Visperas (pronounce it however you like, they don’t mind) are Luke on vocals and rhythm guitar; Oli on bass; Adam on the skins and recently-recruited Scott on lead guitar. Together, this Edinburgh-based four-piece spin a web of esoteric lyrical mysticism shot through with triumphant riffs, guitar heroics and complex rhythms.
Luke and Adam have been together for over 4 years now, with Oli joining the ranks a couple of years ago. Scott is the recently-recruited local talent from East Lothian, whilst the others have found themselves in Edinburgh either through uni or family ties.
Now, their base of operations is a little unique – through connections they have permanent use of a spare bedroom in a small hotel on the outskirts of the city.
I asked Oli about the practicalities of this – Visperas are a loud band after all.
“The room’s above the toilets, so the noise doesn’t seem to be a problem!” replied Oli. “It’s a great arrangement for us, and works out a lot cheaper than some other alternatives.”
It is indeed a good setup. The room has been stripped of furnishings, replaced by amps, drum kit and an impressive recording / mixing desk.Oli, with a degree in music technology, takes care of the production side of things and his training and skill shines through as he fires up the 1st track – “Upon The Gears” – from the band’s forthcoming EP.
An acoustic intro overlays a spoken word sample by US free speech activist Mario Savio which gives the track its name and highlights the political undercurrent which runs beneath Visperas music.
This isn’t heavy-handed “music with a message” stuff though, as the track then gives way to some accomplished riff-driven guitar, crashing drums and powerful bass, tightly wound together into an impressive alt-prog whole.
“It should sound tight” said Adam as I complimented them on the track. “That drum track took 53 takes before Oli was happy with it!”
The mix was in an early stage of production without vocals, so the band then treated me to a semi-acoustic rendition of another number (sadly without drums, as Adam’s kit was off for repair). This did however allow me to hear Luke’s powerful and emotion-laden vocals; he possesses a wide range and has a voice perfectly suited to the Visperas rock style. This had me keen to hear more, and – although the band are concentrating on recording at the moment – I’d like to see them live in a fully-amped up environment.
“There’s some great bands out there, and venues like the Picture House have been good for Edinburgh” replied Luke. “There’s no dedicated scene, though and it sometimes feels like it’s a bit oversaturated.”
“There’s a lot of competitiveness amongst bands out there as well” added Oli. “And no real need for there to be.”
I asked about their favourite venues and gigs. “We had a great gig at Studio 24 a few years ago” replied Luke. “An under 18s one – there were loads of kids there really getting into it.”
“Yeah” added Adam. “Some of them were even waltzing!”
Oli also cites another legendary Visperas appearance where he took the stage after ‘several’ pints.
“One of our songs was a 10-minute epic with loads of time-signature changes”, he said. “And I played it better than I ever had before!”
Visperas are one of those bands that seem to gel musically and also as a group, as they laugh and joke about other episodes from their past. Their talents are obvious from the short exposure I had to their music, and their friendship equally tight and solid.
Even though their current focus in on their recorded material, they still want that to sound realistic and capture the “raw” sound of their live appearances. As I left them to continue discussing their recordings and other future plans, I found myself looking forward to the opportunity to experience some of that rawness first-hand and will definitely be following their progress with interest.
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