I Am The Avalanche: Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
Finally: Only a two-year break between I Am The Avalanche albums! Frontman and jack-of-all-musical-trades Vinnie Caruana details the perseverance at the heart of Wolverines.
I Am The Avalanche’s latest effort, Wolverines, has been patiently waiting to unleash itself since September of last year, however it’s not record label politics that have kept the disc at bay. Instead, it’s the particularly trying US winter that has stopped the record (the group’s third) dead in its tracks. With a seasonal change upon us though, Vinnie Caruana and his Avalanche bandmates are well and truly ready to roll.
“It’s been a nasty winter in New York, man, everyone’s been inside hiding from the cold and the slush,” he begins, “so every time I sleep in my own bed or cook in my own kitchen I really cherish those moments. But it’s time. I’ve been cooped up all winter so I’m ready to fly.”
Prone to over-analysing and dissecting his own work, Caruana has gone to great lengths to keep himself busy during the past six months. Otherwise, his inner punk rock kid may have gone a little overboard on last minute studio touch-ups.
“There did reach a point where I had to step away from the record, you know, you’re dealing with mixing and mastering and whatever else goes with it, but honestly, I can step back and listen to it and say this is exactly what I wanted,” enthuses the frontman. “Okay, that’s a lie, I have one major complaint. The hardcore purist in me wants a pick slide in there,” he laughs, “because this could legitimately be the first ever punk record without a single pick slide!”
Given the ups and downs of Caruana’s own adventures within the music industry – not to mention the difficulties that I Am The Avalanche have faced during their tenure – Wolverines is a fitting moniker for the group’s newest offering.
“For us it was an easy decision,” recalls Caruana, when talk turns to settling on an album title. “A wolverine is this ferocious and determined animal; it embodies perseverance. I’ve read articles that detail how a wolverine is able to free itself from a trap by gnawing through its own leg and if the person responsible is in the vicinity, then they’ll attack, bleeding limbs and all. We knew that was the right metaphor for our band, you know? That never-say-die attitude embodies everything that Avalanche is about.”
Caruana’s insistence on persevering and never giving up can be largely traced back to the six-year period between Avalanche’s first and second records, a time that the singer describes as “pure misery”. Rather than deflecting the blame onto others though, the veteran songwriter is the first to admit that he needed to make some serious changes within himself for the band’s fortunes to improve.
“I basically had this awakening where I really scared myself. I woke up one day and was just like, ‘What’s going on? Are you going to be a musician or not?’ It wasn’t a matter of me not wanting to, I was just prioritising being at home and having a normal life over the band,” he declares in his thick New York accent. “I’d be out playing solo shows or we’d do short, week-long tours or things like Soundwave or whatever, but with this record it’s me closing the door on that approach, grabbing my guitar and just holding it for 10 hours a day. I made sure that happened and I made sure this record got written, even if it meant knocking back social obligations. That was something I’d never done before… I’d been a lazy musician. I realised I’ve been releasing full-length records for more than 13 years and in my opinion, I haven’t done enough of them for that time frame. Now I feel I’m a better songwriter and I’m on top of what I’m doing. I’m more driven than ever.”