Dave Vincent and Billy Barratt of Billy Vincent
Published: 24 May, 2012
by ROISIN GADELRAB
Dave Vincent is a little coy. The co-lead singer of Americana-rock band Billy Vincent alludes to wilder times, but he is reticent to expand, conscious of what his manager will say.
So apart from mentioning an alcohol-fuelled rampage around Brighton armed with shopping trolleys at The Great Escape last year, we’ll have to let the subject rest.
When we speak, Dave’s at home in south London working on new songs, some of which will be previewed at the band’s upcoming gig at Barfly on June 1.
Billy Vincent play Gary Numan’s after-party at Jubilee at Barfly on June 1, a weekly club night run by Chris McCormack (Three Colours Red) and Carl Barat (Dirty Pretty Things, The Libertines).
They also headline Club NME at Koko on July 27, ahead of the release of single Dead Man’s Shoes.
For those less familiar with the band, it is named after childhood friends and joint frontmen Dave Vincent and Billy Barratt.
Their debut album She and single Bottle Top are out now and the line-up is completed by fiddler Matt Woodward, Joseph Kinsey (bass, harmonica and vocals) and drummer Jack Blenkinsop.
Dave said: “Matt’s the joker, he has a good Canadian sense of humour, sometimes edging towards the bizarre, especially when you’re on the road for a week or two in the van and his jokes become a bit crooked and weird, but they’re all good.
“Bill and I tend to get into the most trouble, the last ones to bed. Joe’s always the first one to sleep, two pints and passes out at 8pm. He probably wakes up when we come to bed the next day. Jack, he’s Mr friendly, he’s always dancing – none of us dance except Jack, bizarrely.”
Although originally from Surrey, where Dave and Billy grew up together, from infants to high school, the band are well-versed in Camden and Islington’s most important music hangouts.
Friends of the people behind Nambucca, they migrated to The Flowerpot in Kentish Town after the venue burned down in 2008, moving on to The Wheelbarrow when the music crowd decamped to Camden High Street.
It is here that Billy Vincent chose to film their dramatic recent single – and former Grooves Record of the Week – St Catherine’s Oratory.
The video shows the band playing to a packed venue, while exterior shots are filmed in nearby Camden streets, although the video very nearly went down a whole other road.
Billy said: “We worked really closely with director Brendan Cleaves, he’s in Holloway. The people at The Wheelbarrow kindly let us use the venue.
“It was all quite bizarre. We had a different theme when we began, but it changed during the making. There was a whole witch scene running through. You may see photos online with lots of witches but they don’t appear in the video.
“We spent two days in the woods being chased by witches and none of that made it in, it started to get a bit Benny Hill after a while. There was a strong message in the song and this kind of diluted it a bit.”
The band like to be involved in every element of their craft, including designing the sleeve for their debut album. Dave said: “We work hard and strive towards certain goals.
“A big goal was always to make a record, and we’ve done it.
“Pretty much all of it we’ve done ourselves.
The sleeve is a ballerina from a musical jewellery box.
I spent time trying to find the right box and took photos and edited it and edited the text to work around it.
“In a way it is relevant to some of the songs on the album.
“Joe, our bass player, did the handwritten lyrics inside, we photographed that together.
“We always like to have as much input as we can, follow it all the way through to the final print.
“On our album launch the guys from the label brought along the CD. That was really exciting. We all got to open up the CD and read our own lyrics for a moment until we realised that’s a bit daft so stopped.”