Liverpool creative and contemplative alt-rock outfit Sophisto gear up to launch their brand new album Versa Vice. We were blessed with the opportunity to chat with the band about the project, about their song writing process, and what it all means to them. Here’s how it went.
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Hi guys, thanks for the interview – congrats on the release of Versa Vice, a beautifully crafted album. Why the title, and what does this project represent for you?
Thank you. On the surface the title refers to something ordinary being rearranged, which is reflective of the soundscape of the album. The title also refers to two sub-formations of the band on the album, an imaginary band called “Vice” who break up and re-form as an acoustic/piano duo called “Versa”. “Versa” perform first on the album which is also why the idiom is reversed. This project represents musical freedom from a previous incarnation of the band.
Which song on the album means the most to you, and why?
This could change but at the moment it’s the title track Versa Vice. It’s a very retrospective song and it feels sentimental/nostalgic. We really went for the guitar/piano dual on it and it was the last track we recorded as “Versa” so it was like a farewell kind of track, and it’s last on the album so it’s pretty significant in the conclusion of the story.
What’s your song-writing process like as a band, how do you begin, and how do you know when you’re finished and ready to record?
Usually the songs start on acoustic guitar and they are generally written as diary-like entries. Recorded on a phone or laptop microphone and then the ideas and lyrics are then either rearranged or left as the original intention. The ideas get bounced off a small sector of friends and family members in various environments to see how they react. The songs are recorded on an energy-level basis.
What inspired you to create We Dreamed Of Life?
I wanted to pay homage to the ‘shoegaze’ genre. But with an acoustic guitar and drum machine. It’s the first track on the album that the imaginary band “Vice” perform so we were ‘just getting started’ so to speak. Also my 9 year old son is just starting to learn drums so I wanted something he could drum along too. The lyrics, and title, pay respect to the live band from the previous album.
What about Good Things Will Rest, what did you hope to communicate or share with your audience?
Good Things Will Rest is the last track performed by ‘Vice’ on the album, before they departed. The message is not everything lasts forever and the best things in life sometimes need time to recuperate. The lyric “on the other side of the world, he was searching for something” refers to Daniel Johns, the ex-frontman of Silverchair, a band who went on an indefinite hiatus in 2011.
Given the poetic and reflective nature of many of your lyrics, are you influenced by literature or poetry, or any other mediums than music?
It’s a difficult thing to evaluate nowadays due to everything being influential. I prefer the lyrics to come from a ‘subconscious place’ so it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly influenced them. I’d say a combination of art/satire/movies/literature would provide a blanket influence. I like the movie directors David Lynch & David Fincher alot, they seem to create what I call good ‘combination art’. Likewise, Sophisto is a kind of satirical statement of the times blurring the lines between fact and fiction.
How would you say the Liverpool live scene has been in recent years for this kind of alternative rock sound (prior to Covid of course)?
It was pretty receptive in the atmosphere. It depends on the music night you’re attending really. Some bands can pull a lot of people to their performances who are only there for the band they came to see. Sophisto has always appealed to the more open minded listener as it gets a bit meditative at times so we’ve always been on the cusp really on the live scene locally. Make of that what you will.
What’s next for you as a band?
Fate leads the way. With the covid lockdown we can’t be sure if we’ll perform live, unless there is a huge demand for it and members are willing to perform/rehearse the songs in a live entity. There will be more music but I’m not sure when that will really happen as things are changing day to day at the moment.
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
Sophisto were formed in 2016 as a band/mental health awareness project and will continue to exist as just that.
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