Vex Red Biography
Terry Abbott - Vocals / Guitar
Keith Lambert - Bass / Programming
Ant Forbes - Guitar / Keyboards
Nick Goulding - Guitar / Bass
Ben Calvert - Drums
When Ross Robinson - the producer behind Slipknot, Korn, At The Drive-In and Amen - phones you up in the middle of watching a crap video you'd probably be a little surprised. When the same producer flies over from America to see your band rehearse, on the strength of one demo tape, before promptly signing you to his Virgin records imprint label 'I Am' - you'd probably be overwhelmed.
If this had happened to you - then you must be in Vex Red. For this is the story of five young lads from Aldershot, whose collective dream was to be able to create and play their music for the masses to enjoy. And that dream is about to be realized.
"Even now, when we say we're just about to record our album, it sounds really strange for us", laughs Ant, "But Ross, like us, has a real belief in our music and we've got the chance to play our music to everyone and anyone."
In the summer of 2000, Ross Robinson asked readers of Kerrang! magazine to send him demo tapes as he was eager to find a band which oozed emotion and created heart-felt music. And amongst zillions of tapes received, it was Vex Red's ability to write music which is soaked with true passion and creative genius that caused Robinson's ears to prick up.
In a world dominated by shallow pop songs and testosterone fuelled rock music, Vex Red have created a wondrously uplifting sound filled to the brim with passion and brilliance.
Based in Aldershot, the core of Vex Red spent most of their school years kicking around the local gig circuit in various bands. They recorded their first demo in the basement of a former children's workhouse with no windows in the arse of end of nowhere outside Chichester. Risking hypothermia, the songs were produced by Ant and Keith, but even by the band's own standards, the end result wasn't really worth it. In fact, it wasn't until the band recruited vocalist Terry Abbott in the early part of 1999 that Vex Red really discovered the true meaning and potential in their musical creativity.
At the time Terry was playing and singing in a local trio, but he soon melted to the organic vibes that his soon-to-be new band mates were creating. Another demo was recorded, again under the watchful eye of Ant and Keith, this time in a house where the quintet were living. But again the songs received a muted response. Finally the band decided to quit their hometown and record a three track demo in Cornwall. Using an in-house engineer, Vex Red spent a week in SWI Studios and survived sleeping on studio floor, joining the resident studio dog, who at that point was suffering from worms! A week later Vex Red headed back home, clutching their three track 'Can't Smile' demo.
Combining full-on hard rock with copious lashings of electronica and samples, the essence of Vex Red's music is based on the band's love of classic rock bands Metallica and Smashing Pumpkins but also the discovery of technology. As Ant remembers: "We all grew up listening to classic rock bands and the whole grunge movement, but then Keith started getting into dance music, keyboards and synthesizers. The bands we were in at school were awful and we soon realized that we wanted to play music for the rest of our lives. So, Keith got a credit card and bought all this equipment and started to learn how to play it. We fucked around with guitars and synths and although it didn't happen for a while, we eventually came into our own. We wanted to remix rock music." And combined with Terry's wax lyrical views on life, Vex Red's dark, hybrid rock was complete. "I am a pessimist", explains Terry, "The lyrics are quite down but and that's how I like to write. I can't sing about being happy, I can't sing about ghettos and bitches, so I sing about getting fucked over and things that piss me off. But I'm not moaning - I'm not fucked up, I have good parents and a good upbringing, we've just been pissed over by girls a lot! I'm just expressing the darker side to me so I can live my life and be happy."
Armed with the 'Can't Smile' EP, Vex Red continued their quest for recognition. While thrusting the CD into the hands of renowned national DJs resulted in no response, it was only when the band sent it off in response to an advert in Kerrang! magazine, that fate dealt the lads a helping hand.
Ant remembers the time well: "We were living with Colin Doran (singer with the hotly tipped Hundred Reasons) at the time, and his band was on fire - he'd come back home really happy and we'd be chuffed for him but it would make us feel shit about our band. We were like, "what's the point, we're obviously shit, we can't do this, we were wrong", and then Ross rings up like a knight in shining armour!"
"I was in with my girlfriend watching this really shit video 'Thinner' some American film based on a Stephen King book and I was so depressed and then the phone rang. My girlfriend was like "for fuck's sake can't you turn your mobile off just once!" and I picked it up and it was Ross! I broke into a cold sweat and she rolled me a cigarette!"
Robinson accompanied by Amen's vocalist Casey Chaos - visited a practice room in Acton and, as Nick fondly remembers, it didn't go quite according to plan. "We played shit", he laughs, "My strings broke, my face went bright red and we bombed out completely!"
"We just didn't have the equipment", continues Terry, "He said, "you guys are fucking awful!" But what he went on to say was he was getting wound up by the fact that we had all these melodies playing on a Mini-Disc when we should have had the equipment to play it live. But the thing is he likes music from the heart and music that's powerful, and he saw us as a band that fits that description."
So confident in the band's potential Robinson signed Vex Red straight away and the band set out to write material for their forthcoming debut album - due out in Autumn 2001. Now relocated full-time to a cottage in the tiny Cornish hamlet of Silverwell, Vex Red are set to record the album - with Robinson at the production helm - during March.
And if you're still curious about the name - there's no hidden meanings or agendas. "Before Terry joined, we were trying to think of a name", reveals Ant, "We just wrote things on bits of paper and Keith picked up Vex and Red randomly. There's no real story, but hopefully it's a name that won't pigeon-hole us."
One whiff of the band's intense, mesmerizing riffs, electronic wizardry and their sheer abundance of heartrending emotion, and you'll be ready to jump onto Vex Red's epic journey to redefine music as we know it. Guaranteed.
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