My Vitriol live at KOKO, 24 November 2006.
|Genres||Alternative rock, shoegazing, nu gaze|
|Years active||1999–2002 2006–present|
|Labels||Infectious Records, Warner Music Group, Play It Again Sam, Sony Music Japan, Epic Records|
|Past members||Carolyn Bannister
My Vitriol are a British alternative rock band from London. The band name is taken from the novel Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. The band is often credited with initiating a new wave of shoegaze, sometimes referred to as NuGaze, which bears comparison to bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. The band currently comprises Som Wardner (vocals, guitar, piano and lyrics), Ravi Kesavaram (drums) and Tatia Starkey (bass) (daughter of Zak Starkey, and granddaughter of Ringo Starr of The Beatles). The band had success in the early millennium with three Top 40 hit singles in the UK Singles Chart and a UK Top 40 album, before announcing a hiatus at the height of their success. The group released new material in 2007, and will finally release their second album in 2014.
Similar to their friends in Coldplay, Kesavaram and Wardner met at UCL whilst they lived opposite each other in halls when studying similar degrees; Wardner studying genetics and Kesavaram studying biochemistry. They were both involved in the local music scene, but it was not for a year and a half later until they played together. Wardner had written a few songs and a friend of Kesavaram's offered to record them record a demo as a project for his studio engineering course. Kesavaram played the drums, and Wardner played the rest of the instruments, and they tracked an EP called "Delusions of Grandeur" in the space of two days.
About 250 CD-R copies of "Delusions Of Grandeur" were pressed, however only around 10% actually worked due to a technical fault. Fortunately, a functioning copy was handed to BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq at a gig. Within days, Lamacq had broadcast a "Always: Your Way" on the Session Unsigned slot, which led to national exposure for the band and various press and record company interest.
The duo recruited former Mint 400 guitarist Seth Taylor and bassist Carolyn Bannister after seeing them perform at respective shows. With their lineup complete, the band soon released their début, double A-side single "Always: Your Way/Pieces", on Org Records on 6 December 1999.
In the last week of the millennium, the band signed a recording contract with Infectious Records, home to other acts such as Ash and Garbage. Their first single with the label was "Losing Touch", released in April 2000, and the second "Cemented Shoes" made number 65 in the UK Singles Chart in July that year. Their third single, "Pieces", charted at number 56, and the fourth, "Always: Your Way", broke the UK Top 40, peaking at number 31. Soon after this, the band’s debut album, Finelines was released and it made number 24 in the UK Albums Chart in March 2001. Almost every song on Finelines was recorded utilizing various unusual guitar tunings. The final single from the album, and their also their biggest hit was "Grounded" which peaked at number 29. The video for "Grounded" starred controversial figure Vincent Gallo. The single release included an unexpected cover version of Madonna's 1989 song "Oh Father".
The band saw praise from many peers, landing support slots with many of them, including Muse, Coldplay, Deftones, A Perfect Circle, Garbage, Feeder, Placebo, Ash and Manic Street Preachers. My Vitriol appeared numerous times on television shows such as Top of the Pops, as well as festival appearances at Glastonbury, V Festival, T in the Park and main stage Reading/Leeds to 40,000 people and a nighttime higher billing the following year.
The band headlined their first festival in the Netherlands on the main stage in Rotterdam, also headlining the main stage of Dour Festival in Belgium and the indoor arena at Norway's Quart Festival. They also performed across Europe at Roskilde in Denmark, Festimad in Spain and to 20,000 people at Rock am Ring in Germany. At Summer Sonic in Japan (where Sony Music released their debut) they played to 18,000 people. Their first and only headline show in Tokyo sold out in hours and the venue had to be upgraded twice.
Despite being essentially an alternative act, the band's music eventually worked its way through to various mainstream television programmes such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, EastEnders, Neighbours and they were offered Hollywood movie roles and modelling assignments from Ralph Lauren and Next. The band declined, "we thought it would be better to stick to what we knew best!" drummer Ravi Kesavaram joked.
