During the height of NU-Metal, red baseball caps, Playstation 2, and a time when MTV2 actually aired decent music, a dark and mysterious band rose from the underworld to challenge the norm of commercial alt metal, which believe it or not was as popular as an Instagram model at the time, but not nearly as attractive to look at. Limp Bizkit and Korn were the kings of commercial appeal, with artists like Machine Head and Rammstein creeping in behind.

Fred Durst's partnership with Mission Impossible and Tom Cruise was becoming ever so predictable, and ultimately held an attraction appealing only to college jocks and the guys that used to bully alt kids in school. We needed something different, we needed a cult to join, we needed Vex Red.

There have actually been a number of ‘near miss’ reunions
- Ant Forbes

Can’t Smile was the band's inaugural single and video for most people. With an industrial grind blending organic vocals with a driving drum beat that excited the senses and made you feel alive. Vex Red offered a truly unique sound, a sound that came naturally to the band as Ant Forbes explains “Without wanting to sound like a cliché, the Vex Red sound is pretty organic”.

After parting ways with singer Terry Abbot shortly after the release of their debut album, ‘Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire’, fans were left with nothing but short memories. Vex Red tried to reunite several times over the years but for many reasons it simply wasn’t viable until things started coming together in 2016 “There have actually been a number of ‘near miss’ reunions” says Ant. “It just happened that all of the ingredients were right for the 2016 attempt, and we’ve been chipping away at new stuff ever since”

Vex Red returned in 2016 with epic single, ‘Burn This Place’. Now, fully reunited, they’re back for good and about to drop a brand new EP.

So, it’s been a while? Where have you guys been?

Between the five of us there’s a lot to tell, but it’s a short interview so let’s leave it at this… top secret work for the EU space agency.

Apart from a single release back in 2016, we haven’t heard much from Vex Red. Why have you decided to seemingly make a come back now?

There have actually been a number of ‘near miss’ reunions. It just happened that all of the ingredients were right for the 2016 attempt, and we’ve been chipping away at new stuff ever since. There’s the ever-present problem these days that each of us has so much going on in our own lives that scheduling time to play together is difficult! 2018 was a really good year, with the Hell Is For Heroes tour and the Meltdown show for Robert Smith… that really helped the momentum.

When Vex Red came onto the scene, many people being introduced to Can’t Smile first, you offered an extremely unique sound, a sound that is clearly present on the new EP. Almost 20 years later, among the saturated Rock and Metal genres, this sound still resonates and stands out as very individual. Was this the intention when recording the new EP?

Without wanting to sound like a cliché, the VR sound is pretty organic. The songs originate from Tel and make their way through the Keith filter and then the rest of us add our colour. This is what the VR sound is made of, and I think that each of us are our own quality control as well as each others. It's a very pure, but time consuming process.

A lot has changed since Vex Red released Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire. The advent of social media and streaming now dominates many aspects of the music industry. How do you feel about returning to a new world?

Feeling pretty old after reading that question, thanks! It’s such a brave new world for bands. When we were at our peak around 2002, SM was in its infancy but we still had chatrooms and the like through our website. I remember it being something that our mums used to keep tabs on where we were in the world. For me personally having been a tour manager with bands for 15 years I’ve seen first-hand the power of SM and how it can literally make or break an artist and propel them to fame overnight.

You mention the new EP represents your journey from who you were to the “grown ups” you are today. Just exactly how grown up are you now, and what do you feel is the biggest change during this time for you as musicians?

Well, we are all married and nearly all have kids… that pretty much says it all, but still playing in a band so I suppose not too grown up! As musicians I don't think it feels all that different. There’s most definitely less desire to get on the beers every night.

Can’t Smile - This track became huge and brought you an underground cult following. Can you give us some details about the meaning behind this track and how it came about?

Lyrically I think the meaning has something to do with an old mate of Terry’s, but I’ll leave that to him to divulge that if he chooses. Musically Cant Smile was one of the first times back in the day that we all really clicked with a song idea whilst playing in a room together (was actually an old Portacabin that we bought and turned into a rehearsal room on a farm). It was a defining moment for the band… when we really felt that we were onto something.

You have a headline tour coming up in February 2020. After being away for so long, how are you guys feeling about returning with a new record to play live?

We’ve actually played quite a few shows since the reformation of 2016, and have always included a lot of new material in these shows, so there’s nothing but good vibes about playing these tracks. It's brilliant to see old school and new school fans alike enjoying them as much as we do. There’s an obvious softer edge to the new stuff, which unless you’re Phil Anselmo I think is a natural reaction to getting older, but really gives us a great dynamic arsenal to choose from.

You sold out a headline show at the Camden Assembly, that must have been an amazing show?

That show was a lot of fun, playing the small intimate shows always is!

Can we expect a full album soon?

Yes absolutely… we’re hoping for a release next year, but time flys in the Vex Red world as we all know!

Anything you’d like to say to your long time fans?

Thanks for sticking with us gang… we appreciate you one and all and promise to try to be a bit quicker with getting shit done! xx

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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