Interview: Vinyl Theatre
For Fans Of: Bad Suns, Walk The Moon, Magic Man, Walla, Young Rising Sons, Finish Ticket
Today, we welcome Vinyl Theatre to the city of Houston with arms wide open.
Our team has gotten strongly attached to the upbeat indie sound and catchy melodies that make-up the Milwaukee band’s debut album, Electrogram, so we’re super excited about the show happening at House of Blues in the H this evening. Naturally, it’s the singles like “Breaking Up My Bones” that we’re eagerly anticipating and anxious to experience in a live landscape, but this band has our hopes high for pleasant surprises.
Vinyl Theatre is a four-piece combo — consisting of the lead-singing, guitar-playing Keegan Calmes, the key-striking Chris Senner, the bass-plucking Josh Pothier, and the drum-banging Nick Cesarz — and a recent add to the Fueled by Ramen roster. Read on to learn more about the VT boys and their new record.
On choosing their band name: We chose Vinyl Theatre because we’re into the classics and we’re into playing your instrument and being onstage and musicianship is really important to us. The vinyl aspect is a throwback for all the fans who grew up listening to, and “Theatre” is all the theatrics that we throw into the show. A big thing for us is our energetic show. If you listen to the record, you’re only getting half of the package because when we play live we put a lot into it.
Another thing with the vinyl aspect is when you actually go out and buy a band’s vinyl or have that close of a connection with the band, that means that you love their music. You’re willing to go out there and get something that means a lot to you. It’s a sentimental value. You actually have a physical copy. We wanna have a close relationship with fans, we wanna share our journey with them, and we wanna show them our theatrics onstage, so that’s where Vinyl Theatre came from.
We tried to encompass everything we believe in music in one name.
On the tour with Magic Man: It’s been awesome. [Magic Man are] really nice guys (and one girl) so it’s been a good tour. The fans have really been coming out and every show we hear people singing along. It’s really amazing to see our fans come out to every city we play in.
On the big record deal: Fueled by Ramen is a really personal label and they actually flew out to see us in Wisconsin. They told us that’s pretty much the old school way of doing it. We feel good about that because we like the throwback to all the classic bands, and all the bands who meant a lot to musicianship.
We wanted them to see us live. They came and saw us in a basement in the middle of nowhere. They came on a whim, and they believed in the sound enough to try and listen. They loved it and we are one big happy family now.
On releasing their full-length debut: It was amazing. We released a couple of EPs before, but Electrogram really felt like a true representation of who we are as a band. Especially coming out under Fueled by Ramen. I think they’re a great representation of what’s going right in the music industry right now, and just everything really feels like it’s kind of a true picture of who we are. We’re super proud of what we released.
On the theme of Electrogram: If we had to encompass it in one word, it’s perseverance. We just want people to keep going, keep finding things they’re passionate about, and have a purpose in what you do and what you love doing. You should always strive to do what you love. rather than do things you don’t wanna do. When people are happiest in life, it’s when they’re doing something they love.
We kind of just brought that all into the record. A little big of it it’s about a struggle to write your own original music and a struggle to find what defines you. Perseverance kind of encompasses all of that.
On their writing process: We all write together. It’s cumulative. We love to jam together as much as we can. We practice a lot and we jam a lot together on different ideas. Sometimes we sit on a song for six months before it gets finishes, but it takes all four of us to find the right sound and have the right message in each song.
On musical influences: Nick: I grew up listening to a lot of older bands. I was heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin and Rush in my early teens, and now I’m kind of into anything alternative or indie. Chris: I grew up listening to a lot of older, classic music, too — Pink Floyd. Now I’m just into the alternative bands. Josh: I grew up pretty heavily influenced by a lot of 90s pop music and that kind of transferred over to alternative rock stuff in the late 90s, early 00’s. But then, in high school I got into indie music — The Shins, The Strokes, Death Cab, Modest Mouse, stuff like that. And that just kind of stuck. In college I was into electronic music for a bit, because I was going to school out at ASU and there’s a big electronic scene out there, so that definitely had a big influence on me as well. But the indie music is what stuck around the longest.
On online streaming: We look at it as it’s just the way the music industry is moving. And rather than try to fight that, we’re learning how to adapt to it. We’re not somebody who’s gonna say you catch stream our music. I’d say we’re happy with it really. By downloading our music, they’re learning our songs and they support us by listening. Because what it really comes down to is touring, and that’s where band’s are really making a career.
On upcoming plans: Almost immediately after this tour, we’re jumping on tour with Smallpools, and right after that we have a bunch of summer shows and a couple unannounced festival shows.
Watch Vinyl Theatre cover WALK THE MOON‘s “Shut Up and Dance” here.