10 tracks: Vulgarians

The krautrock-cum-post-punk party starters pick their essential cuts

Hull gets a bad rap. But this year’s City of Culture has, at various times, incubated David Bowie’s Spiders from Mars, Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti, and now, homegrown band Vulgarians. “Hull has this inter-generational tarred name, where people have this idea passed down that it's some sort of Hell-on-soil,” says drummer Connor Cheesman. “But it's a brilliant place to live, particularly if you're involved in the arts in any capacity. Cheap alcohol, great music, great people.”

Vulgarians’ influences are rather more worldly: singer Ryan Wilson-Preen’s vocals have shades of Black Francis and John Lydon, backed by guitars that come across like the Stooges covering Nirvana. Which, admittedly, puts them among good company back home. “Since we've been on the scene it's had a real uprising of noisy young bands that are really passionate about what they do,” says Cheesman. “It's a really tight-knit community, too. Most of us all go to each other's shows and even drink in the same pub.”

In May, Vulgarians release the Almost-Instinct Almost True EP, named for a line in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘An Arundel Tomb’ and produced by MJ from the Hookworms, who’s also been on the buttons for Eagulls and Pulled Apart By Horses. Ahead of its release, the band pulled together 10 tracks that influenced its sound.


Sonic Youth - Silver Rocket

“For Silver Rocket, we were spending a lot of time looking at alternative tunings used in Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation,” says guitarist Luke Ellerington, “and I started messing around with them at home. Eventually I came up with this riff which, only in hindsight, shows the influence of that album. That song is, in typical contradictory fashion, in standard tuning. “

The Sound - Heyday

“We’re going to lay some credit into a massively underrated post-punk band,” says Wilson-Preen. “I was listening to a lot of the Sound around the time of writing our EP. Vocally, Adrian Borland is just incredibly honest and desperate. This song in particular has some really raw energy that we’ve continuously tried to inject into our work. Jeopardy! Is just a fantastic album in general.”

The Growlers - Good Advice

“We’ve been completely brainwashed by the brilliance of the Growlers for a few years now,” says Wilson-Preen. “From their dark, older stuff like Hot Tropics to the newer poppy stuff. Melodically they just offer something to love. Our single ‘Hands Around The Waste’ is a more obvious choice from any of the work we’ve released that has some gratitude that is owed to these guys.”

Rowland S. Howard - Shut Me Down

“Romantic, sad, and incredibly sexy,” says Wilson-Preen. “We owe an incredible amount to this genius. I just feel both sonically there is such a seedy vibrancy to Rowland S Howard’s work, but also such great sadness. Once I had discovered Rowland S Howard I became completely fascinated by his lyrical output. There’s such an offbeat, lack of ‘quality’ in his vocal approach, too. He has that ability to project this visual interpretation towards you.”

Neu! - Negativland

“I became completely absorbed in Krautrock a few years back,” says Wilson-Preen. “I guess Neu! were the first band that drew my interest towards the way music can be extremely intense and interesting through continuous repetition. It almost blindfolds you. I feel we’ve introduced that influence in a (hopefully tasteful way into our work. ‘Of Humdrum Consumption’ is kind of ‘Kraut-Pop’. As Krautrock is typically minimal in terms of all instruments, it allows you to examine how emptiness and simplicity is in fact extremely effective and intense, and it’s enabled us to therefore have a similar vision with our work at times.”

Portishead - Pedestal

“Collectively, throughout the time of writing and recording our EP, we started obsessing over Portishead,” says bassist Jodie Smith. “The sparse and effective use of drum machines, sample pads and in general the experimentation of electronic equipment is completely inspiring. We’ve all been fans of bands such as Primal Scream and Radiohead for years and for some bizarre reason never discovered the beauty of Portishead. At times, we’ve tried to implement the haunting groove that Portishead effortlessly conjure into our writing.”

The Birthday Party - Several Sins

“When we initially started writing ‘Career Dietary’ we wanted to create something with the Birthday Party’s dark tone,” says Wilson-Preen.”I wanted to have that atmospheric and sad sound that would just represent something honest and real, so I could completely contradict myself by writing humours lyrics. But the Birthday Party I guess were one of the first bands that I found to project something in a sad but in a spiteful way. Junkyard has such an aggressive vocal approach, but has that beautifully sad and desperate tone.”

Bo Ningen - Slider

“Bo Ningen are potentially the most exciting and equally outrageous live band,” says Smith. “Ryan and I became fascinated in the live aspect of them, but they’re so raw and powerful on record. It’s completely impossible to attempt to try and label the band. They’re one of the most unique things we’ve ever heard. We were listening to them a lot around the time of recording the EP.”

Eagulls - Velvet

“I struggle to think of anyone who wasn’t excited by the prospect of Eagulls’ second album,” says Ellerington. “We completely hammered it when it was released, and I guess that sneaks in a touch throughout our EP. “

Black Sabbath - Megalomania

“At that time I was expanding the classic 'first 4 Sabbath albums' horizons and started obsessing with Sabotage,” says drummer Connor. “Megalomania was on repeat for a good while. I guess you can hear that in the ‘Of Humdrum Consumption’ breakdown just a soupçon.”

Vulgarians’ new EP ‘Almost-Instinct Almost True’ is out on 5 May