I’m with Monica Strut from Vanity Riots today for another Q&A session.
Bio: Vanity Riots are a hard rock/Metal band from Down Under (Australia). We are about to release our second EP on May 25 entitled, “Ambulance,” which we’ve been working on for the past 3 months. The sound is a combination of the classic hooks of stadium rock and the brutality and breakdowns of modern metal and metalcore. We call the genre, ‘Glamcore.’ The band is fronted by myself (Monica Strut), and I also founded that band and manage us.
I thought of the concept of Vanity Riots 3 years before I started the band. I had been in many bands since I was 13 and by the time I reached 18 I developed a sense of where I wanted to be musically, and what works, industry-wise. I had a vision and the name but just needed the right musicians. This took 3 years. I met founding member and guitarist, Galih Galinggis in my final year of Music College and we were strangely drawn to each other. I had no idea who he was or if he could even play an instrument but as we passed each other in the hallways there was some sort of connection.
We ended up finally introducing ourselves and as it turns out there was a lot of chemistry. I found our drummer, Jase, through a friend of a friend and our bassist, Dave, was a friend of Jase’s. It was freaky how the band started. Friends and family from different circles were connected in some way to each band member; it was like it was meant to be.
After 3 years together Galih unfortunately had to make the tough decision to leave Australia and return to his homeland of Indonesia. That was utterly devastating for me especially as he was like my brother. My musical soul mate. My family literally became his family as he was so far from home.
But the show had to go on and we used the opportunity of Galih leaving to rearrange the band a little and we ended up getting 2 guitarists, BJ and Ben. BJ has played in a few successful bands previously who have supported bands like Lamb of God. Ben is a self-taught musician who’s song-writing skills are killer! We love the new guys and the band has a music stronger (and louder) sound.
Genre: We all like music that gives us an adrenaline rush. Music that is exciting and screams of freedom and lust and fire and danger! It’s the entertainment industry. We want to be entertained when listening to music or go to gigs! People want to be taken away from the realities of life for a moment. Metal and hard rock embodies all those characteristics.
Musical and thematic elements: Vanity Riots started initially as a glam rock band. But all of us are into metal and metalcore so the aim right from the start was to fuse both the genres. At first our songs were straight-up hair metal tunes with a breakdown thrown in, which sounded pretty odd. Over time we have gotten a better idea of how to create the sound we want and I can’t think of a band that you could really compare us to.
Ideas about the road so far: We are young, determined, have good songs and work hard. There aren’t that many bands in Australia in this genre with all that going for them, let alone one fronted by a woman. So we automatically have a massive advantage over a lot of other bands. As we have recently gone through a line up change we are still learning about each other and our skills and boundaries. But once we start the tour in May I definitely think that process will be accelerated!
Lyrics: I write lyrics based on life experiences. I can’t write about things that haven’t actually happened to me. They can be stories about being a broke musician sucking on ice to suspend the hunger but having hope that one day you’ll make it. Or they can be tragic love stories. I love using metaphors when creating the concept of a song. I have a song called ‘From Best Friends Come Better Enemies’ about a girl that was my sister and partner in crime for 14 years who eventually abandoned me in a jealous rage. The whole song has a pirate theme and metaphors about walking the plank and swimming with sharks. Even though I rarely write in a narrative way, metaphors make the song more visual. Like a movie in my head.
Reception: We always get a great reception when we play and the songs from the new release are going down really well. Playing live is the best and the more audience participation, the better! The struggle in Sydney though is to get people to attend shows. If we plan it right we can pack a room but if you play too often or it’s raining and cold outside (Aussie’s are not massive fans of winter!), even the best of bands will get a poor turn-out. Australian bands need to really go overseas to have more success. Apart from those in the hardcore scene. That’s been thriving for years. But unfortunately manufactured pop acts are all you see and hear about at the moment. It’s really depressing!
Preference; live or studio: Definitely the road! I hate the studio with a passion! Being in the studio is not creative at all. All I can think about is watching the clock and feeling guilty about how much money it costs per hour. But I guess that’s the reality of being self-funded! Also when you record you are so exposed. You really have to push yourself to the limit to get the best takes possible. And if the producer forgets to press record in that moment you are singing/playing your heart out, you’re f*cked.
Touring feels like home. The first time our band set off in a van to another state a feeling of contentment washed over me. The people you meet and the things you experience make you feel alive.
Next step; live or studio: We are releasing the ‘Ambulance’ EP on May 25th at the Lita Ford after-party which is awesome because I’m a MASSIVE fan of hers! Then we have booked an Australian East-Coast tour. We are looking into doing some shows in Asia early next year but haven’t finalised all the details. That tour will definitely include the Philippines but possibly other countries like Singapore and Indonesia.
Future plans: The future is bright! I am happy where we are as a band and what we are doing all by ourselves. I communicate directly with all the venues and other bands and negotiate pay, get artwork designed, book accommodations and transport etc. It’s a full time job all in itself. But once we get Vanity Riots to a certain point we will need to get a booking agent and eventually a label to take us to the next level. That is something that we do want.
Composers: We all contribute to the songs musically and arrangement-wise but I am the only band member who writes the lyrics at this point.
Inspirations: Anything! We like all genres, from Top 40 shit to hip hop and hardcore. But for all of us our number 1 love is hard rock/metal. Guns n’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold, Bring Me The Horizon, Metallica, Vixen, As I Lay Dying, Skid Row, Bullet For My Valentine… They are the main influences in our actual music.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: I saw a band last night who had recently been signed to a major label. I was looking forward to seeing them as the members had all been in other good local rock n’ roll bands previously and it was sort of like a local super-band. They played a set of extremely commercial songs (which isn’t of course a bad thing), but every song sounded like a rip-off of another song. It was terrible. Their goal is to have commercial success but I have to wonder if their hearts are in it. I couldn’t live with myself if I sold out like that. Music is about self-expression, not pleasing others. If you want to please others go work in an office. Maybe I’m just young and naive.
Greatest Accomplishment: The greatest accomplishment personally is the upcoming EP and tour. I planned and organised every single detail myself. It was a monster operation and I barely slept or ate for months! But all the planning aspects are done, now it’s time to go out and do what I really love which is play live. I love the business side of things, but never as much as the creative side.