BBG Presents: Vitamin

30 September 2016

Drink lots of h20 and eat your vitamins in order to feel healthy, fresh and youthful. This well-known secret can be found stuck to the side of any old vitamin tub in your bathroom cupboard. It too can be brought to life at a Vitamin show. The band's compelling energy is captured by Caoimhe Hahn in a playful shoot on the streets of London, as they bring a modern, youthful twist to the world of live shows and set rehearsals. They beacon a new generation of down-to-earth boys that would rather dance a colourful show than act moody.

With dreams of writing melodies that others can scream back to you in a sweaty, beer stained venue, the Leeds-born band made up of Jared Laville, Harrison Smith, Cameron Fraser and Theo Cookson, formed au naturel through a love of music and performance. Now two years later, you are cordially invited to a Vitamin pop party by your curator and lead singer, Jared. Hold hands with the rhythm and let the beat guide you into an hour exit route from reality. Close your eyes and dance the night away into the endless possibilities and feel-good vibrations.

The dusty, coming-of-age tale kept subconsciously by all of us is explored first hand through Vitamin's lyrics. Delving deep into your own head can cause untouched emotions to flower open, yet writing down these thoughts through bursts of creativity can provide comfort like a freshly brewed cup of tea. Comfort through lyrics and melody can also be transcribed by the person on the receiving end. This has become a reality for Vitamin, who now see fans at their shows wide eyed with adoration reciting every lyric. The boys thrive to keep touching their pen against paper as long as they have a story to tell. It's time to shake open that capsule of goodness in your cupboard and feel revived again.

This is Jared from Vitamin…
Vit-a-min… I’m the vit-a-man from Vitamin. Another thing that I love about the name Vitamin is that there is a lot of symmetry between all the letters.
Where did it come from?
It was one of those things that just kind of arrived. It just felt like the right name, it suggests a lot of things like feeling vital, fresh, youthful and healthy.
Are you guys healthy?
I’m in good health, haha, I’m doing alright. Laughter and crying is healthy, if you can show emotion I think that’s a definite sign of strength. It’s really important to express yourself, especially on stage. I like to think I’m expressive and healthy. It’s definitely hard for guys to be in touch with their emotions.
How do you feel that your generation of boys is when it comes to feelings?
I don’t know if it’s generational, I think it’s very much to do with the person. I’m only 20, but I’m already very in touch with who I am as a person. I’m a boy or a man, whatever you call me, but I have always borrowed things from a female norm, I really don’t like all those kind of gender norms. I think it’s getting better in society to be able to express yourself and people are beginning to grow. As a generation we are much more about togetherness and supporting each other, we’re way more open minded than maybe older generations. Imagine the children of our generation, maybe everyone will love each other and the world will be a happy place? It’s all about people, everyone is just a person no matter who you are, your nationality and your sexuality.
What kind of things do your songs speak about?
I speak about personal experiences, whether it's completely being in love with someone or being out of love. One of our songs is about someone loving you and you not loving them and how you deal with that, which in the end you realise you just can’t. Our songs are all very personal, about exploring who you are and growing up. It’s all about coming-of-age I guess, even though that sounds a bit lame… It’s about realising who you are - exploring who you are. I still feel that there is a lot I want to say in our songs. With the writing I’m doing at the moment I’m really trying to explore and discover more about myself and life, and I feel I’m really doing that now.
Writing songs is definitely a way of affirming feelings you have, it makes it real. It can be really hard for musicians, because you often overthink when you want to write down how you feel. Some of the best lyrics I’ve done have come from when I’ve been out drinking and not really thinking about anything. As soon as you let your subconscious flow through, you start to become more honest.
Are you one of those people that write drunk and edit sober?
Definitely. Sometimes I’ll set an alarm on my phone for the next day, so I don’t forget what I thought.
Are you the song writer of the band?
Yeah, because I like to write things that are personal, so it would be hard for me to write with other people. But then you take it into the band domain and everyone else gets involved.
Tell me the story of the band.
I went to high school and on my first day I met Theo the drummer and we didn’t like each other, because we looked kind of similar. I vividly remember this girl pushing us together and saying that Theo was much hotter, so that pissed me off. Then me and Cam the guitarist became friends, and he was friends with Theo, so he brought him into our little gang and I realised I actually loved him and we had a bromance. We were all musical, I used to play loads of instruments, like the cello and clarinet. I used to think they were cool, but I now realise they’re not. After playing instruments, I realised that I really enjoyed singing. I started my first band when I was 8 or 9, and I’ve been doing it ever since. So Theo, me and Cam created a band and started doing loads of grunge covers, then about two years ago I met Harry at a party and I asked him to join the band and it went from there. Vitamin came about a year or so after that.
Let’s talk about the all white clothing you often wear.
Oh god, yeah, let’s talk. I wouldn’t say we’re trying to portray innocence and purity like the colour white often does. I’ve always been drawn to going to all white clothing. I think it’s quite opposite to many bands that always dress in all black.
The all white really reminds me of another era...
I know where you’re going with this, boyband era? Blue? E17? haha. We’re bringing back the 90s boyband.
Do you ever get compared to a 90s boyband?
Wel,l I have a funny story. I went out once and met someone with my tour manager and she was showing this person the photo of us (dressed in all white), and she goes “oh, so you guys were like a really big band in the 90s?” I was like that photo was taken the other week, I would have been like one year old in the 90s! I like to think we’re modernising the whole boyband thing. I like the idea that we’re a little bit of a gang and I like that we all dress the same.

