Liverpool based psychedelic outfit The Vryll Society are kicking off 2017 in the best way possible, with the release of their latest single ‘Sacred Flight’ via Deltasonic Records. The band have been heavily tipped by BBC Introducing and with a debut album on the horizon, we caught up with frontman Mike Ellis to talk about films, festivals and his view on the music industry.

You were managed by the late Alan Wills. Tell me about your relationship with him.

Alan taught us that all you need to conquer the world is rehearsing room, your instruments, a good work ethic and a positive attitude and you’ll get there. He kind of taught us the rules and the attributes that you need to have to be successful so, we’ve just continued on that path. And he’s just left us with stuff that we won’t forget, we’ve kind of got him ingrained in us I guess. He’s in a little bit of all of us.

How did the news of his sudden death affect you and the band?

Just devastation really. Just like, he wasn’t gonna be there anymore. It was just kinda like, well what do we do? And then it soon became apparent that we knew what to do because he’d taught us everything that we needed so we just carried on doing what we were doing with him in mind.

So, Alan told you that to conquer the world, all you need is your instruments and good ideas. Do you think you have what it takes to conquer the world now or are you still working on it?

You can’t conquer the world on one album anymore, it takes a few. You need to build up consistency and show that you’re the real deal but over time, I think that could be possible. I think the music that we make, I think it’s got the ability to turn the heads of everyone around the world and as an artist you want as many people to listen to your work as possible. So yeah, I would be all for a bit of world domination definitely.

You’ve been booked to play this year’s Sound City. What are you most looking forward to with this?

Playing I guess. Yeah playing a gig, always something to look forward to.

Are you booked for any other festivals this year?

Not yet. Oh yeah! We’re doing South by Southwest in America, that’s in March. I’m really excited about that because we’ve never been to America before, so yeah, I’m looking forward to that.

When Alan first discovered you, you were working on a project different to The Vryll Society. Can you tell me more about this project?

It’s kinda just like our apprenticeship. We still couldn’t really play properly to be honest. We had loads of enthusiasm and loads of attitude but we were lacking the kind of, the finesse. And then after playing more and more, we got that finesse and that’s where The Vryll Society is at the moment: It’s got the attitude, but, at the same time, it’s very intricate and it’s not easy music to copy. But yeah, the original project was just a garage band; we were just plug in, turn up dead loud and just have it. It was good at the time. But then you kinda get into other stuff so I’m glad we abandoned ship on that one.

You’ve toured with the likes of Blossoms, Peace and Hidden Charms. Would you like to work with any of these bands again?

Probably not Peace. I’m not really that into them. I think it’s music for little girls to me. Would I like to do anything with Blossoms? Yeah, I’d write a tune with Charms or Blossoms. Might be good mightn’t it? Yeah, I wouldn’t mind working with Hidden Charms or Blossoms again.

You’ve said that you’d love to work with the French band AIR, why these in particular?

Because they’re just cool as fuck aren’t they? We met them actually in Bluedot festival and they were proper dudes and their records just sound amazing and their song writing’s of a high standard and they’ve got an elegant sound to them so, yeah just top, top band.

Your single ‘Sacred Flight’ went through a lot of chopping and changing. How did you decide what to cut or change?

Keep the good bits, get rid of the crap bits. You can kind of hear that; that’s a verse, that’s a chorus, that’s a pre-chorus. It’s just getting them all in the right order really but, the parts kinda speak for themselves, you can kinda tell which bit’s going where and what needs to go so, yeah. But it’s turned out really good, people are really diggin’ it.

You talk a lot about films in your interviews. What films inspire you the most?

I’m actually watching Andrei Tarkovsky at the moment, when you rang, love him. He is, he’s the main man. I don’t know how to make films myself but, you don’t have to be a brilliant chef to know when you’ve eaten a decent meal do you? If something’s good then you know it’s good.

What was it like to play festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds?

We didn’t really think about it to be honest, just went out there and did it. I hate to sound like a knobhead but it was just another gig to be honest.

Your debut album is set for release this year. Have you got any exact release date sorted yet?

No. But as soon as we do know, we’ll make sure we’ll let everyone know, but not yet, no. We’ve got an idea of what the track list is but, no not yet.

What’s the general vibe you’re trying to get with this album?

I think our music’s got like a euphoric aesthetic. The music that we make’s like, how can I put it? It’s very grand and big and well, if it was a film, hopefully it’d be like The Revenant, or The Godfather, or 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s very kind of grandiose. It moves you in a different way to other things. It works on your head more than it works on your heart. Which is good, you have to kind of think about it.

