Bob Vylan hysteria

BOB VYLAN // “We have power within ourselves and we have power as a community to change the way that we live in this world.”

It was in 2017 that English duo Bob Vylan (comprising singer/guitarist Bobby Vylan, and drummer Bobbie Vylan) first formed, writing and recording a number of tracks that would showcase their love of punk, grime, and hip-hop genres.

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But it was 2020’s furious We Live Here that proved the world needed to stand up and listen.


With a category-defying sound, lyrics that touch on topics of racism, mental health, and police violence among others, and a stage presence that is as furious as it is cathartic, Bobby Vylan explains to Hysteria that the early years were marred by a bit of difficulty in getting audiences to actually listen.

“I knew that the music was good, I knew that the music was missing from the world, and I knew that there wasn’t anything like that at that point,” he notes, “And I knew that I enjoyed it and the handful of people that would see us play, they all enjoyed it.

“I knew that if these 10 people in the room enjoy it, then there has to be another 10 somewhere, and there has to be another 10 somewhere after that. So I always knew that  we had something special, I just didn’t necessarily know to what degree.”

Their persistence paid off, however, and after their early releases, the group were heading overseas, ultimately finding themselves performing at festivals like Reading, and playing with names like The Offspring.

“Every year it’s been growing, and it’s been growing naturally,” Bobby says. “We’re not a band that’s had a hit on TikTok or something that has catapulted us in that way. It’s been a natural growth over the years, and we did have a hard time getting people to listen early on, but that didn’t stop us.

“We always just wanted to share the music with as many people as we possibly could, and that kept us determined and pushing forward – trying to book our own shows, release our own music, and do our own press and stuff in the early days.

“People took it and ran with it, and we can’t really ask for much more than that as a band that creates the music for themselves, first and foremost. If other people find use for it, that’s a beautiful thing to feel.”

The pair’s admirable work ethic and dedication to their craft has only continued to evolve over the years, and in 2022, their second full-length album – Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life – peaked in the UK top 20 amidst massive widespread acclaim. 

We have power within ourselves and we have power as a community to change the way that we live in this world. I think it’s important to do that, and that’s what this album is attempting to do.
[ Bobby Vylan ]

Now, it feels as though after having trouble getting people to pay attention in their early days, the audience is listening, and Bob Vylan are feeling more confident to say something. On their latest album, Humble As The Sun,  the group see themselves expanding from previous lyrical focuses of more negative content, to providing a sense of calm in the chaos that surrounds them.

“When we made ’We Live Here’,  I didn’t realise how hard it would be to perform that song over and over again, talking about some of the things that happened  as a kid,” Bobby says. “So I realised that we don’t want to just make music that talks about the hardship.

“Yeah, we want to talk about the hardship, but also our choices within living under that hardship.We want to make sure that we’re offering a sense of hope and a sense of empowerment to people, attempting to be uplifting, as well as addressing what is going on in this world.

“We don’t want it to just be all doom and gloom and seem as though we have no power within it. We have power within ourselves and we have power as a community to change the way that we live in this world. I think it’s important to do that, and that’s what this album is attempting to do.

Indeed, Humble As The Sun is a record that still maintains the sort of fury and rage that is associated with Bob Vylan, but pairs it with a more positive message. Not a message like anti-drug PSAs of decades gone by, but rather, a message in the form of a hand on the shoulder, telling the listener that while things might look bleak, brighter days are ahead. As such, the music is as much for the fans as the band themselves.

“The music really is made for myself,” says Bobby. “There are days that I’ve had recently that have been quite hard, where it feels like everything is piling on, and I put songs on from this album – just to to remind myself of like where I’ve been, where I’m heading, what I’m capable of, and everything that I’ve accomplished. 

“I listened to this album myself for that hope, for that feeling of power, and self belief,” he adds. “I listened to this album for that and I hope that other people find what I’ve found by listening to it.”

Even as Bobby spoke over to Zoom, he admitted to a sense of relief at getting the record out into the world at long last, but noted that this is the first time in their career that he’s felt as if there’s nothing that could be changed.

“Even when I’m not in the studio, I’m just thinking about this album at home in my day to day; it still kind of occupies so much brain space,” he says. “So it feels good to finally be getting it out there and to finally be giving it to the people so it can no longer be mine.

“With the previous albums, there are definitely things that, even when it was finished and before it was released, I was like, ‘Oh man, I wish maybe we did this’,” he adds. “This one, I haven’t really had those feelings, and so I feel quite blessed to be in that position for once.

“Maybe once it goes out, I might feel differently, and something might strike me, but at the moment I haven’t had that feeling, which is new to me, so that’s great.”

Of course, with years spent appealing to tastemakers around the world, their underground success translating to more visible wins, and numerous tours the world over, the question does become: When are Bob Vylan going to make it over? Though their name was sadly absent as the sort of surprise heavy act on the already-cancelled Splendour In The Grass festival, Bobby promises that fans won’t be forced to wait forever, with the proverbial wheels being put into motion.

“It’s definitely something we’re working on,” he admits. “We are trying, but it’s tricky, it’s very far away, and I think our agent would say it’s not a market you can take a punt on, right? 

“You need to know that people are going to want to see you there, and I think slowly we have been realising that there are people there that will come and see us.”

Though it certainly can’t be confirmed, it appears as though fellow Aussies Amyl & The Sniffers could be part of the equation that leads to Bob Vylan finding their way out to Australia at some point in the future.

“We went out on tour in the States with Amyl & The Sniffers and I think that helped with visibility and we’re ever grateful to those guys,” he says. “They not just introduced us to a US market on a wider scale, but also to an Australian market through travelling around with them and stuff. 

“They’ve been extremely supportive throughout our relationship, so it’s definitely something we want to do,” he adds. “We want to get out there at some point, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for hopefully later this year or the beginning of next.”

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