Steven Dinnie speaks to Stevie Jukes, guitarist and vocalist from indie rock band Vigo Thieves, ahead of their performance at T in the Park.
The end of term at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh was celebrated with an all-day party, at the centre of which was the Edinburgh leg of the T in the Park 20th anniversary roadshow. As the weather held, unsigned indie-rockers Vigo Thieves played their anthemic stadium tunes from an open-top bus. Their rock, reminiscent of U2, felt unconstrained and even from the heights of their vehicular staging, they feel at once personal and epic. What tunes like Heartbeats lack in originality is made up for by how completely they fill the whole open-air space. Vigo Thieves’ euphoric alternative sound fits perfectly with the bittersweet cocktail of emotions of an end of term. Vigo Thieves are rising stars, though as yet unsigned, they have big gigs coming up in Glasgow, have been garnering ‘one-to-watch’ recommendations in the national press and of course are playing T in the Park in its 20th year.
You just finished your set on top of the bus, have you ever played a gig on public transport before?
Nope, it’s the first time. I’ll phone my mum to tell her I’ve made it. It was a bit windy, it sounds crazy but it was just good to get out and play.
I went up there to take a few photos and it was so cramped!
Very tight. Especially when we’ve got quite a big set up now. Chris had to make do with just one keyboard, usually he has two. We’ve got a travelling saxophone player we couldn’t bring because it was too tight. It was really cramped.
You’ve been going from strength to strength, with tons of people saying you’re the one to watch. What’s next for Vigo Thieves?
At the moment we’ve got a new video and single coming out at the end of this month and then we’ll be doing touring over the summer and the festival period. We’ll be releasing our new EP, Heart and Soul Part III in August.
The sort of music you play is stadium rock, kind of anthemic stuff; do you think it benefits from being open air?
Definitely, last year when we played T in the Park, the tent was absolutely packed out. That’s where we wanted to be and that’s the kind of songs we try to write. We feel they’re for bigger stages and festivals. Earlier this year we did two nights at King Tut’s. It’s indoors and it’s not a particularly large venue but there was a festival atmosphere. We kind of get that but I think it’s the songs we play that help us get that feedback and that vibe. It’s triumph and it’s everybody relaxing.
I can’t think of too many bands in Scotland at the moment the play the music you play. Do you find it’s harder or easier to get gigs being unique?
I think one thing we don’t shy away from is that we’re very commercial. We have no apologies, we’re very radio friendly and don’t try to shy away from it. I think all of the bands try and go left-field and try to have an image before they think about writing a song. It should be the other way about. I think that’s one thing that benefits us, as you said, there aren’t any other bands up here playing the sort of music we play. That’s good for us because more people are paying attention.
Do you find you get a big international response?
If you look back at some of the stats and feedback on Facebook and Youtube it’s grown. We had people from Chicago email last week about publishing, we had people from Spain, Slovenia, Italy, looking for the rights to publish our stuff and playing it on the radio over there. It’s getting there, the music is reaching different places.
You’ve mentioned the radio, do you find you use it?
If you’re an unsigned band you get played on a Sunday on the radio. You get Ally McCrae BBC Introducing, there are BBC Radio One spots, XFM, Capital FM. Hopefully over the summer with the new songs, we can hopefully work on getting plays. As an unsigned band those spots are hard to get.
Do you find Facebook or Youtube is better for getting your message out?
The big thing for us is that we’re definitely hands-on with the social media side of things. It’s something we work quite hard on. A lot of Youtube videos we work really hard on so that first of all people see something that’ll engage them and then the song backs it up. Youtube certainly plays a massive part in getting our music out there.
Do you have any plans for albums?
After this third EP comes out then we’re gonna pick the ten best tracks off the three and then release it as an album. Probably just before Christmas.
Apart from T in the Park, where is your next gig?
The next big thing we’ve got is The Arches. Following on from the two sold-out nights at King Tut’s we wanted to go bigger and better so we planned a headline gig at the Arches on the 7th of September which should be our biggest show. We’re confident it’s going to sell out, but we’re keen to get it sold out fast to let everybody know we’re stepping up.
Find out more at vigothieves.com