High Visions’ fast paced brand of punk had us grabbed as soon as we first heard it. Finding a voice during a pandemic has been challenging, but they’re not deterred.
Leeds punk three piece, High Visions wandered across our radar a few days ago when Liz from Ode To Sleep recommended we check them out. So, we did and we were not disappointed.
Last year’s five track EP – A First Date With Imposter Syndrome – has been on heavy rotation in these parts. Fast paced, skate(ish) punk but with a much harder edge. It may be an easy, lazy, label, but it does give an indication of where we’re heading, soundwise.
But the arrangements and the song writing are more intelligent, more grown up. High Visions will not conform to any particular stereotype and they refuse to be pinned down.
Imposter Syndrome is the band’s third EP and the first on INiiT Records, a London based, not for profit outfit who appear to have pretty impeccable taste. Keep an eye on their output.
So we fired up Zoom and had a chat with Zyggy (vocals, bass)and Alex (drums) from the band. Guitarist, Louis had the annoying matter of a job getting in the way of joining us.
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
Alex: I’m in Rotherham, drinking beer because that’s how I fight off the impending feelings of doom.
Zyggy: I’m in a small town in Germany right now, just riding out the wave of terribleness that is the past year. Also, drinking beer to stave of feelings of doom and despondency. I think it’s working.
P3dro: Well, we’re doing the same!
P3dro: Tell us a bit about the band. How did you form? How did you get together?
Alex: So, we were at university in Leeds, studying music. I met Zyggy in the toilets at The Key Club, when we were both really drunk. The next day, I found a message on Facebook about starting a band, but I couldn’t remember even meeting him.
So, I thought we’ll see what happens. And then we went to a gig together where Louis (our guitarist) was playing with his old band. It all went from there and we put this band together. I think that pretty much sums it up.
Zyggy: Pretty much, yeah. I’d first met Louis at a New Found Glory concert in Leeds. I didn’t really know anyone at the time, so it was a kind of rag tag group of people, all meeting drunkenly. Then we met [again] and got to know each other at a gig at Iris Studios in Leeds.
Then after a bit of back and forth messaging we managed to get into a practice room together and wrote our first three songs in that first practice.
P3dro: That’s pretty impressive. How long ago was that?
Alex: 2015 we met. But then it took until about 2017 for us to do anything. And then until about 2019 before we did anything good.
Zyggy: Mostly we were just doing kind of background stuff and by the time we’re ready to burst onto the scene, then Covid hit. It’s a weird trajectory as a band.
P3dro: Does the band have any particular kind of ethos or message you’re trying to get over?
Zyggy: Basically we’re trying to get our music out to as many people as possible, in a way that’s feasible for us and is most authentic for us as a band and as artists.
Alex: I think we’ve managed to do that, making music as we like, yet taking risks creatively. If we could do the kinds of tours with the kinds of bands we want to play with and if we could do that without sacrificing what we think is important about what we do …
Zyggy: Yeah. We’ve always been that band that’s kind of done things a bit differently. When we first started out, playing with a lot of pop / punk bands we felt like we didn’t really fit in with what they did. So, I’ve always felt we occupy a kind of niche a little bit with our music. That’s important for me as we move forward.
P3dro: You released the EP last year in the middle of the lockdown, what was the thinking behind releasing it then?
Zyggy: So, we’d recorded it at The Ranch in Southampton in June 2019. I remember this really warm day, when we had finished tracking everything and we were sitting in the sun just eating pizza.
We’d been wanting to release the EP for a while and we were thinking: “When’s the best time? How do we get our affairs in order before we do it?”.
So, we released the lead single, ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ in January 2020. There was a lot of prep that went into that. We tried filming a video, but it didn’t work out, so we just did a very quick video of ourselves in the studio.
It had a really cool reception. And then we were planning how to move forwards, releasing things. I think we’d decided on early summer – we thought it was the best stuff we’d written and we really wanted to do it justice as a release.
So, we’d prepared the second single and a tour around the same time, which would have been late March  and then Covid happened. So we lost all of that.
But after we’d released ‘When I’m Dead, Just Throw Me In The Trash’, Mark Bartlett from INiiT Records discovered us. He’s an absolute sweetheart. An absolute legend. He said he was interested in releasing the EP and we couldn’t have picked a better person. When loads of bands are finding it hard to get motivated, he was always there.
P3dro: Is it frustrating you can’t get out and tour the EP?
Alex and Zyggy together: Yeah.
Alex: I hate it. I can’t stand it. You want to move forward and make new stuff and release it and then we haven’t had a chance to tour and support the last EP. It’s had a better response than anything else we’ve put out [before]. It’s the one we’ve been the most happy with.
We feel like the shows would have been better than they’ve ever been. And to have all that ripped away from us. We’re now at a point where we wonder whether do we even want to put anything more out until we’ve had a chance to [promote this EP] because we don’t want it to fall off the [radar].
Zyggy: Yeah, pushing dates back and then realising you have to push them back some more. It’s the uncertainty that’s so difficult now. When we can tour, how we can tour, whether we should put out new material? Or not?
