Hiya, folks. Take a seat. Introduce us all to Victoria Sponge – how did the band get together?
Chris: Me and Ross, who plays lead guitar, met when we were at school and have played together ever since. I sing and over the last two years me and James, who plays rhythm, tracked down and trapped Dylan to play the drums and Kyle to play bass.
James: Dylan’s a university student so he was easy to catch cos he was drunk.
What made you decide to go for it as a band?
Ross: To go for what?
Chris: I think he means, you know, gigging and stuff.
James: A mutual love for music, I guess.
Kyle: How’d you give an interesting answer to this?
James: You can’t.
Kyle: Just maybe playing live shows…?
James: You see?
Dylan: Boos, tunes and I want to be the next Alex Turner. *flicks hair*
Chris: You know the great things about drums? They keep him at the back and drowned out.
Ross: Move on.
What is the unsigned scene in Glasgow like at the minute?
Dylan: I think it’s really good. I moved to Edinburgh from Sheffield for university and I just love how there’s such a variety of artists.
James: Yeah, way more than I expected, to be honest. Practically every band we play with is great.
Dylan: Fuzzy Lop are great.
Chris: Yeah, and we played with a band at King Tuts recently that you liked, James.
James: Fauna. Yeah, they were ace.
Chris: ASTER is a great singer songwriter. Bobby Kakouris, too.
Ross: I think our Tuts gig, in particular, brought to our attention how many bands there are in a similar position to us. The quality, as well.
Chris: We also played with St Dukes that night. Really good.
Kyle: And that was just one of loads of events for their New Years Revolution festival.
Ross: Exactly, there were so many awesome bands in the line-ups, it really opened my eyes to what we were getting ourselves into.
James: Makes me want to play less video games and pick up my guitar more.
Kyle: I split my time between picking up my bass and my newborn child, so it’s interesting! I also love the Glasgow band Freak Wave and the Edinburgh band Swim School, so just a wee shout out to them.
How do you feel like you are progressing through the industry?
Chris: Very, very slowly! But that’s not unexpected.
James: It’s a goddamned mystery.
Chris: Given how hot Ross is, yeah, it is.
Ross: Shut up.
Chris: A girl at one of the gigs told me you looked like Dorian Gray and, now I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. It’s hilarious.
Dylan: When I compare the music in Sheffield and Glasgow, I feel the quality of songs are more evenly spread up here in Scotland. I think that makes it harder to stand out.
James: Yeah, we write some really good tunes, but that’s not all it’s about anymore. Chris puts on a great show as a frontman, plus we all play pretty tightly, but we still have things to finesse.
Dylan: The industry’s huge. With such a focus on social media and with so many good musicians working so hard, it’s just impossible for everyone to have their big break.
James: The route is not as clear as maybe it used to be.
Chris: That’s why you’ve got to work hard and try not to be an arsehole about things. I feel that’s always the best approach.
Ross: I think gigging is the best step we’ve taken, to be honest. Just developing ourselves as a live act.
Dylan: We’re definitely getting better gig offers than six months ago.
Kyle: We’ve got a backlog of songs and we need to carefully think about what we record next. We’ve not planned for any future recordings, beyond the next single due in the summer, but that’s probably the next stage.
Which member is the biggest nightmare?
James: The biggest nightmare… In what context?
Dylan: Who’s the hardest to work with?
Ross: You mean who’s the biggest diva?
Chris: Kyle, where’s my goddamn coconut water?!
Kyle: Here you go.
Which member is the biggest hero?
Chris: Where’s my goddamn cape?!
Kyle: We all put a lot of work in but Chris puts a lot effort into organisation, communication… You keep it all going.
Chris: Well, that’s lovely, thank you for that. To be fair, James really helped kick-start all of this – he’s a trooper and deals with all our demo production.
James: Kyle drives us everywhere, when he’s able.
Ross: He practices looking after his baby by looking after us, it’s ace.
Dylan: I just love this band. We’re all heroes.
What was the most fun you’ve had on stage?
Dylan: I’m always just trying not to screw up, usually.
Kyle: I love playing Talk About Tonight at most gigs but when we played our new single, Sky Blue, at King Tuts we got a crowd of people with their phone torches in the air. That was pretty special.
Ross: I liked our gig at Stramash in Edinburgh. I’d recently moved there from Glasgow and my new co-workers and flatmates all came out to see us, so that was great.
Dylan: Yeah, my course mates came to that. They loved our tunes on Spotify and seeing it live was great, so yeah, Stramash is a good shout.