Tell us a bit more about where your music is at now.
Basically, our album is still being worked on, we’re taking a long time with it. We’ve had two EPs out and two singles, and we’ve been playing these out and a few from the album. We’re going to release a new single in September. I’m such a perfectionist, so we want the album to be completely perfect before we release it.

How has the journey been?
Everything happened really quick for us, we got our deal quickly with Columbia, which was really cool. When we went on tour in April, we had just released ‘Waterfalls’ the day before, and when we were playing it live everyone in the crowd was singing every word and that was such a good feeling.
Do you have a favourite song of yours?
‘This Isn’t Love’, I think. It has really personal, heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics. I’m realising now that people really connect with lyrics and words, and it’s so important to write lyrics that people can connect to.
Have you had any reactions from people who have said that your music has affected their lives?
Yeah, I get messages on Twitter from people saying our songs have really impacted them. It’s kinda weird, when you’re writing you forget that people are gonna hear it and as soon as it’s out it belongs to other people and they make it into their own. At gigs when people say what our music means to them, I really love it. Everyone has their own interpretation of it, that’s why music and art is so important.
Have you been touring?
Yeah, we’ve been playing with the Kaiser Chiefs. We’re both Leeds boys, and we’ve been playing these massive open air gigs in forests, which is insane.
What does it feel like being on stage?
I’m very in the moment when I’m on stage. I sometimes put on a little bit of a performance hat; I’m still me, but it’s a little bit different I guess. It’s one of my happy places when I’m on stage, I have this feeling that anything is possible. Sometimes if I’ve had a little bit too much to drink I go a bit bananas, I love to go and dance with everyone else to our music. The best gigs I have are when I’m not thinking about anything and am just completely invested in the music.
Tell me a bit more about your ‘performance hat’.
It’s not the same as the whole idea of wearing a mask, because that would suggest I’m hiding behind something - instead it’s more about performing in an appropriate way. I wanna put on a show that I know I’d want to watch if I saw someone play live. I just want to make it as honest as possible.
What is stage Jared like?
All I ever try to do is make a gig like a party, make people have a good time and party with us. I feel like the DJ at the kids party; I just want people to enjoy it and feel enlightened, it’s all about good, high energy.
Do you feel like your writing has changed?
Yeah, definitely. Our earlier songs were more about the melodies and music, whereas nowadays I actually feel and see things and I want to write it down into a song. You learn so much as you grow up and I think that definitely effects your writing. I’ve also learnt a lot about the production side, which also helps me write. Writing music and creating art is such a testament to your personality, so as you change, your writing is always going to grow and develop.
What do you think you’ll be writing in 10 years time?
Pure rap. No instruments just bass drums. Beat boxing. I’ll loose everything about music and just be like “I got shit to say man, just listen to me speak for an hour.” It will be the first album that nobody buys.

Interview by Cecilie Harris.
Words by Ede Dugdale.

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