Interview: Vexed “I know people say this, but 2024 is going to go off!”

Meeting us for dinner in Leeds we have our special guests Jay Bacon and Willem Mason-Geraghty from one of 2023s big breakthrough acts, Vexed. We arrive at The Key Club and vocalist Meghan Targett greets us, apologising profusely as she informs us that she is on vocal rest, obviously as a singer who gives it every ounce of herself to each performance it’s obviously no problem and, no one ever has ever been so lovely about having to make their excuses ever! Vexed are a class act in many ways, after knowing them a little since festival season there is so much love and care in this band, however, on stage Vexed are feral and definitely not to be messed with!

We scoop up Jay and Willem and proceed just a few yards away to the base of food operations, Cult Wing Leeds to commence our grilling (excuse the pun).

So how are the guys doing?

“Yeah not too bad, we’re only two days in so we’re not crippled yet, yeah limber, match fit.”

It’s been a little while since the incredible “Negative Energy” album dropped back in the early summer, now that they’ve had a while to digest it and play it out, are there any tracks that are standing out as live favourites now?

Willem answers first “Yeah, definitely for me, Lay Down Your Flowers, which we just released a visualizer for, featuring Lockie from Alpha Wolf. Definitely my favourite to play live,”

Jay agrees “I think. It’s one of those tracks, it’s a live one. You get a lot of songs that are definitely album songs, and then you get some that are meant for shows. That is definitely one of them, because of the huge breakdown and stuff. That always goes down well. For me, There’s No Place Like Home, always gets a really good reaction. We’ve only played it live a handful of times, but it always goes down well.”

We agree and with a few stone cold killer singles, Vexed built to destroy and finally getting their flowers, as they say. We congratulate Jay on his recent signing to Schecter Guitars along with his own custom guitar, barely concealing our envy as we shift into a bit of guitar geekery. We ask about Jay’s approach to those striking pitch shifting tricks he slips into tracks like lead single “Anti-Fetish” a track so awesome it even got recognised by the Grammy committee!

“Pitch shifting and stuff, that’s something we wanted to experiment with on the new album. We chucked it in Anti-Fetish, because it’s weird, the original riff didn’t have any shifting in it.”

This of course would have drastically changed the impact of that incredible riff!

“Yeah, it sounded completely different. It just wasn’t sounding right, was it? Something was missing. Yeah, something was jazzing up. So it was like, fuck it, let’s just do some weird little pitch flips and stuff. I’ve never done any pitch stuff like that, it’s fun to do. I wanted to approach how we went about it really carefully. I’ve seen quite a few bands do it recently. It’s very difficult not to end up using it in the same way as everyone else. Don’t want to get into a situation where your pitchy shit sounds like other people’s pitchy shit. It was trial and error, but it’s a fun one.”

Whilst musing about other bands who have got into, “the pitchy shit,” we ask Jay and Willem which bands they think we should be checking out, and they both agree instantly,

“Lake Malice are always amazing” enthuses Willem backed up by his band mate,

“Lake Malice, absolutely. They’re always so good. And they’re just so nice as well. I’m a huge Conjurer fan. They’re all lovely, like, but their approach to songwriting is just ridiculous!”

We agree, more votes for Brady being the nicest man in metal, his ears must be burning!

We talk about the fact that Conjurer have this ability to fit on all kinds of bills seamlessly and ask because Vexed are very musically savvy and a dynamic band, so could they see themselves on a surprising billing, with, let’s say a rap or grime act?

Willem thinks so…

“We’d like to be on a bill with a rap or grime act or something, but a lot of booking agents think we should just be with like female-fronted bands or something like that.”

“Yes.” Jay agrees, “We always get categorised in more of a fucking metalcore way and on the latest album there’s only two or three tracks of that.”

We think Vexed are in an enviable position as they do stand out from the crowd and don’t do the heavy bit – poppy bit formula.

“We literally sit down and we try and we focus on not doing that.” Willem states.

When we ask how the band are adapting to the attention they’re now deservedly receiving, the answer is not as you’d imagine.

Willem answers “For us, it feels like, (to Jay) I don’t know if you agree, you probably do, that we’ve just been sitting around and in our eyes, we’ve been like, no one cares anymore because we haven’t been playing shows, not by our choice.”

This is an important point if Vexed had their way they’d have been hitting venues straight away. Jay adds “For us, it seems like we never recovered from COVID. And it’s not COVID at all. I mean that in a sense that during COVID everyone was just sitting at home not doing anything. But then when things returned to normal, bands went out on tours and shit, and we were still sat at home not touring, like, what the fuck are we doing?”

