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Longing to gig: Meet alternative rockers The Vonics, who have just released their debut EP

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

"We want people to enjoy themselves when they listen to our songs" - that's the aspiration of alternative rockers The Vonics, who have just released their debut EP.

The Vonics left to right; Chris Dixon, Mark Hancox, Scott Robinson, John Webb and Mark Oliver. Credit: Ian Gray

Since forming in 2018, they're already attracted a loyal following due to their catchy riffs, lyrics and music influenced by a wide range of artists, including Oasis, The Who, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eric Clapton.

The group is made up of singer Scott Robinson; guitarists Mark Hancox and Chris Dixon; bass guitarist John Webb and Mark Oliver on drums.

"Being in a band gives you such an amazing buzz. You get so much satisfaction from seeing a song at its inception, watching it grow and develop, to then seeing people enjoy it," says Chris, 34, a field sales rep from Kingswinford.

"I love gigging and getting people's feedback from when they hear the music which you have put so much time into creating. For me though, the best thing about being in The Vonics is that I get to spend time with four guys who have become really great mates. We are all good friends and we really enjoy the time we spend in the band," he adds.

Although te musicians say they fall under the alternative rock category, they believe their music has quite a broad range of genres woven in.

"We have been referred to as an alternative power pop rock band in the past. We try not to be held down by a specific genre when creating a song. One thing that is common in most of our music, is that it's very upbeat. We want people to enjoy themselves when they listen to our songs,"says Mark, 33, a field sales rep from Dudley.

Singer and mechanic Scott says music has always been a part of his life since an early age. "I'd always grown up around music, the main reason was my parents were big music fans so I grew up listening to Queen, Bowie, and many other bands so I guess I was sort of raised into music from a young age," explains the 38-year-old.

The band performing at The Actress and Bishop in Birmingham

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"When I first started to learn guitar, I quickly got into writing my own material. During this time, me and Scott used to get together and we quickly started to bond by bouncing ideas off each other. I became really excited to hear how these songs would sound in a full band situation. This really motivated me to want to start a band," adds Mark Hancox, 33, a field sales rep from Dudley.

Each member of the band brings with them their own influences. "Scott is heavily influenced by Oasis and Noel Gallagher, whereas Chris is more influenced by John Frusciante and the grunge scene. One of my favourite musicians is the Who's Pete Townshend. I love his style of writing.

"His use of explosive chords and aggressive rhythm playing really inspire me. In some of his songs he loves to use long intros, which isn't something you hear these days. I think perhaps people don’t really have that type of attention span anymore. For me though, songs like Baba O'Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again, I love that build up at the start of the song - it really gets you going," Mark Hancox tells Weekend.

Their debut six-track EP Word On The Street includes their first single Within My Soul, which has even caught the attention of Premier League club Wolves.

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"For me, my favourite track has to be Within my Soul," says John, 65, an engineer from Wombourne. "It has a great beat, and is the song that gives a real feelgood vibe. This song has been used by Wolverhampton Wanderers on two of their social media videos, which was amazing as I am a Wolves fan myself, as are Scott and Chris," he adds.

Describing the record, Scott tells Weekend: "I'd have to say it's definitely uplifting with a nice balance of songs from the fast-paced opener in The World Turns Around right to the sombre but catchy final track All Been Done.

"We tried to find a real balance in the songs and show that we are quite diverse in the songs that we write. The opener World Turns Around has a real indie Brit pop feel to it, whereas Velvet skies feels like an epic journey through guitar solos and breakdowns. Let The Love Inside is like a ballad and has a bit of an anthem sound to it."

"My favourite song to perform has to be Velvet Skies." says John. "This song has so much drive and variation, and, relying quite heavily on the drums and bass, it appeals instantly to followers of most genres," he adds.

They are delighted with the EP and Scott says not only did they achieve everything they wanted to do when they first started working on it, but the EP also turned out better than they could have hoped.

The Vonics' new EP Word On The Street

"I feel we have actually achieved a little more as some of the songs were actually changed slightly during recording making them sound even better and when you hear the songs mixed and played back to you it gives you such a buzz knowing you've been part of that process. Looking back, there are always little bits of songs you think you might have approached differently, but I guess that’s part of the learning process, which we can take with us to the next recording. Overall, though I think we got the bulk of our ideas completed how we wanted. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out," he explains.

Since releasing the EP, the musicians have been blown away by the response from their fans. "We have such an amazing and loyal fan base and their feedback has been fantastic. We worked really hard over the weekends in January and February in the recording studio and we were so excited to get the EP out so everyone could hear it," says Chris.

At the moment the band, which has played at venues at The Robin 2 in Bilston, The Flapper and Actress and Bishop in Birmingham as well as The River Rooms and The Claptrap in Stourbridge, is having to hold fire on live shows due to the coronavirus restrictions.

"We love nothing more than getting out and gigging, playing to our followers and playing to new people. The main thing for us is that everyone has stayed safe and healthy and we will be back gigging when its safe for everyone to do so! We have had some amazing support online from such radio stations as OFI Monday and Radio TFSC amongst many others. They have really helped us reach a wide audience, despite not being able to gig! There are so many people that are the unsung heroes of the unsigned scene, they are a massive help," says Chris.

But they are keeping their fingers crossed that some of the gigs they have booked in the diary over the coming months will be able to go ahead.

"We currently have gigs booked on July 24 at The Actress and Bishop in Birmingham, August 7 at The Prince of Wales in Birmingham and we are also due to support Tankus The Henge on August 13 at The Robin 2 in Bilston. These are all subject to government advice of course. We are also on the bill for the next virtual Boztock festival, which will take place some time soon," says drummer Mark Oliver, 59, a branch manager from Kingswinford.

"We are really excited about getting back out and gigging and sharing the sound of our EP to new people. This year we are also nominated in three categories at the Black Country Music Awards – Best Indie Band, Best Live Band and Best New Act, so we are really looking forward to when this is held. Before the lockdown we were learning and rehearsing lots of new material, so we are really looking forward to gigging these new songs and eventually getting them recorded!," says Chris.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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