Album Walkthrough: The VANNS break down their debut, Through The Walls
Detailing the "physical and emotional barrier within a relationship", the band's debut album is a knock-out-the-park affair.
Since their inception at a Wollongong band competition in early 2013, The VANNS have blossomed into something special. With a six-year-long discography littered by singles and numerous EPs (their last, Shake The Hand That Picks The Fight, arrived in 2017), the four-piece have grown to become a quintessential name to the Australian rock scene and the many pockets of brilliance it contains, taking a 'quality AND quantity' approach to songwriting that ensures that they're never quite forgotten about without having to compensate in their work's strength: an incredibly difficult task the band have come to flourish in.
Throughout this time, the group have found its niche within the Australian sound, exploring and experimenting within this pocket of explosive indie-rock that brings distinct sounds from rock's past - that classical, 90s-esque punch for example - brought forward to the future and incorporated with mannerisms newer and forward-thinking, creating a sound that has become signature to The VANNS - and showcased on their debut album, out last week ahead of a series of tour dates that'll take the group until the end of the year.
Through The Walls, The VANNS' debut album, is 45 minutes of what The VANNS do best; their years spent experimenting and fleshing out their sound encapsulated through a package of sounds that really place the group within the Australian rock canon. It's a snapshot of their indie-rock identity thick with guitar riffs and vocal dominance that lyrically, tackles a rollercoastering relationship and it's slow deterioration: the highs, lows and in-betweens soundtracked through heart-grabbing lyricism and sonic soundscapes that all fit within their indie-rock bracket, whether it's those moments strong and mighty or those that see The VANNS take a step back momentarily - their versatility as a band on feature display.
"If the album has any kind of overarching, spinal theme running through it, it’s Jim and I coming together and writing about similar experiences we’ve gone through," says the band's Cameron Little on the album, and how it provides a snapshot of the band as they grow not just musically, but personally too. "It’s a relationship record and it’s a break-up record, and it’s about being in your early-mid twenties and trying to understand and navigate through both those things," he continues.
As Jimmy Vann of the group continues to explain, the album's rooting in relationship turmoil and the complexities of love is something they believe spans generations (which he'll get into in a second) - it's relatable and something many people would be able to find comfort it, which really just adds to the deepness of the album's grasp. "Through The Walls is a physical and emotional barrier within a relationship," Vann explains. "The album explores the miscommunication and distance between someone you love or loved. The album cover is my father, the picture being taken 40 years ago, at the same age as me, and going through the same relationship problems. Today, the circumstances haven’t changed, but time has…"
Dive into it below, with a track-by-track walkthrough that sees the band break down the album's creation and themes one song at a time. Then, catch them on tour across the next few months - more information HERE.
1. Red Eye Flight (Cam)
This song kind of thematically and conceptually sets the tone for the whole album. I liked the polarity of having a swirling soundscape interrupted by the whole band playing these false starts. From the moment we wrote this we knew that it was going to be the first song on the album… I’m not sure if it would sit right anywhere else on the record.
2. Mother (Jimmy)
This song almost didn’t make it onto the record nor did I even consider finishing it in the writing process. I was sitting on this idea for quite some time having written both the verses but there was never a chorus. Myself and Oscar Dawson were both into the overall vibe and both being guitar players came up with a riff to introduce a chorus to the song, once we had that written it came together quite quickly. Its narrative direction was also unclear to me in the early days but I kept reiterating this feeling of people close to you whether it be friends, family or a lover not giving up on you and being there for you in dire straits.
3. Deranged (Jimmy)
This track was written lyrically before any instrumentation. When I started putting some guitar to it, unknowingly a lot of the song was in 7/4 as it followed the lyrics which was a cool moment in the choruses and bridge. Switching between this 4/4 to 7/4 feel had a lot of push and pull to it which was entirely working with the lyrical melody. When we had the song down as a band, it was an interesting element for us to work on. It was exciting to make and once it all came together it felt really good to play.
4. Chelsea (Jimmy)
We recorded this song live apart from a couple of vocal overdubs here and there. It’s is about reminiscing on a past relationship and looking back on those memories and being thankful for the times shared but also a kind of false hope that this relationship breakdown never occurred in the first place. It’s name - Chelsea - is from the suburb in London which I was staying.
5. Jules Said (Cam)
This is one of two songs we recorded just Jim and I at a studio in Melbourne called The Aviary. We wanted to keep it pretty live-sounding, so we just got a take and then added some extra vocals and claps and the song was done. It ended up sounding not too dissimilar to the demo Jim and I made in my bedroom the afternoon we wrote it.
6. Thieves (Cam)
Every now and then I go back through the voice memos on my phone and sift through the utter garbage to find some idea that I can sink my teeth into. I had the verse and chorus for this song (albeit, I much more chilled out version) which I had forgotten all about. Jim and I wrote the rest that afternoon in his room.
7. How Was I Supposed To Know (Cam)
One of the first songs we wrote for the album and the first single. It’s really fun to play live, and from memory, was one of the quickest to record. We recorded this and all of the band tracks at Headgap Studios in Melbourne. We used two separate drum kits to get a different sound between the choruses and verses, which we also did on a song called Call.
8. Call (Jimmy)
This track was a ball to write. Cam, Oscar and myself were down on the south coast having a few beers and just jamming. Cam on the drums, Oscar on the bass and myself on vocals and guitar. It was a good hours worth of running the main riff in this song and just taking solos and coming up with verse melodies and some odd lyrics here and there. There was never an intent to finish this track until the last week of recording. It had a vibe and it was a heavier side of the band we haven’t explored too much before. Cam and I finished off the lyrics in an afternoon before laying them down the next day.
9. You & I (Jimmy)
We’re big Stevie Ray Vaughan fans and Cam and I wanted to get a solo tone in the album which was Stratocaster neck pickup inspired by the man himself. I was in the amp room turning up the amp with each take whilst Cambo was just going for it. I think we were running two amps and probably pissing everyone off within a block from the studio at some stupid hour of the night but it was a hoot. My ears are still ringing.
10. Jasmine (Cam)
This is the second song we recorded at The Aviary. I think we only ended up doing a couple of takes of this. They have a beautiful upright piano there which I ended up playing on a few songs on the album that I hadn’t planned to just because it was such a nice sounding instrument.
11. Chaka Fan (Cam)
There’s an ambient intro at the beginning of this song (well, technically at the END of Jasmine) brought to you by delayed guitars, the David Smith Instruments Prophet Synth and Oscar Dawson. We wanted a song on the album to lead into the next song… for some reason I really dig stuff like that.
12. Fake Friends (Jimmy)
This song is the final statement for us. It’s the last song on the album, it’s one that we love to close out a set with. It’s just got this big climactic end to it which we felt really ties all the songs on the album together. We’ve had it in of our set now for a good six months to a year. It was one we couldn’t resist playing before its release.
Saturday 26th October - The Zoo Brisbane
Saturday 26th October - Gold Coast
Saturday 2nd November - Stay Gold Melbourne
Saturday 2nd November - Stay Gold Melbourne
Saturday 9th November - Djerriwarrh Festival Melton
Thursday 14th November - Lion Arts Factory Adelaide
Friday 15th November - Mojo’s Fremantle
Saturday 16th November - The Sewing Room Perth
Saturday 7th December - The Metro Sydney
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