Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Heavy Handed: The Vegan Leather Remain True To Socially Aware Run Of Singles In Run Up To Appearance At South Coast Festival

It all started with two dubstep acts and a folk band, which perhaps explains the rainbow coalition of genres that spray across the album (Poor Girls/Broken Boys): punk, disco, metal, electronic pop – "all the main food groups" as The Vegan Leather bassist Matt puts it. 

"We all started going to a local open mic night called Create which ran in Paisley for young people," Marie Collins recalls. 

"Gian and Duncan's dubstep band Crown of Storms became a crowd favourite, and the gigs used to attract over 600 people to them." 

Realising the potential, Gian, Duncan and Marie began performing together, soon colliding with Matt on tour, and the four hit it off. The Vegan Leather was born.

And what is the world we live in? Connected yet fractured, glued to terror stories on 24-hour news cycles, unable to look away as the rich get richer and the planet gets hotter. 

Following the success of previous singles French Exit and The Hit, which addressed the pressures of nights out, commercial success and dealing with widespread misogyny, Heavy Handed continues the band's record of socially conscious messages delivered through the medium of ridiculously catchy dance-punk.

"The song is about being part of a cultural scene or environment that you're not comfortable with, not feeling 'cool' enough or that your art isn't 'good' enough," singer Marie explains

"It's that pressure to feed the cultural zeitgeist but standing in defiance and writing what you actually want to write about and being able to be who you want to be." 


The song references Marcel Duchamp ("Duchamp plastic / Branded in your art") whose famous 'readymade' pieces redefined what qualifies to be considered as art at the turn of the 20th century. 

For a modern band juggling their own artistic ideas within the parameters of commercial expectations, it's become an important reminder to create first and worry about the market later. 

"He challenged the idea of what is and what isn't art and we thought that was really important for us because when you're making music it's really hard to stay true to yourself and not feel pressured into going down a certain route."

Opening Poor Girls/Broken Boys and providing its explosive first single back in May, French Exit is the jittery opening to a record that explores the way we deal with those pressures.  


"Lyrically, the song is about social anxiety, a sort of inner voice telling you to go out and stay out to the bitter end when really you need to go home," says Gianluca Bernacchi.

As well as showcasing the band's musical versatility, it's an album concerned with dualities: light and dark, love and lies, anxiety and euphoria. 

"The album discusses the ways in which people are sometimes broken down by different situations or pressures," Marie explains. 

"The songs are a testament to how people learn to deal with hardships and tell stories of how we either succumb or resist to the world we live in."

Perhaps the most striking duality captured on the album is one of pop's oldest tricks: vibrant, upbeat music set against pitch-black lyrical themes. 

On Flakey the protagonist is frantic with existential dread: "Your greatest fear is if you die alone… I wanna turn off this switch." 

Holy Ghost is equally fraught: "I'll close the blinds, I'm doing fine." All driven by a relentless rhythm section, stabbing guitars and the charismatic vocal interplay between Gianluca and Marie.

If one idea guides the whole record, though, it's arguably from most recent single The Hit: the concept of "learning to exist" in a society that still doesn't treat everyone equally. 


"I started to write the song from the point of view of myself as a woman of feeling passive and commodified, and only there for other people's pleasure," Marie says of the track. 

"I then started to think about how this is also true for artists. Art/music that has real integrity or intrinsic value is often turned into something commercial through the pressure of capitalism. 

"Although there can be no comparison between an artist's plight to the daily oppression, violence and discrimination of women, I thought it was an interesting way to explore commodification."

The Vegan Leather's debut album Poor Girls/Broken Boys is out now. The band play Rockaway Beach Festival, Bognor Regis, in January 2020.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    


Creature Creature can, via the imminent release of their first collection of self-penned tracks, Two Finger Tantrum, be labelled the new flag bearers of rock. The Brighton-based five piece have furrowed a new burrow at the summit of an age old genre. With this debut album they will be looking over their shoulders at the also-rans for many years to come.


Migrate Art, the art organisation fundraising to support displaced and homeless people, has partnered with ten major contemporary artists and illustrators to create limited editions of re-usable, reversible face masks.

Romesh Ranganathan is Straight Outta Crawley, in West Sussex, and on his last nationwide tour, Irrational, he was pondering whether he has an irrational viewpoint on the world or whether that can be attributed to absolutely everyone else.

Returning after four years away, Aidan Knight's penchant for astute observations and personal reflections remains a compelling component of his songwriting.


Young people across the UK will have the chance to find out what it's like to be a record label boss, a film director or a theatre producer through a new podcast series from Lookout that brings together industry professionals from stage, screen and music to share their invaluable insights and experience on how to get into the creative industries.
Credit J. Taylor

Extinction Rebellion Brighton held a socially distanced protest on Hove seafront calling for a bigger public say in how society rebuilds following the coronavirus crisis.
Credit Andrew Gambling

The South Downs National Park photo competition is now open, with a first prize of £250 on offer to the amateur or professional photographer who best captures this year's theme of 'My tranquil haven'.

"In rock music, it's really easy to talk about partying and shagging girls and all that kind of stuff," says Skunk Anansie vocalist Skin. "But for us, what we were singing about had to be deeper, it had to mean something. We had to talk about our experiences and what we were going through."

Throughout COVID-19 isolation, everyone has become aware of the supportive and stimulating power of music. Although many people want to learn, they have no access to musical instruments or tuition - especially with schools and shops currently closed. 
Credit: Andy Sturmey

Barely a year since their debut album Dogrel, Dublin's Fontaines D.C. are set to return with A Hero's Death.

The Rec Rooms is an independent music and comedy venue in Horsham, West Sussex, which was opened by three locals just over eighteen months ago. 

This Saturday, 30th May, Together Co, the Brighton & Hove based charity that exists to end loneliness, is hosting a virtual music festival that will see more than twenty bands perform for free to raise money to help the most vulnerable and isolated.  

Following Brighton Festival's digital programme during lockdown, poet and author Lemn Sissay MBE has confirmed he will return as guest director in 2021. 

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd