Please welcome from Llanelli, Swansea, Wales… V0iD !
From left to right: Andrew Kowalik (guitar) Gary Doyle (drums), Wayne Esmonde (bass) and Wayne Doyle (guitar/vocals)
‘Let Me In’ was the very first track I ever heard from Welsh rockers V0iD (spelt with a zero).
It was the towering lead single from their new, third album ‘Keep Fighting’, produced by Tim Hammill who’s previously worked with Lemmy, Girlschool and the late Ronnie James Dio.
I’m pretty sure that Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age) would love the stoner rock intro and Jon Bon Jovi would love the melodic swagger of the euphoric chorus. This riffs filled cracker made me explore their new LP. It’s a remarkable balanced work of classic hard rockin’ anthems, refined pop bombast and some magnificent melancholic ballads. As if it was meant to be V0iD played in my country, Belgium, a few weeks later. It was a ‘classic rock night’. Everything sounded bigger, louder and even more dynamic than on record. That’s what great live bands are all about, playing with fully charged batteries. I met the Welshmen and I got back in touch with frontman/songwriter Wayne Dole afterwards for a passionate interview about a steamy rock ‘n roll band with a big heart…
When and where was the band conceived?
“I started a band with school friends when I was 15. We started off playing cover songs but I got bored of it really quickly. So I started writing songs myself. Eventually they started to become okay and we did a little demo and did some gigs. That fizzled out and my school friends all went on to do Uni etc. I had caught the bug though and I didn’t want to give it up. So I got in my younger brother Gary to play the drums and his school friend Craft played the bass, they had started their own band, so I swooped in and stole them away. Ha ha. We started gigging locally and then started travelling around gigging and it went from there. We then met Wayne 2 aka Pricey and he became our lead guitarist. After we had released our second album ‘Zer0’, Craft left the band and we stuttered about a bit for a while. Eventually Pricey replaced Craft as bassist and we recruited AK as lead guitarist and after a lot of rehearsing, writing and recording… here we are !”
What’s the story behind the group’s name ?
“We were searching for a name when we first started and just came up with ‘Void’. It was a case of it being the least worst of the ones that we thought of, rather than the best one. Then when we signed to a small development label and they suggested we change the spelling, by using a ‘0’ instead of an alpha ‘o’ and use a small ‘i’. A void is an empty space, a nothing and so is a ‘0’ so it made sense I guess and made it a bit more unique to the other Void’s that were/are out there.”
Who is/are the songwriter(s) ?
“That would be myself. I wrote the first two albums. I also wrote the majority of new one ‘Keep Fighting’. The others all helped me write one song themselves though. Pricey wrote ‘Forever Girl’ with me, AK wrote ‘How Come?’ with me and Gary wrote ‘Practice Run’ with me. We did ‘Not the One’ together, after we jammed it out randomly at a rehearsal. I do all of the lyrics though.”
When did the band know : “This is it ! This is how we want to sound”?
“When Pricey started on bass and AK started adding his lead guitar then we started to develop what we sound like now. We went from being ‘Indie Rock’ to ‘Classic Rock’ when we recorded second album ‘Zer0’. We were only a three-piece band when we did the first album and I’m not the best guitarist in the world, so we kept it quite basic and added guitar lines that I could do when we played live. When we started working on ‘Zer0’, we were then a four piece with that extra guitarist so we could do the bigger rock songs with more guitar lines. We’ve continued in that fashion with ‘Keep Fighting’. It’s definitely a Classic Rock album. Loud guitars, big choruses. It’s what I grew up listening too and has influenced what we are. We couldn’t be anything else now and I guess we’ll live or die by that.”
Share an unforgettable anecdote with us about the first rehearsals…
“I can’t think of any particular anecdote’s though I’m afraid… no, wait actually, we used to rehearse in a room which was behind the back of a fast food restaurant. So they used to leave their leftovers in the bins outside. This would attract the ‘Local Seagulls’, we’re talking Seagulls the size of dinosaurs now by the way, to go rummaging in the bins. Once, when we turned up for rehearsing, Pricey parked up, got out the car and was walking in, we heard a shout of ‘OW, gerrof me you Stupid Seagull’ or words to that effect, but being only small, was Pricey-napped away and taken to the Seagulls lair where he lived on small bugs and worms until we rescued him using a sausage roll as a de-coy. That’s another story though.”
Tell us more about the touching events that inspired the new album ‘Keep Fighting’.
“The original idea came from the fact that the band had suffered countless knock backs and used it as a driver to write the album and influence the theme that ran through it. It isn’t a concept album, but those type of ‘Keep on Keeping on’ messages are running through more or less every song on the album. As well as that people’s own stories of human endurance really resonated with me. We’ve had two direct instances where I personally knew the people who I was thinking about when writing the title track. One was a gentleman from Holland, his name is Bram. Bram had suffered a brain tumor and had operations to stay alive. Whilst he was going through his recovery, he by chance heard a song on our first album called ‘Beaten Bruised’. The lyric content in the song resonated with him and he found some strength in it and that helped him get through his treatment and aid him in his recovery. One day, he contacted me out of the blue and told me that the song had helped him and basically thanked us. I wrote this song in my bedroom, about a friend I’d lost to a brain tumor. Being told that it had helped a stranger in a totally different country was amazing. When writing it, my hopes were for it to be a hit and something that would help launch the bands career. It hasn’t worked out like that, but being told it helped someone when they needed that help means that it has done it’s job. Fundamentally that is what music is about. I appreciate that now and it’s something I’m hugely proud of.
The second instance was a friend of mine, Ryan. Ryan had come to watch the band when we released our first album. A few weeks after, I was told Ryan had been diagnosed with leukemia. He went through all of his treatment, he set up his own charity called ‘Ryan4Leukemia’. Ryan has suffered for the same amount of time since the band has been going. And all the way through it, he and his friends have raised money for charity. He raised over twenty-five thousand pounds and has donated it all back to the hospitals where he received his treatment. I’m really proud to say he’s a friend. The whole band are. He’s a superhero.”
V0id also supports the ‘ Love Hope Strength’ Foundation. What’s the foundation’s purpose?
It’s Mike Peters of the Alarm’s charity. Obviously he has beaten cancer a few times and using his own experiences and his influence as a musician, raises money by playing gigs at random places. It’s an amazing charity.
Discover the ‘Love Hope Strength’ foundation…
Not the One’ and ‘Let me In’ are two of my favorites on the new album. Two fully charged steamrollers with stoner rock influences. Are these tracks sonically influenced by other power rock bands?
” ‘Not the One’ was jammed out between the four of us at a rehearsal. It was a guitar riff that AK came up with. It’s like old school Status Quo really. Just a simple power chord structure, with a big chorus. When we went to record it, Gary came up with this cool drum beat in the chorus and it just lifted the song. It was the first time that we’ve ever jammed a whole song out. It was basically done within five minutes except for the final lyrics.
With ‘Let Me In’ I was messing around on my acoustic and de-tuned the top string to D. I was fiddling around with these patterns and came up with something cool. When we rehearsed, I was struggling to get the riff into a structure the band could play along too, so I dropped half of the riff and then Gary copied the beat and it went from there. The idea I had was to make as heavy a riff as I could and combine the poppiest lyrics and melody over the top of it. A three minute rock song musically, with light airy radio friendly lyrics. When you reviewed it as ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ with a ‘Bon Jovi’ chorus, I was delighted as you actually got it. It was exactly the sort of thing we were aiming for. We’ve never been compared to ‘QOTSA’ either which is something I never thought would happen. I don’t quite see it myself, but I won’t knock it !”
You released three albums so far. Which one who you recommend to music fans who never heard of V0iD?
” ‘Keep Fighting’ definitely. It’s our best album simply put. Lyrically, it’s more mature as I really tried to make it so it had something to say, we all had input on the songs and co-wrote a few of them together. I’m really happy we managed to get to the point where we could make it. It would have been easier for us to have packed up and gone home. But we kept on.
I’m massively proud of second album ‘Zer0’ too and I think it should have done more than it did. The reviews it had were brilliant but it just never had the airplay that it needed. I can’t listen to our first one as I sound so young on it.”
What music was on the radio when you came all the way with the car from Wales to play a gig in Belgium last month?
“This is always a bone of contention ! Our van has a digital radio, so now we listen to ‘Planet Rock’ most of the time. So we had all sorts on, Aerosmith, Thunder, Nirvana, Springsteen, Foo Fighters etc… When we made it into France the signal got dodgy so we put my ipod on and had the Stones, Paramore, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. If we had Pricey’s on then it would have been Tom Petty, David Bowie or Foo Fighters. It’s always either mine or his that goes on. I won on the way out and he won on the way home until we could put ‘Planet Rock – Where Rock Lives’ back on. It’s great until the stupid insurance adverts come on.”
