Dexter Krenal of Meat Loving Vegans
THERE are a lot of quite false and fake artists playing at the minute…
that all sound alike. So many musicians are playing very samey and uninspired sounds- that clone others and show such little personality. In interviews, some artists give very little value and fascination. Meat Loving Vegans are a London-based band that cannot be accused of being boring and predictable. Fusing some classic Punk sounds with British and U.S. contemporaries: You have music that is sure to elicit a very positive response.
The boys are preparing to release a new album- following on from Lost in Fiction- only a few months after their debut. Promising new direction and familiar strands: I was keen to catch up and see what was in store. Frontman Dexter Krenal gives us a glimpse into the band’s unique chemistry; the plans they have for 2016- which artists and bands inspire Meat Loving Vegans…
Hi Dexter. I hope you are well. How has your week been?
Cheers Sam mate. I’ve been busy as fuck – 3 gigs, 2 rehearsals; a day recording demos with the band- working my botty off in my bar job (the worst was a 13-hour shift yesterday!). Not for much longer though (my last shift is this Saturday). Boozing and not sleeping much. I’m paying for overdoing it, though. I’m buried in sheets in my girlfriend’s attic/room gorging on tea, smoking roll-ups and feeling like death.
For those new to the music of Meat Loving Vegans: Can you define it?
Bit of a toughie that really, coz it’s a massive blend of loads of stuff. I add the hard-hitting British, working-class, Punk-Rock/Alternative vibe: James (keys) is a Jazz fiend; Sam (drums) comes up with some really cool, weird shit (the Eno of the band); Matt (bass) comes from a Classical background which helps us hold it all together. I think left to me, James and Sam it’d be the musical equivalent of an epileptic fit… On steroids.
Looking back at 2015: Which memories stand in the mind as particular highlights?
Finishing the debut album (Lost In Fiction) – mostly by myself (although I did have some help)- putting the band together and doing loads of shit gigs. Now I listen back to the record, I hear what I wanna do differently next time. Same looking back on the gigs: I know what needs to happen to take it up a notch. Was (overall) a real good time honing our craft; doing what we love.
Meat Loving Vegans’ sound has echoes of Blur, The Clash and Punk greats. Which artists and musicians were important to you growing up?
Too many to mention! The first proper run-in I had with music was my grandad playing his old Jazz records- he mainly got them from New York when he was in the navy. The music would really piss my nan off, which I thought was hilarious! Then in school, I had to sing David Bowie’s Life on Mars in assembly, which I loved too. But what really got the ball rolling was my mate James. We’d skive off school, smoke fags; drink some vodka we’d nick off our parents; listen to Guns N’ Roses and try to play along. Was fucking great! Then, I found the Sex Pistols a bit later on which made me realise you don’t have to be the prettiest player/singer: What REALLY matters is the message and the energy. Was no stopping me from there!
On that note: Which modern-day artists are inspiring you? Any you would recommend to people?
Yeah. I’m actually getting into quite a lot of newer stuff at the minute, which is cool. For ages, I couldn’t find fucking ANYTHING that I liked! I played with these two bands- Sleaze and Sex Cells- at the Windmill in Brixton last Friday. They were both really cool. Slaves, Misty Miller, Black Honey; Tess Parks, Fat White Family; King Krule, Mac Demarco. The Brian Jonestown Massacre keep pumping out amazing new albums- although they started in the ‘90s...
I love the past work of Meat Loving Vegans. Can we expect some new music sometime soon?
Ya sure can mate! We’re working on our next album now. We don’t have don’t have release dates yet but it’s looking like we’ll have a couple of singles out in April- and the album should be out in May.
In terms of your new material: What subjects/themes have defined its creation?
Well, there’s a lot more depth to the second album. We’ve tried out some really heavy, crazy stuff. We’ve also gone further the other way and done some really quiet, dark, trippy stuff too. It’s all about life in London the way I see it, more-or-less. Roughing it, drink and drug addiction; the wealthy shitting on the poor; sticking with those that matter (to pull through the dirt).
With reality shows like X Factor dying out- having been removed from the schedules- do you think music is starting to embrace ‘real’ musicians more?
Hurrah! Let Jah be praised! Let’s hope that’s the case. I’d LOVE for that to happen, but I doubt it. When one crap thing like that’s extinguished there’s normally some wanker with another crap idea and a huge wallet in line ready to fill the gap.
