The Vermin Suicides are back in the studio recording a third album, so we gathered them round for talk about punk, dub and playing a gig in the rain.
The Vermin Suicides have been around in one form or another for more than a decade, regularly gigging in and around Liverpool, as well as nationally, but with just a brace of albums and EPs, they’re hardly prolific with their recorded output.
When we spotted on Facebook they were back in the studio making a new album, we thought they needed to explain themselves.
Anton, Paul (aka Dirty Robbo), Aaron and Simon all squeezed themselves into the frame for a Zoom chat. So, we start, as usual:
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
Anton: I’m sitting here in Simon’s studio, being interviewed by you.
Paul: I’ll take over! We’re in the studio, where we’ve been recording the next album. We’ve been here for the past week, so it’s been handy to talk to you. Writing.
P3dro: That’s Igloo Studios, yeah?
Paul: It’s in the Baltic Triangle.
Simon: Yeah, the Baltic Social’s about 10 feet that way. Obviously, closed at the moment.
P3dro: Give us a little potted history of the band.
Anton: Well, it started about 10 years ago. There was me and Tony (Vermin), we were two members of The Dead Class. We were a three piece for a while. We did a few gigs on an AntiPop tour with The Drellas and The Dead Class. And then Paul joined and we started recording and doing gigs.
Paul: On the AntiPop tour, we did with The Dead Class, I think it was their first birthday and you [looks at Anton] … We were both working with Tony Vermin, our drummer. And we said, “What’s the point of working with two different bands?”
I’ve known Anton for years. We’d worked together in the past and I thought: “This geezer, he can write a tune”. I wouldn’t mind working with him. He’s the master of melody. He drew me in.
So we decided that makes sense, why don’t we just be in the same band together?
So, that’s how it started and we went on to make the first album: Yeahman … it’s The Vermin Suicides
P3dro: You’ve had a number of line up changes over the years. We’re kind of wondering whether you’re the original Vermin Suicides?
Anton: Yeah, me and Paul. Everything goes in each other’s orbits. Sometimes people have moved around. But this line up is my favourite. It’s the best one. I think.
Simon: He has to say that, because I’m sat here.
Anton: It’s an evolving group. I think this is the best [version]. We’re in bloom.
Paul: Yeah, we’re happy with what we’re doing at the moment. Everybody seems to be on the same field with the way we’re playing.
Which makes a change from a lot of ideas fighting with each other.
We’re all creative and all good. But this is the first time it feels a bit more relaxed about what we’re all doing.
Anton: Yeah, it’s like we’re a motorbike. Over the years, bits get taken off, and then chrome bits get added and there’s a new exhaust and a new carburettor, so now it’s become like a sleek machine.
P3dro: How are you getting on with the recording for the new album?
Paul: Very well.
Aaron: We’ve done the drums. That went really smoothly.
Anton: It just felt really natural because we did it live.
Paul: The drums were put down in a really good atmosphere and environment. Thanks, mainly to Simon. If your band wants a really good recording engineer then this guy [points at Simon] knows what to do. It’s been so easy doing what we’ve recorded.
P3dro: How far off is the release?
Simon: Err, well we haven’t done the guitars or vocals, yet. So, next year, but until we can gig, then there’s no point in putting it out, really.
Paul: Yeah, it’s one of those – what’s the point in bringing it out if we can’t promote it well. It’s gonna be hard, but we would hope March or April. That would be nice.
Simon: We could do an EP after Christmas, just to bridge it.
Paul: Yeah, we’ve got enough songs.
P3dro: We know you’ve released a couple of EPs, but there have been two albums and you’re in the process of recording another one. You look like the kind of guys who prefer the album format?
Anton: Oh, definitely. I like the way an album is a work of art in itself, the way it’s compiled.
Paul: Yeah, you put a sequence together and it will take you on a journey, entertain you and drop you off somewhere pleasant. Maybe.
