Vanilla Gorilla have been representing a melting pot of surf, psych, and blues since they first starting sharing their tunes a few years ago. Their latest EP Dreamer adds yet another layer of tonality with some serious hip-hop influences. We sat down with Isaac, Brad and Oli to gain some more insight.
The boys from Vanilla Gorilla run us through the songwriting processes that helped shape their latest EP Dreamer, and exactly what they’ll be doing post-iso.
HAPPY: Hey guys, a massive congratulations on the release of your EP Dreamer! How’s it feel to put it out during a pandemic?
ISAAC: Thanks so much, stoked to finally it out. It feels good to be able to give people something to listen to with all this extra time in solitude. We hope Dreamer can be a bit of relief to reality for a moment.
BRAD: Cheers! It’s definitely a completely different EP release! Two weeks after, all shows were cancelled and a pandemic started, who would’ve guessed? Feels odd not playing gigs to back up the release but we’re staying positive and getting creative!
HAPPY: This is your third EP in the last year. Has it been a labour of love for you all?
ISAAC: Woah that’s crazy, I didn’t even realise that we had made 3 EPs in a year! I guess time flies when you’re having fun and I know that’s the same for us all.
BRAD: Lots of love involved in the labouring of the VG music yes indeed! Although plenty of other emotional behaviours go on too haha! We like to think it’s mostly fun and laughs though when we are creating music.
HAPPY: Does there seem to be a method in the madness of songwriting, or does it happen differently each time?
ISAAC: It generally happens the same way. Someone will come up with some chords or lyrics then bring then to the band where we jam on it until we feel like we’ve got the part tight. After a few jams we’ve usually had some time to think about adding more lyrics and/or changes to the song. Once the song’s structure is made we then just keep playing it until it’s ready to play live. Some songs can take months to finish, and others like Can’t Ignore can be created a week before recording.
BRAD: There is plenty of madness! Seven stinky blokes in a farm shack with four extensions leads running out the front door to a generator to power up for a start! Once the fuel is topped up, it’s music-making time! Pretty much 100% of Dreamer was put together live at full volume! Not sure if that’s a method or the madness…
HAPPY: Which is your favourite song on the record?
ISAAC: Ahh that’s really hard, I love all of these songs. My favourite song changes depending on my mood but at the moment I think maybe Keeps Me Calm. I love Tom’s rap, hearing Tom and Jack (Stanley brothers) sing together and the instrumental changes throughout this.
BRAD: Blessed Indeed! A huge connection to the foundations of Tom’s rap has me stoked on this song enough to say it’s a fave! It’s truly from the soul this one! I cried a little watching those raps go down in the studio true story.
HAPPY: You’ve taken some of these tracks into some real bluesy territories, was that inspired by any particular influences?
ISAAC: Blues music has always been something we’ve loved playing but I would have to say Brad (lead guitar) and Max (keys) joining the band have been our biggest influence.
OLI: I think it’s just always been there, us boys have always loved listening and playing bluesy tunes we feel this genre of music isn’t around enough anymore so we created Can’t Ignore to satisfy our blues roots, we had a great time playing this track at rolling sets festival after only practising it a couple times together and halfway through it being recorded in the studio, we were on the fence about playing it but I convinced the boys I had a vision of us playing and we made it happen, won’t be our last bluey track either.
HAPPY: Blessed Indeed takes a bit of a turn toward the reggae/dub blend, are you predicting this to go off live?
ISAAC: Yeah it’s definitely a bit of a reggae/dub song, but it’s also our spin on hip-hop. We’ve played this live before recording it and we got a great reaction from the crowd. Tommy coming up and spitting some bars definitely brings a lot of energy to our performances.
BRAD: The diversity and different turns in the song have us thinking it might be fun one live!
HAPPY: You’ve had to postpone the EP tour due to the current circumstances with COVID-19 of course, where will you be channelling those energies instead?
ISAAC: Well we haven’t been able to do a lot yet. Some of the boys live off the grid on some property with generators for electricity which is an hour away for some of us but that’s where we jam. We haven’t been able to jam because we’re worried about cops and fines since it’s not necessary travel.
Jack Nigro from The Grove Studio (who recorded Dreamer with us) has started managing us which has brought some light to what we can achieve in this stillness. Plan of attack is to keep writing new music, we’ve got some footage a while ago, so a video is slowly on its way and we got some new merch that will be available soon. Tours looking like it’ll kick off in September and October now but still finalising some new dates. Then later in the year, we’ll be back in the studio for more recording.
BRAD: Tour is off! We’re upset about that for sure, hoping COVID-19 is in the past sooner rather than later! We have all been writing and jamming so it’s been almost been a break for the band to just re-fuel before the tour is underway! We plan to head back into the studio for another single towards the end of the year.
HAPPY: You’ve maintained a catalogue of colourful artwork – who takes care of that for you?
OLI: My girlfriend Ash does a lot of our art, she loves doing art and we need art for our band so it works out great haha.
HAPPY: Who are you all listening to in isolation right now?
ISAAC: Lately I’ve been loving King Krule and Ariel Pink, also 2Pac.
BRAD: Been hitting some Cliff Richard, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Amy Winehouse and Thurston.
OLI: Yea umm, I listen to lots of different genres at all different times of the day. Chill techno like St Germain or Matt Corby for the morning. Sometimes my techno mornings go all day otherwise my Matt Corby morning is followed by Avalanche, Still Woozy, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, Pond and some good oldies like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Joe Cocker and rap music always get slashed throughout the day.
HAPPY: When this is all over, what’s the first thing you’ll do?
ISAAC: Jam heaps and get super tight for this upcoming tour. Can’t wait for the road trip together up and down the coast. There are so many places to surf and skate and also so many towns we haven’t never checked out before.
BRAD: Go straight to Charlestown Skatepark with 100 people on a Friday and lick the ground then go up Souths League Club for a $6 Schnitty, and cough loads as we’re in the huge line waiting.
HAPPY: Thanks for the music guys!
Dive into the full EP Dreamer below: