Scottish pop rockers Vukovi have a promising future ahead of them. Having just released their debut full-length self-titled album via LAB Records, and with a schedule like theirs, the next few months should be anything but relaxing. Ahead of their upcoming appearance at Slam Dunk Festival this weekend, I spoke to Janine Shilstone [vocals] to talk to them about their festival plans and maybe just uncover a bit more about just who Vukovi are? But one thing’s for sure, we should definitely take notice.
(Photo cred: Ryan Johnston)
Dan: Thanks for the chat guys, and congratulations on the release of your debut album from LAB Records. Firstly, how are things in camp Vukovi right now?
Janine: Spirits are high, we’ve got a busy summer ahead of us and our creative juices are flowing. So, all and all, pretty sweet!
Dan: The album came out in March, how has the response been in your opinions?
Janine: It’s been an unbelievable response. We were extremely happy with the album before anyone got to hear it, but naturally anxious of the reception. We hope the positivity only grows over the next few months
Dan: Tell MR a bit about yourselves – how did you guys meet?
Janine: Vukovi was never something we set out to do deliberately. We all had our own paths which luckily happened to meet in the middle. The boys were in a band called Wolves before I joined, with a guy singer. It wasn’t working out so the drummer at the time contacted me on FB, as we grew up together and he knew I sung in school. He couldn’t have timed it better cos I was actually sacked from a band the week before for being a girl.
He asked if I fancied coming along for a jam, which I did, and we all clicked instantly, got a few songs under our belts and about a month later one of our tunes got played on Radio 1. It was at that point we all kinda thought to ourselves “we can do this”.
Dan: I’d like to go a bit more in-depth with a couple of your songs. But firstly, you’re playing Slam Dunk Festival this year – how does it feel playing this festival?
Janine: We’re all Slam Dunk virgins…our bodies are ready.
Dan: You guys are playing the Rock Sound Breakout Stage along with bands like Ocean Grove and Area 11. What does a festival like Slam Dunk mean to you, as a band?
Janine: The demographic of people that attend Slam Dunk is our prime audience so naturally we feel part of the Slam Dunk family and that we truly belong on that stage. We can’t wait to welcome new fans aboard the Vukovi train…to hell. Oh, and also Area 11 were the first band to take us out on tour with them and we’re all really close mates now.
Dan: Going back to your album and songs, I want to touch on the single “Weirdo”. The narrative was interesting; the symbolism was clever and I like how you incorporated real-life sufferers of cyberbullying into the video. What was your mindset going into choosing this song and was there a particular moment or incident that made you decide to tackle this very real issue in your music?
Janine: Someone who I thought I was close to made the comment “so when are you going to get a real job like normal people? You can’t do the band forever”. ‘Weirdo’ was my “F**k you, I don’t want to be a sheep” response and also realised that person wasn’t who I thought they were. Bye-bye! In regards to the video, one of the girls featured was a family friend’s daughter and after hearing what she’d been through it really hit a nerve and gave me the idea for the video.
Dan: Some bands I’ve spoken to over the years choose not to elect any songs that have a deeper symbolic political or social agenda, for fear of being “preachy”, shall we say? What do you say to that?
Janine: We concentrate on doing our own thing and not worry too much about what other artists are doing. We want to live our lives to the full, we want to inspire people to do so as well and we don’t want people to feel so alone in what can be a cruel dark place at times. So, if people find some sort of comfort, happiness, motivation, whatever from our music then our job is done. For us it’s that simple.
Dan: Tell me more about the other songs on your album. What are some of the lyrical meanings behind some of them?
Janine: Without going in to too much detail lyrically this album is very focussed around mental health/suicide/tragic relationships/general life lessons (all the light-hearted stuff) which can be fucking impossible to express truly by just talking to someone. Personally, I feel writing music is far easier to vent what you’re going through and putting it out there to people to tell them they’re not alone. So, it’s a two-way thing. It not only helps fans/listeners but it helps me too to get shit off my chest.
Dan: What can you tell me about the recording process for your album?
Janine: We intentionally wanted it to be a quick turnaround, minus the already released singles and a couple of older songs we wanted to re-record, it took about 2 months (ish) to write and record the album. We like the pressure of deadlines and if we sit on new music for too long we get bored of it.
The album was recorded and produced by Bruce Rintoul who I think personally took the album to the next level and we’ll be eternally grateful for that. We did three days’ pre-production with Bruce, during which we would play him a short list of about 16/17 songs (including previous singles) and he’d be brutal in terms of song choices for the album and song structures, which was something we needed as naturally artists can get rather attached to their songs.
Dan: So, if I can touch on your current plans, you’re touring the UK with Press To Meco and Inklings into early June, and you are playing 2000 Trees. What’s on the agenda after that?
Janine: We can’t tell you yet, but potentially September to December could be the best three months of our musical careers so far, if it pulls through. But that is a big IF.
Dan: So, I noticed that you made the cover of the last issue of Kerrang! How did that feel?
Janine: Top of my bucket list kinda feeling. I want one all to myself next!
Dan: Speaking of magazine covers, and at the risk of sparking a debate, you may have seen the Revolver Magazine cover that drew ire from a lot of people (for reference it was 21st April. What are your opinions on how women are treated in the rock and metal industry?
Janine: I think they look hot as fuck on that cover and if they knew what they were getting photographed for beforehand and happy to do so then I don’t see the problem. I’m the wrong person to ask with these types of questions. Being brought up with two boisterous brothers has definitely not made me in the slightest intimidated by “sexism” and having the fear of being mistreated because I’m a girl. I’ve done quite fine so far with that attitude and other girls wanting to go into this industry shouldn’t be intimidated either if they truly believe they’re good enough.
Dan: How important is it to you, to be outspoken and vocal about prejudices and injustices in the world, through your music?
Janine: We write from the heart and we’re honest through our music. If our music makes people happy, job done.
Dan: Objectively speaking, do genre classifications matter in the realm of rock and metal?
Janine: Honestly we try and not over think too much about genre and putting ourselves into a category. We just wanna make music!
Dan: Thank you for your time to chat to me, I’ll be sure to check you guys out at Slam Dunk later this month. Is there anything else you’d like to say to round off our interview?