With temperance suspended precariously aloft someplace between sanity and a box of classic records, deft timing and a rather curious can of philosophy discovered washed up on a beach in Jersey, conception was complete and Vagus came into existence in the year 2014. It’s a communications company, a company that messes around with instruments. There are no limits, set against a backdrop of a search for purpose and antipathy for anything too much like a structure a religion a farce.
Frontman James Dolan was born into an Irish family in Paddington London. He crashed, snarled and partied his way through the UK scene smashing festivals and studios to boot. Signed to Fierce Panda with The Author back in the noughties he managed to find time to fight with Courtney Love and claim the adoration of Dave Grohl, Zane Lowe and Annie Mac. Record of the week with every release supported by the likes of Steve Lamacq and the late John Peel.
Blended with abstract thought and part musical roots of his hometown back in Wolverhampton instrumentalist and producer Gary Law doesn’t define his style, it’s just an attitude. If it’s slow he’ll play it slow, if it’s fast he’ll play it fast, not just one style ‘he don’t care to try to think like that’. Like a mood he shapes the sound and when you been doing it as long as he’s been doing it ‘ain’t nothin’ but a move’.
Gary and James were joined for rehearsals and live performances in 2015 by former frontman of the Centeniers, keyboardist Steve Le Long, and drummer Jonny Hill known for his work with The Valentines. Following Steve’s departure from the band, Alice Gee joined on keyboard and backing vocals in 2016. In 2017 there was another lineup change as Alice left and Steve returned to the fold.
Vagus: A timeline 2013-2018
Harlequin Knights band members James Dolan (guitar/vocals) and Gary Law (bass) find their mutual interest in improvisation increasingly unsuited to the Knights’ methodical approach. Meanwhile, in relatively unstructured recording sessions the duo lays down tracks for the album End of the Pier by likeallstars which, in altered form, become staples of the early sets of a new band.
James and Gary make it official: Their new project is called Vagus, drawing musical and philosophical inspiration from German trailblazers Can and Neu!
Steve Le Long (keyboards) and Jonny Hill (drums) join Vagus.
The first song by Vagus, Gutsty, is released with a music video by Chris Almond.
Vagus unveil an artwork, Vagus Can, comprising a photographic print and a readymade element (the can of the title) at RampARTS Exhibition.
A day-long videoshoot for the next two singles takes place at Gilbert O’Sullivan’s studio on Jersey.
Vagus debut live performance at the Green Rooster with support from Ross Edgar (acoustic) and likeallstars DJ set.
Vagus bag a choice evening slot at Jersey Live. The Vaccines, Rudimental, Clean Bandit, Wolf Alice, and Slaves are among the festival acts. Vagus make their mark on the weekend with a set full of swagger.
A week after their well-received festival performance, a video of the set with soundboard audio is released.
Bubblebrain Records launches its presence on SoundCloud with Gutsty as a free audio download.
Electro Looks, the first single by Vagus, is released widely on digital download/streaming platforms. Gavin Tate on the record review site Tasty Fanzine calls it “a fine piece of spiced-up funkadelic cake”.
The official music video for Electro Looks, directed by Laura Grace Robles aka Birthday Gurl, is released and proves to be controversial even among members of the band.
Club Kamikaze: London Calling! at Havana Jersey. Vagus’ set includes a Chas & Dave cover, Gertcha.
All Mod Cons Live presents Vagus and The Pirates at Havana Jersey.
Vagus perform at the Green Rooster without Jonny the drummer who has a back injury. Introduced as an “ambient” set.
Music video for AK-47 by Vagus, directed by surrealist animator Thomas Hughes.
Vagus play at The Gaa Gaa’s launch party for Close Your Eyes at The Silver Bullet in London. It is Steve’s final gig with the band until he rejoins in 2017.
A split release by Vagus and The Gaa Gaas, the Condensed Tin cassette, is released as a limited physical edition + digital download.
Vagus as a trio play at The Troubadour to raise money for Friends of Jersey Oncology (FOJO).
Vagus with support from Craig Smith and Geoff Anderton at the Jersey Mechanics Social Club. It’s Alice Gee’s first show with the band, replacing Steve on keys.
Vagus with Craig Smith at The Green Rooster, Jersey.
Vagus join a star-studded cast of twenty-seven acts at Groove de Lecq charity spectacular.
The Vagus logotype designed by Gary in 2015 is given a vectorised revamp by digital artist Kate Ayre.
Alderney Rock Trust’s Rock The Rock two-day event features Vagus on the bill.
Somewhat dazed from their Alderney festival experience less than twenty-four hours earlier, Vagus play Havre des Pas Seaside Festival.
The Pulse (Arythmol Remix) created with outtakes from the AK-47 sessions is released with a sofa-themed video.
Vagus are welcomed back to Jersey Live Festival. Acts include Richard Ashcroft, Madness, Disclosure, MJ Cole, Shy FX & Stamina MC, Redlight, Shlohmo, The Gaa Gaas, and Mozaics. There will be no more Jersey Live after this one, from 2017 the event is revived as Weekender Jersey.
Vagus at The Green Rooster.
Vagus spend the weekend recording what will become Black Plant EP at Gary’s home studio.
James and Gary record their Christmas song with lyrics by Catherine Wiblin.
Vagus and Semu Cà at The Green Rooster.
Vagus with Hot Plastic and B-Eazy at The Troubadour, St. Helier.
For the second year in a row, Vagus are on the bill for FOJO Festival of Music.
Bubblebrain Records releases Vagus – Live at the Green Rooster as a digital download.
Vagus return to Havre des Pas Seaside Festival where they cap their set with the classic hit by The Author, Taxi.
Recording sessions for Welcome To Wizardland, the debut album by Vagus, get underway at Orbital Studio.
Weekender Jersey in its inaugural year with Vagus playing the Made in Jersey stage. Highlights of the festival program are Two Door Cinema Club, Pendulum, Happy Mondays, Circa Waves, Goldie Lookin Chain, and Serkeidian.
Vagus support The View at Jersey Opera House, a rock ‘n’ roll show produced by Rockit Entertainment. Both this performance and the one preceding it feature on keyboards both Alice, shortly to be leaving the band due to career commitments, and Steve, who rejoins as a permanent member. The short-lived twin keyboards approach makes for a distinctly baroque live sound.
Vagus and Mandown at The Green Rooster.
Vagus, Howl, and Ross Edgar at The Troubadour.
02/02/2018 to 11/02/2018
Vagus with The Counts go on a tour of Sri Lanka. It’s the first international tour undertaken by Vagus, sponsored by Sion Surf Camp. There are seven concert dates as the bands and crew travel by bus across the south coast of Sri Lanka. James will later declare this touring experience the most enjoyable of his music career to date.
Black Plant EP by Vagus is released as a limited edition CD + digital download.
Bubblebrain Records and Jenca Music School present Outrage Against The Machine with Vagus and Any Given Sunday at The Watersplash Jersey.
Vagus at Jersey Together Festival, People’s Park, St. Helier.
Vagus make a welcome return to the Made in Jersey stage at Weekender Jersey, the island’s biggest live music festival. A stellar lineup includes Rita Ora, Dizzee Rascal, Sigrid, Sister Sledge, Klangkuenstler, Jungle Brothers, and Brave Yesterday.
Twice Dead Records presents Pounds for Pups helping to raise funds for Spanish rescue dogs. Vagus join Jaded Things, Swajen, Masticated, and Lizzard Channel for a night of unleashed rock.
Bubblebrain Records presents Nirvana UK with Vagus and Howl at Watersplash Jersey, hailed by many as one of the best live music events of the year.