“There is anger in our music because it’s a valid emotion” Bob Vylan on embracing the power of real amps and crafting punk with meaning

“There is anger in our music because it’s a valid emotion” Bob Vylan on embracing the power of real amps and crafting punk with meaning

What separates Bob Vylan from the rest of today’s punk scene is their unapologetic outspokenness and their active efforts to stick by this. Whether it be the time they called out Sleaford Mods and IDLES for not speaking up on Palestine, or challenging the BBC in their boisterous single, GDP.

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Musically and lyrically, the band feel like nothing else in modern guitar music. But more than anything else it’s their continuous and unapologetic commitment to use their voices as a platform to demand change – on record, at shows and in interviews – that truly makes them such a breath of fresh air.
The duo (consisting of frontman Bobby Vylan and drummer Bobbie Vylan) have already made huge waves in the scene on the back of 2022’s Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life, which managed to snag Kerrang’s album of the year while also scooping the inaugural Best Alternative Act gong at the MOBOs – it speaks to their genre-crossing, community uniting message.
A key plank of Bob Vylan’s message has been a courageous and refreshing openness and and vulnerability when talking about difficult subjects – new album Humble As The Sun doubles down on this frankness.
Bobbie Vylan (left) and Bobby Vylan (right). Image: Esmé Surfleet aka Esmé Bones
“There are moments [in life],” reflects Bobby Vylan. “I suppose, where we all feel somewhat hopeless in the face of everything we go through as human beings.”
Throughout the album, the duo touch upon themes of mental health, social injustice and the struggles of everyday life whilst also offering listeners a glimpse of hope. “Everybody has something that at some point, they thought was going to break them and it didn’t. I think [the album is] a case of remembering that and bringing that to the forefront,” says Vylan.
With this in mind, even with the hardships presented in the album, Humble As The Sun is a project reflective of personal growth and is a reminder to those listening to recognise your strength, even at times when you feel your weakest.
Image: Esmé Surfleet aka Esmé Bones
Affirmations Of Love
This message is best seen in gritty heavy-hitter, Hunger Games, which is a track mastered by Kevin Tuffy. “There’s a spoken word part with affirmations at the end of that,” says Vylan. “[I do] affirmations with my daughter in the mirror before I take her to school. I say, repeat [after me]: ‘I’m Black, I’m beautiful. Brown skin is beautiful, my lips are beautiful, and my eyes are beautiful. I’m loved and I love.’ I do those things to instil a sense of pride and self-worth.”
Their latest single, Makes Me Violent, is an ironically, melodic offering touching upon British politics and mental health struggles. In a recent Instagram post, the duo shared more about this release and their attachment to being labelled as a band that’s “angry all the time.”
“We’re very rarely angry, but there is also anger [in our music] because it’s a valid emotion,” says Vylan. Whilst in many ways their ‘punkness’ has been able to strike a chord with a large fanbase, some parts of their outspokenness are often misunderstood. “We are many things as a band – the same way we are many things as individuals. I’m not always angry, but sometimes I am,” Vylan adds.
Bobby Vylan. Image: Esmé Surfleet aka Esmé Bones
Makes Me Violent is the opposite of what you’d envision. It stands on its own two feet as a sonically written release with witty tongue-in-cheek lyricism. Outwardly looking at the band, their cut-throat lyrics, soaring chorus lines, and straight-to-the-point assertiveness are all characteristics that the band recognise. Despite this, their ‘anger’ comes from a place of passion. Although it’s a given that not everyone will understand their message, Vylan doesn’t let this discourage his work.
“I think the habit that people have of misconstruing our passion and seeing it as anger may come from a cultural disconnect, or maybe the way I communicate isn’t familiar to them,” he says. “[Makes Me Violent has] got that fight and spirit. At this point in my life, I think ‘It’s whatever,’ let [people] think what they want. It’s not my job to try and change their race-based opinions of me,” he adds.
Image: Esmé Surfleet aka Esmé Bones
Shine On…
On Humble as the Sun, the band return with a project that’s just as anti-establishment as their last, whilst simultaneously playful and empowering. In the introductory single and title track Humble as the Sun loops the lyrics, “Shine, Black man, shine.” Reflecting on a time he’s been able to unapologetically shine as a Black man in his career to date, Vylan says, “That time at the MOBO Awards.”
He continues, “I used to watch it on TV as a kid. I remember seeing So Solid Crew collect their award – that was powerful to me because I saw a Black man talking about what he was able to do, along with this group of other Black men and women who were from the UK. It made a real impact on me. So, going up there, and being able to stand there knowing that we have achieved this award of hard work and persistence. That to me, was an obvious moment where I’ve been able to shine as a Black man.”
So far the duo have unleashed blistering singles Makes Me Violent, Hunger Games, Dream Big and He’s A Man off the album. The latter is a playful toy on toxic masculinity. “Being a man can feel like quite a lonely existence,” says Vylan. In an age where suicide is one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50 in the UK, He’s A Man is a dark, yet candid look at the societal pressures of ‘manhood’ and the sad reality of its lack of value for men’s mental health.

