The Vergers are one of the best new bands to emerge from Cardiff this year. The group already have some very strong original material including the stunning ‘Empire Street’. Having recently played The Blue Lagoon Festival we caught up with Joseph Hardiman to find out more about The Vergers.
What made the 3 of you get into playing music and how was the band formed?
The band was formed by me and the drummer whose name is also Joe, we became friends through a mutual interest in music. I was never really a sociable person, I’m not a shy person by any means but prefer my own company and that of a few other people, Joe was similar so we had a lot of time to play music together. I got into music properly when I was about 13-14, before that I was more of a casual listener growing up with the likes of The Beatles and the Beach Boys, Joe’s dad was a session musician playing with the likes of Van Morrison, Mick Jagger etc. So music was an inherent part of his life from an early age unlike me. However once I turned 14 I started writing songs in my bedroom, actually the first song I wrote was called ‘Hey Venus’ which we still play to this day. Joe coming from a musical background had great facilities in his house to play music, so naturally just jamming and messing about evolved into something a little more serious. Fast forward a year and we met Drew in a park and within a couple of days she was playing bass for us in our band, however at the moment she is no longer playing with us due to school commitments. We also got Will to come and play with us on a temporary basis one time, he then joined the band permanently. However he is currently away in Uni but still comes down from time to time.
You changed your name recently from Perfect Daze to The Vergers. Why the change and how did you come up with the new name?
Yeah, as we developed as a band through music and the ideas we wanted to convey through our music, our sound naturally changed. When we were known as ‘The Perfect Daze’ we had a sound that was more psychedelic in nature, not overly but it had that sprinkle of early Syd Barrett Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Floyd kind of sound, the name ‘The Perfect Daze’ seemed more suited to us at the time….if you know what I mean. However as time progressed we wanted a name more neutral that encased the variety of music that we produced so that we had more room to move. A verger is someone who looks after the grounds of a Church, a Church Is something that conveys a message to society…not so much anymore but that’s the whole premise of it really, so by calling ourselves the vergers what we mean Is that we are looking after something which has a message, we like to think our music has meaning so in essence we are the vergers of our own music.
For someone who hasn’t heard you before how would you describe your music?
I think that they will be pleasantly surprised at the broad range in style of our music. We like to be constantly coming up with new ideas and sounds so that we can stay fresh as a band, however that’s not to say there isn’t any continuity. We know as a band that people don’t like music that is all over the place so we make sure that there is an underlining theme but with some new sounds woven into the mixture. I think that someone could also expect to get something out of it…hopefully. We like to put messages in our songs some more blatant than others, it’s not on purpose but it’s just how we have always done it. In terms of the technicalities of our music though, we are a basic band, drummer guitarist/singer and bassist however I don’t think that is a bad thing, it gives us a raw energy we like to think. We have a broad range of musical influences as well, bands and singers such as The Beatles, The Libertines, Joy Division, Pulp, The Smiths and Bowie etc. but then we take more unusual influences such as Sinatra, James Brown, Sidney Bechet…. some of Phil Spector’s work with singers in the 50s and 60s, Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye and we do like a bit of classical music of the romantic era mostly as well. Obviously some influences play into our music a bit more than others but I’m sure they have some effect, but please don’t listen to our music and expect a symphony orchestra with trumpets and bassoons….we’re not that advanced compared to them we’re merely a Chamber Orchestra in comparison. However I think you can tell with a band when they listen to other types of music because it does show up in places.
What makes the Vergers different from other bands?
I would again say it’s our diversity as a band in our music, not to say there are no other bands with diverse songs…of course there are, however being diverse means that you are constantly coming up with new ideas, no two songs are the same so that applies when we are comparing our music to other bands as well.
You recently played the Blue Lagoon Festival. How was that experience and how does playing a festival differ from playing a small venue?
Playing at Blue Lagoon was a great experience, it was our second year in a row of doing so…however this year we were on the main stage. Felix the organiser of the event heard our music and gave us the opportunity to do so, so we are thankful to him for that. It’s a lovely venue for a festival its set right on the cliffs of West Wales overlooking the ocean, on a clear day you could see all the way across to Ireland. So there were no complaints about the setting. The people there were great and we had an uplifting response from the audience after our set. It’s nice to play festivals as you really get sucked into the atmosphere as supposed to just turning up at a venue and leaving straight afterwards, it an entirely different experience to playing in a small club etc. However both are great in their own right. I think every band loves a good gig at a local venue in Cardiff where everyone is crammed together enjoying music as well. Venues such as Clwb Ifor Bach for example are always a great place to play. Yeah but it was a great experience and hopefully we will be invited again next year to play.
