Interview | Alan Hannah – The Vanities

As their first ever U.K. tour comes to an end. I catch up with frontman from punk band The Vanities, Alan Hannah before he takes to the stage with his band in Glasgow’s Stereo for their biggest headliner to date. We chat music, touring, food combos and even Rangers.

This is the short part, give us an brief intro to who you are

I’m Alan, I’m the lead singer and rhythm guitar for The Vanities – fronted the band for 5 or 6 years.

Its the final night of the tour, how has it been so far?

It’s been absolutely amazing, I got my first proper nights sleep last night after 5/6 nights on the bounce in a van so finally got to enjoy a sleep. Manchester was brilliant its the place that shocked me most, it was a great turn out and the crowd were singing all the words back that was a special moment knowing were being received well especially in places like England – all we’ve ever known is Scotland we’ve never been on a tour before so its great to be able to do that now.

Manchester was definitely the best, obviously I done that typical frontman thing saying you were all good but Manchester was brilliant. Edinburgh last night was great being back in Scotland having such a great turn out and Scottish crowds just being Scottish crowds and of course the most buzzing for Glasgow tonight – you can’t go wrong with Glasgow I’ve never been let down by a Glasgow crowd.

How do you feel the response has been for No Elvis?

Its been really good man – its obviously a lot more poppy but were still there its not like OTC or Reality TV but everyone has been really into it, our poppy stuff has always been received really well. Recently things have been more heavier, but the genesis of it is we just like writing pop tunes but really everyone’s loved it and we’re buzzing with it.

The music video turned out really well for it, Danny’s done an absolute belter of a job of it. We got a tour off an Elvis impersonator in Vegas and he took us around Vegas in a pink Cadillac and it was actually a replica of Elvis’s Cadillac and little Richard used to own it – I was in my dreamland and my sister took a backseat kind of candid photo and soon as I saw it I knew that had to be the cover – it looks like the Minute Men cover and I said that’s it, that’s the one.

So, I’m intrigued to know, where does the band name come from?

When we started the band at 16 we were just throwing random stuff around, but at the end of it we were always going to be ‘The’ something, every band we like all started with The and when we started we just wanted to be The Libertines and I just wanted it to roll off the tongue like that then we toyed with The Vacants and stuff like that – I always looked for things like Libertine along those lines, and then I was like oh vanity and thought that sounded quite good and walked into practice one day with how about The Vanities and we all just went for it none of us really thought about it too much but thankfully now we’ve gained enough of a reputation we have the full first page of a Google search because for the first 2/3 you had to surf through all sorts of pages – there’s a Welsh disco band called The Vanities who’s songs end up in with ours – but its our name now.

Probably a difficult question to answer, do you have a favourite band from the Glasgow Scene?

Its a really hard question to answer – I love Gallus, they’re really great guys, they’ve stayed really grounded and humble, they’re doing really well going from strength to strength – they’re still just the same boys I met in Priory back in the day.

Shredd who are playing tonight are unbelievable, they’re very much up our street like garage punk kind of band, their sound is just so loud and in your face. Another act on tonight is Doss, he’s going to be the next big thing – he is tremendous. He does a kind of Sleaford Mods type of thing its just a laptop and he’s doing mc and his pal doing the hype man stuff, he does drum and bass and rap its insane – along the same lines of Hector Bizerk but a lot more heavier like hardcore punk. He plays to 2 people in the crowd like he’s playing to 2,000 it doesn’t matter the size he just goes for it he was born to be on stage – a lot like Barry from Gallus he wont play worse if the crowd aren’t into it he just goes wild regardless its just the same act always which is really important.

The thing I like to always remember is even if there’s only two people in the crowd, there’s always 1 person who’s never seen us before and its their first gig with us – you never want to be half hearted on stage.

What bands are you listening to just now?

New bands, I’m really into Bad Nerves, I’d say they’re just one of the new bands I love to bits they’re so up our street – we’ve been kind of put in with them which I find is a massive compliment, their PR got in contact with our manager Chelsea and wanted to do one of our singles and work with us and when we got played on BBC Radio 1 for the first time they played I’d Rather Die right next to a Bad Nerves track so I’m very buzzing with that it’s like they felt we belonged next to each other if you like.

There’s another band called WYLDLIFE they’re kind of like Ramones type, pop stuff but I’m a bit basic I like to go back to the old classics like Ramones, Misfits, they’re my boys – as many know I absolutely love the pop punk scene my band will probably laugh at me for that but I’m really excited at the fact guitar music is back in the charts again – Olivia Rodrigo dropped Good For You and Machine Gun Kelly’s records are going double platinum, I have a big guilty pleasure for MGK.