Expanding on what it means to be a man in his own words, Vylan says, “The complex nature of being a man is wanting to be held, covered, loved and respected, whilst wanting to appear as though you don’t need any of those things.”
He’s A Man presents itself as a place to escape and mock the societal pressures and assumptions of manhood. “I’m not sure I achieved it in the way I wanted to, but I wanted to offer an alternative to what [being] a man is. Because there’s more to it than that,” says Vylan.
Image: Esmé Surfleet aka Esmé Bones
Plugging In
Unlike their lockdown project, We Live Here, which saw the duo produce and mix it entirely themselves, Humble As The Sun comes as an exciting new chapter for the duo. Experimenting with collaborations for the first time, the album is co-produced by Jonny Breakwell and features additional production from Henri Davies. It also sees the band expand their sound, with live guitar parts from their longtime friend and studio producer/writer Rex Roulette.
Talking about the vision for this project Vylan tells us, “I wanted to do certain things in this album that I didn’t do with the previous ones.”
He continues, “For example, when it comes to the guitars, I usually use audio plugins that emulate different speakers and cabs. This time around, we got into the studio and used real amps and mic’d them up. We even recorded the drums live in different-sized rooms, using different kits.”

As well as collaborations, using real guitars and real amps on the project is another series of firsts for the band. On the subject of uniting their creative vision with Breakwell, Vylan tells us, “It was interesting. He helped me put this whole thing together in a way.”
He continues, “His knowledge of microphones, mic placements, different setups for drum kits and how certain amps will sound was incredible. I have a certain level of knowledge of this because I’ve studied it and I’ve created albums before, but working with him enabled me to step away from the music. When I was mixing it and producing it myself, I would wake up at random hours in the morning to work on it. Being able to have that space and distance allowed me to sit with the songs off the record a lot more. Which enabled me to have a clearer opinion of the album.”
Over the years we’ve seen the band captivate and culminate a loyal fanbase. It’s through their unique music and enticing charisma that we continue to see their audience grow with each passing year. Shocking many as they booked festival slots at Boomtown in 2022 and TRNSMT in 2023, throughout their work, Bob Vylan continue to prove that their music extends further than the punk scene.
Bobby Vylan. Image: Esmé Surfleet aka Esmé Bones
“With this new album, I want it to serve as an entry point for a wider audience,” says Vylan. Weaving in speckles of grime, punk and drum and bass tendencies, as you make your way through the tracklist, Humble As The Sun delves into the band’s eclectic palette, whilst continuing to serve their OG audience.
Moving forward, as well as with the release of their forthcoming album, Vylan is gearing up for this festival season. “I’m excited for Primordial. When we previously played there everyone was so kind and friendly,” he says.
“That really impacts whether or not we go back. There are a couple of things we consider before returning to a festival. Firstly, whether the people are nice, and secondly, if the catering is good. We’re a foody band…”
If the food is decent enough then, you might catch Bob Vylan this summer – if you do you’ll find an earnest and authentic project that channels hope and resilience to make a unique and positive manifesto for the modern world.
Humble As The Sun is out 5 April on Ghost Theatre
The post “There is anger in our music because it’s a valid emotion” Bob Vylan on embracing the power of real amps and crafting punk with meaning appeared first on Guitar.com | All Things Guitar.

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