Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo Peggy, as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses British rolling stock, DIY film-making and debut EP release celebrations with London hailing, post-punk three-piece, The Vouchers.
ML: Mark Langston (vocals / guitar) TM: Tom Meneight (bass) MC: Matt Clifton (drums)
Hailing from South East London but with roots planted in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Bristol, which music scene(s) feels most like home?
TM: I played open mics and all that kind of irrelevant stuff in Hull, but mostly got involved in and enjoyed the music scene in Sheffield, before coming dawwwwen sarrrrrf. There was a wave of stuff going on in the late ‘00s that kind of evolved into the delicious clam label which was quite cool. Know a few peeps from up there still battling it out with some great releases, trying to carve out some relevancy for Sheffield after the arse fell out of the UK independent music industry in general.
ML: The music scene in Northumberland is mainly Small Pipes related (shout out to the Morpeth Bagpipe Museum, only one in England). You can’t go wrong with a rant and a blast of ‘Currie Doon’. The local traditions around storytelling and poetry have definitely made their mark on my writing and the gallows humour. Newcastle always had stuff going on around venues like The Cluny and The Cumberland Arms when I was a young’n. I used to try and chat to the bands afterwards, probably ruined a few of them desperately trying to pull a local lass when I rocked up in a Reebok fleece and Geordie Jeans wanting to chat about chord progressions.
MC: I feel like the closest I have come to feeling at home in a music scene is with The Vouchers (in London), but if the London music scene is a house, we are the Avon ladies.
Congratulations on today’s self-titled debut EP release! How will the three of you be celebrating?
TM: Championship darts re-runs and a few pints of Bovril (its a meal in a glass).
ML: He means it aswell! I’ll be like a misty eyed proud father seeing his first born off at the school gates.
MC: I’ll be making a neat tally of every listen while listening to Ivor Cutler in reverse.
The EP lends itself to a variety of rock inspired subgenres. What were your songwriting processes and how does the style of the EP progress track by track?
TM: Two of the tracks 'Administration' and 'Losing' came from Mark's demos which were fairly fleshed out, with a skeletal structure of sorts that got iterated on. 'Minefield', 'Press for Release' and 'Monologue' were a lot more organic. 'Minefield' had a simple guitar hook and a rough lyric that was stretched out, it’s a very simple almost German ‘motorbeat’ sort of song, mainly cos were lazy and the riff is so simple and pleasing you could play it for 10 minutes.
'Press' and 'Monologue' came from one riff or chord change that we just built up over time. 'Press' is one of the earliest songs we’ve ever played, and we just kept tweaking it until Mark got a vocal he liked and it all came together. That was often a warm-up song for us if we felt a bit skittish on bigger stages, you can really open up live on that one and stretch your legs.
ML: The songs lyrically almost always start of with a story and a melody that keeps churning in my head, often that’s something that’s quite autobiographical like ‘Minefield’ or ‘Losing’ to songs which are more written from another persons perspective like ‘Administration’ or from that of an observer like ‘Press for Release’. Monologue was inspired by the local characters you meet in life, people who have been chewed up and spat out by society.
The EP shows how we’ve developed from the earlier singles, the writing is more confident and engaged, with more strange observations and humour underpinning the critical stance. As a band we’ve developed an idiosyncratic style that’s a real mix up of sounds, we also know when to whip the violins out (thanks to Jess W for playing the violin bit on 'Monologue').
What’s your go-to track from the EP?
TM: 'Minefield' has the perfect sardonic snarl we’ve settled into, and is also quite muscular, the break is great fun to play. 'Monologue' is probably the most ‘interesting’, it covers new ground, toys around with dynamics a lot more and is probably the first song where we sound like actual musicians who can play rather than scumbag college of art students twiddling with amplifiers.
ML: For me 'Press for Release' has a lot of memories come to mind when I hear it. That song was one of the first we used to jam through as a band back in 2016/17, when we were still finding our feet. 'Minefield' and 'Losing' have always been ones to get a crowd warmed up. We played at a gig in Beckenham in an old manor house some local youngins had taken over and they all went mental. I was a bit worried about the old plasterwork coming down and some of their mams looked a bit concerned - cracking show mind.
MC: 'Administration' for the line “With Sandra from accounts, and a cold baked potato”. I also enjoyed hitting the cymbals on this one.
From singing rabbits to old school boxing matches, your music videos have an intriguingly DIY feel to them. Who’s the brains behind these creations? Any tips?
ML: I write and shoot my own films so making the videos is fun for me to get stuck into, we delegate about the themes together and come up with the concepts for each song. Our friend Priya made one for 'Press for Release', which was interesting, her style added something different. There’s always that DIY no budget approach to everything we try and do, rather than waiting for someone else to do it for us we just crack on ourselves or get one of our pals to chip in!
In recent years, London has become home to a whole host of burgeoning post-punk bands and artists. Which other bands should we would be listening to from this circuit?
TM: Shout out to PEGA in Belgium
ML: Malnourishment are a right pair, they make the most glorious sweaty racket but they’d both make any prospective father in law happy if their daughter brought either of them home. Lovely lads. Loose Tongues are great, have a stand out sound, Wales meets 90’s LA. Adam and Elvis got us loads of shows in the early days and gave us a chance; they’re like the Eddie Hearn of the South London circuit and a great band to boot.
MC: Limbs are doing everything right.
What’re your plans (be it music related or otherwise) for the rest of this tumultuous year
TB: We should get recording. Live-streaming has got very popular but seems to only work if you have a built up audience and requires a lot of technical know-how and thought put into it to not look amateurish. Not anything we have cos we're a bunch of amateurs. I tune a few times on IG to some live sets and very often it just looks like 4 overgrown teenagers banging pots and pans in their bedrooms trying to obscure their worn out now decades old FHM Myleene Klass poster with carefully placed reproductions of Matisse. We are all artists now.
ML: We’ve plenty of new material which I’m keen to crack on with, our mantra is always Gig, Gig, Gig, but with the current state of affairs making that impossible sadly, we’ve had a bit of time to write for the next release which is exciting, lots of new developments.
MC: Of course, as Mark says, we shall continue to converse and experiment as a band. But in addition to this I plan on relaxing after such a tumultuous 5 months to reduce any unnecessary anxiety. On a sunny day I like to wander around the dusty verges of Surrey Quays and South Bermondsey. There are places to stop and watch the machinery at the Recycling and Waste Management Facility. It makes a positive change from staring into the middle distance and waiting for the day to end.
“For a wholesome dose of Vouchers family bonding time, we like to…”
TB: Read Philatelic catalogues.
ML: Matt and I have been known to re-enact the famous scene from Ghost but with an Airfix Inter City 125 model train.
MC: There is nothing like the romance of British rolling stock.