Ladies and gentleman, it’s about time you met Billy Vincent.
“For us, it’s all about passion” explains co-singer and songwriter David Vincent (Gram Parsons’ hair; Bobby Gillespie’s intensity).
“We strive to write classic songs, but for us it’s as much about the delivery. If you don’t put your heart and soul into it, it’s pointless. And we give it everything we’ve got.”
Rewind. Like all the best bands, Billy Vincent’s roots run deep, down into their personal pre-histories. Back in fact, to a classroom in Sutton in the early ‘90’s.
“We met at infants school” grins co-songwriter Bill Barratt (Damon Albarn’s accent; David Beckham’s grin).
“We’ve been best mates since we were four. We were at school together, met girls together, left home at the same time and then started the band. It’s the whole picture.”
As the years went by, the duo graduated from learning Kinks and Beatles riffs in their bedrooms (vinyl courtesy of Bill’s dad) to composing their own songs, infused with the spirits of everyone from The Sonics to Bright Eyes; Tom Waits to Bon Iver.
“I haven’t got an ipod” grins Bill, “I’ve got a suicide pod”.
Most of all, they learned how all the truly great songs tell a story.
“We’ve learned our craft together” says David.
“We’ve learned how to sing in harmony and how our voices best complement each other. At the same time, everything we do is lyric led. The name is obviously an amalgam of our two names, but it’s also a way of personifying what we do. We’re storytellers.”
Having weathered all the usual band-related upheavals, Billy Vincent settled upon their current line up a year ago, their first gig (archivists take note) being at regular London haunt The Old Queen’s Head.
Since then, their ferociously tuneful sound – dubbed ‘dirty folk’ by the band – and the kinetic stage chemistry between Bill and David (think a Pete’n’Carl for The Mumfords’ generation) has won them converts everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to deepest Cornwall.
Their brand new e.p ‘King Island Coyote’ meanwhile finds the band stepping up another gear; the lonesome blues of ‘Prairie Wolves’ and scorching rock-out ‘They Break Bones’ contrasted with the violin assisted lament ‘Trouble Never Comes Alone’ and epic closing time anthem ‘Tubes Wires’.
It’s music to laugh, cry, fall in love and get drunk to.
And better still, it’s only the start.
“The album will be a full on London rock’n’roll album” grins David, as drinks are ordered, conversation fizzes and the band make their plans for the night.
“It’s still going to have that scuzzy folk feel to it, but it will have a very British sound too; aggressive, even though it will be mostly played on acoustic guitars.”
“With the occasional banjo, of course,” adds Bill, raising a glass.
Billy Vincent are: Billy Barratt & David Vincent – vocals, guitars; Joseph Kinsey – bass, harmonica, vocals; Matt Woodward – fiddle, vocals; Jack Blenkinsop – drums, vocals.
Photos and Packshot