The Vanities’ Alan Hannah discusses influences, favourite films and playing in London.
This week we had the opportunity to chat with Alan Hannah, Glasgow’s most iconic punk frontman! The Vanities have been unleashing ferocious in-your-face tunes and taking Scotland’s live scene by storm with their energetic sets for years now. Keep reading to find out what they’ve been up to recently!
First of all, would you like to say a few words to introduce yourself to our readers at DM?
I’m Alan Hannah and I’m the lead singer of The Vanities, we’re a punk band from Glasgow. Well, I don’t know if we’re punk anymore… whatever you want to call us! We’ve been about for a wee while, five or six years or something.”
How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never listened to The Vanities before?
“We kind of change a lot, probably power pop is probably the one I’d say most… as long as it’s a pop song it doesn’t matter how it sounds!”
You guys released your latest single in March this year, can you tell me a little bit about it?
“We recorded ‘10 ‘til 10’ in November of last year. It was basically about when lockdown first happened, everyone was taking advantage of that a little bit too much. It’s about the reliance on alcohol, 10 ‘til 10 are the hours you can buy drink at.”
Do you have any plans for more new music coming soon? What should people expect?
“We’ve got a single called ‘No Elvis’ that’s meant to come out mid-June, but we’re trying to get a video done for it so this month we’re recording that. It’s looking like it’ll be out in mid-July now just before we go on tour. Its probably one of our poppiest songs yet, we’re a bit gimpier about how we sound now so any people that are expecting to hear some pretty heavy stuff are going to hate it.”
You’re set to embark on a UK tour this July, which city are you most excited to play?
“I’m going to do the lead singer thing and say all of them so that none of them hate me! But, that said, we’ve actually never played Manchester which is meant to be the city of music isn’t it. I’ve actually never even been to Manchester let alone played there. We’re like the arse end of all these cities, all of our friends that are in bands have played everywhere! We actually played London last month which was the first time we played outside of Scotland; it just took us ages to do it because we’re always so skint. I know it’s a bit cliché but I’d have to say Glasgow, the homecoming gig, might be the one I’m excited for most.”
How did you find London?
“It was good! It was surprising, when we played London, we played in Covent Gardens but like on the street, so we played two sets one early on in the day when we were sober and we were awful. So bad. There was a noise complaint so what happened was earlier on in the day we were only aloud to be so loud because it was in public so they kept turning down our amps and stuff, we were dreadful. The bands who were on after us had a magician who kept coming up and heckling them because they were playing so loud like shouting “you’re ruining my fuckin’ magic set!” in front of the stage. We went to the pub and got steaming then went back for our second set which was the last set of the day and we were allowed to play as loud as we wanted by that point and we did well. But everyone was watching us for the first set and no one was watching us for the second one so everyone probably thinks we’re shit.”
The Glasgow scene has so many brilliant young bands and artists kicking about at the moment, can you recommend any of your favourites?
“All of them! We’re really good friends with Gallus we love them, they’re on the same live agency as us, they’re great guys and we’ve known them for years. There are tonnes, I’m gonna end up feeling like a dick if I miss someone out and its going to feel awful. We’ve known the big dogs for years like The Dunts and Baby Strange, there’s a new band just come out from Paisley called The Wee Reprobates. They’re a young punk two piece, look out Paisley (and I’m not saying they are shit, WE were shit) and its good to see new bands doing that from Paisley which is the shitter version of Glasgow.”
The Vanities have also recently created a TikTok account which seems to be something labels and management are pushing more and more for these days. What’s your opinion on the platform as a tool for promoting music?
“I mean it’s got to be done. It’s pretty much the hub for music, what YouTube and Instagram was four years ago is what TikTok is now. We just kind of take the piss with it but I don’t see any problem with it. It’s so important because songs are going viral and becoming hits because they are TikTok memes first. It’s a good state of affairs to be in right now. It’s fun and its funny as well so I like it.”
Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
“Ramones, Misfits, Clash, Greenday, Libertines. Mostly Ramones and Misfits because we started out doing three chord pop punk but with 50’s girl group stuff like The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las and Doo-wop. But The Ramones and Misfits are our dogs.”
You also seem to draw a lot of inspiration from elsewhere. Would you say that things like film, tv and literature are a big influence in your song writing process?
“Probably as big as hearing other bands for sure, it’s important as a song writer to take influence from places like that. Irvine Welsh said he likes writing about failures because you don’t learn anything from success, so I like writing wee stories rather than love songs. I love 90’s cult films like ‘True Romance’ and stuff like that, I think I’ve ripped that off a million times in songs. It’s important to go elsewhere for inspiration, look at all sorts of pop culture and just immerse yourself in that sort of stuff.”
You may have just answered my next question, I’m a film student so I always ask people, what’s your favourite film?
“I’m so happy, that’s the first time I’ve been asked that in an interview in my entire life and I’ve been waiting for it! Yes, its ‘True Romance’. I love it, its wonderful. I’m an Elvis obsessive as well. He’s just this guy who’s a bit of a gimp, he’s a big Elvis fan and a big pop culture fan who goes and becomes a bad hero and you’re like “that’s me!”. It’s a great film.”
And lastly, what’s next for The Vanities?
“That’s at the hands of the agency, wherever they want to book us if we don’t fuck up our tour too much! We’ve had a single recorded for ages, since before the one that’s coming out next and before ‘10 ‘til 10’, its really slowed down and poppy. When we were about to release it there was some mumbling about it being too soon to drop a song like that, but it’ll be coming at the end of this year. We’ll always do pop stuff that’s fast but we’ve got a slow one now. We were going to put it on ‘The Kids Are Gonna Love It’ EP but we decided not to. I’m excited to show people that, the thing is when you’re writing songs all the time, because it takes so long to record and release them, by the time it actually comes out you’ve completely changed as a songwriter. We recorded ‘Reality TV’ like a year before it came out, the sad thing about that is its hard to stay excited for when it comes out. Then you get offers in asking to write another ‘Reality TV’ because it did well, but I don’t want to, you know what I mean? But that’s the music industry.”
Massive thanks to Alan for taking the time to chat to us at DM! Don’t forget to follow The Vanities on all the socials below to be the first to hear about new music.