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This Ain’t Vegas

For anyone who’s been dead for the last two years, This Ain’t Vegas are one the new wave of purely mint bands from Tyne and Wear. Er, pet. If you haven’t got their debut 7″ Funeral on Tuesday or the album The Black Lung Captain then you are mental and you should pick them up now from Jealous Records. Better still, go and see them live. They’re always playing somewhere and its always good, in an aggressive-passionate dual-vocal jerky goodness kind of way. There’s a split 7″ with Kill Yourself out too, with both bands covering a Devo song, and an upcoming appearance on the new Obscene Baby Auction compilation, as well as a song on Twice the Town You’ll Ever Be, a self-released compilation featuring the best of all those Newcastle/Sunderland bands (Red Monkey/Paper Cut Out/Futureheads/Spraydog etc). Fantastic. Adam from the band was kind enough to grant us this interview.

Right… boring questions first. Names, ages and instruments please…

We are a four piece band that has a bass player (Michael Matthews, 19), a guitarist/vocalist (Richard Amundsen, 19), a drummer (Jordan Hill, just about to turn 20) and another vocalist – that being me (Adam Rose – 20, just!)

When did you get together? Did you know each other for a while beforehand?

We have known each other since we were all four years old. We went through both primary and senior school together. The band as it is now has been together for about three years, I was last to join after the others had experimented with different members and line-ups.

Major influences?

A question I hate being asked. I think it’s impossible to answer without saying anything that hasn’t been said ten thousand times before – but I’ll try. Musically, we are all influenced by similar and very different things which I’d like to think comes across in our music. Other than music we all take inspiration from experiences we encounter day to day.

Lyrical themes? Are lyrics integral to your songs or are they usually an afterthought? Who writes them?

Richard and I usually write the lyrics between us. Lately we have tended to stick on a theme we can both relate to and worked from there. The vocals are important to the songs we write. As for themes, lyrically we base songs upon personal politics and those day to day encounters I was speaking of earlier.

What do you do in your day-to-day lives, other than being This Ain’t Vegas?

Three us us work at the same place – a cafe bar near where we grew up. It’s a stop gap for us and it gives us a chance to do exactly what we want to do, pretty much whenever we want. The shifts are flexible and the people are nice enough. Jordan is the only one of us doing something positive, though. He studies graphic design at university.

What are your ambitions as a band/individuals? Would you go down the Futureheads route, i.e. signing to a major(ish) label, press officer etc, even if it didn’t impact on your music, or are you DIY purists? Or somewhere in between?

Can you imagine This Ain’t Vegas being featured in the Guardian‘s 50 hottest new bands list?!

This is something we speak about quite often. Signing to a major label and having a press officer isn’t exactly what we want to do at the moment – right now we are quite satisfied with what’s going on around us. I wouldn’t say we were DIY purists. It’d be nice to be in the Guardian‘s hottest new bands list without having to sign to a major – quite a task, I would think.

I noticed your e-mail address was an ‘Amplifier Records’ one… is this an in-the-pipeline thing? Any releases coming up?

It’s something that has been in the pipeline for far too long. The plan was to release a split-single between This Ain’t Vegas and The Futureheads, unfortunately that couldn’t happen. Since then nothing has jumped out at the right time and we’re still looking for something to release.

Tell us about your home town: I’ve spent a lot of time Sunderland, and it’s not particularly somewhere I’d choose to live – sorry! What are your thoughts on the city, both in terms of music and more generally, as a place to live? Any plans to leave?

In terms of music Sunderland is reasonably healthy. I can think of maybe six or seven good bands that are based in the city. As a place to live it can be quite limiting. There isn’t much going on culture-wise, which makes me quite sad. To see a good film or a good exhibition it’s more than likely you’ll have to visit Newcastle.

Favourite venue?

My favourite Sunderland venue right now would have to be Bar36. Not because it’s amazing, but because it’s about all we have got. My favourite venue outside of Sunderland would probably have to be somewhere in Leeds – possibly The Packhorse or The Fenton. We have played some of our most memorable shows at these places.

Favourite gig played/seen?

Playing with Q And Not U in London was a good experience and is one of my favourite moments with This Ain’t Vegas. It was also a real treat to play with 90 Day Men in Newcastle this year, as I am quite a fan. We also got to play with Chinese Stars this year, too. As an Arab on Radar fan, this was a privilege to say the least. That band were so much fun. As for the best show I’ve seen, I’d probably have to say Blonde Redhead at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Fugazi in Leeds or The Ex in Newcastle. Three amazing bands, three amazing evenings.

Tell us about a good band(s) that we won’t have heard of.

It’s possible you won’t have heard of Electronic Eye Machine – a Sunderland band that mesmerize me every time I see them. I’d describe them as being an ‘art-pop’ band, who have amazing melodies and song arrangements. Lovely people, too. Check them out if you ever get the chance.

Best city in the UK for music?

Leeds, in my opinion. I love the place, there is so much going on and there are so many wonderful people residing there. Some of my favourite bands are from there and so are some of my favourite people.

Best band in the UK?

Can I name 5? Kill Yourself, Lords, The Unit Ama, Bilge Pump, The Wow. And, of course there are others!

Best band in the world?

Even harder. US Maple. Changes from day to day.

What’s on your stereo RIGHT NOW?

Can – Tago Mago – I got this record from my girlfriend for Christmas and I can’t get over it. US Maple – Purple on Time – have you heard the guitars?!

Recommended reading?

John Fante – Ask the Dust. An amazing short novel about a frustrated genius.