Interview: High Vis Talk Hopeful, Reflective New Record, ‘Blending’

The London-based group High Vis, who play a sort of upbeat post-punk, sound welcoming on their catchy new album Blending, a September release from Dais Records. 

Album opener “Talk For Hours” aptly sets the tone: it’s intense but free-flowing, like a friendly slap on the back from a friend communicating you won’t be alone in your struggles. The melodies—placed central to what’s unfolding—sound genuinely uplifting. It’s not overly tense, even if shadows of the tumult we all know are there.  

It’s a moderately paced, subtly soaring jaunt, reflecting inner grime of everyday life but shining something new upon it, reminding listeners of an available sense of opportunity. And singer Graham Sayle delivers an exuberant performance across the new record, helping the whole thing feel anthemic and cultivating a rich sense of communal energy. When diving in, you’re emotionally connected with the band and whomever else you might have in mind or be with: it’s direct.  

The music’s brightness sounds unmistakable—even when the rhythmic snarl intensifies, High Vis return to something lighter. But this record sounds distinctly conscious of real-world tension connected to the band members or of which they’re cognizant. It’s not simply plopped into this sometimes musically sunny environment without the work to get there: you could imagine portions of Blending as some kind of tempered punk rock march.  

Blending can be abrasive, but it’s pulsing with life—the hazy, mellow title track begins on a noticeably gentle note and moves into something perhaps surprisingly blissful, like somehow clutching a ray of light to the chest with ragged urgency. That vibe, although more prominently displayed here, isn’t dissimilar from the rest of the album. 

The poignancy of what High Vis deliver—and the expansive room they give to experience that on Blending—mean they’ve evoking a sense of finding true personal release. And you can discover that in plugging into the jubilance they have to offer.  

Below, check out what High Vis and singer Graham Sayle have to say about Blending. 

The new music is super compelling. On a broad level, how would you describe the emotional journey this album takes? Do you think there’s some metaphorical light in there?
High Vis: Thanks for asking us to do this! The album is definitely one of hope and reflection. Our last LP, No Sense No Feeling, captured the state we were in as people, feeling trapped in patterns of self-destructive behavior with no obvious way out. The subsequent lockdown and isolation cornered us to take action. Blending is the product of hours of trauma-centred therapy, acceptance, and understanding. 

What sort of attracts you to the “post-punk” style High Vis performs, if something comes to mind? Are there particular things you like about the style—like, say, its specific mode of emotional expressiveness?
H V: We definitely never set out to be a “post-punk” band as such; the genre is such a broad term. But we definitely connected with the deeper emotional consciousness that a lot of the early post-punk bands invested in. Bands like The Sound and The Chameleons with their barbed, introspective takes on individual hopelessness definitely informed our earlier recordings. But this only further reinforced the kind of nihilistic state we were in at the time. We found inspiration for the new album in an openness to new ways of working and a lowering of our defenses.  

Was there a particular sonic journey you wanted to take with this album, or was it more about following along with the songwriting and seeing where it ended up?
H V: The album arrived very organically; we gave ourselves freedom to explore new sonic avenues and never rejected anything without trying it. We didn’t just dismiss something because it “wouldn’t sound like us.” When our original guitarist Romain (Bruneau) moved back to Paris and Martin (MacNamara) joined, it brought a different energy to the band. Martin is also an insane songwriter and introduced us all to vocal harmonies, which we’d never even considered.  

Geographic “scenes” are always pretty interesting. Do you think the particular style of music you’ve crafted is connected in some way to the place in which you live (or have lived), whether that’s the country, area … or even neighborhood? 
Sayle: The music definitely feels warm and “Northern” to me. By warm, I’m referring to the nature of people from the North of England you encounter: good-humoured and straight-talking. I grew up in a neglected Merseyside, seaside town called New Brighton from 1986 to 2005 and then in South East London until now. The landscape, experiences I’ve had, and people I’ve met in these places have shaped who I am and informed everything I write about. Severe wealth gaps, neglect, destitution, supportive communities, violence, pure kindness, and everything in between.  

When crafting these songs, do you have the eventual concert experience in mind? 
H V: When we’re writing, we try not to limit where the song might go by thinking about how well it will play with audiences. At the same time, if we do hit upon a part that seems like something a crowd of people might respond to, we tend to work on that bit until it’s refined to a point where it feels like people might sing along to it, or kill each other to it. 

As for the live show, the more serious this thing becomes, the more we want to consider and craft an environment or aesthetic scene where the songs can thrive. At the same time, smoke and mirrors often mask the true essence of what is behind the music, so the balance has gotta be right. Ultimately, we wanna play with the same energy for everyone, every time we play, until it kills us. 

Kind of a far-reaching question, but if you could think of the most out-there, high-profile, exciting thing you’d want to have happen for the band… what would that be? 
H V: Our expectations are low so everything is a gift. We’d love to play a big festival to a diverse crowd. We don’t want our music to alienate anyone and would love to play more mixed-bill shows with artists from all genres. The idea of touring on our own terms and getting time to visit more of the world is super exciting.  

And a lighter question… are there particular bands or styles of basically any sort to which you’ve been listening a lot lately? What sorts of things do you like about them, if something comes to mind?
H V: There’s a lot going on in the U.K. at the moment; the new Jeshi album Universal Credit is a great take on the state of our country at the moment. Our friends in The Chisel, Island of Love, and Chubby and the Gang are smashing it and have an insane work rate. There’s an incredible hardcore scene here right now: Antagonizm, Mastermind, The Annihilated, GAME, Big Cheese, Payday. A lot of young kids doing hardcore really well is reassuring! 

Watch the video for “Talk For Hours” here:

For more from High Vis, find them on Instagram, Bandcamp, and their official website.

Photo courtesy of James Matthews

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