lee): As far as somebody who lives in Leeds and wants to go see big bands it makes things better but the lineup so far at the O2 Academy has been pretty rubbish so...
Scene Point Blank (Matt A): You think there's a chance that it might decrease the number of people who will find out about a scene like this who aren't otherwise connected to the kind of thing that goes on here?
Vessels (Martin): Possibly, but it's a bit difficult to tell. The live music scene has changed quite a lot in that a lot of the bigger bands who didn't tour as much – because album sales have gone down significantly they're finding that they're touring constantly . So bands like Bloc Party are doing huge tours all the time to make up for the fact that record labels used to make all their money on CDs. As a result of that there's a lot more big bands playing big shows so I think it probably does have an impact on the small bands and the less well-known ones. But I guess it's a constantly evolving thing.
Scene Point Blank (Matt T): You mentioned your first European shows coming up in May. What are your feeling about that, especially given the notorious glass ceiling for UK alternative bands abroad?
Vessels (Martin): We'll have to find out what it's like, but I haven't really heard of the glass ceiling thing for UK bands in Europe. In actual fact, in terms of the shows all I've ever heard is you get treated better in Europe and get paid better money, which seems to be the case from the shows that we've booked. And that generally there are more opportunities to build yourself up over there. I think a band with a sound like ours will go down pretty well in a lot of European countries so at the moment we're just seeing it as an opportunity to travel and get the band to people who haven't heard us.
Vessels (Lee): I don't think we've got enough experience to make any real comment about what it's like out there.
Vessels (Martin): I guess it's a case of getting out there – our album is out there and there is distribution there. You just have to not fuck it up with the shows. If you've got the right kind of shows and the album is doing well then you go there every half-year and you repeat it and build up a following just like you do in the UK.
Vessels (Lee): I think when you're an out-of-country band and you're coming over and obviously making a bit more effort I would hope that people are a bit more willing to come out and check you out. Tell their friends there's a great band from England – or a shit one.
Scene Point Blank (Matt T): You mentioned getting a bit more exposure in the music press. Given the level of exposure that a lot of lower level bands get in the alternative music press, what do you think the future is for the mainstream music press in the UK?
Vessels (Lee): It's an interesting one. I think people are always going to read the NME, Rock Sound, stuff like that. I think their circulation has dropped.
Vessels (Martin): I think their circulation has dropped significantly.
Vessels (Lee): They'll probably level out because they're the stalwarts. And they'll have to change their dynamic as well, in accord with how the internet is moving the market. So they'll figure out how to still retain people's interest. But the thing about the internet is that because there's so many people doing it you can get such a varied opinion. What tends to happen with the big magazines is that if you become a darling of NME, you tend to get a lot of support from the mainstream media and they latch onto you. But the internet, if people are doing their own sites they don't give a fuck about supporting the interests of an up-and-coming band and jumping on the bandwagon with NME. They're putting across their own points of view. So I think it's a really important progression, so that you can get a varied opinion of what music people are making.
Vessels (Martin): I think it's got good and bad sides. Generally printed publications are not doing as well as they used to and internet publications are doing much better. And that's good because anyone can say anything but it's also not necessarily good for the quality of what people are saying, or the respectability. So you have some internet publications like Pitchfork, there's a certain level of quality and intelligence to the things that they do. You might not agree.
Scene Point Blank (Matt A): They're our rivals, so...
Vessels (Martin): But then you can go from that end of things to just some random person who has set himself up and can say anything about whoever they want. And there's something quite good about that also it probably lowers the standards of journalism in general. It'll be interesting to see how things progress, but it would be a shame to lose print media. I like reading things in my hands, I don't like staring at a computer screen all day.
Vessels (Lee): It'd save the trees, though.
Vessels (Martin): True.
Scene Point Blank (Matt T): You've got a release coming up, Retreat, which features a number of remixes including ones by members of the band. Considering this, do you think that going forward there's going to be a pumped-up element of electronica in Vessels?
Vessels (Lee): I think we'd like to introduce more of it. I think what we've done with the last album is that we've understood a lot more about the logistics of using electronics in music and what the limitations are. That's been helpful, and I think that we feel a lot more confident about using electronics in the music now. Because the album is quite varied, I think we feel a bit more obliged to try and amalgamate the sound a bit more and try to use the electronics a bit more. But not just "This is the electronica song" and "This is the math song", but trying to bring it together more. I think we will try to use electronics more and hopefully try to push the boat out a little bit.
Vessels (Martin): But you never know. We might end up writing a bunch of songs that don't have any in at all and they end up being the best songs. In general I think we just want to bring the sound together. There's a lot of influences. The first album's good – well, I think it's alright but you can definitely hear where things have come from. You can definitely hear the different elements of the sound and I think the challenge next time is to bring them all together.
Scene Point Blank (Matt T): With the first album was it actually conscious to have that level of variety and bring those different things in together?
Vessels (Lee): Yes and no. It was more a case of that's where we were at the time. Those were the songs that we felt most confident about.
Vessels (Martin): I think it's just the things that we like listening to and we use those influences and we make music - we like electronica, we like stuff that's heavy, we like stuff that's delicate, we like bits of singing, we like lots of drums sometimes. You just listen to stuff that influences you and then you sit in a room with four other guys and...
Vessels (Lee): Argue.
Vessels (Martin): Argue for hours and end up with a bit of music.