Van Susans / Album Review + Interview

Since the release of Van Susans‘ first EP We Could Be Scenery, the fanbase of this London pop rock band has been growing bigger with each live show. Having the pleasure to tour with The Beautiful South earlier this year, the band is now ready to promote their debut album Paused in the Moment which has been released a few weeks ago. Since then, they’ve played their first show outside of the UK in the beautiful Versailles and this week they are ready to take on the LeeFest 2012.

Van Susans‘ debut album Paused in the Moment is a mix of wonderful guitar meets piano meets violin melodies. Each song on the album stands out in its own way and the whole record offers something for everyone whether its a song with a great guitar or drum riff, soulful piano or violin piece or a heartfelt acoustic ballad. Not only the music stands out but also the perfectly fitting distinctive voice and a strong accent of Olly Van Andrews. The album will cheer you up with its catchy and uplifting tracks like Bricks Not Sticks Or Straw or Popo and warm your heart at the same time with Fireworks, DisappearRat Race or the beautifully emotional If I Succeed.

Paused in the Moment is a truly enjoyable record that should not go unnoticed.

The album launch is going to take a place at the Barfly in London on the 12th of September 2012.

I caught up with the lead singer Olly Van Andrews in London, to discuss the debut album and other interesting topics about music.

How do you feel about your debut album Paused in the Moment?

I am very excited and very proud of the album. We have been getting some positive reviews, which is nice. Some of the songs on it are quite old, I wrote them when I was like 17, 18 but we’ve changed them around a lot. The whole idea behind the title Paused in the Moment is that I remember exactly why I wrote it and how I felt at the time. It’s about capturing the moment, like taking a photo and looking at it after a while and it reminds you of the times.

How was the journey between your EP We Could Be Scenery and this album?

It’s been a very exciting time. Since releasing the EP, we have met loads of cool people, got many great reviews and now that the album is out there it will happen all over again. It’s my favourite time with the band now as so much stuff is happening.  The album is a little more mature than the EP. We took more time with it and it’s more like what we wanted to be.

Would you classify your style as pop rock?

I suppose you can say that but there are so many different types of songs on the album like pop rock, folk, some country, ballads… but yeah, generally pop rock.

The type of sound you play is more common in America than here in the UK. What are your influences?

Yes, collectively we like Jimmy Eat World, Jack’s Mannequin, Death Cab for Cutie but we all have our individual taste in music and that’s why our sound comes out to be so different. Our guitarist and drummer both like metal and that’s why you can hear some quite heavy guitar solos and drums in some of our songs. I am really into folk, lyric stuff and poetry and I like to add it to the music. I really like the band Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst is a bit of a genius really, he writes great lyrics. I’m trying to be creative with the words, not just stick to the melodies. And we have our violinist Holly who joined us a few months ago and she is really good. We are getting her trained up on the singing as well.

How is the relationship in the band and has it changed since Holly joined?

Before she joined it was only the five of us, just five lads, so at first we were a bit sceptical and we thought we have to behave more but she is really cool. Literally she’s like another one of the guys (laughs). But we are really lucky to have found her, she fits in really well.

How would you describe Van Susans live shows? 

We’re trying to make the shows visually interesting, dance around and really go for it. I get really hot and sweaty on stage, pretty sexy stuff  you know (laughs). We want it to be exciting and not to be just a bunch of guys standing there playing guitars.  We’re trying to put on a good show.

How did you guys come together as a band?

Our drummer Rob is my best friend. We met at a studio when I was like 14. The lead singer of my old band introduced us. We were in a band together till we were like 17. Rob, Ed (lead guitar) and Tim (bass guitar) are brothers. When the original band split up we kind of decided that we wanted to be in a band that would be like the ones we are really into. We also wanted to have a pianist in the band, so my brother who is our manager now, he had a best friend called Olly who took the part so it worked out quite well. Holly came through auditions and she was the ideal person to get involved.

How is the music making process? Do you write all together?

It’s a team effort. Rob kind of does all the pop rock stuff; the commercial stuff like Popo, Bones and Cha Cha Bang. Ed does more of the complex pieces like Fireworks and Rat Race and I do the ones in between. We make a really good team. Ed comes up with a good guitar riff or a piano piece and me and Rob structure out the song to how it’s suppose to be and I write the lyrics. Tim and Olly then write the individual parts. I always find it easier to write the lyrics after the whole music is laid up. It’s not like a set routine of how to write songs, it’s just our style of doing it.

Do you feel any kind of a pressure from the industry and think much about how you should sound?

We have a good relationship with our label which is independent and very hands off. They let us do what we want and take care of the business side. We have a musical freedom which is great.

Is there anyone you’d like to tour with or places you’d like to go with the band?

We’ve played with The Beautiful South and that was amazing.  I listened to them as a kid, my parents played their albums in the car as we drove around. But there are other bands we’d like to play with like Jack’s Mannequin or Jimmy Eat World.

I really want to tour America and I’ve always wanted to, it’s my dream. We would really love to play in Manchester as well. We’ve played in Liverpool a couple of months ago which was really cool and we’ve played four different shows in Scotland. We love travelling around and play because that’s what it’s all about.

What do Van Susans want to achieve as a band? Where do you see yourselves in a year or so?

We have high aspirations. We are really proud of our debut album but there is much more to come from us. We will wait and see what happens, how the album does and we’ll just keep on going no matter what. There is so much going on at the moment with the band and it’s so inspiring. The music just keeps coming, we are writing more songs and looking into the future. Hopefully next year we’ll be playing big festivals. We are shooting for the stars really.

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