That actually takes me on to the next question, who are your guilty pleasures?

I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures, I think you like what you like you shouldn’t ever be embarrased about who or what you like – if you think its good then that’s your own thoughts. MGK’s Tickets To My Downfall album is incredible – I grew up with the likes of Green Day, Blink 182 they’re why I wanted to start a punk band – pop punk has always been face value and no ones every said MGK has said he’s tried to do anything different or outside the box now you seen rap artists looking to do guitar music – I’d say its absolutely back. You have a lot of rappers working with pop punk artists now like Travis Barker and everyone’s picking up a guitar again and there’s definitely no wrong in that.

Back to the live subject again, what’s been your best show you’ve played to date?

I’ll never forget the first time we headlined The Priory – people couldn’t move it was chaos, maybe it was slightly over cap but who can tell. We had a turned over bench as a barrier all taped together – there was mics falling all over the place, chipped teeth – I remember the setlist at the end of the night was drenched in someone’s blood I have no idea what went on. That was around the time the hype of the Glasgow Scene was big and on the rise and we just thought we’d do our own Priory gig and see what happens, that night will always have a soft spot.

Obviously the first time playing the likes of Tuts is always special, supporting The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, they’re all hard to pick from really. Its a never ending list of memories. Every time we’ve playing a big gig I always say that’s my favoured and then the next comes along.

An off topic question from a mate of mine, would you rather fight a seagull sized pig, or a pig sized seagull?

Seagull sized pig, easy – pigs aren’t that aggressive and if its the size of a seagull its less, I reckon I could take an actual pig so a seagull sized one would be easy days, I could take on 3. I mean seagulls are dangerous at their regular size, so that rules out that.

What does the rest of 2022 hold for the band?

We’re playing Falkirk for the first time in the coming weeks and were in talks to try and book another tour for the end of the year. We’re also sitting on another single but its a rather slower one I’d say so we’re hoping to get back into the studio to get a more upbeat one recorded before we drop it. We’ve had it for the best part of 2 years so it’s trying to find the right time to get it out there and maybe get a video for it. But yeah, 2 new singles, another Glasgow gig and hopefully another e.p early next year.

Off topic again, what’s your favourite biscuit?

You we’re lying when you said you had decisive questions, biscuits are not to be messed with. Remember Echo’s? Think they’re a chocolate bar though ignore that. I’m going to go with the classic caramel chocolate digestive its god tier. Its hard I’m already thinking about others like chocolate hobnobs, breakaways, blue ribands they’re all up there its too hard to choose. I’d say caramel wafer but it’s in its own category.

What’s a Jaffa Cake?

It’s a cake – it gets presented on a plate with biscuits to be consumed with tea but its definitely a cake, it’s soft. It’s in the cake isle but why do you get protein bars in the cereal isle? There’s nothing biscuit about it, there’s no crunch to it. Debate may as well be over. Its in the name. But you actually get Jaffa Cake, cakes like mini rolls and they’re cakes and they are both very much in the same sport they could easily be beside each other. Case closed.

Crisps are more up my street that cakes, so now were talking here I could rattle share bags of crisps. A beer and crisp combo is my go to. Those Max cheese and jalapeno Walker are the goat. You can’t beat a cold Desperado or Peroni they’re definitely up there but I’ll drink any beer. Four Loko’s are dangerous but the new tropical one is a treat you could go all night on those.

Ending thing’s on sport, when’s the next Rangers cover coming?

Hopefully soon – when we got offered to cover that, it was a no brainer for us all we’re all massive Rangers fans. When the offer came and the having the chance to represent Rangers there was always one answer it was a really proud moment. We knew the risk that came with it I guess but not quite to the extent it did – not only did we cover The Best but we’re a punk band were not very melodic and they reaction was mainly what is this? We were one of the few who have united the Old Firm for a day in hate which is quite impressive. But I’m really happy it happened we loved it but makes you realise you can’t please everyone and its a thought you need in a band. Just got to laugh off some of the comments. But we gained 500+ followers from Rangers fans and people digging our own stuff looking for albums etc so the good that came from it was mad.

A huge thanks to Alan for taking the time to open up are share about life on the road and give myself a good laugh along the way – and even blow apart my Jaffa Cake debate. Listen to The Vanities latest single No Elvis below!