GALWAY FIVE-piece Vickers Vimy take their name from the aircraft in which Alcock and Brown made the first transatlantic flight. Their music also spans the Atlantic in its influences, exuding a warm and mellow flavour of rootsy Americana.
The band have just released their debut album, Volume 1 - That Vinyl Scratch and are playing a series of dates around Ireland, including Galway, to promote the release.
All the songs on the album are co-written by Ed Drea and Fintan Hanley, the creative hub of the group.
“Myself and Ed were in college together and we’d been doing different bits and pieces over the years without ever really taking it seriously,” Hanley tells me as he describes Vickers Vimy’s beginnings. “We started playing together because we were drawn to the same types of music, we fell in love with those old vinyl recordings of blues musicians like Washington Phillips, Skip James, Robert Johnson, then moving on to Billie Holiday and jazz and that whole Americana thing with stuff like Gillian Welch and Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes. It was around 2007 that we came together as Vickers Vimy. We did some home recording in Furbo, got a few demos together, and played a few low-key gigs.”
Vickers Vimy gradually expanded to a quintet with the additions of Colm O’Coghnaile (trumpet and banjo, glockenspiel), Colm Ward (upright bass, bass), and Eamon Mulderrig (drums, percussion) while violinist Michael Chang also appears with the ensemble occasionally.
The album also features guest appearances by Colm Mac an Iomaire from The Frames and drummer Johnny Boyle who was also part of that group for a while.
Hanley goes on to explain the impetus behind making the album.
“We really wanted to push it on and with the types of music we were listening to we were going ‘That’s achievable’,” he says. “We were blessed with technology, we could buy a four-track recorder cheap enough then that progressed to just needing a laptop that you could plug a mic into, so we were able to start recording and building stuff up like that. We’d be looking as well at people like Richard Swift, Gillian Welch who were doing things themselves and you could see how they could create a song on their own so that’s where we came from.”
From first to last, and especially tracks like ‘Late for Years’, ‘Old Fashioned Lover’, the single ‘Devil On Your Back’, and ‘Broken Star’, That Vinyl Scratch has a cosy intimacy and easy charm which draws the listener in. As one reviewer noted: “It tells the listener all they should do for the next 40 minutes is sit back, relax and get lost in the aural beauty”.
One ironic aspect of the album title is the fact that it is not actually available on vinyl. “That’s something we would absolutely love to do,” Hanley declares. “We are hoping at some stage this year to get something out on vinyl, even if it’s just for ourselves!”
Hanley also acknowledges the Volume 1 part of the album title does carry the promise of further volumes following in due course. “We have lots of bits and pieces of material and we’ve always seen Vickers Vimy as a more-than-one-album project, so we will be sitting down and going through what we have and putting another album together at some point.”
In the meantime, people can kick back and savour the many pleasures of That Vinyl Scratch and catch the band live at The Crane Bar on Thursday March 21 at 9pm. Admission is free.