Tired of working in shitty bars and call-centres, Mattie Vant decided to make a better life for himself as the frontman of one of Britain’s most socially active new bands. Tackling current affairs in every form – from climate change to gun regulation – debut album ‘Dumb Blood’ proved a bitter pill to swallow. Less than a year on, VANT are calling it quits and going on an ‘indefinite hiatus’. Ahead of the announcement, Mattie talked to us about travel, Tories, and making the world a better place.
MATTIE TALKS… CHANGING THE WORLD
The thing I find frustrating is that it’s very in-vogue to be active on social media. It’s good, but a tweet only lasts for as long as your newsfeed. I think unless you back those words up in reality then we haven’t progressed. For me that’s been highlighted throughout all these events [the Grenfell tragedy and terrorist attack in Manchester]. People feel like it’s enough to comment on social media or change your profile picture ‘in tribute’ to something. I think it’s really important that we try to keep the momentum going forward and the rhetoric is maintained. It takes grassroots movements to really grab communities and unions. All of those networks that once were at the forefront of change now appear online. It’s not the same, people aren’t getting out in the streets and causing civil disobedience.
We had a really good reaction in New York in particular to various anti-Trump statements I made during the set. Someone in Chicago told us that there were a couple of Trump supporters who looked unsure when I said something but I think by the end of the set they were nodding their heads and appreciating the musical side. As a band we first and foremost want people to enjoy the music, if they agree with the message then that’s a bonus.
…GOING TO DONALD TRUMP’S INAUGURATION
The whole point in going was to try to understand this opposite opinion, which I feel like I did. A lot of people genuinely felt frustrated about the state of politics and believed that Trump would be better for working class people. When someone spouts bullshit and says that they’re going to help everyone I think it’s a nice lie to believe. The fundamental thing I took from it is that you can’t bemoan someone for having a different opinion, but you can still try and change it.
The Tories have had a tactic of not voicing their opinions on social media. They’ve actually played a very sensible game because it allows them to not be attacked. My fear is once the Tories aren’t really taking the bait anymore, which leaves them open to criticism, then they can start implementing all kinds of policies which people won’t have the hunger to oppose anymore. I hope I’m wrong, but I think that’s just the way the world is. The only solution is a revolution, but it’s not going to be from a punk band, it’s going to be from people on that ground level who are really facing day-to-day problems.
When I was really young our tour manager introduced me to Zeitgeist and the of esoteric agenda and all that conspiracy stuff. Although it’s very ‘out there’, a lot of it boils down to just basic truth. From that moment I knew that something wasn’t right, even if I couldn’t explain what it was. I’d be working shitty jobs and seeing the world from the bottom upwards and wondering. As someone who comes from a working class background, the disproportionate spread of wealth has always frustrated me. It’s kind of a cliché but music was a way out in terms of getting to a point where I could do something I love and not be struggling in the same way. And you learn more all the time. I think the fundamental drive for it comes from self discovery and self education to try and get a better understanding of why we are the way we are. It is easier to close your eyes, and we’re all guilty of maybe not doing enough but for me, the difference is… a tweet will last for your newsfeed but a song will last forever. If you can boil all that frustration down and put it into something that will resonate with people for long after you’ve died then at least you’ve given a reference point to someone, a glance into a subject that they might not have thought about before.
…PUTTING MONEY OVER MINDSET
There’s certainly an aspect of wanting to be more metaphorical or philosophical about a subject than ramming it down someone’s throat, which a lot of our stuff does. I think it depends on what your aspirations are. My aspirations are still massive. I want to be a worldwide-known artist. It’s a delicate moment in time where we are coming round to writing the second album and we’ve got to make decisions like that. Fundamentally, as long as at the core of everything we do there is some hint towards a deeper meaning then that could be satisfactory. There are hundreds of songs that had commercial success that initially you wouldn’t realise had any sort of meaning to them. It’s definitely something we’re experimenting with.
We are going on an indefinite hiatus. We wanted to end this part of our journey in tiny venues, in often overlooked towns. We came from those places and when a band played anywhere near us we were grateful and elated. To accompany these final dates we will be releasing a mini album entitled ‘Talk Like Thunder’ on our own Dumb Blood Records.
Dumb Blood is out now.