Interview: High Vis

If there is one band that the hardcore community collectively embraced in 2022, it was High Vis. Comprised of members of some of the UK’s most notable hardcore projects (Dirty Money, Tremors, DiE, The Smear), High Vis are transcending boundaries and pushing limits with their very own brand of punk, an unlikely marriage of pure Manchester melody and raw hardcore aggression at its finest. Imagine The Chameleons, but born on the Lower East Side and playing hardcore shows at CBGBs in the early 90s.

High Vis’s first LP, No Sense No Feeling, flew somewhat under that radar when it was released during the early days of the Covid19 pandemic, but they quickly gained a cult following, even without the ability to tour or play shows in support of the record. By the time their sophomore LP, Blending, was released on Dais Records in 2022, the secret was out and High Vis topped countless album of the year lists and the question on everyone’s lips was when will a High Vis tour finally land on our shores?

Shortly before the release of Blending, vocalist Graham Sayle graciously answered that question and more as we discussed the origins of High Vis, the UK music scene, and the heavy subject matter, from class warfare to survivor’s guilt, that inspired High Vis to write one of the finest albums of 2022.

*The original text for this High Vis interview appeared in Today Forever Issue 02 in February 2023.

**All text copyright Today Forever 2023, please do not duplicate without expressed editorial permission.

***Photos taken by Oscar Rodriguez @bloomxphoto

Nikki:  To begin the interview, and to key in anyone who might not be familiar with High Vis yet, who’s in the band and where are you all from?

Graham: We’re from all corners of the UK and Ireland, but [we] are all currently living in London. Graham [Sayle] tries to sing, Ski [Harper] plays drums, Rob Moss plays bass, Rob Hammeren, and Martin Macnamara on guitars. 

The term ‘high vis’ isn’t tremendously common in the United States, but, being English, I grew up with it as a common term for anything ‘high visibility,’ and most often associate it with roadworks! What made you name the band High Vis? Is there any personal connection to the term?

I wanted to call the band High Vis after spending my summer months wearing a high vis(ibility) vest and walking through security into festivals. It’s amazing how what outfit you wear can change people’s perception of you or make you invisible. No one wants to question authority or engage with the working class.

While High Vis, in many ways, transcends genre, you have often stated your musical foundation was born out of hardcore, and most of you played in hardcore/punk bands for years before forming High Vis. What made you switch gears when writing for High Vis and take the band in a musically different direction from your hardcore roots?

I guess we just wanted to do something a bit different, we’ve all got diverse tastes in music and didn’t wanna limit ourselves to any one thing. It’s been pretty liberating, but everything always comes back to punk and hardcore because that’s the kind of energy that comes naturally!

You released your first full-length album, No Sense No Feeling, in December of 2019, shortly before the Covid19 pandemic shut down the world and made it nearly impossible to tour or promote a new record in any of the traditional ways. How did you navigate releasing your first album in such an unprecedented time? Do you feel the album got the reception it deserved given the difficult time at which it was released?

We couldn’t really navigate anything! The record came out and we thought no one gave a fuck. We carried on writing stuff and kept doing what we had been doing in a vacuum for so long, anyway. It was only about a year later that people started telling us [that] they liked the record. When people in America and further afield started talking about it, we were all really shocked, but it was cool as fuck.

High Vis’s roots are firmly planted in hardcore, with members from prominent UK hardcore bands as The Smear, Tremors, and Dirty Money, but while High Vis has all of the raw energy and lyrical honesty hardcore is known for, it reaches beyond the genre to create a new sound, as melodic as it is edgy and angsty. What genre would you consider High Vis to be in? You combine elements of so many different sounds and really transcend any typical categorization – which is a great thing!

I always say that High Vis is a punk band and always will be. Even if we started making techno it would still be punk because it’s where we come from and it’s our approach to making music. We’ve never fit in wherever we played anyway!

What were some of your musical influences when writing for No Sense No Feeling and Blending? Did your influences change from album to album? 

When we were writing that record Ski and Rob H were listening to a lot of Post-punk and we were all in a much different place to where we are now. Bands like The Sound, The Chameleons, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Siouxsie etc. It’s a very anxious record and, listening back, it captures the hopelessness we were feeling in ourselves.

In just a few weeks, your new record, Blending, will be dropping on Dais Records. How did you connect with Dais and what made you decide to release Blending with them?

Gibby [Miller] got in touch with us after hearing some stuff via Spotify, and we sent him the unmixed version of Blending. Dais is such a cool label and their approach to everything [for] the release is meticulous, yet open and unpretentious. Their catalogue is amazing and we feel super lucky to work with them.

With several singles now released from your upcoming album, Blending seems to explore deeper feelings beyond the chaotic anger and darkness that were the hallmark of No Sense No Feeling. What was the process of writing for Blending like and did you have a particular sound or direction you were hoping to take the record in? Or is the music just a result of how you were feeling at the time of writing?

We’ve never really stopped writing, so the album is a kind of natural progression. When our old guitarist, Romaine, moved to Paris, and Martin Joined, he brought a different energy to the band. Martin is also amazing at writing a melody, one of the first songs he had written, ‘Fever Dream,’ kind of set the way for the direction of the LP.

