My name’s Alan Hannah, I’m the singer, the songwriter and one of the two guitarists in a band called The Vanities. I’ve been writing since I was 14, and gigging since I was 17. Me and the boys have been at it for 3 years just about and have been through highs and lows of the industry. The influence I took while shaping some of our earlier records where Classic first wave Punk, predominately The Clash and the Buzzcocks. However I found a love in my teens for the old Trojan reggae and rocksteady records of the 60’s which then heightened my love for Ska like The Specials, Toots and The Maytals and Bad Manners. I always loved records that sounded like a piss up or a party, a bit ruckusy and generally like a good time, because of this I found a huge love for bands like The Libertines, The Pogues and the Palma Violets. Which all have a predominant influence on our sound as a band. Some of those early Cribs and View records too.
Here are 3 records that changed my life:
The Clash – The Clash
Straight off the bat that first Clash record has influenced me as a songwriter more than I can imagine. Strummer’s year zero type writing that made everything before him irrelevant and created a whole new landscape for the youth and a generation of kids who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sprinkle some classic reggae influences over the top, and I was in musical heaven. The song “Career Opportunities” was always a huge impact on me, being unemployed over the summer a few years in a row between education, I found myself debating in and out of joining dole queues. The line “do you wanna make tea at the BBC, do you wanna be, really wanna be a cop?” Always signifies that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and they’ll throw you into any job they think you’re dumb enough to take. Relevant in 77’ still relevant in 2019.
The Libertines – Up The Bracket
My sister always grew up around the Doherty era, whether it was the libs the shambles or tabloid debauchery. Through her I ended up listening to the first Libertines record. And I was hooked; Garage, Punk, Beatles Harmonies, rough as fuck production (by Mick Jones of my favourite band The Clash) and tunes, that musically were like a Rock and Roll bulldozer of chaos and with poetic lyrics with Edwardian wit and romantic regret. The Libertines taught me you didn’t have to be a virtuoso to have a good time and have good tunes, go for it like nobody’s watching and have a vibe people can run with. “Cornered the boy kicked out at the world, the world kicked back, a lot fucking harder now”
The Streets – Original Pirate Material
I loved hip hop long before I loved Punk. I loved the beats, the clever word play and the groove. I thought rappers were urban poets, and especially clever tongue in cheek rap, particularly golden era: Slick Rick, Eric B and Rakim, Beastie Boys, NWA, Wu Tang Clan. But the first time I heard The Streets it was like Punk rap, it was this minimalist garage music that with lack of a better phrase sounded like it was made in a guy’s garage, and the reality was not far off. Mike Skinner influenced me lyrically to become a spectator of the culture around me, to talk about thing that were close to the bone and easily accessible. Never before (and in a thick Essex twang) had someone spoke about taking too much ecstasy that you’re too fucked to walk home, getting knock backed from a club, trying to pick up girls, pishy pubs and wearing Reebok Classics. A lot of people concur that Alex Turner on the first Arctics record was introductory to them to that style (and another defining record for me) but no Mike Skinner and you’ve got no modern social commentary. “I’m 45th Generation Roman”.
The Vanities are a garage punk band from Glasgow, Scotland.