Named for guitar-wielding originators and twins Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson (and not a certain brand of skate shirts), The Van T’s make lyrical grunge that will twist your spleen. In an exclusive SoundCheck session, the Scottish foursome – featuring bassist Joanne Forbes and Shaun Hood on drums – emphasise charm and thunder, before chatting gigs, surf-rock and bathing in (fake) blood. Photography by Marieke Macklon.
DISORDER: You’ve just been on tour with The Jesus & Mary Chain and Wolf Alice. What was that like?
CHLOE: We had lots of fun, made new friends. It was good to meet different crowds as well. The Jesus & Mary Chain have got a great set-up instruments-wise.
HANNAH: They're big influences of ours. Especially Wolf Alice. They’re really, really lovely people who work really hard.
What artists inspire you?
C: We like a lot of grunge. Especially My Bloody Valentine. Alice in Chains. A lot of West Coast American bands like Ty Segall, The Waves, Best Coast, Bleached.
J: Smashing Pumpkins.
H: I like Kate Bush. She's cool. I draw a lot of inspiration from her; she's awesome. Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs are another good example. Their songs are great and [lead singer] Karen O is a legend. There's so many we could list, we could be here on end. But we're not going to do that to ya.
THE VAN T'S - BLOOD ORANGE
Whose idea was the video for Fresh Meat?
H: [Director] Tim Courtney. He wanted fake blood and milk and all the gory bits in the video. It was clever, but it was a long, painstaking thing.
You got him vetted beforehand, right?
C: We knew the fake blood was coming, but not to the extent.
J: How long were you guys [Chloe and Hannah] in the bath – like 11 hours or something?
C: On and off, yeah. It tasted of sugar syrup. Which was nicer than, y’know, actual, blood. But it got stuck to all my clothes, my hair, my nails… Got a few stained things that I still wear.
H: I had to go straight to work after. So that was fun.
J: We [points to Shaun] had a shower scene together. Which was fun.
C: It's not as hot as it sounds.
H: No, it's not raunchy at all.
J: We had, like, fake blood totally tipped over us. And then we did a DJ set afterwards. And Shaun... what was your story?
S: I looked like a tomato farmer.
We can just imagine going up to a group of girls and saying, we've got this great idea for a video that involves you getting naked in a bath…
H&C: Half naked!
C: It was character building. A lot of people found it quite disturbing but we enjoyed it.
J: My grandma didn't like it. She was a bit shocked at the blood.
From left to right: Shaun, Joanne, Hannah, Chloe.
What's been the biggest surprise along the way?
H: [When] our manager, Sharon, who’s worked with us closely for a couple of years, says things that we're doing – like the Jesus & Mary Chain tour. We're just like, “Oh wow, didn't expect that.”
J: That was a big one. We didn't believe it to start with.
H: She texted us: “Do you want to support them?” and we were like, “…Yes, of course!!” Haha. The first show we played [with them] was in Amsterdam in the Paradiso, which is quite a prestigious venue. So that was cool.
What talent do you wish the others had?
S: No comment on that one. That seems like a bad question haha.
H: [Chloe's] on-the-spot writing. [She] comes up with really clever guitar riffs and melodies. I want to praise [her] for that, because I find it very difficult… Did I answer that right?
J: You're trying to be mean, and we're just like we love each other.
We wouldn’t dream of it. But okay – what talent do you wish you had?
S: I wish I could juggle. Or tap dance.
J: Haha. The way you guys write is amazing. I wish I could write songs the way you do.
H: My ego's, like, turning my stomach right now. Biggg. Ego. Monster.
C: I wish on a night out we could all be in the same mental state.
H: Yeah, one of us is always really drunk, one of us goes missing....
J: One of us is picking up the pieces...
H: We can't always be in the same room when we're at a party.
THE VAN T'S - BITTERSWEET
Tell us about your latest single Bittersweet.
H: At the time we'd had a really rough year; personal stuff, as well as stuff going really well with the band. It was trying to take those two on board and working out how to tackle them. I guess writing a song about it was the most clever output at the time.
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
H: It's quite funny cos we all have proper jobs. Chloe's a nurse. Joanne's a Lush supervisor. Shaun’s a data coordinator–
S: –Data analyst.
H: I work in a bar and do PR and media stuff.
C: So we don't get any pressure from our parents at all.
H: They're proud as punch. We're quite lucky in that sense; we've got supportive folks.
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