Introducing: The Vitamin Sees

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The Vitamin Sees are from Leicester, but they pass the Scottish test enough for me. Singer Stuart Gray is also in Fence Collective band Viva Stereo, while drummer Mick Harrison was a member of Prolapse alongside “Scottish” Mick Derrick. Besides, quoting influences like Suicide, 13th Floor Elevators and Spacemen 3 makes them ok in my book. Plus, I used to really like Prolapse.

A while back I asked them some questions, they answered, and it has taken me ages to get round to posting. Here’s the results.

Who are The Vitamin Sees?

The Vitamin Sees are Mick Harrison, Rob Norbury, Sam Walker and Stuart Gray. We are a 4 piece Leicester band who play psychedelic, shoegaze, kraut rock, noise.

You’ve all been in bands before, or are still in others, what led to forming a new band?

Stuart:
After moving to Leicester in 2006 I was still pretty active with my ‘other’ band Viva Stereo, we released our third album in 2009. So up until then I was writing and recording, so I wasn’t really looking for a new band in my new hometown…but at the same time I was making mental notes and really just getting to know people who might be able to help in future. On top of that I had a firm idea of what I wanted the band to sound like and the sort of ethos I wanted, that I wasn’t sure a lot of people would go for. I wouldn’t say I’ve ‘been there and done that’ in the music business but I’ve had my own ups and downs after being in Viva Stereo for ten years. To be honest, the thought of starting from scratch and going through all the crap you have to go through as a new band filled me with fear. I just really wanted people who would be up for getting together, playing some music we enjoyed and maybe playing the odd gig here and there. I didn’t want to have to worry about the usual stuff like making sure we practice every week or playing loads of gigs so our name gets known, or making sure we were playing the type of music was ‘cool’ so would get us noticed. I got talking to Rob at a party in July 2009. I’d known him for a few years through a local band he’d been in, The Dirty Backbeats. The Backbeats had disbanded about 6 months previous and I wasn’t sure if Rob had been doing any musical stuff. It’s safe to say we were both quite wasted and we started talking about doing some music together and I had this idea of trying to start a two piece band in a similar vein to Suicide, just with a drum machine, some heavy guitars and a synth. Really primal and basic. We thought about forming a band, doing a couple of gigs and then splitting up. I’d just been made redundant and Rob was also on the dole so we got together a few weeks later at my house one afternoon and tried out some ideas. It was pretty simple stuff. I had a drum loop programme on the pc which I played through my speakers. Rob played along on guitar and I played some synth. It all sounded pretty good…and it was fun, but maybe not something that would transfer to a live environment and I guess it was pretty self-indulgent.

A couple of weeks later I went see a friend’s band called Ambrose Tompkins in Leicester. They announced that night it was their last gig. I knew their bass player Sam to speak to and fuelled by alcohol I cornered him after the gig and asked if he wanted to join the band. At the same time I was texting Rob to tell him my plans so it was pretty much an on the spot decision! Sam was up for it and we were now a three piece.
The next day I sent Sam an email outlining what we planned to do as a band. He replied, mentioning he knew someone who might be up for drumming with us. I had decided that the drum loop approach might not be as easy as first thought and as Viva Stereo use loops and drum machines I wanted to distance myself from them. So I figured it might be a better idea to get a live drummer. Sam mentioned a guy called Mick Harrison whom Sam had spent a bit of time with at a recent local music festival. Mick had played bass with Prolapse who I had been a fan of so I was instantly interested in finding out if he’d be up for it. However despite his past, I think my main thing was to find out if Mick was a decent bloke. I arranged to meet him one afternoon for a pint. I met him in a local boozer and we got on straight away so the band was born.

Do you find it helpful that, without wanting to sound unkind, some of you have already been around the block a bit with bands?

Stuart: In helps in so much that theres certain aspects we don’t really want to go through again. Mainly getting to the point where its boring or precious or even other people getting involved to try and take us somewhere we don’t want to go. Mick especially had some amazing times in Prolapse but by the sound of things they nearly ended up killing each other in the end. Viva Stereo are still going but we really just exist as a recording band. I think The Vitamin Sees is a bit of a release for us all…our current favourite song is a 10 minute kraut rock jam that we are building up the courage to play live..I watch old footage of Can and it looks ace..but I’m just not sure how well that sort of thing would go down at the local venue! So we take things at our own pace and do what we want really.Theres that old shite expression about ‘doing what we do and if anyone else likes it its a bonus’ but it really does resonate with us!


How would you describe the music you make, and how are The Vitamin Sees different from the previous bands you have all been part of?

We all listen to different stuff but all have common bands we like and probably influence us. We’re all fans of pretty dark guitar music, bit of kraut-rock, psychedelia, drones, shoegaze, that sort of thing. I guess that’s where we are coming from musically.
Its inevitable to be compared to our respective pasts, but well, for a start, Mick is on drums in The Vitamin Sees and not bass like he was in Prolapse so it’s a new environment for him. Obviously with me being Scottish I guess some people might be really lazy and compare us to Prolapse in that respect even though we sound nothing like them. I guess we both have abit of a Kraut rock influence but they were alot more punkier than us with it.
 I sing with Viva Stereo as well so it’s going to sound similar in places, but I think the music is different enough to tell each band apart. Although in saying that Viva Stereo are starting to sound more like a live band again these days after a few years where it was quite electroinic sounding! I can’t speak for Mick with Prolapse but obviously they were a band he did full time and they were pretty much touring a lot with a record deal and the pressures that brings etc We differ from Viva Stereo mainly because we all live in the same city!


You only played your first gig in April, how did it go, and and there more planned?

Our first gig went really well..typical first gig really, all your mates turn up, you are pumped with nervous energy and it seems to go ok because you have no reference point. There were a few mistakes but it was a good night. We played our second gig in June and it wasn’t really the best. One of the hottest days of the year added with a free local festival on nearby that we’d all been drinking at before we’d even soundchecked. I think it was a good thing because our debut gig had been pretty good but some of the songs probably were rushed through for it. We had decided when we started that we’d only gig when we were ready. But after a couple of months we needed direction and booked a gig for something to aim for. We didn’t have a full set so I guess we just rushed some songs through to fill up time. Maybe the excitment of actually playing a gig took over us. Anyway by the second gig, which was, like I said a bit rough, we realised some of the songs weren’t that great so they were axed. We decided not to book any gigs for a while until we sorted our set out..which we’ve been doing at the moment. We are booked to play in August at a festival in Leicester than I’m putting on with some friends called Lose Your Cool  so looking forward to that. (That festival takes place in Leicester from August 27th till the 29th, visit Lose Your Cool for details)


What can we expect to see/hear from you in 2010? Any chance we’ll see the band up in Scotland any time?

We’re hoping to get back into the studio later in the year and record some more stuff. The tunes on our myspace are really just rough demo’s too so we’d like to get them properly mixed and make them sound a bit fuller. Plus a couple of other tunes we really want to record. I definitely want to get upto to Scotland for some gigs as I’ve still got a lot of mates up there ad its always a good laugh, so any promoters out there give us a shout!

The Vitamin Sees: MySpace – Facebook