Simon: ‘In The Blood’ [the last album] was originally an EP, but it sounded so good and then over the period of a year [it became an album].
Paul: Yeah, it was going so well. And we were like: “Well, shall we throw another song down?” And that’s how we ended up with an album.
P3dro: People’s attitudes vary on this subject. Some bands have been saying, well we have music, we can’t gig, but let’s just get it out there anyway. Others have been teasing the promotion with a single or two. But you’d prefer to gig to promote the album?
The whole band: Yeah, definitely.
Simon: We sell more albums at gigs. And merch.
Paul: Yeah, we do create quite a good live sound, I think. Although I say it myself. We’ve always been pretty successful at live gigs.
I understand the philosophy of other bands. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of a single – two and a half minutes snapshot of a band. But an album does feel like a body of work.
P3dro: We first came across the band supporting Penetration at the O2, but for the uninitiated, describe your sound.
Paul: We’re a rock band. Let’s start with that.
Anton: Sometimes it sounds like Buzzcocks having a fight with Motörhead. Other times it goes into The Clash territory.
Paul: There’s a lot of different influences.
Anton: Yeah, a bit of King Crimson in there.
Paul: I’m a big King Crimson fan.
Anton: Robert Fripp’s his hero. He even tunes his guitar like Robert Fripp. Sometimes if you pick up his guitar and try to strum a tune, you’re … Oh My God …
Simon: And there’s the dub stuff we do.
Paul: Somebody once described the music as ‘punkadubadelic‘. I quite liked that. It’s fairly descriptive of something that’s hard to describe.
In the early days I used to go to Eric’s. The soundsystem played the latest white label dub from Jamaica and that’s what got me into it. Then a crazy punk band would come on, play a 25 minute set and then the dub would come back on. That just sunk in to my psyche.
P3dro: That goes back to the days when there weren’t enough punk records for DJs to play, so they had to fill in with bits of reggae.
Paul: That’s right, yeah. You’d never hear a punk record on Roger Eagle’s deck. It was always the latest white label dub. So much so that I ended up basically robbing a compilation tape off him that I played and played until I wore it out.
P3dro: We saw from the bio that you guys played Rebellion a few years ago. How was that?
Anton: I didn’t really enjoy it because you just go on straight away, there’s no sound check and you can’t really get the feel. But we did OK. We played the set.
Paul: We opened, we were the first ones on and unfortunately some people who came to see us couldn’t get in on time because of the queue outside.
Anton: But they’re up for having us back next year, if it goes on.
Paul: We played the aftershow party as well.
Anton: Yeah, it was a in a bar over the road. We went on after a Ramones tribute band and the roof started leaking. It was basically raining on us as we were playing. That was an interesting gig.
P3dro: You’ve already touched on gigs and promoting the album. Liverpool has just heard it will be going into Tier two, so that means gigs can happen, but all seated and no alcohol. Do you have any enthusiasm for that?
Paul: I’ve got enthusiasm for anything live. If we can play, then we’ll go and play. If somebody out there offers something, then we’ll play. I guarantee it.
P3dro: What do you see next year looking like?
Simon: There’s gonna be an explosion, isn’t there? As soon as people can gig and get out, there’ll be fighting to get gigs. Everyone will be putting on gigs and trying to get people in. There will be a lot of options all of a sudden.
Maybe we should do gigs in restaurants. [with a substantial meal]
P3dro: Either that, or you’ll be playing outside. You could set up on the Baltic Green.
Paul: I like that.
P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.
Simon: The Dead Class. The new album, which is half way through recording. It’s being recorded brilliantly by me! Typical Dead Class, very fast, mad, chaotic.
Paul: I’ll say ‘More Songs About Circles’ by Vamos. That is wonderful. Fast hitting pop tunes.
Anton: I like Dirt Box Disco. They write boss tunes.
Aaron: A Bristol band called Beak>
Anton: Also, Let’s Eat Grandma
Aaron: And a Manchester band called Horsemeat. Check them out. Nice and heavy.