Instrumentalist Victory Kicks talks about his music projects
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
My name is John Sibley, I’m a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from London. I started Victory Kicks in 2013 as a home recording project and over the last 7 years I’ve recorded seven albums and several EPs in my flat with me playing all the instruments. I also play guitar and sing in another London based band called The Young Flood.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?
The new Victory Kicks single is called Mookie Betts and was recorded at home during the first UK lockdown last year. It’s the first song that I’ve released form a bunch of songs I recorded for a new Victory Kicks project during 2020 and it’ll be on an album that should be coming out later this year called Free the Night.
WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM OR SINGLE?
I wrote Mookie Betts late one night whilst watching a baseball game (hence the title) and I was kind of thinking about life as a band during lockdown and what it would be like to play together again. I remember also seeing how the crowd at that game was made up of cardboard cutouts of the fans - that strange image really stuck with me for some reason. Even though it’s about life during the pandemic and being separated from friends and family, ultimately it’s a pretty hopeful song.
CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?
The thread that ties the new album together is that all songs are about relationships during 2020 - either relationships between friends, partners, people you work with, people you play music with. The last Victory Kicks album was called ‘Lovers in Peacetime’ so this next one is kind of the flip side to that idea.
WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?
I guess there are loads of albums that have changed my life in one way or another but one that really sticks out to me is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco. I just remember listening to it over and over again and being amazed at how much is going on… every time you hear it you notice something new. It made me really conscious of the idea that an album should be a cohesive piece of work sonically and lyrically, and that songs - and albums - should reward repeated listens. But there are tons of albums I could go on and on about… Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady, Bee Thousand by Guided by Voices, Under the Western Freeway by Grandaddy, You & Me by the Walkmen, pretty much anything by The Replacements… how long have you got?
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST?
Well, obviously I’d recommend the video for Mookie Betts out of shameless self-interest… but easily my favourite music video is the Michel Gondry video for the Chemical Brothers song Star Guitar - it totally blew me away the first time I saw it and I still love it. It’s such a simple but incredibly great idea - how many times have you been sat on a train and the stuff going past the window seems to be flashing past in time with what you’re listening to.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?
Well, my day job is at a university so you’d probably find me doing that. Either that or repairing a Telecaster.
DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
I used to get ridiculously nervous. Not so much any more although I’m guessing the first show I play after the pandemic might be a bit scary… I think I got over any nervousness I had by trying to remember that it’s more important for live music to be fun rather than perfect. If a band is having fun then it’s likely the crowd will be too. If a band is worrying too much about what they’re doing then they’re probably going to be a bit boring to watch… I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying that it helps if you can embrace the fuck ups.
HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?
I played drums in various London based bands for years before I started Victory Kicks. By 2013 I no longer had enough time to really keep doing that properly. I’d always written my own songs on the side and Victory Kicks came about as a way of continuing to write and record music on my own in a more flexible way. I found that I really enjoyed working on music that way and the project built up a big catalogue of tunes pretty quickly.
HOW DO YOU WRITE?
I write all the songs and on a lot of the recordings I still play all the instruments. Even though a lot of the music is just me, it sounds like a band and I tend to write everything so that it can be played live. Over time the project has become a bit more of a collaborative effort involving friends of mine from other London based acts who add parts to new Victory Kicks songs. So these days Victory Kicks is part solo project and part band.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I think you can find a lot of inspiration in day to day life - a lot of Victory Kicks songs come from stories I’ve read or been told, conversations I’ve overheard, places I’ve been, nights out, friends, shows, work etc.
WHAT IS NEXT?
A few more singles coming out over the coming months running up to the new album later this year. Other than that I’ll just be doing the usual, writing and recording as much as I can and seeing whether I can come up with anything half decent.
PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.
All the Victory Kicks links are at https://linktr.ee/victorykicks
You can find the full Victory Kicks back catalogue on Spotify, and our Instagram is @victory_kicks_