VANT: Last days of Punk

By Dana Wilson

Fans were dismayed at the announcement that this November’s tour shall commence an indefinite hiatus for punk/indie rock group VANT. The band released their debut album Dumb Blood just at the beginning of this year, with extreme success. They instantly received acclaim from Radio 1 and were soon provided with opportunities to perform at the biggest festivals in the country, even Glastonbury. Punk rock artists generally find breaking into the mainstream like this challenging, so no one can doubt the band’s achievements. Although, after supporting the likes of the mighty Royal Blood, You Me At Six and Biffy Clyro, there is really no surprise that VANT went onto such victories.

The real question is, why now? After making it so far, so fast; why throw this all away?

Perhaps VANT fell into the tenuous trap of too much, too soon. As a band starting out simply to voice their frustration at modern society, it is fair to assume that mainstream success is the exact opposite of what they were hoping to achieve. Whilst at the forefront of many youth’s dreams; stardom is seemingly not for VANT. No doubt they enjoyed their time in the spotlight, but must be respected for the fact that they are able to recognise when enough is enough and retreat, before losing themselves down an unfamiliar road, far from home.

This November tour certainly confirms that the band are heading back towards their roots. They searched hard for a selection of the highest quality, independent, local gig venues in which to bid their final farewell. The edgy Georgian Theatre in Stockton marked the concluding destination of their north east run, which likely meant the most to lead vocalist Mattie who was born and bred in nearby Seaham. Even so, it was a rather risky choice, given that his last visit here resulted in a close encounter with a flying beer bottle…

The guys did appear a tad weary at first, probably a consequence of their biggest show in Newcastle a couple of days earlier with local legends Avalanche Party. With the aid of a little whisky, they soon perked up though, and were back to their lively selves. In terms of set list, favourites with the crowd were of course ‘Parking Lot’, ‘The Answer’ and ‘Karma Seeker’, but new tracks from the farewell mini album ‘Talk Like Thunder’ were also well received. Given that they took the time to chat to the crowd afterwards, this show hopefully dissipated any residual fears of the Stockton crowd, and leave VANT with only pleasant memories of the north east to take forward into their new lives.

The boys reiterated at the end of their performance how important it is to go out and support your local music scene. For many, music provides a safe-haven and, without it, times would be even more trying. VANT remember how appreciative they were of bands coming to venues in their small hometowns growing up and hope to have inspired a new generation on this final tour.

It was a real shame to be saying goodbye to a band so early on in their career, yet the members are clearly all in need of a change. Mattie’s distinctive long hair has been chopped off and bassist Billy is now completely bald: sure signs of the beginning of the end. VANT can be proud of all they have achieved together, but fans will need to remain patient to see what fresh journey awaits. Whether this shall remain on Planet Earth is, however, yet to be confirmed…

VANT are: Mattie Vant (lead vocals and guitar), Billy Morris (bass guitar), Henry Eastham (guitar) and David Green (drums)

For fans of: Sundara Karma, The Sherlocks, The Clash

Photograph: Dana Wilson

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