P3dro: How has the reception been to the EP?
Alex: The reviews have all been really good. People have been really into it. Even the worst review we got, I was still pretty happy with it. To me it’s pretty important because I think it’s less accessible than stuff we’ve done before. there are more things in there that are more unconventional compared to a lot of the other bands we play with. It’s cool for me and we’ve managed to push ourselves. And rather than putting people off, we seem to have attracted more people. We made the right choices.
Zyggy: I really think we found the right audience for this EP, which is something we’d been struggling with for a while. But also, working with Mark, he was able to get it out to a wider audience and one that suited our sound a lot better than [had been the case] with our previous material. It’s been incredible.
It’s very strange we were still able to build that momentum, even though everything had stopped. I do sometimes think: “Imagine if we had been able to tour this”.
P3dro: How did you hook up with INiiT Records? What was the appeal of that label for you?
Zyggy: I’ve known Mark for a while. I used to live in London, it’s where I grew up. I got a little bit involved in the DIY punk scene, going to shows and the like. I met Mark at the New Cross Inn and saw his band, Our Lives In Cinema. We ended up hooking up and when everything went to shit he was looking to start a small DIY label to keep in touch with the scene during all of this. That was around the same time we’d put out the single, so I sent it over to him and we developed a working relationship from that.
It was amazing it happened that way. But it feels strange that collaboration happened because of Covid.
Alex: I think we were very lucky we had recorded [the EP] in advance so we had something we could put out before everything happened. We weren’t stuck, unable to record. We had something to show and which Mark could help us promote. In a weird way, it worked out alright.
Zyggy: It’s definitely not a conventional way of putting out an EP.
P3dro: Have you been able to get together to rehearse or record over the last 10 months or so?
Zyggy: We got together once, in September.
Alex: We all live in different parts of the country, so it makes it quite hard for us to get together. But we have a few songs we’ve been working on. Some are pretty close to completion, some are barely an idea.
Zyggy: We tend to work well when we’re in a room together and the chemistry feels right when we’re jamming in a practice room. So, the first time we met after months of being apart, I was expecting it may take a while to find our groove, but it took less than about 10 minutes and we were already writing again. So, we have quite a lot of songs in various stages of completion. Some pretty much there, some that need quite a lot of work.
But now the struggle is trying to find a way to continue that trajectory.
P3dro: Had you had any gigs lines up for 2020?
Alex: Yeah. We had a few short tours lined up and a longer one planned as well, around summer. They’ve all been pushed back and we have no idea when they can happen. It’s been about a year since our last gig, which is a pretty weird thought, because we’re normally playing pretty regularly all over the place.
Zyggy: It’s frustrating. We had planned on re-scheduling them for this year, but even now, we don’t know whether they can go ahead.
P3dro: Yeah, and even if you could play gigs, they’re likely to be all seated, 2m apart. Do you have any kind of enthusiasm for that?
Zyggy: We’re used to playing shows where there’s a lot of crowd interaction. Louis and I are usually running about all over the place, starting a mosh pit. We like going fucking mental on stage. I don’t know how that would translate to a crowd that’s socially distancing.
Alex: Yeah, there are so many times when I’m playing and look up and neither of them are on stage. I’m just sat at the back feeling very exposed. There are times when we finish a song and Louis is at the back of the room, Zyggy’s on a table somewhere. Playing our music to a sat down crowd would be a strange experience. It would be like going back to when no one liked us!
P3dro: We saw from Facebook, you managed to do some gigs in Europe in 2019. How was that?
Zyggy: It was an amazing experience. We were very lucky. My girlfriend lives in Germany and that was such an asset. She was one of the main reasons we were able to secure the dates the way we did. It was one of those things we didn’t think we’d get the chance to do. We spent a week in Germany and a few shows in Belgium. It was really eye opening.
We sold more merch in one show in Trier than we did on the whole of the UK tour.
Alex: In Germany, in particular, we had a really good response to what we did. I think we fitted in really well there. Although, I think we didn’t charge enough for our merch! But it ended up being profitable for us and we could put that money into the next recording.
We’re not too happy it will be too hard for us to do that again, [at least] for a while. For a small band like us, being able to tour [in Europe] and it being financially viable, it’s going to be a long time now before that’s justifiable [again].
They were really fun shows as well. The venues seemed to have an appreciation in the way they treat the bands.
P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.
Alex: I’ll shout out the other bands that are on the INiiT label – Ode to Sleep, Our Lives in Cinema and Baldhead & the Dreads. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on with that label.
Zyggy: I’ll throw one that’s kind of in our circle and one completely out of the box, kind of what the fuck’s going on thing. First, I’ll recommend a band called Havelocke from Sheffield. They do a kind of punk / hardcore / EMO fusion. They’re lovely people and they have just released a new single called ‘Vampire Eyes’, which is insanely good.
And then there’s Emily Abdy, also from Sheffield, who released an EP called ‘Not Getting Any‘ It’s very experimental, a mix of classical and avant-garde metal. I’ve been listening to that loads recently.
Photos credit: Nathan Robinson