We might end up with a super-charged version of X-Factor blended with Take Me Out. One where a bunch of contestants desperately run around a room singing Pop cover songs at the top of their voices, half-naked- with the aim of getting a shag whilst simultaneously trying to impress record company executives to give them a multi-million-pound contract. In fact, I’d watch that. That actually sounds brilliant!
You live in London- formally a member of the Camden community- and are in the heart of things. Do you think it is easier for musicians in London to get exposure and gigs? What are the benefits of living in the capital?
Well, it’s AMAZING and BRUTAL at the same time! I grew up in this little place daay’n saaa’f (sic.) called Gosport (next to Portsmouth). Proper community vibe there; everyone mucks in with each other to make the music happen- and some of the stuff people are doing there is really good. But there’s NO exposure: Hence, I came to London. Otherwise, I would’ve been the best guitarist in my bedroom and that’s it. Here, it’s totally different. You see incredible guys busting their arse and not getting anywhere; other people you see doing well and think "how the fuck did you get where you are?"’ There are just so many people trying to climb the ladder; everyone’s falling over each other. But what are the benefits of living in the capital? If you look for it, there’s some mind-blowing stuff going on- and it makes all the crap that comes along with it worthwhile.
There will be some young artists inspired to follow in your footsteps. What advice would you give them?
Don’t do it! Save yourselves! Hahaha. No, do it! No, on a serious note: I love making music. It’s rarely easy but it’s so worth it. So my advice would be: If you love making music too; forward march brothers and sisters. Troop on, and shine your light onto the darkness!
You have a good band behind you- James, Sam and Matt play with Dexter - and a tight bond comes through in the songs. How did you guys meet?
We went to this music college called I.C.M.P. That was my ticket out of Gosport and up to London, so I took it- although, we didn’t start playing together ‘til we’d pretty much finished. The four of us are a pretty unlikely mix, to be honest: James and Sam are like a loving, married from Newcastle; I’m a southern nutter from a council estate and Matt can be quite an argumentative (yet passionate) French/Italian fella. The common ground we all have is to make great music; so it works.
If you guys could put together a ‘dream line-up’- of acts and musicians past and present- into your own festival; who would appear on that list?
I don’t know if anyone would show up if we put that on; it’d be mental! I’d have a bunch of in-your-face Alternative/Rock/Punk; Lo-Punk/lo-fi bands like Slaves and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. James would follow that with some Jazz guys like Charlie Parker (if he had resurrecting capabilities). Sam would shake it up even more with some experimental stuff: Like having Eno play discordant stuff on a synth with his photography being projected like strobes. Then Matt would confidently stroll up to headline, armed with a bloody orchestra to finish it! We’d get killed!
I always love to find what inspires musicians’ songs and creative spurts. What inspires Meat Loving Vegans when it comes to writing new music?
It can be all sorts, really. It’s so cliché but it’s true: You never know what’s going to come into your head or when. Sometimes, I’ll be listening to a lot of a certain artist and end up having an idea come into my head that’s a similar vibe. Other times, I’ll be thinking of something and a tune will just arrive. I’ve woken up at stupid hours of the night with a song and had to jot it down before I can get back to sleep.
It usually starts with me writing the basic track then taking it to the band: They put their stamp on it and we go from there. I’ve written a couple of the band’s ideas recently which is new. I’m always late to practice (sorry guys) which gave them a chance to jam this really cool, trippy idea- it ended up becoming Purple Shores on the new record. It made me think of being a teenager: Slightly stoned/merry on the beach back home with my mates. It ended up becoming what the song was about. Another was when James went to the toilet for …business… and that made me think of all the shit stuff that happens in London. Out came the song Only in Bloody London (again, going to be on the new album).
Music means a lot of things to different people. What does it mean to you (and the band)?
Sanity! Without it, I’d lose the plot. I was always looking for a way to express myself when I was younger; I had all sorts of weird hobbies. One was writing poems onto parchment paper with a quill: Dipped in Indian ink and sealing it with wax and a stamp (as if I lived in the early 19th century). A nutter from birth! So lucky I found music (or that it found me).
Finally- and for being a good egg- you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…
Nice one geeza! Since we mentioned Gosport earlier, let’s go with The Ballad of Gosport. There ain’t nowhere like home…
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