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Music Interview

Various Cruelties interview: 'Ed Sheeran is taking over music'

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Various Cruelties

For those who aren't yet aware, indie-pop collective Various Cruelties have been causing quite a stir in the music biz in recent months.

Forming in September 2010, they have since recorded their debut album in Los Angeles, supported Kasabian and Miles Kane on tour and given a well-received performance on Later with Jools Holland.

Ahead of the LP's release in April, we met up with frontman Liam O'Donnell to find out what we can expect.

Everything seems to be going quite nicely so far, doesn't it?
"We've had a great start to the year. Our latest single was playlisted on Radio 1, which for a new band is amazing. Jools Holland at the end of last year was also a fantastic opportunity."

You recently supported Kasabian's arena tour. How was that?
"The audience were surprisingly up for it - we had some great banter. It was all pretty relaxed - we'd always turn up with 12 cans of Stella. They'd be drinking mineral water, but they've got responsibilities so it was understandable! We did five headline shows last month and they were pretty well attended too. It's great to be selling out a couple of venues here and there."

How did Various Cruelties get together?
"I moved down to London from Leeds to pursue music, and I met the rest of the band in September 2010. I don't think we could have put things together faster really. Our first gig was three months after that supporting The Vaccines. It was very rushed, but it was good to be thrown in at the deep end."

Were you rushed into putting together your album as well?
"That was actually very relaxed and enjoyable. We were given time and space to make our music come to life - it's easily been the highlight of the last 12 months. It was quite euphoric. The work is in the touring and promoting. We're ambitious - we want to take this as far as we can."

Various Cruelties


There's been a lot of hype around you. Does that pile on the pressure?
"It's one of those bittersweet things. It's great to have hype - and all press is good press, I suppose! Except maybe flashing a taxi driver."

Sometimes people are put off when the media tell people who to like.
"It's a very difficult thing. The Sound polls normally cover a very wide spectrum of music, but at the end of the day it's just someone's opinion. It would have been nice to be in the BBC Sound Poll, but I'm more concerned about people buying the record."

There are a lot of different sounds on your album. How would you describe it?
"We worked with Tony Hoffer (Goldfrapp, Beck, Foster The People), who's dealt with a very wide range of acts. He definitely brought an extra dimension to the sound and helped us shape what Various Cruelties is about. I liked a lot of guitar soul music growing up - things like Orange Juice and Stone Roses, whereas our drummer likes quite ethereal music and our guitarist loves classic Van Morrison. All those sounds are in the record somewhere."

The singles you've put out so far are poppier than the rest of the record. Was that intentional?
"The record is a lot darker - the first two songs are probably the lightest tracks there. I guess it was sort of intentional - you need radio play and you need to play the game a bit. Any new band who says they don't is lying!"

Indie music is having a hard time at the moment. Does that worry you?
"It's been going through a tough phase for a while - there only seems to be one or two successful new indie acts a year. Other than that, it's all reunions. Ed Sheeran has taken over the music industry at the moment."

Various Cruelties release their eponymous debut album on April 2. Their UK tour kicks off on April 17.

Watch the music video for 'Great Unknown' below:

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