Ahead of their biggest-ever tour this November, we caught up with The Vanns’ Cameron Little to chat about their powerful new live show.
Ten years on from their debut release (an eponymous EP that gave us the underground classic How It Used To Be), The Vanns have levelled up to their peak form, from rock’n’rolling larrikins known for loose and dicey pub gigs to bonafide virtuosos of indie-rock’s highest echelon.
Case in point: their second full-length effort, Last Of Your Kind, which arrived back in May and sported career-defining gems like Red Light, Making It Out Alive, Haunted and Ever. The 12-track album – which arrived independently after The Vanns ended a deal with Sony – was met with instant approval from fans and critics alike, racking up stellar reviews and debuting at #8 on the ARIA Charts.
The Vanns launched Last Of Your Kind on a lowkey club tour across the week of its release, but come November, they’ll give it the explosive theatre production it really calls for.
Marking the band’s biggest-ever headlining tour on home soil, the trek will kick off with back-to-back shows in Naarm/Melbourne and Kaurna/Adelaide, respectively hitting The Forum on Friday November 3 and The Gov on Saturday 4. A short while later, they’ll head to Boorloo/Perth (Friday November 17 at the Freo Social) and Eora Sydney (Saturday November 18 at the UNSW Roundhouse), before wrapping things up at The Tivoli in Meanjin/Brisbane on Saturday November 25. Tickets for all of the shows are on sale now – you can find them here.
“It’s very exciting,” guitarist Cameron Little says of The Vanns’ leap to these massive, several-thousand-cap theatres. “We got a little taste of it last year when we did this one-off show at The Forum in Melbourne, and that was unreal. I think a theatre-sized room really is just the best place to have a gig: you can go a bit bigger with the set and do a bit more with the production... So we're very keen to play these venues. Some of them are really big ‘bucket list’ kind of places for us – like the Roundhouse in Sydney, that’s one we've wanted to play for ages!”
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Having played their first live shows in 2012, The Vanns have long held venues like these in their sights, earnestly grinding away on the touring circuit in hopes that one day, they’d have the means to embark on a tour like this for themselves. “In a way,” Little says, “it does kind of feel like we've hit a milestone.” But he’s quick to note that even though they’ve made their former selves’ dream come true, here isn’t where The Vanns plan on settling: “We’re always thinking, ‘What’s the next big thing for us to do? What’s the next step to take?’
“Not that we don't enjoy it in the moment! We’re just keen to keep getting bigger and bigger, you know? Aiming for the next room up that can fit a few more people. And that’s kind of what we’ve done our whole career: we went from playing to 30 people to 50 people, then to 100 people, then 200 and so on… And now we’re at this point.”
The sentiment bleeds into their ethos as it pertains to their practise routines – Little makes a point to say the band rehearse “a lot” because they’re “always trying to get that one percent better”. He and his bandmates – frontman Jimmy Vann, bassist Tom ‘Switty’ Switlek and drummer Andrew ‘Bano’ Banovich – all know the songs like the backs of their hands, but they still convene regularly to thrash ‘em out in private, just because “there's always room for us to get tighter as a band”.
Little explains further: “I think you're only as good as your last show. There have definitely been times where we haven’t rehearsed and we’ve gone out [onstage at a show] and we haven’t been as good of a live band as we were at the show before it. And I think it definitely pays off – I feel like we’re always getting better at playing music together.”
The Vanns’ consistent growth, Little says, is what made the creative process for Last Of Your Kind such an exciting experience for him and his bandmates. Their debut album, 2019’s Through The Walls, was mostly written by Little and Vann alone – “We'd write drums on a keyboard and then take them to Bano going, ‘Just play this,’” Little admits – but this time around, the band gelled in a much more collaborative way. “I didn’t tell Bano what to do at all for this one,” Little says proudly. “He made all the drum parts himself, and Switty made all the bass parts.”
Because they’d hustled so hard to refine their live performance, too, The Vanns were able to put their new album together much more fluidly. “The songs were recorded pretty live,” Little says. “It's just the four of us in a room, jamming out together. There was some overdubbing – it’s not completely live – but the first album was very much pieced-together, where we’d do all the drums first and then stack everything on those tracks one piece at a time, whereas for this one, all the songs were recorded live and then a few little things were added afterwards.”
The energy of The Vanns’ live show is translated beautifully onto Last Of Your Kind, making for an adrenalised album full of heavy-hitting rock moments. Little is virtually addicted to that energy: “It's so fun,” he says, “I just can't stay still. I feel like I'm getting a bit old to run and jump around as much as I do, like, I can get pretty sore after a gig – I never used to, but now I get offstage and my legs hurt, my neck hurts... But I just can't not do it! It’s too fun!
“It just flows naturally through us, you know? There’s never been a gig where we’ve played and I’ve been like, ‘Aw, I don’t really want to do that stuff this time around.’ No matter how tired we are or whatever mood we’re in, by the time we have to go out onstage, we’re all like, ‘Yes! I am so ready to go wild!’”
Friday November 3 – Naarm/Melbourne, The Forum
Saturday November 4 – Kaurna/Adelaide, The Gov
Friday November 17 – Boorloo/Perth, Freo Social
Saturday November 18 – Eora/Sydney, UNSW Roundhouse
Saturday November 25 – Meanjin/Brisbane, The Tivoli