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Vanna: Down Under Bound

Boston post-hardcore party boys Vanna are bringing their chaotic live show to Australia in May for a string of shows with Norma Jean followed by a tour of intimate headline gigs in support of their new album, The Few And Far Between. With this being their first time in the Great Southern Land and all, we thought it was about time we had a good chin-wag with frontman Davey Muise about what Australia has in store for him, and what the Vanna lads have in store for us…

So you’re on tour with The Acacia Strain and Every Time I Die right now, how’s it all going?
Fucking insane dude! It’s been literally the best tour we’ve ever done; the crowds have been great, the bands are awesome. We were already friends with all these bands before we started the tour. We did a couple of tours with Hundredth, we did Warped Tour with Every Time I Die… It’s been such an awesome tour for us and we’re super grateful that we could even be a part of it. Right now I’m in Austin, Texas, I just had my hands tattooed, and we’re chilling on our day off.

Your Aussie fans were stoked to hear that you’d finally be heading over here. What‘s kept you away for so long?
We’ve been wanting to go there since we started the band! But you know it’s really expensive to get there, and contrary to what everyone believes, we don’t really get to pick where we want to go [laughs]. We have to get offered. No promoter had brought us out until now, but we finally got one! So we have the Norma Jean tour, but we’re also doing a headliner right after that. What happened was, we got the headline tour, we were kind of nervous, but we thought, you know, we’ve never been there and we wanna go, even if not that many kids come out to the shows we’ll have a really good time. So we booked it, it was gonna be a 10-day tour, and then as soon as we’d booked it, Norma Jean hit us up saying, “We’re gonna be in Australia the week before you, why don’t you guys do the support on our tour before your headliner?” so now we get to spend double the time there and it’s gonna be amazing, especially as none of us have ever been there, even outside of touring. We’re all “Australia Virgins”!

What are you hoping to get up to while you’re here?
Dude have you seen your fuckin’ continent?! It’s incredible! My friend just moved there and she said there’s like a million beaches, and jungles to walk through and woods and everything, and the food is incredible. I just can’t wait to soak it all up. One downside though is that all the girls there are apparently so beautiful, with these amazing voices, but I’m married now, and Sean is engaged. Meanwhile all the single guys in the band will be able to meet anyone they want! I’m bummed out! [Laughs].

Are you very familiar with the dudes from Norma Jean?
Well yeah, Cory [Putman, Norma Jean vocalist/guitarist] is my homie, we’re real cool with each other, but we’ve never toured with Norma Jean before actually, which is strange because we fit really well with those guys, so we’re definitely looking forward to becoming good buds with them on the tour. They’re a killer band and definitely a big influence on us so we’re very blessed to be coming out with those guys.

There are a lot of pressures that come with stepping in to replace a lead singer. What difficulties did you face when you joined the band and took over that position three years ago?
The biggest thing for everyone was that when a vocalist leaves a band, everyone has doubts about the new vocalist and how good he’s gonna be. A lot of kids like to talk shit on the internet; I mean that’s what the internet is for! [Laughs]. But I started calling kids out on Twitter and other social networking sites and saying, “Yo, here’s the deal: before you say I suck, come out to a show”. We even started putting those kids on the guest lists! And we said, “If you dig it, come kick it with us at the merch table. If you don’t dig it, go home and tell everyone you saw it, and tell them it sucked! But at least come to a show.” Because that was the biggest thing, no one actually knew, they hadn’t seen us. What we wanted everyone to know was that Chris [Preece], the old singer, was leaving the band of his own choice, and that he was my friend. We’re bros – I hung out with him last night! But he just didn’t want to be in the band anymore and he asked me to be the replacement. When people complain about a new member, I always wonder: if you like the band, don’t you trust them enough to get someone good to replace the person that’s leaving? But we did so many tours when I joined, and I think I won a lot of people over. We’re a whole different level of band than we were before. The band has changed for the better but we’re still Vanna, and the band is what we make it. Good riddance to anyone who doesn’t like the change, we have a slew of new dudes and girls who wanna party and have a good time with us.

I believe Chris also brought you up onstage and introduced you to the crowd at some of his last shows?
I actually did his whole last tour with them! I came up onstage at all of those shows and did “Trashmouth” with him, and then he’d tell the audience that he was leaving the band, and introduce me, and I’d do two more songs by myself. I was in a local band from Boston, and my band was fairly well known in that area. We did a lot of touring and stuff, so some kids knew me already. But those were some really cool moments that me and Chris got to share when he passed the torch on to me. I think the way we handled it was so different to the way any other band has handled a singer leaving.

Did you ever feel any pressure to sound like Chris when you sang his songs live?

I didn’t really feel that pressure, I mean, I don’t really sound like Chris, although I don’t NOT sound like Chris either. We have kind of similar voices, but I do me and I’m not gonna imitate anyone else. And the band knew that when they chose me, they wanted me ‘cos they liked my sound. I feel like if I tried to sound like him people would have called me a copycat anyway, so I made sure that I made my own stamp on the band. Fuck sounding like other people! It’s the same when I look at local bands. If anyone ever started a band and wanted to sound like me, I’d tell them not to. There’s already a “me”, so sound like you! You’ll probably be better and cooler!

Your new record shows the band really coming into their own sonically. It’s a very raw, fast and furious sound. Was this a conscious decision you guys made in terms of where you wanted to be musically? Or do you just see this as a natural progression for the band.

