Interview: Polina Belehhova
Photo: Imogen Love
Thinking of Vessels as a ship – where is it going? Where are you taking us?
Tom: Into the future. I like to think of us as a progressive forwards- rather than backwards-moving vessel
Tim: Yeah, we’re not so good at reversing, so it’s a good analogy. It’s hard to go backwards on the boat. I feel like we’ve just got to the point where we are more comfortable with our sound. It took us a long time of experimenting with the instruments that we now have. I think we’re steering the ship more securely now than we have done in the past.
How would you describe the last 10 years for the band with one word?
Tim: Epic. It does seem to be quite a long time. And it’s been a lot of hard work. We’ve also done a lot of cool things. But when you think about the amount of work that we’ve put in to get to this point it seems quite intense. We’ve been through a lot. So the fact that we still play together is impressive for lots of reasons. Like in any relationship is takes a lot of commitment. And you really have to want to do it because you sacrifice quite a lot.
Tom: Loud. I’m just deaf by being in this environment.
Tim: So for the young musicians – do it early on, spend the money on good ear-protection.
How do you choose the names for your tracks and albums?
Tom: Usually, when you’re working on a demo for few hours and then you think: ‘Shit, I haven’t saved it. The computer could crash and I could lose it all’ – and then you just save the file with the first thing that comes into your head. Very rarely it ends up being the final name. But it would inevitably be the name of the track right up until the mastering suite.
Tim: It’s a very democratic process, I don’t know whether it needs to be or not. We try to come up with the titles that reflect out music and ideas we are interested in…
Tom: … and how the tracks make us feel and what they represent to us. But sometimes they will represent one thing to some of us and to the others it would be the most awful name they’ve ever heard in their whole life. So there’s quite a lot of argument because we certainly don’t treat the naming of our tracks lightly. Especially with the instrumental music the title creates the overall picture for the audience. So by giving a certain name you can totally change the perception of the listener.
Do you think you’ve achieved the final form in your musical career?
Tim: Not necessarily. Like Tom has said we always try to progress so we don’t know what might come along. Right now we’ve got to a point where we are happy with the instrumentation but we don’t necessarily have to remain this way. But I can’t see it changing fundamentally again.
Tom: But we always try to leave it open for ourselves. We write a lot of music. Some of it sounds like it would be good for Vessels, everyone loves it…
Tim: … but some of them just don’t work out as Vessels tunes.
To what extent do you care about the reception and feedback from the audience?
Tom: It’s certainly not at the forefront. It has to make us happy in the first place. When there are 5 people with strong opinions it’s difficult enough to come to an agreement. The fact that we only put stuff out that all 5 of us are happy with means that it has gone through 5 people’s taste shit-filters.
Tim: We represent a lot of different ideas about how a band should sound. Subtle nuances on what makes good electronic music. Whether it’s melodic, whether it’s dark, upbeat or melancholic. One member of the band might love something that another would hate so there’s always an element of compromise. And then if 5 of us dig it, then it’s a good representation of electronic audience.
What excites you in your work?
Tim: Playing live. It’s the main time when we play as a band now. We rehearse a lot, we jam a little bit but when we play live it’s the most exciting part.
Tom: I feel like it’s the same for me. When we write we’re apart and when we play live you feel that you’re coming out of your little world. The excitement is always much more tangible when there are other people to share your music with rather than just us scratching our chins critically.
What do you sacrifice for music?
Tim: For me it’s time now with my family, before it was the relationship time. And most of my holidays for the last 10 years: I would leave myself like a week-long holiday each year. You sacrifice most of your free time.
Tom: I would also say any frequency above 2000 KiloHertz.
Do you prefer the intimacy of a club or the crowd at a big festival?
Tom: I would definitely say the big crowd at the festival. We only have done it a handful of times whereas we played in shit-loads of clubs.
Tim: Yeah, I totally agree. Although, small gigs are also amazing when they sound good. I think we like playing wherever we can really.
What job would you suck at?
Tom: Any kind of project managing, big industrial or road-building thing. The thought of doing anything like that and having hundreds of people depending on me and an intricate plan under my command – that would terrify me. I don’t like the complication; I would just be a baker.
Tim: There are a lot of jobs I would suck at, I think it’s more about the jobs I can do. I believe I wouldn’t be a very good tour manager. I’ve watched people do that from quite close and it’s really hard.
What values matter the most to you?
Tom: Kindness, love and respect.
Tim: Integrity, authenticity, kindness, being genuine.
How different was your life a year ago?
Tim: I’ve got an 18-months old child so my life changes every month actually. The thing that has changed the most is the fact that you’re not able not to make plans without an army of support. You can’t be just selfish or carefree and do things like going to the cinema without getting the cover, etc.
Tom: My biggest change is that I now have a personal cinema in my shed so I don’t need to go to the cinema.
What do you hope never changes?
Tom: I hope Britain’s membership with the EU never changes. It would make our lives as travelling musicians very complicated on a selfish level. But also on the general societal level nationalism is kind of idiotic and internationalism is the way forward.Tim: I would go with Tom’s answer.
What was the last thing you’ve done or experienced for the first time?
Tim: Indoor surfing. Lee from the band got married recently and we had a stag-do – we went for indoor surfing.
Tom: I basically organized it all for Lee and I broke my wrist just before it and I couldn’t do it. It was the first time I broke my left wrist.
What one truth have you learned in your life so far?
Tim: 2+2=4 but this doesn’t cover everything that life has to offer.
Tom: The earth is definitely NOT flat.
What is something you never ever want to do again?
Tom: I tend to say jump out of the airplane. I don’t need to do that again.
Tim: Going pot-holing / caving and being stuck in the cave. It’s quite claustrophobic. My life would be fine if it doesn’t happen again.
What are the two types of people in the world?
Tim: I don’t think there are two types of people in the world.
Tom: Idiots and morons.