- 19 Dec 18
Blistering tunes and ferocious live shows have made punk duo Vulpynes one of Ireland’s most exciting young acts. After a brilliant 12 months, they look ahead to what 2019 has in store. “Angry music is making a comeback,” they tell Peter McGoran.
Make no mistake, there’s an appetite for no-nonsense riffs in Ireland, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. Ask Fontaines DC. Ask NI Music Award winners Wood Burning Savages. And ask anyone who’s ever felt they needed a neck-brace after a night out soundtracked by Vulypnes.
If you’re any way disposed towards grunge, you may have heard them already. During their two years together, Vulpynes have built their fanbase by supporting some of the finest rock acts to have landed in Dublin, as well as playing their own storming headline gigs.
“Angry music is making a comeback,” asserts Vulpynes’ Maeve-Molly. “People want something with a bit of bite. There’s been so much indie and shoegaze in the mainstream, but now ‘post-punk’, as they call it, is making a comeback. For example, it’s great to see a band like Idles on Jools Holland. It really helps pave the way for bands that sound like us. There’s an appetite for it – it’s not like people are going, ‘Oh my God, why’s that loud heavy band on stage?’”
We’re sitting in Dublin’s Thomas House for our chat – a place that’s seen its fair share of riotous gigs over the years. Kaz takes me back to how Vulpynes started.
“I had an ad up on boards.ie,” she recalls. “I was looking for like-minded musicians to start a band. And Maeve was one of the first to respond, which was good, because as soon as I heard her voice, I went, ‘That’s perfect.’”
“We just began recording on our own together,” chimes in Maeve-Molly. “It was supposed to be a band. Then I suddenly started playing guitar, and I became the only guitarist. That wasn’t the plan.”
“I had a four-piece in mind,” Kaz continues. “All female. But when that idea sort of fell away, and it was just the two of us, it was never intentional to have a two-piece. It just worked out better than I could ever have thought.”
Punk music is notoriously male-dominated. Is it difficult navigating the industry?
“We get asked a lot about what it’s like to be a female in a band,” Maeve-Molly shrugs. “To be honest, we’re just ploughing ahead with what we’re doing. I’ve never felt like it’s a disadvantage. If people want to be sexist about us, it’s their problem.”
“It’s the weirdest question – ‘What’s it like to be female and in a band?’ – because we just see ourselves as playing in a band. And to get asked that, we’re like (sarcastically) ‘Yeah, it’s GREAT.’”
But having an all-female band was an important aspect?
“It was, yeah,” nods Kaz. “I love the likes of Courtney Love and Shirley Manson. I don’t know why I had it in my head. I think it was because I just got out of Music College, and there were about 10 females and 50 males with me. I just thought, ‘Where are the females?’ So that’s why I wanted to do it at the time. There was a lack of females.”
The four-piece didn’t happen, but Maeve-Molly’s pummelling guitar and Kaz’s drum rhythms meant that Vulpynes’ sound had plenty of power.
“We knew it’d have a heavy guitar sound,” explains Maeve-Molly. “I think if we were a folk band or something, we would’ve thought of getting in some more musicians. But because it’s such a heavy guitar sound, and because Kaz is such a heavy-hitter on the drums, there’s two very loud and distinctive qualities there. That made it easier to be a two-piece.” “We didn’t have any conversations about what type of music we wanted to make,” adds Kaz. “We just started playing and writing and it turned out how it did. We still don’t have those conversations. We never say, ‘Let’s write a heavy two-minute banger.’”
The flow works well for them. Rather than starting off practising covers, Vulpynes went straight to writing their own material. It worked immediately. They’ve now spent the last two years muscling their way onto the live scene throughout Dublin. They were on the radar of noted promoter John Foley, who went on to take them under his wing.
“He approached us and started booking some gigs for us, some support slots,” Maeve-Molly reflects. “He just contacted us and built up a relationship, going back and forth, over about six months ago, and then it finally became official.”
“He said he was watching us from afar for a couple of months,” laughs Kaz. “It was funny because we knew him and we were doing the same!”
“Yeah, and it worked out well because we started to get busier and busier, and to have the conversation about – maybe we might need to have someone on board to steer us, and it all just happened at the right time. I know it sounds like the cheesiest thing ever, but that’s how it was. We were just having the conversation with John and, yeah, we decided. He said, ‘Are you thinking about management?’ And we said, ‘Yes, do you want to be our manager?’ (Laughs)
“It’s like asking someone out. But it did come at the right time, because like I said, we were getting busier. It really helps to have someone that’s not in the band who sees opportunities for you that you might not see, or who has your back. And, you know, he’s not this guy with a suit and a briefcase lurking around at your gig telling you what to do. He’s a music lover. He books gigs for bands that we love. So it made sense.”
This writer had the pleasure of seeing Vulpynes in action at a Tramline gig at the start of the year, where they took absolutely no prisoners as they blazed through tracks from their debut EP Sublingual. Would they get most first-timers reacting as positively to their music?
“We play to a lot of different crowds,” says Maeve-Molly. “We’ve supported a lot of bands who are quite different to each other. So even when you compare supporting the MoonLandingz to Deep Valley or Doyle from Misfits, they’re all really different – but we always get a positive response. I actually remember after our gigs, people would come up to us and say, ‘Have you got any CDs?’ And for years we didn’t, so we’ve been trying to catch up. But it’s great to see the response.”
Notably, Sublingual came about when a UK label called Headcheck Records took an interest in the band. On top of the positive response in the UK (Vulpynes also performed at the country’s leading punk festival, Rebellion, during the summer), the band are also on a tour across Germany at the time of writing. And in the New Year, they’ll represent Ireland at the Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands. Is it daunting to look back at how far they’ve come in such a short space of time?
“We’re grateful for these opportunities, and we’re trying to just embrace them. We’re hungry for more,” Maeve-Molly concludes.
Expect to hear a lot more from Vulpynes in the near future…
Vulpynes’ Sublingual is out now on Headcheck Records and they play the Underground, Dublin on December 28