W.H. Lung on “Vanities” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 17th, 2024  

W.H. Lung on “Vanities”

Guided By Song

May 05, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue Photography by Adrian Davies Bookmark and Share

Formed around five years ago by vocalist Joe Evans and guitarist Tom Sharkett after playing in various bands together beforehand, Manchester-via-Leeds collective W.H. Lung are the sound of the future dressed as now.

Having released their debut single, “Inspiration!/Nothing Is,” in 2017, their first album, Incidental Music, followed two years later. It was a brooding masterpiece of shape-shifting sonics that owed as much of its inspiration to bands like Spacemen 3 and Stereolab as it did to LCD Soundsystem and Sun Ra. It was one of the finest debuts of 2019, with the next 12 months seemingly poised to be a launch-pad for the band’s incendiary live shows too. However, the pandemic struck, so W.H. Lung spent the ensuing lockdowns writing, writing, and writing even more.

“If you’re a band that writes music by being in a room together it must have been a difficult period, especially trying to find an energy and a focus,” says Evans. “But we discovered that solitude helped us. Even having some time away from each other. The communication that songwriting allows, freed up some real creative energy.”

With an array of songs at their disposal and a range of new ideas to boot, second long player Vanities gradually emerged while the band—almost by accident—expanded itself to a five-piece courtesy of bass player and multi-instrumentalist Chris Mulligan, alongside keyboardist and vocalist Hannah Peace, and drummer Alex Mercer-Main, both of whom also play in Leeds-based experimental outfit Team Picture. Peace already played keyboards in the live band and was thus a natural to join the band fulltime. “She also has an incredible voice,” Evans gushes. “So, if we ever needed any thickening of a chorus, we’d bring Hannah in and she can pick out any harmonies that you’d set your heart on.”

At first the band were just messing around and had no intentions of creating a new album.

“Tom would just pass me a song and I’d play around with it for a bit,” Evans says. “He was starting to write music more in line with the music he was enjoying. It was a very fertile period of creative activity.”

As the first lockdown moved from summer to fall, Vanities began to take shape. But instead of releasing an album right away, they kept pushing and refining to make it the best they could. “We set a higher bar because we knew we’d stumbled upon a sound that was reflective of a real, authentic following of intuition for us as songwriters,” says Evans.

Leeds-based producer Matt Peel (known for his work with Eagulls, among others) produced both Incidental Music and Vanities. His advice to W.H. Lung was to write as many songs as possible early in their career, to give them a good foundation. “There’s a risk of getting wrapped up in everything that surrounds making music when you’re a new band,” explains Evans. “But you discover who you are, and what will eventually surround you, by writing loads of songs. You have to trust that your sound—whatever you find it to be—will guide you, by those songs.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 69 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, our 20th Anniversary Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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