The Knockturnal got a chance to interview synth-pop band Vinyl Theatre’s guitarist Keegan Calmes. Read about their upcoming tour and new music.
Fresh off a two-month sold out tour with twenty one pilots, Elektra recording artist Finish Ticket will team up with Fueled By Ramen recording group Vinyl Theatre for a major US tour, presented by Live Nation’s influential “Ones To Watch” music discovery blog and tour. The dates get underway Friday, February 19th at Atlanta, GA’s Terminal West and then run through late March (see attached itinerary). “Ones To Watch” offers fans up close and personal content on emerging artists as they go from undiscovered to the new buzz band in town. Learn more at http://www.onestowatch.com/. For complete details and ticket information on the “Ones To Watch Tour,” please visit www.finishticket.com/#tour and www.vinyltheatre.com/#tour.
You guys are already preparing for your new tour with Finish Ticket, how is that?
Calmes: I’m excited. I think it’s gonna be one of the best – it’s going to be the best tour we’ve done, I can already say that. We get along with them very well. We’re bringing a whole new show out and that’s what I’m excited for. We’re really taking that sort of to the next level.
That’s fantastic. I know you guys must be inspired after touring with so many people, are you guys going to be bringing that in into any new music?
Calmes: Yeah! We just announced we’re gonna be playing a new song on this tour. Our fans haven’t had anything new from us for over a year and a half. We’re ready; we’re definitely ready to bring them new music. I think that they’ve waited for far too long. So we’re working on a new record, we don’t know when it’ll come out though.
What’s the feel for this new record? Each of your albums so far, from Gold to Electrogram to Chromatic, has it’s own feel.
Calmes: I guess this one is as organic as we can possibly sound. I feel like with Electrogram and with previous records of ours, it sounds good but maybe not as organic as I want it to sound. It’s almost too perfect at times, where I wish that we left some of the things in there that sounded goofy or some of the guitar riffs that we didn’t like or the weird phrases that people said were too weird to be in the song. So we’ve just been branching out and doing the stuff we want to do that’s more experimental. At the same time it’s very true to us, we concentrate a lot on melody and we like to have fun and have catchy melodies and soaring choruses and guitar solos here and there. It’s definitely a step forward I feel like, and we wanna make a record that speaks to everyone. I think on Electrogram we were just really young and there’s so much energy in that record sometimes it hits people pretty hard. Oh what’s this, what’s this band? It’s not for an everyday all the time listening experience. I feel like I get pumped up and I wanna go run or workout or do something crazy. But you know we have a few tracks now that kinda help to give it a good dynamic.
I read that Chris and Nick have this classical background with their instruments, do you feel like that’s going to come out and influence this new album?
Calmes: Yeah it definitely is. It’s very much more technical and also the songs themselves seem to grow more. I don’t know, they don’t feel necessarily like Electrogram where there are times where I felt like some of the songs I could predict were coming and now it’s more of a here comes a curveball every once in a while. Maybe too many curveballs that’s why we’re still finishing up the songs because we still need to figure out how weird we want to be and exactly what we want to do.
I read that when you first sat down with Chris and you guys were working on writing new songs and making music it was almost an instant click. Now that you guys have grown do you feel like it’s still that same chemistry?
Calmes: Yeah but there’s a lot more pressure. When there’s so much external pressure to produce the right song, even pressure from the label ‘cause they’re looking for one thing and we’re trying to make something that might be different from that ideal. Him and I, we’ve been through it you know down the road we butt heads and at the end of the day we’re still friends and we always talk about the situation: Hey man sorry that I got peeved about this, oh don’t worry about it I was just trying to make us do this. We always leave with our heads held high, you know staying friends. That’s a big thing for us, we’re gonna butt heads and the best music is only going to come out of it. If we thought life was perfect now and every song we’ve sent to the label was the greatest thing they’ve ever heard, what kind of struggle would there be from making this record? I like that there’s been an up and down with this. The dynamic with him and I is only growing and it’s good now.
That’s fantastic to hear and speaking of your label what was it like playing for the label before you guys signed on? I heard it was in Nick’s basement actually.
Calmes: I mean looking back it was an awkward situation, I mean in the moment it was awkward too I guess. But you just put on the show and assume that they know and that they’ve been around the industry long enough. You assume that they’re professionals and know and can see and envision us a year down the road. When I look back I think how the heck did they find us, watching us in a basement like that. Most bands have to put on a crazy show, do backflips, have a crazy light show and have a thousand fans cheering for them to prove that they have a fan base or prove that they can captivate people. Instead they took a gigantic leap of faith that I’ll forever be thankful for. However it was interesting but in retrospect it shows how much faith they had in us.
You guys started out with just putting out your music on SoundCloud; did you ever imagine this is where it would take you guys?
Calmes: I think we always wanted to I mean Chris and I have been writing for almost 10 years together. Nick probably 8 years with the group. Just between the three of us it felt like yeah since we started this thing we wanted to play at big shows. We always wanted to be a band that plays huge shows; we still wanna play big shows. We want to headline festivals; we want to do all these crazy things. I guess we didn’t maybe expect it but we wanted it, I guess it gets harder.
I know this is going to come off sounding cliché but I have to ask, do you feel like you’re living out your dreams?
Calmes: That’s a hard one, I do but at the same time there’s just so much, I don’t know maybe it’s seasonal. That whole bipolar personality you develop in the whole thing because you reached a certain level and there’s another hurdle and another hurdle. There’s never a point of satisfaction and when people say like living their dreams I assume that if you’re living your dreams there’s going be a level of satisfaction … I’m never going to be satisfied. You start to learn that it’s not really a sickness but it’s one of those weird, well it’s a blessing and a curse. You know somebody that never feels content, somebody that never feels satisfied. I might stress out a lot and be very on top of it and what we’re doing and if we’re good enough all the time, and then we play a show and I’m like wow we’re great or we’re not great. It’s tough; I’ll never feel maybe like I’m living my dream. I don’t know what point I could ever reach where I’m satisfied. I know that I am but I know that I’m not. You know what I mean?
That insatiable nature I feel like that’s important to have especially as a musician. I’m sure the rest of the band obviously shares that feeling with you. I hope it carries you guys down even further into success so you guys can see all that headlining and opportunities you were talking about.
Calmes: I do too. That’s what I’m looking for in this record. Maybe just to prove that we are good enough to do that. I think that this record, I don’t even know… it’s not finished. But I do know that we’re putting every second into this. I don’t think there’s a second of any day that I’m awake where I’m not stressing about it and making it better.
Well I’m 100% sure that myself and all your fans out there, they’re going to hear all that passion in this new record from you guys. I’m sure they’re very excited.
Calmes: Oh definitely. They’re very supportive; they’re awesome no matter what kind of highs or lows it seems like they’re there every time. It’s been really good to have them.
I wish you guys the best of luck with this new tour!
Calmes: Thank you it’s going to be awesome I hope we see you out there!