Billy Vincent
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Billy Vincent

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Rock Folk

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Gypsy-punk folk songs about medieval lighthouses are few and far between. Thank Christ, then, that Billy Vincent has made theirs - frankly - bloody brilliant.
Managing to be somehow both dark and dazzling at the same time, "St Catherine's Oratory" opens with a mournful and sombre violin, before breaking out into its rampant and catchy-as-hell stride, not pausing once en route.
Thankfully, this is also true of the rest of the tracks on their "Once On The Grand Union" EP, adding up to a picture of a band who've hit their stride in an assured and superb manner.
Dai Howells - five stars - Artrocker


Discography

King Island Coyote EP - released 11/04/2011 on Something Nothing Records
Once On The Grand Union EP - released 17/10/2011 on Something nothing Records

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Bio

So what makes for a great band in 2011? Great songs, certainly. Singular looks and a gang mentality? That’ll do nicely. But beyond that, you still need the indefinable quality, which tells you a group isn’t just this year’s model. Ladies and gentlemen, 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 in early 2010, their first gig (archivists take note) being at regular London haunt The Old Queen’s Head.

Since then, their ferociously tuneful sound and the kinetic stage chemistry between Bill and David has won them converts everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to deepest Cornwall.

The band’s latest offering is four track EP ‘Once on the Grand Union’, the menacing ‘St. Catherine’s Oratory’ and the vivacious ‘Through Stations For Trains’ contrasting with the sorrowful tale of a harrowing love in ‘Young Hearts’ and the incessantly jovial ‘Truly’. It’s music to laugh, cry, fall in love and get drunk to.

“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 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.

The best new band of 2011 will see you in the speakers.

Paul Moody
London, 2011