You played a swirling show in Belgium. Isn’t it hard to experience that the tour promoters out there are deaf and blind for not letting you tour the whole of Europe?
“I wouldn’t say that promoters are deaf or blind, just maybe that they are unaware of who we are at this moment in time. That is as much our fault as anyone else’s as we have never been in the position to keep pushing when we needed too. But look, we aren’t going anywhere. I think we’re probably going to have to be the type of band that does it the hard way and that means getting on the road and going to places to play live and grow our fanbase that way. We will literally play anywhere. Sooner or later, people will sit up and take note you’d hope. If not, then I’ll be left with the memories and friends that we’ve made by visiting parts of the world that we wouldn’t have otherwise. That will never be a bad thing.”
Any ritual(s) before going on stage?
“No, I don’t personally. It’s just a case of hurry up and wait really. Gary tends to scour the area for as big a bottle of water as he can find. To be fair, he needs it as he probably loses about three litres at every gig. He also has a chewing gum at the start and will chew it, while playing until we’re done. Weirdo. Must taste like tissue paper by the end. Yuck. That’s all I’ve noticed. Pricey and AK tend to squeeze as many beers and fags in as possible before we do start, but that isn’t a ritual is it? That’s just liking beer and fags.”
Is playing in a band actually ‘the best job in the world’ ?
“If we were getting paid then I’d say yes. I’m sure it is though for the lucky few who get to make a decent living out of it !”
Which album would you steal from your parents’ record collection?
Hmmm. Good question! I used to love the film ‘the Jazz Singer’ when I was small. The soundtrack to that was good. It’d probably be something by ‘Queen’ though, that was always playing in the car when I was younger. They were just an amazing band with one of the greatest front men that ever lived. It could be a lot worse knowing what is in their collections to be honest.”
The number one artist on your list to do a world tour with
” For me personally it would be Bruce Springsteen. He’s on another level in my opinion. He’s an amazing songwriter and as a live performer he’s just epic. The best I’ve ever seen. If it was a band decision though, then it would be the Foo Fighters. We all love the Foos and they’re amazing live as well.”
If you could travel in time what artist would you jam with?
“The Beatles. We’re absolute novices compared to how amazing they were at everything. Imagine how much you’d learn… it would be amazing.”
Social media: a blessing or a pain in the ass?
“I wouldn’t say it’s a pain in the ass. It is definitely hard work doing it and making sure you stay on top of it. But it’s an amazing way to communicate with people who like the band and I’ll never get fed up of that.”
Clash of top Welsh bands: Manic Street Preachers or Super Furry Animals ?
“Manic Street Preachers, absolutely. We did our first album with our long term producer Tim Hamill, Steve Brown (who did ‘Generation Terrorists’, the Manics’ debut album) and Greg Haver (who did ‘Lifeblood’, another Manics album). Through that we got invited to one of their gigs and were given backstage passes. After the gig we ended up sat around a table with them and their crew and had a few drinks. Not once did any of the band or their crew make us feel uncomfortable and as if we didn’t belong on that table. They were absolute gentlemen and lovely people. I also prefer them musically.”
What’s the band’s ultimate ambition?
“Our ultimate ambition is to be as successful and popular as we can be. To be mentioned in the same breath as the Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro and that type of band.
Unfortunately, I don’t think for a second that it’s going to happen, but everyone needs a dream don’t they? Something to aspire too. I’d be ecstatic if I could make a decent living out of playing my own music and touring around the place and having people come and see us play. I’ll be really happy to see ‘Keep Fighting’ help us up a few notches and there be an appetite from people for us to make another record. I could do it forever. Just creating music and songs from scratch. We’re going to be gigging and touring as much as we can to promote ‘Keep Fighting’ for as long as we can, but we have to be ready to capitalize on any progress we make with the new album and that will hopefully mean we get to make another record. Fingers crossed !”
Thank you very much Wayne for this interview ! May the road rise with V0iD !….
Here’s new album ‘Keep Figthing’ in full – Euphoric stuff…
Social links to V0iD…
Wesbite – Facebook – Twitter
(Concert pics by JL)