Get To Know... Van Houten

Continuing to define both themselves and their sound, Leeds slacker outfit Van Houten have unveiled their heartfelt new EP Home Alone.

Released on Leeds label Clue Records, the four track EP finds the quintet reflecting on the sense of reinvention which comes with learning to separate yourself from mental health struggles; resulting in an intimate and heartfelt take on their glimmering dream-pop.

Following the release, we spoke to Van Houten about their past, present and part in the Yorkshire music scene.

Hiya! How are we doing? Tell us who you all are and how you came to form Van Houten?

Henry: Well the band initially formed in 2017 but with quite a different line up to what we have now. Van Houten has existed as it is now since 2019 since Niall joined. So we have Louis Sadler on lead vocals and guitar, Jake ribbo Ribton on guitar and vocals, myself (Henry Beaumont) on the bass, Niall Summerton on the drums and Jake Wrigglesworth manning the synth station. We’re all a very tight-knit bunch of friends some of whom went to school together, the rest of us meeting in Leeds at uni. We’ve all since bonded together over a shared love for music, pints and Limmy’s Show. Van Houten came to formation after Louis and I started talking about the idea in a pub one winter, we started jamming shortly after and liked what was happening so decided to make it a thing. It was a very different band back then and we’ve been though a lot of changes but I think now we’re the band we’ve always wanted to be

Was music always the dream or did you have different ideas when you were younger?

Jake R: I think music has always been a huge part of our lives; often we like to listen and compare records that our parents used to listen to in the car, so I think that’s how most of us got into enjoying music. We all played instruments from a young age. A lot of us were really into playing football but realized pretty quickly that we weren’t good enough to play for England.

And how have you found your journey into the industry so far, anything you wish you’d known when you started out as a band?

Louis: Our journey so far has been mainly very positive. We have been lucky enough to play some great shows, and our label Clue Records has really helped guide us past all of the obstacles that we have faced. We are a bit gutted about the Covid situation as we had a very busy year planned in terms of touring, but we have been able to focus on writing material for our new EP and our second album which we are planning.

Talk us through your new EP ‘Home Alone’, where did the inspiration come from?

Louis: Musically I took inspiration from a fair few places, I wanted to make something that was intimate and personal above all else, and put across a sense of myself in all of the songs. I was listening to a lot of pavement, Loving, and a lot of lo-fi indie kinda stuff when I was making the EP, but didn't focus too much on trying to replicate a sound I'd heard before, but instead a feeling of warmth and intimacy. The record was self-produced in my bedroom so I think this helped to create that feeling

The EP is out on Clue Records, a key part of the Leeds music scene! Any favourite Leeds bands we should be watching out for?

Henry: Where to start? There’s so many good bands! Our label mate Bored at my Grandmas House has just dropped her new single; it’s a big tune so definitely go check it out! Other than that there’s Fehlt and Team Picture who are also on Clue who we love. There’s loads to check out but here’s a few to look out for, Honey Guide, Spacey Basement Cult and our handsome drummers solo project Niall Summerton.

Is there anything you’ve learned about yourselves during your time as a band?

Louis: We've learned that the music industry isn't always an easy place to navigate, and can sometimes be very hard on independent artists. But we have learned to stay resilient and hopeful despite knock backs and disappointments.

If you could have any filmmaker/director create a Van Houten music video, who would you choose?

Jake W: Christ that’s a tough one… there are too many to choose from! I’d love to see what Stanley Kubrick could conjure up for us, or maybe Wes Anderson. In fact it would be even better to see what they could come up with as a pair, I’m thinking Jack Nicholson in The Shining roaming through The Grand Budapest Hotel, that kind of vibe. I’d also 100% love to work with our dear friend Sam Joyce again, who made the video for our single ‘What I Need’ from the new EP. Sam’s got a real talent and it’s amazing watching him work, I’ve no doubt he’s on the track to big things.

What would your dream live show look like? What’s on the rider?

Jake R: It would be a boozy Saturday night in Hyde Park Leeds, a crowd of 300 strong are packed bumper to bumper in the main room at Brudenell social club. Honey Guide would be first on the bill, followed by Party Hardly to get them all riled up. Then, Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford would give us a big intro ‘Now next up it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for... I gotta say I really like ‘em.. My wife likes them a little too much if you know what I mean.. it’s Van Houten!!!’ I reckon we’d come down from the ceiling in our underwear and everyone would scream as if they saw a large rat kissing their dog. On the rider would be a big bowl of tuna pasta to share, a hardback copy of Monty Don’s autobiography ‘My Roots’, copious amounts of Holsten pilsner and a good bottle of red for Louis.

And what’s the (loose) plan for 2021? Anything exciting on the way?

Jake W: Well it’s obviously a strange time indeed that we’re living in, we’ve had a few plans this year scarpered due to COVID. But we’re hoping to record our second album at some point next year. It’s all still in the logistical stage of planning currently, but we’re working really hard on new material that we’re all really proud of. We’ve began recently writing more collaboratively and trying to grow our sound, so we’re taking that into consideration regarding who we’ll be working with and where. We also have 2 sold out headline shows at The Belgrave in February, which is dead exciting for us. The shows have been moved back 3 times already due to lockdown, so it feels a little unsteady at times but we cannot wait to play live again!