Something that I find striking about High Vis, in both the new singles and your previous efforts, is the raw honesty you bring to your lyrics. You tackle heavy topics from suicide to mental health struggles to failed relationships. Is there any topic too personal to share? 

I’ll probably regret it at some point, but I want to be as open as I can be with this band. I’ve said that I want to live a life without secrets, and I’m trying not to hold on to anything that causes me harm. The band is a pretty good vehicle for releasing life’s stresses, and if anyone can relate then that’s a bonus!

Given the extremely personal subject matter you tap into in many of your lyrics, how does it feel to perform a song like “Trauma Bonds,” that lays bare the grief and guilt of losing a friend, in front of a live crowd? Is it difficult to share deep personal experiences with a different audience night after night? 

That’s something I’m working on at the moment. I do find it difficult to play without getting emotional, and hopefully in time it will get easier. Time is a great healer, and you can’t bury grief because it will rear its head when you least expect it. 

The UK music scene is in a great place right now, with bands like yourself, The Chisel, Chubby and the Gang, and more making incredible records born out of hardcore and pushing the genre into new and exciting places. In the US we’re all chomping at the bit to see what the UK has coming next! How would you describe the UK scene right now for those of us who aren’t there to experience it in person?

The UK has a lot of amazing stuff going on, and a really thriving scene. A lot of crossover with genres, and an openness to new things. I just heard that The Chisel are recording their second LP, which I’m excited about. There’s loads of great hardcore bands at the moment like Stingray, The Flex, T.S. Warspite, The Annihilated, Fate, Mastermind, and Big Cheese playing alongside bands like Island of Love, The Hazmats, and Pest Control.

For those of us not in the UK, do you have any plans to tour internationally any time soon? I know I’m not the only one patiently waiting for you to reach our shores…

Yeah, we do. We’re trying to get over early next year! It’s hard to organize everything around having full time jobs when all of us live hand to mouth. Going away on tour and covering rent in London is a fucking nightmare.

2022 is proving to be a challenging time no matter where you are in the world, and the UK is no exception, with Brexit, the death of the Queen, the change of PM, energy hikes, shortages, and more all bearing down on its citizens. How has this national turmoil affected the band, both in terms of artistry and in your daily lives?

I think we’ll feel the effect of all this stuff very soon. Touring Europe is way harder after Brexit, and just affording to exist in London is ridiculous, so we’re trying to work things out at the moment. We’re just trying to do this band without it financially crippling us, which is easier said than done.

On the topic of politics and national turmoil, your most recent single, 0151, is both musically and lyrically a tribute to the working class English who are so often politically abandoned. Do class politics hit close to home for you and is social consciousness something you’re purposely weaving into High Vis lyrics?

That song was written whilst reflecting on where I grew up, and how economic abandonment had had a profound effect on how I, and many people I grew up with, view society. Class is such a big thing in the UK, and I only really started to understand it when I moved to London. I’m not particularly trying to make a statement, I’m just singing about my own personal experiences.

The new album is titled Blending. How did you come up with the name and does it have a particular meaning? 

I had wanted to call the album Blending before we had even written a song for it. Blending is a Scouse term for dressing well. The name also reflects the dissolution of boundaries of what we can and can’t do as a band, blending all of our tastes and influences.

When you’re not busy writing, producing, and touring with High Vis, what do the band members do in their daily lives? Do you have careers in other fields or other creative outlets?

Yeah, we all have real life jobs. I work as a teacher/technician in a school and make art and furniture. Ski is a Black Cab driver and a trained therapist. Rob Moss works as a broadcast engineer. Martin works in Film, and Rob Hammeren is training to be a personal trainer. London is a pretty unforgiving city, and you’ve either got to be born into money or work your arse off to survive.

After the terrible luck of having a global pandemic interrupt your first full-length album release, how does it feel to finally be getting the recognition and success you deserve now that the world has opened up? If the response to your singles and your recent Outbreak Fest appearance are any indication, huge things are coming your way. Is the future looking bright for High Vis?

It feels good, but [it] hasn’t really set in yet. The Outbreak set was such a surprise because we had no idea how it would go down, but it was honestly the best set I’ve ever been a part of. As for the future, who knows? I think we’ll always be treading a fine line, trying to stop the wheels from falling off, but at the moment we’re enjoying the ride. We’re looking forward to seeing what people think of the whole album!

Any final words or shout outs before we end the interview?

Thanks so much for the interview and to anyone who’s bought a record or shown interest, it really means a lot to us!

Check out the official music video for “Trauma Bonds,” from the album Blending on Dais Records.  High Vis also has a new unreleased track “Forgot to Grow” on the Dais Records compilation Dais 223.

To order the compilation, visit Dais Records or



Author: Nikki
Former editor at Inked Magazine and contributor to a wide variety of art and media publications over the years, Nikki founded Today Forever in 2022 as a love letter to the music and scene she has been fortunate to be involved in for the better part of a lifetime.