December vibes, and a lot of shows to go to! Yet, that night at La Boule Noire in Northern Paris was meant to be pretty sick: Beartooth was back, bringing along their good friends in Vanna and pop-punk’s new sensation Trash Boat. With a new album “Aggressive” out last June, the band from Ohio was coming back after a quick appearance at Download Festival France. We couldn’t wait for this show but before it started Vanna’s lead singer Davey Muise nicely took time to chat with us.
Vanna, a band from Boston, MA has been going for years, putting out a lot of material, from EPs to full-lengths and touring all over the world. In 2014, Vanna released “Void” their most critically claimed and best-selling record at the time, but last Summer they released “All Hell” via Pure Noise Records and accomplished a lot with this one too, relating the story of how every person somehow goes through different experiences and changes to become the person they are now.
Davey Muise tells us more: “It had been two years since the last release and I know it doesn’t seem like a lot of time but for me, my whole life changed again in those two years: I was in a much better place with my life and the running theme through my lyrics was the hell that I’ve gone through to become the person I am’.
The band has toured heavily for “Void”, talking to kids and realizing all the positive outcome going around the album. ‘I was talking to kids at the shows and they were telling me this record was important to them and they needed that record because they were in a bad spot. As those two years went on, we toured heavily and when I came back and see them in 6 months they’re doing better, and a year from now they could be starting a new job or have a boyfriend/girlfriend. In those two years they grew so much; I think I did too’, he explains.
During that time, Davey started speaking at schools and it shaped even more the running theme of the new album, getting this clear message that people have gone through hell to evolve and shape themselves into the person they are now. But it shouldn’t be regrets or a bad thing, he adds: ‘I don’t think we should be ashamed of our past or the bad things that we’ve done. If you’re a better person now and you’ve given yourself a second chance I think you should be proud of where you came from’.
The band then decided to take that direction and write the record thinking of all the scenarios they had to go through to better their lives. Vanna, at that time, was even facing a ‘bump on the road’ in the process with the departure of their drummer, Eric. However, the band quickly counted a new member, Seamus, who loved the concept of the album, started writing on the new record and ended up joining Vanna as their full time drummer. According to Davey, having a new member who was part of the transformation turned the songs into something really cool and it made “Void”’s follow-up one of the most cohesive records the band had ever written.
Nevertheless, writing a new album after a successful record can be tough and the band still felt some sort of pressure to put out something as appreciated, mostly by the fans. But Vanna decided to write about the things that felt good to them, not worrying about what others would think. The singer underlines the fact they said things the way they wanted to say it, just writing a record, not a follow-up. And he confirms it paid off since they had their best first week sale and biggest response they’d ever get.
In between the two full-lengths the band also put out their “Alt EP”, that led the way to the newest tracks on “All Hell”, making the two albums even more cohesive. One thing is sure, Vanna is very proud of this new one, Davey even confesses: ‘You always go back and think you’d change this or that (about your previous albums) but on this record I don’t know, I don’t think I’d really change anything I love all the songs. I’m not saying we’re the best band in the world just that we’re happy with the art we’ve created and matters to us.’ We can’t really blame them; they have done a pretty great job!
So, when asked about the newest things they’ve tried on the album and their sound, Muise explains: ‘I think in every record we think we found our sound and then on the next record we want to try something else. That’s the point of pushing and progressing, the next time we write something we push even more in a direction we tried before.”
Vocally, the singer is singing a lot more and he proudly admits liking it a lot, although it’s not as traditional as their second vocalist, Joel. In fact, the next Vanna record might hold some surprises because it does matter to the band to work hard and push their musical limits towards new, exciting stuff. The proof of that is the beautiful song Flower that came out as a single. To give you all the details behind the song, the singer explains it’s about his wife, who helped him overcome all the self-negativity he was feeling. The reactions regarding this track was overwhelming as it is a love song and not the kind of songs Vanna is really used to writing.
He tells us: ‘I have kids talking to me saying ‘that’s my mom, my best friend, my aunt, my girlfriend, my boyfriend. You take it however you want, it’s just thanking the people that make you realize we can be great’.