Despite Japan being the only non-European nation where the band had toured, the band had airplay hits in South Africa, Iceland and started to gain interest from Indonesia and Asia due to circulation across the internet. The band signed the rights of US release of "Finelines" to Sony Epic for a reported $400,000 (£300,000 at the exchange rate at the time). Part of the deal was to remix the album with Guns N' Roses/Metallica producer Steve Thompson. On hearing the US mixes, Infectious Records made the decision to re-release this version in the UK as a double album format, including B-sides and rarities, forming the complete works of My Vitriol to date: "Finelines/Between The Lines" in 2002.
At the end of 2002, after three years of touring, lead singer Som Wardner announced My Vitriol's touring hiatus at Kerrang Festival, saying "We won't be around for a while. We're going to take a break and write a new record. Thanks for supporting us from the beginning." Their song "Always Your Way" was voted in 2002 as one of the best alternative songs written by Xfm listeners. The band recorded a cover of Elliott Smith's "Bottle Up & Explode!", upon hearing of the singer-songwriter's death in October 2003.
Despite their "hiatus", My Vitriol's popularity has persisted since the release of their debut record due to their loyal cult following. An unannounced "secret" show at O2 Academy Islington in January 2005 sold out months in advance. The band debuted new material, including "This Time", "It's So Damn Easy", "Into Your Arms", "We've Lost Our Way" and "Spirit Still Remains". A live album of the show (titled Cast In Amber) followed and included samples of the new material, including "My Whole World Implodes", which has never been played live by the band. Bassist Carolyn Bannister departed the band at an unspecified point in 2005 and was replaced by Laura Salmon. A second sold out show took place at the 1500 capacity KOKO in London on 24 November 2006, where the band debuted another new song, "The Agonies and the Ecstasies". To date My Vitriol are yet to play a London show which has not sold out.
March 2007 saw the release of the single "This Time" under the pseudonym of 'A Secret Society' via Org Records, limited to 1000 copies. The single also featured a cover version of The Lemonheads' "It's a Shame About Ray". "A Pyrrhic Victory EP" was released via Xtra Mile Records as limited release of 1500 in July 2007. Following the release of the EP, the band appeared at festivals in the UK, including Download, Guilfest and a headlining slot at Offset Festival. The band continued to play live through 2008 and 2009, performing two UK tours, in addition to European and Japanese dates. On 14 January 2009 My Vitriol were the last band to play at the London Astoria, before the venue was closed due to the Crossrail development.
On 27 March 2013, the band announced guest performers in the form of guitarist Sam Harvey (formerly of the Departure), and bassist Tatia Starkey (daughter of Zak Starkey, and granddaughter of Ringo Star of the Beatles). Seth Taylor will no longer perform with the band due to family commitments. The band played their first show in nearly four years at KOKO in London on 8 May. A video displayed before the show confirmed that pre-orders for the long-awaited second album would begin on 30 June 2013 via PledgeMusic. The second album has received a 1st April 2014 release date and Seth Taylor will rejoin the band for their October 2013 UK tour.
- Studio albums
- Live albums
- Cast in Amber (My Vitriol, 2006)
- Singles and EPs
- "Always" / "Pieces" (Org, 1999)
- "Losing Touch" (Infectious, 2000)
- "Cemented Shoes" (Infectious, 2000)
- "Pieces" (Infectious, 2001)
- "Always: Your Way" (Infectious, 2001)
- "Grounded" (Infectious Records, 2001)
- "Moodswings" / "The Gentle Art Of Choking" (Infectious, 2002)
- "This Time" (Used band-name moniker 'A Secret Society', Org, 2007)
- "A Pyrrhic Victory EP" (Xtra Mile, 2007)
- "TBA" (March 2014)
- Rogers, Jude (27 July 2007). "Nu=Gaze". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 385. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Phase 9 interview". Retrieved 1 December 2006.
- "My Vitriol MySpace". Retrieved 1 December 2006.
- "XFM X-List 2002". Retrieved 3 December 2006.
- "BBC Radio 4". BBC News. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2010.