Saturday, 24 April 2010

Uni article - Viva City go to America

We’re at The Cluny, where Newcastle’s very own Viva City are preparing for their farewell gig before jetting off to America to add the prestigious South by South West to their roster.

The festival, based in Austin, Texas, first started in March 1987 as a cultural event to bring people from all over the world together for a week of film and music. The festival has been played by the likes of The Futureheads, Bloc Party and Morrissey, in previous years. And now it’s time for SXSW 2010.

Viva City applied to perform this year but never thought they actually be invited to attend. The four piece band are Newcastle’s cream of the crop, having played sell out shows in London’s KOKO venue as well as winning a slot for the Camden Crawl, which was based on a fan voting system.

And after that they are flying off to Austin, Texas, to play not just one, but three shows at this year’s shindig.

Viva City – Ali Allerdyce, Trev Cairns, Bruce Tate and Chris Cairns – have been wowing crowds in Newcastle with their synthy electro-pop since forming in 2006 and made a mark in the UK indie charts back in 2008 when their debut single Kate Bush hit number 3.

Since then they’ve collaborated with the “Most Popular Dutch DJ” – a status given at the GKA Awards – Don Diablo for Audio Endlessly, who reworked the track to guarantee a full
dance floor. The new, as of yet untitled album, is currently being put together.

The lads are hoping the US crowd take to their tunes; this will decide whether or not it’s the right time for the album to come out.

On the night of the ‘farewell Newcastle’ gig, The Cluny was packed with revellers out for a good time. In between arguing over which beers to buy, I managed to grab a few minutes with Ali and Bruce to discuss The Cluny’s food menu.

“The nacho’s are hit and miss here,” exclaims Bruce.

Nachos aren’t really important here. What is, though, and we will get there, is how the band feel about their upcoming American shows.

“We’re really looking forward to it. It’s just a good opportunity to showcase our music to the rest of the world,” Bruce explains. “I don’t know what to expect. It’s just a festival in a city.”

When asked how the shows would compare to gigs they’ve played in the UK, there were barely any words to describe their thoughts. The answer they did come to was “Hotter” showing that they have a sense of humour we can relate to.

Ali said: “I can imagine playing in America as a shocking experience.”

The trip also included time to shoot a video for their track Remove Moneymaker in LA as well as numerous DJ sets and an encounter with the DeLorean time machine featured in the Back to the Future trilogy.

When it came to naming the band, they wanted something that showed what they were about;
full of life and energy. So Viva City was a perfect choice. It certainly doesn’t need mentioning that’s a play on words though! I’m sure that’s easy to see. In an interview with SXSW’s official coverage website, Spinner Music, Ali noted; “[That’s] what you can expect from a live show.”

Back in The Cluny and the support bands are sound-checking, Chris and Trev have gone to Morrison’s to buy beer and I’m sat on a sofa with Bruce and Ali, who is reading the label on a bottle of Buxton water.

“This water has been filtered naturally for 5000 years and the sell by date is September.”

That’s just one of those things you never really think about until someone mentions it and it makes you think. But that topic is not for now. Viva City played a sell out show at The Cluny 2 last year to launch the single Have You Ever Felt So Messed up, my copy of which is sat in a frame on the wall. The venue was rammed with half-naked teenagers enjoying what Ali described as “a 14 year olds rave. That’s the sort of gigs I wanna play!”

The band enjoy playing gigs for underage kids. I reminisced to them about being unable to go and enjoy a band at that age because of age restrictions on the venues. Bruce describes a younger crowd as being “more fun. They’ve got no inhibitions so they just get to the front and jump up and down. We put [some] shows on ourselves for the reason that under 18’s can get in.”

So there’s no middle man there stopping fans from being able to see them. The kids are happy, as are the band. What’s wrong with that? Although nightclubs like Digital are still
appealing, Viva City are always back at The Cluny to entertain the younger crowd.

Speaking of underage crowds, a recent Viva City appearance was at this year’s T4 Outside In Festival at The Sage in Gateshead where the crowd was “really young. That was all like 14, 15 year olds,” Bruce recalls. And yes, they were completely off their heads. The crowd, I mean.

“They were all sneaking bottles of vodka in,” tells Ali, of the mostly underage crowd calling it “a proper Geordie event.”

So what’s next for Viva City? “The album’s due out September,” Bruce hopes. As do the fans who have been with them from the start. Viva City have spent a lot of time playing shows lately and building their fan base to the extent where voting systems – such as the Camden Crawl which was mentioned earlier – are getting them showcasing their talent in the capital. They’ve still had time to get into the studio and record most of their album which is slowly piecing itself together. September isn’t set in stone as a release date. Bruce admits it’s all up to their success at SXSW as “we want to release it at the right time.”

They are a band that deserves every little piece of success coming to them and following on from their triumphant launch in the States, they definitely have it coming.

(Photo by the Viva City photographer)

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