 Your name comes from a group of mediums in pre-Nazi Germany who tried to contact aliens using meditation. Is this theme of the psychic or supernatural something that resonates with you?

 Yeah, well the music’s quite spiritual in itself, it’s kind of; spiritual, end of days kind of vibe. It’s quite apocalyptic, spiritual kind of journey, it’s very intense music. And the lyrics, there’s a lot of spiritual kind of things going on, so I think the name is apt to be honest. I’m happy with it.

You’ve previously said that when you were about 15, you knew you’d end up working with Deltasonic. How could you have known this?

Because they were the only record label in Liverpool that was worth their salt to be honest so I was like right, if I’m gonna get anywhere, that’s who I need to get on-board, so that’s what I did.

What do you make of the Liverpool music scene?

 I guess there’s not enough light being shone on it. You could discard London completely and just have Liverpool as the hub of UK music and it’d be in a much better state than what it is. And the quality of the bands have been far better.

You’ve previously stated that no Liverpool band has been successful since The Beatles. Do you not think that this is slightly dismissive of other successful Liverpool bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen?

See it depends the way that you think about success really. To me, being successful is like U2. That’s successful. Like they’ve proper done it like, whereas all of the Liverpool bands, they’ve had a little bit. I’m a massive Echo and the Bunnymen fan but I don’t think they’ve been massively successful. They’re a cool band but, they’re not massively successful. Like, they’ve all had like their time in the sun but I don’t think anyone’s managed to really grab it. Like The Coral are a cool band but, they’re not massively successful. They haven’t sold millions of albums. Neither have Echo and the Bunnymen.

You’ve previously said that there’s too much social media yet, your other band mates have said that it’s a good thing and that, as a band, you use it every day. Do you think that people might start taking your statement as you trying too hard to seem cool and retro?

 No, I just don’t like it at all, we do it because we have to. If you don’t do it then, no one’s gonna know that you’re doing anything. But no, I don’t like it. All the romance has gone out of it so you won’t get a band that’s just picked from obscurity and is developed by a label and become successful. That doesn’t happen anymore, it’s; how many followers have they got? It’s not; have you got any good tunes? That’s wrong, that’s proper wrong man. There’ll be kids out there that just need a bit of a chance and they could be the next Arctic Monkeys. But it won’t happen because they haven’t got six thousand followers at first. It’s wrong. It’s just gone down to numbers and figures. So yeah, that’s why I hate it with a passion and it’s just like, you know, I don’t wanna see what people are having for their dinner or I don’t have to see you on your social media every two seconds doing stuff: I don’t care man.

I read once that you said you think you’re equal, if not better than The Coral and that to succeed, you just have to be brilliant which you don’t find a problem. Do you ever stop to think that statements like this make you come across as slightly pretentious and ultimately unlikeable?

No ‘cause a lot of people just, everyone’s like yes men aren’t they nowadays, they won’t say anything that could rock the boat at all and I think that’s more unlikeable to be honest. I do think you have just got to be brilliant, like our ethos has just been; forget about social media, forget about this and that, forget about networking. Everyone cares about networking and what’s your online thing, fuck online and networking, just go and write some boss tunes and that’ll take care of itself. The music will take care of everything if you just concentrate on being great.

You say you’re not overly fanatical about the ‘Liverpool sound’. How exactly would you describe this ‘Liverpool sound’?

Well, the Liverpool sound’s kinda like that sea shanty kinda vibe isn’t it? Like Shack, The La’s, The Coral have got a bit of it as well and, it’s not that I don’t like it, I do like it, I love those bands but it’s kind of the go to sound for Liverpool bands. If someone was to say to ye; what do Liverpool bands sound like, you’d say like; acoustic guitars, loads of 60s references and a main songwriter. That’s like the essence of a Liverpool band and we don’t really sound like that. I mean, when we were on tour with Blossoms, they sound more Liverpool than us and we sound more like a Manchester band which I thought was quite funny.

Finally, your previous single ‘A Perfect Rhythm’ received support from the likes of ‘The Line of Best Fit’ and had tons of radio coverage, how did you react to this reception?

It was nice, it was nice that people had acknowledged that it was a good tune because it is a good tune. Especially because, you’ve wrote this song in your bedroom and all of a sudden, people all over the world are goin’ on about it, it’s great and it’s kind of like, it’s the one that’s opened the door for us so, I’m eternally grateful to Godard because I was watching one of his films and I was like; I’d love to write a song that could fit in one of his films. So yeah, I love that song, it’s great.

Check out their latest track, ‘Sacred Flight’, here:

Words: Scarlett India O’Toole

Photo: Sophia Duff