‘Writing Flowers was weird because I thought that people don’t know me and I’m writing a song like this but it’s brightened my horizon so much and now I’m writing a bunch of stuff but I was afraid people would think ‘oh no Davey’s the angry guy’ but it actually even pushed me into writing more songs on the record that are about other issues so it was nice to see the response to that’, he adds. The band pushed even further doing an acoustic version of the song, on top of the acoustic part at the end of the original track – which we highly recommend – and Davey admits it was very cool to do, and it could be a new direction the band is aiming for, at least something they’ll probably try in a next future. Who knows?
To be fair, the band has been part of “the scene” for quite a while now, and it might not always be easy to renew yourself, and evolve with each new record. Vanna has been through a few changes within the band itself, but mainly musically working with different labels and producers but Davey insists on the fact that ‘variety is the spice of life, and if we kept working with the same producers and studios, or writing styles we would be bored and putting the same album out over and over’. And as far as the members go, life sometimes takes turn, and people need to realize everyone that has joined and left the band has done it for a reason. However, Vanna is now very established in what they’re doing; the vocalist proudly admits that with Seamus being the last piece of the puzzle, this 5-piece version of Vanna is the crew that’ll stick through until the end, whenever that may be.
Since it started, Vanna has six albums and seven EPs, so you can imagine the band has a good relationship with touring and seeing great places in the world! Davey shares the fact that he had a bucket list he keeps on crossing off so he needs a new one. On his dream destination you can count Japan, where the band was supposed to play last year (along with China and Hawaii) but it fell through with promoters there. He actually confesses that without Vanna he wouldn’t have been to any of these places as he wouldn’t have been able to afford any of it, coming from a pretty modest family. In fact, his dream would be to see the world and if he gets to do so while in a band, playing music that’d be perfect. So we asked about the venues or festivals he’d love to play one day. German festival With Full Force and Soundwave (RiP) in Australia made it to the top of the list but oddly enough, he adds that stepping foot on the stage of Red Rocks in Colorado is a huge goal of his. However, the question raised the fact that he’s accomplished quite a lot already with Vanna and advises that before thinking about your bucket list and everything you want to do, it’s important to reflect on all you’ve done.
He explains: ’I’ve headlined and sold out a venue I went to growing up as a kid, in my home. I did that! Me and the boys sold out a show in the place that I grew up looking at that stage thinking ‘God! I want to be on that stage so bad’ you know. So you’ve got to remember what you’ve done, and if the band ends tomorrow, well I’ve done some cool stuff.’
Regarding touring, Davey shares how live music is really important to Vanna: ‘I think that releasing music is really cool, but it’s nothing without going to see live music, that’s when real magic happens, that’s when you’ve been listening to that same record everyday for the last 6 months and it’s been cheering you up and making you forget or even helping you with problems; that live show is when it all comes true and I think that for our band that live show is where it’s at, we love it and it doesn’t matter how tired or sad we are, the second we get on that stage everything else is just out the window.’
All this brings us back to this particular tour with Beartooth and Trash Boat. It is not the first time that Vanna tours with Beartooth as they were on Warped Tour together and Vanna opened on their US headliner, the singer recalls: ‘When I heard Beartooth for the first time (their manager sent me their demos), I thought it was the first band that is the close enough to the Vanna sound that we have. And then we did Warped Tour with them and on the first day of Warped Tour we became best friends, instantly.’ And it is very true, the bands really fit well together, with a similar vibe and energy. Davey says: ‘This tour has been amazing because every kid that doesn’t know our band, which is probably a good 70% of the people that come to these shows, end up loving Vanna at the end of the shows, because if you like Beartooth and we play a Beartooth show, you’ll love our band by the end of it! And vice versa, we had some fans that didn’t know Beartooth and they loved them. It’s a similar vibe, sound and passion behind our music. That’s why we get along so well’.
It was now time for us to go join everyone, already in the venue and just enjoy the show with our mates. This really nice interview made us think a lot, and we discovered Davey Muise as someone really passionate, inspirational, with meaningful views. It’s always fulfilling to meet people like him.
Before leaving, Davey insisted on one last message: ‘If you came to our live show just remember how good it felt to not worry about school or work or home and that lonely feeling you know, just remember how good it feels to go see one of your favorite bands play and when you make that connection with them’.
And on those last words we left for what would be one hell of a show and we surely weren’t disappointed at all that night. It was good to enjoy an awesome heavy show before ending ‘what we call it “Gig Season 2016”.
Vanna – ‘All Hell’, out now via Pure Noise Records