Chris: I just go on stage each gig bricking it and hopefully come off buzzing!
James: We played The Bungalow in Paisley and we were playing our song X Marks The Spot when Chris jumped off the stage. There was a group of students that he went and danced with – it was so unexpected and funny. After that the crowd was ours.
Dylan: We played an acoustic gig at 13th Note in Glasgow…
James: Oh, yeah! That was hilarious. We dragged a guy on stage and had him sit in a chair. He actually enjoyed it, as well. The place was jumping – sometimes we get really lucky and get these great crowds. Though Glasgow is almost always ace.
Chris: Yeah, those were both great nights. Plus, I’ve not been arrested yet, so…
What was the worst experience on stage?
James: We’ve played songs where Chris has forgotten whole verses.
Chris: It’s true.
James: Yeah, but we just had to work it out.
Chris: Dylan once forgot parts of his drum kit that he was meant to bring to a gig.
Dylan: I brought most of it!
Chris: As I said then, Dylan, and I’ll say it again now: most of a drum kit is not the same as a whole drum kit. Then again, remembering most of the verses isn’t the same as remembering them all, so I can’t really talk.
Ross: Nah, mate. Forgetting your drums is pretty bad.
Ross: It’s just that other folk were relying on it! That’s all – it was an honest mistake.
James: I helped him take it all out of the car, I knew straight away! But, anyway. The Bungalow in Paisley, it had a smoke machine that nearly blinded me.
Dylan: Smoke alarm went off as well.
James: Oh, yeah!
Ross: Yeah, our set was fire.
Kyle: We also started to play our song Falls Away in two different keys.
James: Yeah, I thought I was having a stroke! My fault. God, that was a good night.
Kyle: We put on a good show, honest.
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about.
Chris: James can speak functional French.
James: Oui, oui! Kyle gets into regular brawls in the pub.
Kyle: No, I don’t!
Dylan: I’ve got an IQ of 140.
James: No way! Did you get into Mensa?
Dylan: I was offered, but no. It’s for nerds.
James: *almost falls off chair laughing*
Ross: My guitar was made by my uncle.
Chris: Oh, yeah, it was!
Ross: Yeah, it was cool of him. He used the body of a Stratocaster and it turned out great, now I use it at every gig.
Chris: That’s really cool. For me, somewhere beneath my belly is a rippling six pack. You heard it here first!
Kyle: I’m one of the few people in the world that’s managed to full on superglue my butt to a chair.
Kyle: It was on my jeans so I had two options: I could tear my jeans or slip them off. I called down to my wife and she came in to find me standing in my briefs with my jeans laid on the chair like someone was sitting in them.
Chris: So, just as confirmation, readers, Dylan is the only one with a high IQ. Next question!
What’s your biggest achievement as a band?
James: Probably our singles, both released and unreleased. I didn’t think they’d sound as good as they do.
Kyle: The producer, Paul McInally, did a great job and really brought the best out of us as musicians.
Dylan: When we finally got the mixes, listening to them was really rewarding. It felt like the fruits of our efforts.
Chris: Yeah, getting Sky Blue together was really special. I love that song.
Ross: Getting to play at King Tuts and Stramash was big for us. They’re two of the best venues in two of the best cities in Scotland.
James: Plus we played them well. Tuts has invited us back since, hopefully we can make that happen.
Chris: Next big achievement for us would be getting a support slot for a way bigger band and getting to play to lots of music fans. Fingers crossed.
Kyle: You can find out more about Paul at 45-A-Side Recordings, by the way.
What makes you stand out as a band?
James: Our attitude towards things in general. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, just the music, and we want to get up there and have fun. Chris’s interactions with the crowd are quite unique.
Dylan: It’s quite personal.
James: Yeah, it’s kind of like, “We’re not big rockstars, this is for all of us, let’s just have a good time.” We also have a lot of different influences, like Ross loves Jazz, Dylan is all about indie rock, Kyle listens to prog rock, I listen to punk and Chris…
Chris:… Listens to Coldplay.
James: ‘Nuff said.
Chris: I am quite into older bands, the melodies they have, the songwriting skill on show. When I sit down and start writing a song, I think it’s all about rebelling against this anti-melody thing we’ve got right now, especially with people like Billie Eilish. I enjoy what she does but I guess we’re trying to call back to arguably the best periods of music when it comes to the songwriting. The Beatles, The Smiths, The Police, Coldplay, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand… For me, groups like that are always in my mind.
