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A chat with Lou Vainglorious, Hoodlums’ charismatic frontman

Emma Gritt

hoodlum preview 257x300 A chat with Lou Vainglorious, Hoodlums charismatic frontmanAt the end of July, up and coming rock band Hoodlums played a packed out show at London’s legendary 100 Club. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work; approximately three years of touring, jamming and bonding, according to lead singer Lou Vainglorious.

As the founding member of the band, that makes him the one in charge, right? After much umming and erring he gives me a reluctant agreement. “That makes me sound like some sort of horrible dictator doesn’t it?” he says.

Hoodlums has existed in some form for around five years. “At first it was me, then someone joined, then we decided to play live, then someone else joined and so forth… we got it wrong a few times, got a couple of bad combinations but then settled on a line-up about three years ago,” Lou explains.

The solidification of Hoodlums came after the band were asked to support Suede on their comeback tour. “I caught the end of that Britpop thing when I was a kid, I had a couple of Brett Anderson posters on my wall, but it was great to go and play with that band. They hadn’t played for such a long time, so the atmosphere was electric.”

Since then, Lou has been “writing constantly”, and bonding with the band, making sure that they took adequate time to get to know each other and form the sort of solid friendships that one day will become rock folklore. They’ve also managed to cram 140 shows in between the wild nights out in cities and university towns up and down the UK, and most recently, a triumphant performance at London’s 100 Club.

Riding high off the success of their debut single Anything Goes, and with a growing reputation as being a compelling live act, the band are putting the finishing touches to their album this month, with a February release date set firmly in their sights. “I know it sounds like a cliche but we are definitely trying to do something sophisticated within the confines of rock n roll. Hopefully people will find it more exciting as we go along,” he says adding that the band was listening to Jon Hopkins on the tour bus, not Van Halen.

The Hoodlums’ frontman’s roots lie in Southend-on-Sea, home to fellow rockers These New Puritans and The Horrors. In fact, Lou and The Horrors’ keyboardist Rhys ‘Spider’ Webb got their first taste of the rock n roll lifestyle when they were both in the same band at school.

The Southend of then had no Junk Club, the now defunct clubnight that saw legions of teens actually leave London for a good ol’ fashioned, gothed up night out – which he thinks might be why the last decade saw the seaside town suddenly cough up a rich seam of young creative talent.

“When we were playing music together years and years ago, it wasn’t like that. There was an undercurrent of Mod revivalism, but there really wasn’t a party scene, and I think we were all frustrated with that and did something about it.

“I can’t honestly say that other than writing songs and playing in bands I was a main protagonist of that, but I enjoy it now and I enjoyed it in my 20s, but I was more of a sit at home and write lyrics, a more introverted type of guy.” He also found himself levitating towards jazz acts when he was younger, finding their ability to improvise impressive. “It gave me the chance to learn how to be the principle musician in a live unit, and concentrate on performance stuff, and just pretend to be Freddie Mercury.”

Lou concedes that the get up and go/DIY mentality of the town’s creative hub has rubbed off on him. “We run our own label now, and still DJ. I guess seeing some of those people come through gave us hope,” he laughs.

Hoodlums A chat with Lou Vainglorious, Hoodlums charismatic frontman

The notion to remain independent wasn’t just down to creative motives, but financial ones, too. “We made the decision two years ago that we didn’t want to go through the route of getting someone to invest money in us before we had turned in to what we were going to be. The idea was to keep it really natural, put out what we want to put out, basically.

“We looked at the numbers and thought we might as well do it ourselves, there really is no reason to just give it away and have to pander. There are lots of great labels out there, but right now we’re at point one with the first release and it’s kind of nice to be in charge of how we look and how we sound and what we put out.”

They also like to look at fans buying their music with a sense of heartfelt pride. “When we were kids it’d be like last chance saloon, putting your own records out, but now everyone’s doing it, and to good effect. It’s nice seeing people picking up the vinyl and holding it like a little baby.”

For more information about Hoodlums, visit www.hoodlumsband.com

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