We agree it must have been frustrating after they’d just dropped a bombshell of an album to get delayed in promoting it. Willem assures us this glitch in the state of play has been firmly fixed and smiles as he tells us,

“Yeah I know people say this, but 2024 is going to go off!” 

Jay agrees “It’s already looking like havoc!”

And recently announced European tours with the likes of Cabal and Carnifex show that the band are massively making up for any time lost.  They also hint that they will be visiting, “A country,” too, being as coy as band’s usually are before big announcements.

With that, we remember that we’re also here to talk about food and this band, like a lot of bands, do have food connections! We start by introducing today’s sauces of choice, a surprising hardcore, hot sauce tribute to the band, Integrity by Tubby Toms called, “Tubbi-tegrity,” and an outstanding milder Cajun sauce also by Tubby Tom’s called, “King Cajun,” which we can say is probably the best Cajun sauce we’ve tasted, period!

Jay asks, “Who is it that was going around with the little hot sauces at Techfest? That wasn’t you was it?” We tell him that it was Rory from Chilli Of The Valley and tell the tale of our collaboration with some very strong reaper sauce at the festival going horribly wrong (we filmed it, check the Tech Fest coverage over at the Foodinati channel!) for the sake of the written word and the sanctity of this publication we are leaving that unfortunate episode there.

We switch attention away from such messy traumatic experiences and point out a fun fact about Vexed that we learned last time we hung out with the band. Megs and Willem look after a farm!

“Yeah, it’s not a functioning farm anymore, but Meg’s family used to make hay. We have loads of pets, 19 ducks at the moment.”

That’s a lot of ducks!

Jay interjects, “They did have 30 chickens.”

We continue with this line of questioning, did they come into the house?

“They used to. Yeah, so we basically hatched some duck eggs at first lockdown. And then they just lived in our front garden and just came in the front door. But, um, obviously it’s not very practical.”

Then Vexed truly surprised us by bringing a gift! This is really sweet of them…until we inspect it, they’ve bought us a large chilli infused gummy bear, rather cute at first until we see the immortal word, “extract.” and we flashback to Tech Fest! We’ll get that out another time we think…

The lads get stuck into their wings and Jay eye’s up the hot sauce suspiciously, “Is this gonna fuck me up?” we assure him that it won’t as we don’t risk getting gigs cancelled as it would make us very unpopular.

We switch lanes from scoville ratings and ask about their diets on tour, do they eat well or is it all junk food, “We try, to be fair, on our rider, it’s just like fruit and veg. Loads of bananas, you’ve got to keep that potassium up!”

We wholeheartedly agree of course, keep that potassium up kids!! The band also tells me they try to avoid food three hours before a set. “Yeah, you wouldn’t go play a game of football after eating a meal. It’s not like a strict regimen, though.”

We then find out that Jay, when he’s not touring has worked as a chef and cheffed for three years,

“I was head chef because I worked at this little gastro restaurant. Gastro pub really. I was a sous chef there. There were only two other chefs there. They walked out, and by default I stepped up. Head chef. Brilliant. And I did that for about six weeks before I was like, no actually no. We had a tour booked with Whitechapel as well and he wouldn’t give me the time off, so I left! Then Covid cancelled the tour!”

No one wins, so there you have it!

We change the tone from Jay’s rather unfortunate kitchen story to something lighter. We ask if you were taking someone out on a date, what type of food do they think is best?

“Steak, always a winner.” is the resounding answer, we agree it’s a good one and that you can tell a lot about someone by how they order their steak (a chef like thing to think to be honest but Jay and i agree) Willem disagrees but we defend this idea by asking what he thinks of well-done steaks?

“Well, I mean, yeah. That’s a bit weird, yeah.”

Sauces are tasted, wings devoured and we didn’t hurt anyone! We all agree that King Cajun by Tubby Tom’s is amazing and you should get a bottle from Chilli Shop in Leeds immediately.

Finally we ask if the band intends to record next year at all, what with them being so busy and the answer is surprising.

“We’re thinking about doing an EP next year.”

This is a prolific band indeed, there wasn’t a huge gap between album one and album two. The band it seems have material left over from lockdown,

“What the fuck else are you going to do other than write?”

Indeed we agree, great news for us!

With that we have to wrap up our meal and get these lads back to the venue to rip Leeds a nice one, which they do, thoroughly!! Catch the incredible Vexed touring intensively in 2024.

Interview & Images By George Miller –

Main Vexed Promo Image By Andy Ford