I think it’s a bit of both. It’s hard to please everyone when you write, but I’ve found that when we choose our live set we play the fastest, riffiest songs off each record, and that’s what kids like. We’ve rotated four records’ worth of material in and out of the set and we’ve found kids want to hear the hard, fast Vanna, and that’s what we want to play, that fast punk rock shit! So it was kind of like, ‘Let’s write a record where we will want to play every song live’. I love our previous record And They Came Baring Bones, it’s my baby, but we don’t play every song live. If you are a band and you can’t pull off every song live, there’s no point to what you’re doing. So The Few And Far Between is a natural progression but also a decision to write some real bangers!

In some songs on the previous album there seems to be a hint of a Southern influence creeping in, and it’s noticeable on the new record too. For a band from Boston, where does that Southern sound come from?
I can definitely see how someone who’s not from the area might construe it as Southern because Southern rock is so riffy and rock’n’roll-y, but to me our sound is just rock’n’roll in general, and Boston is a great hotbed for that kind of music. In the Northeast, it’s a hard place to grow up. Bands are definitely a product of their environment, so we definitely have the attitude of the Northeast, but that being said, we all grew up on our parents’ music. Stuff like Black Sabbath, and Zeppelin and The Who. I think rock’n’roll as a general sound is just ingrained in all of us, so we definitely do also enjoy a lot of Southern rock bands who get really riffy. But then there are bands like Every Time I Die for example, they have that sound too but they’re from New York! I think at the time that Vanna came out, there weren’t a lot of bands from our area playing cool, dissonant rock’n’roll. It was mostly the age of that really tough-guy hardcore, or on the other side there was the super indie post-hardcore. So I think Vanna just wanted to write the kind of music that no one from that area was playing.

For this record you chose to work with Jay Maas, who produced The Honest Hearts, the first EP you sang on for this band. What made you decide to work with Jay again?

Jay is the dude, man! I’ve known him since I was 15 years old. When we were gonna record that EP, the other guys didn’t know Jay but I said, ‘Let’s go to him’ and everyone bonded and became good friends. With this record we knew it would be really fast, hard and heavy, but also we wanted to record it at home. We had been gone for 10 months of the year so we wanted to get back home, and going with Jay was a no-brainer. He’s just like one of us. He’s the brains behind Defeater, and those guys are just killing it right now. It just made sense to record with him. I told him where we were coming from on the new record and he put his everything into it, I’m telling you. I’m so thankful that he did too.

Lastly, since it’s your first time here, what can Aussie punters expect from a Vanna show?

Dude, expect anything. Anything can happen. The other night a trashcan was circulating the crowd and kids were getting inside of it and throwing themselves around. I try to climb anything I can, and Joel our guitarist likes to climb shit too, sometimes he doesn’t feel like playing anymore and throws his guitar into the crowd and lets them play it. We want school, work, any bullshit that drags you down during the week, to fade away. All we want is for you to have half an hour with us where you just lose your shit. I don’t care if you mosh, I don’t care if you hang from the ceiling, whatever it takes for you to lose your fuckin’ mind and stop worrying about your problems or girlfriends or boyfriends. Even if you don’t even know the band. Even if there are kids in Australia who don’t really know our music but are keen to find out what we do and who are, just come to a show. I don’t care if you buy a CD or a T-shirt, that stuff is nice too, but please just come to a show and get wild with us, because that’s all that matters. We’re also gonna be doing a couple of house shows in between the bigger shows so it’s gonna get crazy! And I hear Australia goes hard. I hear you guys are wild, so I don’t wanna be disappointed!

Vanna will be tearing it up across Australia supporting Norma Jean from May 2-7, and then doing it all again on their own headline tour from May 8–19. Dates below!

Vanna Tour Dates

Thu May 2nd – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane (18+)
with Norma Jean and Safe Hands
Tickets: taperjeanmusic.com

Fri May 3rd – The Hi-Fi, Sydney
with Norma Jean and Safe Hands
Tickets: taperjeanmusic.com

Sun May 5th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
with Norma Jean and Safe Hands
Tickets: taperjeanmusic.com

Tue May 7th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide
with Norma Jean and Safe Hands
Tickets: taperjeanmusic.com

Wed May 8th – Karova Lounge, Ballarat (18+)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra, A Call To Anguish and Eyes Wide Open
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Thu May 9th – The Barwon Club Hotel, Geelong (18+)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra, Empires Fall and Exposures
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Fri May 10th – Beez Neez, Frankston (18+)
with Storm The Sky
Tickets: moshtix.com.au

Sat May 11th – Bang, Melbourne (18+)
with Storm The Sky and Sierra
Tickets: Available at the door

Sun May 12th – Wrangler Studios, Melbourne (AA)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra, Save The Clock, Driven To The Verge and Left For Wolves
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Wed May 15th – The Basement, Canberra (18+)
with Storm The Sky and Sierra
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Thu May 16th – Annandale Hotel, Sydney (18+)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Fri May 17th – The Entrance Leagues Club, Bateau Bay (18+)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Sat May 18th – Crowbar, Brisbane (18+)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra, Bayharbour and Wanderer
Tickets: oztix.com.au

Sun May 19th – Expressive Ground, Gold Coast (AA)
with Storm The Sky, Sierra and Dethrone The King
Tickets: oztix.com.au


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