You already have some impressive original songs. Who does the writing and how did you learn your song writing skills?
Well I write the songs (Joseph Hardiman Singer/Guitarist) mostly in their raw form, and then I bring them to rehearsal and everyone adds their own little bits to it, such as guitar solos etc. However Joe the drummer has written a couple of songs, and Will who is currently away in uni has written a few songs as well. The main bulk of songs though have been written by me. I started writing songs at about age 14, I don’t have any real technique I’ve just always sat down at my desk with an acoustic guitar and strummed away mumbling potential lyrics until I come up with a song that hits the spot. I always find though that thinking back to a certain time in your life where you had one of those moments, a memory perhaps that gives you a fuzzy feeling inside or a pit sinking sensation and trying to replicate that feeling in form of a song has always led me to create some of my favourite pieces. However in terms of any real technique all that I can offer really is that a song needs a beginning and an end. Just pick up a guitar or piano etc. and see what you can come up with is the only real way, you never know you might create something great, that’s always been my philosophy.
What other South Wales bands and singers do you feel an affinity with or spend time with?
We know a couple of guys around the South Wales music scene, such as Ethan from Tibet, Zac White who’s a great guy who used to be in the band Fur. We know them because we used to be smoking buddies in school at a place called the Wall. Where friends with a couple of guys from the Fused, Parish and the Shop Girls as well. However we don’t have many major affiliations with other bands, where sort of lone wolves when it comes to the South Wales music scene in a sense. However we would like to get involved with more bands, it’s such a great thing to do, we’ve just been quite busy with recording these last few months that we’ve sought of lost touch with some old friends. I thoroughly recommend to any readers though to check these guys out, they are well worth the listen and your time.
Is the band looking for a recording/management deal or are you taking a DIY approach?
Well we’re open to anything really that of course benefits us in any way or something that is for a good cause etc. In terms of recording we already have the facilities for that, however management would of course be helpful. So far we have done most things by ourselves, but we’ve also had some major help along the way from the likes of Richard for recording us and Felix etc. However anything that can further our progress as musicians is always welcome, we like to keep an open mind when it comes to help from the outside, you can’t always do things alone.
The new song Empire Street is very atmospheric with a big sound. Tell us about the song, where it was recorded and who did the arrangement?
Well firstly I would just like to say thank you very much, we appreciate your kind words about our song. I wrote that song just over a year ago I believe, and we’ve been playing it live ever since. However we only started to record it a couple of months ago. Richard recorded it for us in his studio based in Llandaff. In terms of the arrangement nothing much changed from the original that I wrote, however Richard shortened the song a bit by taking out one of the pre-choruses before the second chorus. That helped the song a lot because as a band we believe songs should be short and concise in most cases, so Richard is pretty good at knowing when songs should be shortened. As a band as mentioned previously our music is quite diverse, we have a lot of slow and more mellow songs, then we have fast and rowdy songs which are always good to play live…..then we have songs like this which are sought of in-between. We wanted a big sound whilst also remaining tasteful as a song as well, so it sort of ended up sounding like a Rock Ballad which were happy with. Richard was vital to the songs sound, he raised the song up to the next level for us, where very much happy with how it turned out and hope to match it in the future with more songs so we would like to thank him for that.
What are your future recording plans?
At the moment where touching up on a few songs, getting them ready for release. We have about 3 songs released at the moment, however in total we have recorded 15 songs and have another 10 or so unrecorded. Hopefully that number will grow in the near future, but summers I find are never really good for writing music…winter has always been the most creative time for me, songs such as Empire Street and Hey Venus were all written sometime in the winter. So yeah we are brushing up on a few unfinished tracks and hopefully you can all hear them soon. We plan to release an EP in the coming months, as a band we have been together for just under 2 years now so it would be nice to get some physical copies of our music out there.
What’s coming up in the next few months?
We have just finished recording and editing a music video for our song ‘Peace Not Anger’ which we hope to release in the coming weeks. That was really fun to do, so we hope you all like it. We are then going to hopefully start work on a video for ‘Empire Street.’ Me and Joe will be in Paris in a few weeks where we are going to play in some small venues around there, nothing major only open mic’s most probably, so we thought filming in Paris would be such a great opportunity and make a really good video for Empire Street. In terms of gigs, we’ve just come off the backs of a few gigs around Wales, and are looking to go up to Bristol soon to play there as well. However we have no official dates at the moment to give out, but are looking forward to playing some more gigs in Cardiff soon.
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