Manchester’s underground has never been short of bands, but recently a new breed is emerging. I had a chat with Volk Soup, a multi-city-based offering who have played a few times in these parts recently and have caused quite a stir; partly for their chaotic performances and partly because of the sheer quality that’s on display. If you like it loud, these are your guys!
Firstly guys, thanks for having a chat with me! Tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to be making the tunes.
Ryan – We are all from different places. Bolton, The Black Country, the south coast, but we’re a Leeds band. I live in Manchester.
Harry – I’m just some guy. Can’t speak for the others there.
Luc – I’m definitely NOT “just some guy.”
We’ll let people make of that what they will I think! Where does the name come from?
R – It was originally People Soup when the band started. But there was already a band called that who hadn’t been active since 100BC but being the stubborn perfectionists that we are and also Harry’s adamancy to keep that sense of inclusivity and commune or socialist/proletariat aspect to the name (people in a community…a soup) we changed it to Volk Soup. It’s important to distinguish ‘people’ from ‘human’. Not everybody falls into the former category.
H – To be fair I think People Soup has one release from the year we formed (2019) so the timing actually couldn’t have been worse.
Multifaceted in every respect then, nice. Your sound is eclectic to say the least, what are your biggest influences?
R – The group. The energy is the influence and the trail we leave ourselves after a spell of
something great is what influences me. We got a similar question about ‘niche’ influences a bit back and I’ve lost sleep over giving the dude a really naff and musostentacious answer which was crap. What’s niche and specialist to me could be the most banal and boring fodder they’ve ever heard and vice versa – what’s influential to them could be a stockpile of landfill indie mucus to someone else. Who cares?
H – There is a straightforward answer to this from me and it’s Fat White Family. The less
straightforward answer is that sometimes I’m influenced by watching films or reading or going to work. I’ve listened to basically no one but Bob Dylan since May so I feel a little like my musical influences have been put on hold for a little bit. Little do the band know that I’m writing a lot of folk stuff at the moment.
L – I just wait for Ryan to slap a bassline on my desk and I try come up with something that suits, wouldn’t know where to place my influences for this band to be honest. Probably somewhere in the noise rock, no-wave circles. I like Talking Heads too.
Love the diversity in that, can see why it works! In terms of your composition, how does an idea end up being a song; is there a formula or process to it?
R – It’s a conflation of different ideas. A melange of formulas often working at once. We all write the music. Harry is the lyricist and he should stay the sole lyricist. Why would anyone want to get in the way of that? There’s constantly a bottle of something building up over time and then eventually when we get around to writing; as a group we have to collectively clean up the mess that fizzes out when uncapped. Either Harry will bring in something that I’ll make sense in my own way or someone will play a snippet of something that we need to encapsulate before it fades. It’s inspiring to be in a band with them both and frankly, fuck ‘angular’.
H – Sometimes we jam, sometimes I write whole things, sometimes I write bits and pieces of lyrics and throw it at whatever we’ve got. It’s always a pretty instinctive approach. I feel like we barely ever write but somehow always have new stuff to work on.
L – Yeah luckily things just tend to fall in place. Every now and then we’ll get bored of practicing the stuff we’ve written so far and just start playing along with each other on something new, record it on a phone and either never reapproach it, or try and relearn it in a soundcheck before a show and then solidify it at a later date. We always have a backlog of stuff we’re meaning to come back to.
Fantastic, it’s already easy to see how you ended up playing together, the cohesion is plain to see and hear. Do you enjoy playing live? The energy is something else, a real eye and ear opener.
R – I like watching the others not more but as much as playing live. There’s a natural predilection for violence and intensity and engagement when we play. I remember a headline show of ours in Leeds where they took it up a level. Luc practically elevated his kit and Harry parted a sea of people. The energy was palpable to the point there were sparks coming out of their armpits. It’s gratifying to have some kind of presence live. Introducing theatrical things into the mix also pushes things further and inverts the whole monochrome post punk thing but adheres more to some sort of deformed no wave cabaret or exotic zombie-disco in a dystopian rodeo.
H – I’m a chronic narcissist and I really get off on people having a strong reaction to my presence. It’s good when people like it, it’s good when it scares them a little. I really love doing it. I’m not sure how much my body could take but if it was physically less taxing I’d do it 5 days a week.
L – I just like dicking about to be honest. I try to never really take anything too seriously on stage. I’ve been known to snake charm, head-butt, twist and crowd kill on stage and never once have I been told off by the others. Just gonna keep pushing those boundaries I guess.
I’d agree with all that from what I’ve seen! You have a new song out, tell us more about it, is this taken from an upcoming release or is it a standalone?
H – Beware an Ancient Door. It’s kind of about Prince Andrew but I’ve avoided making too much of that, he’s an easy target right now, I should be going for a national treasure. I should do a take down of Louis Theroux or someone else who can do no wrong. The song came about from a jam that we did where I kept repeating “And in a cowards shaking tone he wished for my demise/ so I looked him in the eyes and I said ‘likewise’”. Then we later merged it with something I wrote at home. It’s an A-side to Limeade’s B-side. We cannot announce anything yet but the track will get the dressing-up it deserves in the new year.
L – It’s our longest song yet by a long shot, and that’s a blessing and a curse when it comes to playing it live. It’s a bombardment of noise and way more expansive than our other stuff. It tries my stamina quite a bit. It’s fun but it takes it out of me. Every time I see it on the set list I sigh and by the time that final chorus inevitably falls apart because my arms are no longer listening to what my brain is telling them, I’ll let out another sigh. Dunno if it’s from relief or exhaustion.
People can listen to it linked below in the interview! And one last one then, if you can, sum up your sound in three words?
H – I know outlets like these pithy little things but I won’t forgive myself if I submit.
L – That’s way more than three words. I’d have to say “not our job”.
Photo credit: Summer Crane