INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Vexed (formerly known as 2 Years 2 Late) are a fledgling band from Stoke-on-Trent, comprising of vocalist James Keenan, guitarist Jake Walker, bassist Declan Myatt and drummer David Swee Heng Loo.
Even though they are yet to release an EP, the outfit are already enjoying a good reputation on their local music scene.
I spoke to them a few weeks back before their live debut, supporting Construct at The Underground venue in Hanley, the renaming of the band, and the departure of former lead guitarist Jacob Morris, who the other members wish well in his future endeavours.
How did the band get together initially?
JAMES KEENAN (vocals): Well originally, around three or four years ago, I started a band called 2 Years 2 Late with Declan and another guy who isn’t in the band anymore, Aidan. He ended up leaving, because he didn’t really want to be associated with us.
So then, I found David through college, and I said to him that I wanted to start the band up again. We kept the name, we all got together, and that’s how it all started.
How did the name 2 Years 2 Late come about?
JAMES: It was originally the name of my old friend’s band. They split and I asked them if I could use it. There isn’t really much more of a story behind it, to be honest.
How would you describe your sound?
DECLAN MYATT (bass): Grunge with its nipple out! Really, I don’t know, because at the moment, we’re trying to find a sound that we are most comfortable with, because it is all over the place currently.
JAKE WALKER (rhythm guitar): This is because we all listen to different types of music, but if I had to describe it, I’d say we were not too heavy, more alternative indie pop.
What are the band’s musical influences?
JAMES: For me, Enter Shikari are a big influence. The noise they make, the sound they produce, the wonderful way Rou Reynolds delivers the vocals, and the messages they put across in their songs, I would like us to do something like that with our music. What about you guys?
DECLAN: If I could play anything as close as to how good they are, I would say my big influences were Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot, because those are the kind of bands I listen to. I also agree with James though about Enter Shikari.
JACOB MORRIS (lead guitar): I’m more of an Eighties rock man, I just love those classic riffs!
JAMES: Yeah, our music is just one big mess! (laughs)
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
JACOB: Oh, that’s me, so the way I write a song is that I’ll take something from my life and try and turn it into a story, even if it comes from the smallest thing.
We’re currently working on an EP called ‘Gateway Drug’, and all the songs I’ve written from that we’re playing tonight. Each song tells a story about a girl, and how girls and women are like drugs, with each story giving a different take on how they are.
JAMES: When we put the melodies together, I’ll sing it in some funny way, and one of the other guys will play along with me. Then, we’ll all go: “Damn! That sounds good!“, and we’ll go from there.
The band have already released a few demos. How has the reaction been to them so far?
JAMES: Quite a few people like ‘IV High’, it’s a really catchy song that we have, and that has led to the promoter of The Sugarmill in Hanley offering us a gig there, because he wants to see how we sound live.
With tonight being our first gig, we want to focus more at the moment on being a live band.
You just mentioned there that tonight is your live debut. How are you all feeling right now?
DECLAN: Really excited, but a bit nervous at the same time. I can’t lie, I’m shitting myself!
JAMES: What makes it more nerve-wracking for us tonight is that we differ slightly from the other bands that are playing, and also we have less experience.
You said earlier that you were putting together an EP. When will that be released?
JAMES: I would say in the next four months, after we’ve played some more live gigs, because we want to practice the songs that we’ve got again and again, before we write any more, because we think that’s important.
JACOB: Further to what I said earlier, every track on ‘Gateway Drug’ is about something that’s addictive. One song is about arson, another is about a good looking girl, and so on, so yeah, we can’t wait to get it out.
You were mentioning earlier about the possibility of doing more live gigs. Will you be keeping yourself to the local area or will you be planning to branch out somewhat?
JAMES: As far as we’re aware, our next gig after this one will be on April 21st at The Sugarmill.
After we’ve done our set, we’ll chat to the other bands and see if we can get some more gigs sorted out. We have been getting a few offers though, because I think people are keen to see how we sound live.
We’re also playing a charity event soon, in aid of Marie Curie, so we can get some more experience of playing live together.
I know it’s still early days for the band, but what is the long-term aim?
DECLAN: We’ll have fun for now, but if it gets serious, it gets serious, and we would love to turn this into something we can both enjoy and make some money from.
I love the live experience, having played in other bands at gigs before, and it’s really exciting to see a crowd enjoy your music.