Exclusive Interview With Guildford Rock Quartet: Vinyl Staircase

Photo Credit: Byron Chambers

Despite their single, “German Wings” being their only available release, Vinyl Staircase are a band worth getting really excited about. If this is your first time hearing about these guys, it definitely won’t be your last.

They’re a young, four-piece band from Guildford and they play noisy, distorted psychedelic, prog rock of epic proportions. Not only does “German Wings” have a guitar breakdown that’s to die for, but the track perfectly juxtaposes their beautifully delicate lyrics and vocals with their hynoptic, riveting guitar work and crashing drums.

I saw the band live twice last month: once at their Boileroom headline show in their hometown and again at London’s The Lock Tavern for its annual festival. Both gigs were great, but their Boileroom gig was honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and it was clear confirmation that the band are not just a one hit wonder. It was just song after song of mesmerizing psych rock and if you see them live, you also get a chance to hear Mike and Jake’s infectious vocal harmonies that they often utilize. The band ended their set with a stage invasion and a cover of The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s iconic “Anemone” and I was just blown away. It definitely would’ve made Anton Newcombe proud.

Vinyl Staircase consists of twin brothers, Luke Andrews (drums) and Jake Andrews (guitar, vocals), Mike Thorpe (vocals, guitar), and George Ogle (bass). I had the privilege of interviewing the band recently about what bands influenced their sound and what they’re up to next. Read the full interview below.

Do you guys remember the first time you fell in love with music or the first album that you bought?

The earliest memory of music Mike has is listening to “Sex Bomb” by Tom Jones on repeat. Can’t remember the first album I bought, but I think the first vinyl I ever bought was L.A. Woman by The Doors.

Were there any particular gigs you went to that made you want to play in a band?

We all saw The Horrors back in 2012 with TOY supporting.

Who are the band’s biggest shared musical influences?

The Beatles (Paul is dead) are the main one.

Let’s talk about your unique sound. To me, there’s a prog rock musicianship to your sound and it’s very melodic, atmospheric, and there’s lots of distortion, which is nicely balanced by your use of vocal harmonies. Your music has also been labeled as things like psych rock and math rock. How would you describe your sound?

Our sound is the exact meeting point of all our individual influences like The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Beatles, Ty Segall, Sunflower Bean, etc.

Another thing that really sticks out to me about your music is there’s this really drastic contrast of softer, calmer tones and then, sheer explosions of noise (“German Wings” is a good example of these two sides occurring in the same song). Was this a conscious move?

Yeah definitely, we feel light and shade is very important in music.

“German Wings” came out this year and you’ve received some buzz since its release. How long ago was that song written and can you talk a little bit about how it came together?

We wrote “German Wings” in the summer of 2016. It was the first song written by our current lineup. There were no pre-written ideas, it just came together when rehearsing.

You’ve mentioned that you guys spent a while trying to find your sound and it’s evident that the songs in the live set sound a lot different from your debut EP a few years back. What was that process like and do you feel like you’ve finally figured out the band’s sweet spot?

For us, it would get boring if we always sounded the same. Also, we’re all developing as songwriters, so I guess we’ll never find one definitive “sound.”

From all the writing that you’ve been doing over the years, about how much material do you have now that you would feel confident in releasing?

At the moment, we have about an album’s worth of top drawer, straight-up hits.

What’s the band’s songwriting process? Do you all write music and lyrics and is it a collaborative process?

Yeah, it’s definitely very collaborative. It usually starts off with one person bringing one musical idea and then it develops from there. Either that or we’ll skin up a fatty and let the cosmos do the work.

How often do you guys write since it seems like you’re constantly playing shows?

We usually rehearse and write at least two times a week, but when we’re not rehearsing we’ll be noodling ideas at home. Either that or we’ll be recording up the tracks we have.

How have the live shows been so far? Are there any gigs that stand out?

Recently, Portsmouth Psych Fest was great due to the other great bands on the lineup like Bo Ningen and Ulrika Spacek. Also, supporting LA Witch and Moonwalks was a blast.

Do you have any long-term goals for the band and is there a point where you would consider the band to be successful?

Our goal is to write more and better tracks and start releasing them. We’d like to release an album one day and hopefully that’s something that our sweet sweet listeners will help us do.

Do you have any favorite, new bands that you think people should check out?

Drug Store Romeos – 3 hip hopping kids who have been recording some of the dreamiest tunes this side of Hampshire.

Van Zeller – Garage rock sesh kings from Bristol.

Honey Lung – Face melting shoegaze.

Palm Honey – Reading’s finest bois.

You mentioned that there’s a music video in the works for “German Wings.” When can we expect to see it and do you have plans for the next release?

We’re getting a bit sidetracked with recording new tunes, but it might emerge at some point.

What can fans expect from you guys for the rest of this year?

More gigs and more tunes to wet your ears. Also, we’re working on a zine with some arty pals.

Cool. Hopefully see you guys for some shows in America soon!

Thanks. See you there. x


For more on Vinyl Staircase, check out their links below:

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