AAA Music Approved: Van Susans
aaamusic | On 26, Feb 2014
AAAmusic: Who are you and where are you from?
I’m the singer of the band Van Susans. My name is Olly van Andrews. I’ve replaced my old middle name with ‘van’ to make me sound more exotic rather than my traditional, ridiculous middle name that was tormentingly bestowed upon me by my parents. We formed back in June 2010 by myself, Rob Dullaway and his brother Ed Dullaway. We’re a five piece with Holly McLatchie and AJ Bramwell finishing up the lineup.
Van Susans play alternative folk rock; I suppose that would be a good way of loosely summing up our sound. Each song varies quite a lot from each other so I’d say it’s quite hard to pigeonhole. We’ve never tried to write one particular type of music, we just write whatever works at the time and that’s led to our songs being varied in style. Particularly with the new stuff we’ve got coming out anyway.
AAAmusic: What inspired you to get into music?
I kind of fell in to music. I played music when I was a kid, started playing the piano when I was like six and then went on to play the saxophone and eventually the guitar when I hit around 13. When I was younger, though, I didn’t really ever think that’s what I would end up doing! But yer, I was kind of pushed in to joining a band when I was 14 to play guitar and ended up meeting Rob in a studio in Croydon; that would be our old band’s first ever practice together. Then I guess I just got hooked on the rush of the stage and it didn’t take long for me to get obsessed with performing.
I’d say my Dad was a massive influence on me getting in to music. He surrounded me with music when I was younger – he had such a diverse variety of taste that I picked up on music from a young age. He really pushed me to be a musician; he had a lot of faith in my talent even when I didn’t. I’ll always keep it going to remember him, I feel I owe it to him to keep writing.
AAAmusic: What have you done?
We released a five track EP and a full length album back in September 2012 under the label Beatnik Geek Records. The two releases got a lot of industry attention and radio play, which is cool. Toured all over the UK and through France. Played some major festivals over the summer. Supported bands like The Beautiful South and Little Comets, and shared stages with Newton Faulkner, Bastille and The Mystery Jets.
I’m proud of all of these things. I think it a massive accomplishment to release an album and it’s awesome to think that people out there are listening to our music and inspiring people like how so many artists inspired me!
AAAmusic: What are you like live?
We like to go for the musician showmanship approach and make the audience go WOW! If we don’t achieve that from a show, we walk away feeling like we didn’t do our job. We’ll add in solos where there aren’t any on the studio recordings. We think that a show should be just that, a ‘show’! We never play the same set twice, it should always be a different experience when you come so that you’ll always be surprised. If you wanted to hear the songs you can just whack on the CD; seeing a band live is special. You’ll always remember seeing your favourite bands live good or bad, we’re making memories!
We put a lot of effort in to our live show. We’ve recently started experimenting with drum solos and percussion breaks and we’re developing our skills with that, which is fun. We’ll try to get you dancing, but then we throw in the odd slow one to keep you on your toes.
AAAmusic: What makes you different?
We’re different ‘cos we aren’t pretentious and instead try to write relatable songs. There’s such a scene out there of being ‘cool’ by smoking and getting tattoos and acting like a bad ass… we just want to make beautiful interesting music. I suppose our sound is different to everything that’s out there at the moment, we get compared to a lot of bands that have been and gone like The Levellers and The Waterboys but not like anything that is current. The stuff we’re coming out with at the moment though is steering our sound in to a new way, and I’ve got a feeling that all of these comparisons are going to change quite drastically.
AAAmusic: Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do you listen to music?
Well, recently I’ve started collecting vinyls again. I went through a phase there of being so broke that I had to choose between food and music, and unfortunately food had to come first so I couldn’t justify spending money on music and resorted to a Spotify account. I used to be very against the whole digital age, but I am now in the mind-set of ‘you can’t beat them so don’t bother fighting’. I wrote my dissertation in University on the illegality of downloading music for free and consumer misbehaviour, but to be honest I think the industry is so far gone that it just doesn’t matter anymore.
I like the beauty of a vinyl – the artwork to the fact that it has to be consumed the way that the artist intended it to be consumed. Musicians put a lot of thought into stuff like track order, and I think maybe that kind of thing is taken for granted by people nowadays. Artists want the album to be listened in a certain order, track by track to build you up and drop you down – carrying you through whatever point the album is trying to make. This whole idea is usually lost with digital music because people can jump to whatever track that they want at whatever time. Vinyls are meant to be played start to end – I like that, but I guess it’s fine that other people don’t. I like having something to hold and I wish I was born 30 years ago where digital music didn’t exist… they just appreciated music more! You couldn’t skip a record half way through, it winds me up when people do that at a party haha! Most people nowadays are spoilt by music and it’s lost a lot of its value, but that’s how it is so as an artist you have to adapt.
AAAmusic: What have you been listening to?
My playlist is kinda messed up – put my playlist on a random you’d be surprised between every song. I’ve got Joy Division, Slipknot, Kanye, Holst… variety is the spice of life!
My favourite band at the moment and who have been for the last few years is Frightened Rabbit. Their new album Pedestrian Verse is very good, and they are having a big influence on my songwriting with their dark approach to writing songs.
AAAmusic: What are your aspirations for the future?
To get our second album out. It’s taking forever but that’s just cos we want to get it right. It’s coming along and it’s sounding… mature. I think it’s going to push us to the next level (whatever the hell that is) – I’m well excited!
Questions answered by: Olly van Andrews (lead vocals + guitar) of Vans Susans…