Calling all Leeds folk, indie fans and gig-goers! Boy, have we got a massive interview here. That’s right — enter Van Houten, an on-the-rise pop-rock quintet that specialises musically in indie-psych hooks and personally in supporting crucial movements. Stick around and get to know them…
Hey guys, how are you all doing?
Hello, we’re all getting on okay thank you xxx
So, I met and worked with Henry many years ago, which was possibly only at the very embryonic stages of Van Houten? Tell me about yourselves, how you all met and how you came to form the band.
Henry, Louis and Niall are pals from school, and Louis and Henry decided they wanted to make a band, so they started playing around Leeds a bit. Over time, Jake R joined after we got chatting at a gig. We were very keen on Jake W’s ability on the keys, so we decided to snap him up. Recently, Niall has joined too, and we feel like we’ve got a stable and creative line-up.
Which artists have been the biggest influences on your sound?
Lots of different stuff really; we all bring different influences into our sound. I’d say that, recently, we’ve been influenced by The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Velvet Underground — we all really like the simplicity of that kind of songwriting.
How has lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic impacted on you?
Well, we can’t really write together or rehearse without Big Boris sending the SWAT team round to our rehearsal space, which is frustrating, considering we had some great momentum going with the songs we were writing. We were supposed to go on tour to France in April. We are all a bit devastated that we can’t do this. I think more than anything we miss playing together and doing shows.
I can only imagine how much of a blow not making it to France has been. Congrats on releasing your ace new single, ‘Better Than This’. I feel like it’s going to be one of those tracks that’ll always remind me of spring/summer. Has it been as well received as you’d hoped?
Yeah, it’s definitely got that vibe to it! To us it sounds fun, lively and cuddly… a lot like Henry Beaumont. I think that our tunes can always be received better. We’d love a bigger audience and to get our stuff heard more, but we’re definitely happy with the feedback we’ve had on the tune so far.
Without giving away any big spoilers, are you working on any other new material?
Of course, there’s no point for us to dwell on the same stuff because we’d get really bored of it. We’re always pinging ideas to each other and have been working on some stuff which we believe is our best yet. We’re pushing ourselves to evolve and keep what we do interesting.
You’re a band that seems to openly show its support to the local Leeds community, small businesses and campaigns going on. What else do you get up to while you aren’t making music?
Recently we’ve been showing our support at the BLM protests going on around Leeds. It’s very important to support these protests happening in your area — it’s a pressing issue that needs addressing! We’ve been getting inspired by the sense of collectivism and unity that the protests bring. But apart from that, not much really. Niall and Jake R have been playing tennis, Henry and Lou have been skating, and Jake W has been trying his luck on Tinder. Most importantly, we’ve all been having a few too many pints of Holsten Pils.
Although Coronavirus has rained off this year’s much-anticipated summer festival season, what about your gigs? Have upcoming ones been rescheduled? Are you also looking forward to Live at Leeds?
Yeah, the shows that we’ve had booked have been rescheduled, but I don’t think anyone truly knows when gigs will be back on (or when people will feel safe to attend them), so I guess we don’t want to get our hopes up too much! We are really looking forward to playing Live at Leeds; there’s always loads of great music happening there.
Any parting words from VH?
Stay safe, stay happy, drink plenty of Pilsner and support BLM! You’ve been a great crowd, g’night xxx