Kyle: This is the first band I’ve ever played in, so I feel quite lucky about that. If I’d played in another band I think I may have had certain expectations of what the dynamic would be, but in Victoria Sponge there is a, sort of, creative democracy.
James: We all have a chance to do our individual parts, get our influences in there. We can decide to change something in a song further down the line but we’re always open in the initial stages to explore different avenues and genres.
Ross: Yeah, a prime example of that is one of Chris’ recent demos, Ask My Art. It’s got a trap beat on it, I mean…
Chris: You’ve got to try different things. To be honest, that trap beat was an accident, but a happy one.
It’s strange times at the moment with the coronavirus almost stopping the whole live music scene in the UK and abroad. How do you plan to stay productive while we get through this?
Chris: Yeah, this is all pretty terrible. Not that we had any lined up yet, but festival opportunities for those that had them, given they’re now all down the toilet… I really feel for those acts.
James: I don’t know how I would process that, to be fair. But I guess, to be productive, we’re all just trying to write songs and construct them together remotely.
Chris: We’re recording different parts of demos and sending them to James to put together. I’m trying to figure out a cover we can do, to record like a demo and record a video to post on the socials. Maybe one or two, we’ll see what happens.
Dylan: I have no musical literacy and even I’m trying to write some tracks.
James: And if they’re decent we’ll consider them, Mr Drummer!
Ross: I’ve been writing stuff and tightening some parts. I’m homeworking so, in the down time, I’m trying to be productive.
James: Kyle’s been on a bender since lockdown day one.
Kyle: No, I haven’t, James. I’ve actually been writing a prog rock song, so we’ll see where that goes.
Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together?
James: I cannot remember any particular, exact times. I think we need to go out and get drunk together more often.
Dylan: Yeah, we do.
Chris: Frankly, when we hang out we’re rehearsing, planning or playing a gig. We always have a good laugh but choosing to do this band lark takes up most of your free time.
Dylan: There was a time at a kebab shop in Paisley…
James: Let me stop you right there, Dylan. That wasn’t anything to write home about. We had a kebab.
Ross: That’s it. We had a kebab.
Kyle: I mean, it was a tasty kebab.
James: Shout out to Ambrosia in Paisley!
Chris: You know, just in case people thought we were joking.
We recently reviewed your latest single, Sky Blue. How did you feel the review went?
Chris: I was happy with it. Chloe’s enjoyment of the B-side, Phone Tapping, was cool because that was much less the mainstream track of the two.
Ross: It’s always nice to hear feedback from listeners, I mean…
James: It’s just good to have positive feedback.
Dylan: After all the effort that went into recording it, it’s nice to know that it’s liked.
Kyle: It’s my first review, so it was special in that regard, but it did mean a lot to see someone enjoying it.
Ross: She was right, though, that Phone Tapping’s production could’ve been more expensive.
Chris: We put that together outside of the studio, it’s a testament to our home production skills! We need to be doing more of that in the future, anyway.
James: Yeah, for sure. But, you know, that was some good and unbiased feedback, which is always appreciated. What did you think, Chris, about her saying the length of Sky Blue was too long for radio play?
Chris: Well, she’s probably right, but I’m still happy with it.
Tell me about Sky Blue and how it came about.
Chris: All right, I’ll keep this brief. I wrote it in 2016, or maybe 2017, but it really came together in 2019 with these guys. Ross’s solo was always, for me, the key to connecting it all, so when that happened I felt it just worked. The song itself is about someone who is trying to care for somebody they love who is burdened in some way, mentally and/or emotionally. There’s a line in there that says, “You’re like the sky, eternally blue, but when you try you can breakthrough.” The image of that is, fine, this person might be in a bad place but, with some effort and care, you can reach the universe of stars beyond that veil, you know, the real person inside. I’m not saying that’s always possible, or even sometimes very healthy for the person trying to be there for that someone in a bad situation, but I think it’s important to emphasise that we’re not all defined by our negative moments or dips in our mental health.
James: Pretty heavy for a band called Victoria Sponge, eh?
What’s coming up in 2020 for the band?
James: I want to play to a large audience and improve our live performance even more. Dylan: Write more music! Kyle: Music that’s more dance-y, that’s what I think we’re going to focus on. Chris: Yeah, dance-y and upbeat rock-y, with some heavier elements. Ross: I’ll add funk to whatever you throw at me. James: We’ve got a bit of an idea of where we want to go but, in the meantime, cheers for the interview! Kyle: Yeah, cheers. Dylan: Thank you! Ross: Cheers, guys. Chris: Happy isolation, everyone! Stay safe.