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In Conversation: Van Houten

Formed from a seven-year friendship rooted in a mutual love for 90's guitar music's obscure depths, Leeds-based sextet Van Houten are poised to unveil their latest offering, their debut album, 'The Tallest Room,' distills their eclectic influences into eight tracks of dreamy pop mastery, set for release via the innovative label Clue Records / EMI North. Amidst the ebbs and flows of their journey, the band's camaraderie has shaped their sound—a blend of melancholy, carefree spirit, and fervor. With tracks like 'Black and White' and 'Coming of Age,' they navigate themes of perspective and growth, encapsulating both nostalgia and optimism. Yet, amidst introspection, there's joy, evident in 'Only Wanna Be With You,' while 'Panoramic View' serves as a poignant reflection on life's journey. They've been a crucial band in the Leeds scene, seeing them get to this point has been incredible. We spoke to them on the eve of their album release:

1.Can you take us back to the beginning of Van Houten? What sparked the idea of forming the band, and how did you all meet? 

The band has changed an awful lot since its conception. We just wanted to make music, and the easiest way to do this was with a few cheap mics and a laptop. We've produced everything we've made that way up until this debut album. The only founding members that remain are Louis and Henry, who became mates at high school. The band in its current form really formed out of the Leeds Scene which is really close knit. 

2. 'The Tallest Room' marks Van Houten's debut full-length album. Could you share some insights into the up’s and downs of working up to it over the past seven years? 

Its been a long time coming and our sound has evolved so much from the lo-fi bedroom recording to a fuller studio sound but whilst still retaining our key DIY influences on the record. The record was put on hold more than once due to Covid and the restrictions surrounding that. Really though the writing and recording of the album flowed really nicely, being the the first proper collaborative release we have done, where we've written as a full band it was incredibly exciting.

3. The album explores themes of growth, perspective, and resilience, as evident in tracks like 'Coming of Age' and 'Panoramic View'. How did personal experiences and collective reflections influence the lyrical and sonic direction of the album? 

I(Louis) went through a mass of changes throughout the writing of the album, the lyrics reflect the change and growth that I've been through over the past few years. Really the record is about moving on, while still acknowledging the darker experiences you've faced, owning them and moving forward. 

4. 'Only Wanna Be With You' and 'Panoramic View' are our favourite tracks within the album. Can you delve into the significance of these tracks and how they contribute to the overall narrative of 'The Tallest Room’? 

Cheers! These two were actually latter additions to the album and the last ones we recorded. Panoramic View definitely slows things down a bit and gives a nice overview of the themes for the whole record. Only Wanna Be With You is a lighter take on a relationship than the other tracks, addressing fleeting infatuation and how affection can eclipse over any problems that occur in a relationship. A short and sweet un’ it reflects the way such a powerful feeling can be there one minute and gone the next. They’re both some of our favourites to play live so we’re looking forward to everyone hearing them live on our tour! 

5. Collaborating with producer Alex Greaves, known for his work with bdrmm and Bloc Party, must have been an exciting venture. How did this collaboration influence the album's sound, and what was the most rewarding aspect of working together? 

We’ve known Alex for a while now and some of us have worked with him before in different projects so it was great to finally get into the studio with him as a full band at The Nave. The whole process was pretty easy going and Alex is a great ear to have on hand and to help us make decisions when the 6 of us can’t decide

6. With the album set for release and a string of UK headline shows on the horizon, what are your hopes and aspirations for Van Houten in the coming year? How do you envision your music resonating with audiences, both live and through recorded releases? 

Get back to playing as much as we can and cracking on with writing loads of new songs. Now that the record is ready to be released, we want to do it all over again! So we’ve been scurried away in our practice space working on new songs and getting ready for tour.

7. You are a Leeds based band. It’d be great to hear what influence the city has had one you as a band, and how much the scene has helped you develop. 

Leeds is a close knit community so you’re always running into other creatives and bands pretty much everywhere you go which is great. Leeds has always been a source of great music and birthing upcoming bands, so long may it continue. MOT.

You can listen to the bands full album HERE


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