Ahead of their show this weekend in Sydney with Hands of Houses, we caught up with Monica Strut, the lead singer of emerging Sydney band Vanity Riots. We find out how she got started in music, how the band formed, get her advice for other up-and-coming artists, talk about the importance of all age gigs in Sydney and more! Read on:
How did you get started playing music – and in particular, the style of music you’re playing now, and the instrument you’re playing in the band?
I started learning piano when I was about 7 which I absolutely hated at the time because my teacher was an elderly man and we did a lot of theory and Elvis songs. I started singing early high school then discovered heavier guitar-driven music when I was 15 and it completely changed my life. I soon took up bass and played bass in my first few bands then later on after feeling restricted I joined a punk/hardcore band where I could just concentrate on vocals and being a front person. I was in that band for around a year then formed Vanity Riots as I wanted something that was still heavy, but a bit more melodic.
How did the band form? How did you become a part of it?
This story is way too long and boring. But in a nutshell, as I’d been doing music for a while I knew quite a few musicians, put the word out and found the best ones.
Was your first instrument the one you’re playing in the band? If no, what was your first instrument?
Nope! First instrument was piano, which I think is the same with a lot of people. Helps a lot with song writing and trained my ears.
Did you study anything music related at University or High School? If so, what did you study?
I didn’t do music in high school as my school was only interested in Jazz and wasn’t at all supportive of any other genre. After high school I went to JMC Academy for music because I really didn’t want to study anything else. I chose JMC as their course wasn’t just performance-based, there was a lot of management and business aspects included which I liked. So yeah, I have a Bachelor Degree from there. With those types of courses you get out what you put in though. I made a lot of contacts there I still use to this day but a lot of my classmates kind of bludged through it and 99 percent of them are now not doing anything with music which breaks my heart because they were all so bloody talented! I went to uni with some amazing people, we had so many good times, but it’s very easy to get carried away with partying and a lot of people took it too far.
Are you playing your favourite instrument? If no, what’s your favourite and do you hope to master it one day?
Yes, I love being a vocalist. Although it’d be pretty cool to learn drums one day.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to break into the industry and scene?
Network and support other bands! Don’t talk shit and go to as many gigs as you can. If you don’t support the industry, the industry won’t support you.
How important are all age gigs to the Sydney scene? What impact do you think they make to the youth community?
Very. I grew up in the Shire going to all-ages gigs which were held in community halls. Engadine community hall had some amazing bands come through and afterwards you could go to KFC, knock on the window and get free buckets of chicken for you and your mates. There were heaps of AA gigs around, even at local churches run by the youth groups. There was a big Christian Hardcore scene (CXC) around then. I think these types of shows are more than just something to do on the weekend for underage kids; they can give you a sense of belonging, inspiration and a chance to meet other like-minded people.
What song should we listen to from your group?
Our new single, ‘Hail Mary!’ There’s a lyric video online and you can listen on Spotify, Google Play or download from iTunes.
What’s one of your favourite songs from one of the other bands on the bill on Sunday?
‘Watchmaker’ by Hands Like Houses, ‘Downsides of being Honest’ by Columbus and ‘Skyfalling’ by Fifth Dawn!
What would be your dream artist to perform alongside?
Avenged Sevenfold or for me personally, the Butcher Babies!
Vanity Riots are playing with Hands Like Houses, Columbus and Fifth Dawn on Sunday, the 4th of October, at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Redfern, Sydney as part of the all ages Indent tour, put together by the City of Sydney and MusicNSW. Tickets are available from Oztix for $10 + BF as well as at Red Eye Records.
You can also catch Vanity Riots tonight (2nd October) with Closure in Moscow at Studio Six and at Max Watt’s on October 22nd with Thousand Foot Krutch. For more details visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vanityriots
Photo Credit: The Design Monsters