Happy Mondays Interview: The Vansaders

Written By Laura Curry

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In anticipation of their show tonight at Wonder Bar, Pop-Break interviewed The Vansaders to learn more about the themes explored in their music, songwriting inspirations and their most recent EP “This Time Around.”

Who are The Vansaders? (Names of the band members & the instruments you play): The Vansaders are Doug Zambon on vocals and guitar, Kyle Zupancic on bass and vocals, Jay Maranzino on drums and Deaglan “Dex” Howlett on guitar and vocals.

How would you describe the sound of your music in just a couple of words: We always struggle with this, but I think a fair assessment would be genuine rock with subtle hints of folk and punk.

The Vansaders are based in Asbury Park, and have been since 2012, right? You guys have had plenty of time to become well known around Asbury Park; what has it been like as a part of Asbury Park’s music community the past couple of years? What do you like most about its music scene: Asbury’s music scene has been incredibly accommodating. There’s no shortage of inspiration, whether it be the abundance of other exceptional musicians, the venues and most importantly, the people who come to see us play and give us support.

Since your interview with Pop-Break in 2014, you’ve released two more EPs and played a countless number of shows (and Doug has done a bunch of solo acts—I saw him at the Rail House in Rahway for an acoustic set a couple years ago). How has everything been with The Vansaders since then? What’s changed, what’s stayed the same: Everything has been great! We’ve had a lineup change or two since then, but we’re all on the same page musically. We’re always trying to change for the better, and I think if we do this interview again in the next 2 years, things will be massively different again.

Over the course of releasing your full-length album “Stuck in New York City” and your two EP’s “Jumping At Shadows” and “This Time Around,” how do you think your music has evolved: I think we’re pushing ourselves further and trying to concentrate a little harder on the nuances in songwriting. Not only writing songs with sensible chord progressions, but focusing on different vocal melodies and multiple harmonies.

Some of the songs on “This Time Around” seem to be about finding ways to forget about your problems or simply distracting yourself from the negatives in life by drinking the night away, getting high or running away. And then other tracks seem to confront those problems head on like “Fire That Burns.” Is this accurate? What is “This Time Around” about as a whole? What are the themes at work on the EP and how do the songs carry out these ideas: I think that’s partially accurate, but I believe the theme of “This Time Around” is a lot more positive and upbeat than “Jumping at Shadows.” I’m not sure if those themes you mention on the record are things that present themselves during the songwriting process, or if it’s something you notice after it’s complete. Lyrically, the album is highly relatable, but the way the songs are constructed musically and melodically really bring everything together. There’s only so much you can say with words. the-vansaders-this-time-around

I feel like the lyrics of your songs give listeners so much to think about along with some allusions and metaphors to figure out. Because of this, the songs are open for interpretation, leaving more room for listeners to relate to the lyrics. Is this the intention when it comes to songwriting? And more specifically, are the lyrics usually based on actual personal experiences? What acts as inspiration for song lyrics: Absolutely and always open for interpretation! That’s most of the fun, isn’t it?! It’s easier and more natural to draw on personal experiences, but that’s not always the case. For example, the song “Bullet” off “Stuck in New York City” is based on the murder of Jeff Doucet and the mindset of Gary Plauche. Inspiration is a funny thing, it usually comes out of nowhere and when you least expect it. The key is to acknowledge and appreciate those pockets of inspiration and try to capture it with a song.

I’m struggling to fully grasp what “Moving Home” is about. It’s clear that so many strong emotions are expressed in this track, and I’m wondering if you could explain the meaning behind this song? What inspired this track: “Moving Home” is one of those tracks that is a story with layers of personal experiences. I think the inspiration of “Moving Home” comes from an event that our generation experiences in great numbers. There’s so much emphasis on obtaining proper education, generally with the promise that you’ll be fruitfully rewarded for doing so. The reality of the situation is that there’s a lot pride swallowing in your mid-twenties, and one of them is moving home. It’s a humbling experience and your mind tends to focus on regret and the idea that you’re letting people down.

On “This Time Around” what song is a favorite to perform live? What is it about this song that makes you enjoy playing it at shows: I think we all enjoy playing “Fire That Burns” a lot. Doug had the song 95% written, but we had just composed it about a week or two before we recorded it. The small amount of time between finishing and recording made it a fun experience. Also, we were playing it live one time and recorded it, but Doug’s guitar broke, and we were all dying laughing listening back to the track.

This question might be cheesy, but if you look back on the year, what memory or performance stands out the most for The Vansaders: Closing out the Bouncing Souls show at Stoke for Summer was an awesome experience. We had a great group of friends there, plenty of beers and a lot of quality photos.

What are your goals for the rest of the 2016? Are there any upcoming shows that you’re most excited about: The goals are to keep writing some new tunes, play some really fun shows, and then try to hit the studio again in early 2017. We’re all very excited for RACKFEST at The Saint on 12/16, because it’s just going to be a ridiculous night. If you can’t make it there, here’s where you can catch us:

11/28 – The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park

12/16 – RACKFEST @ The Saint Asbury Park

12/23 – Mill Hill Basement, Trenton

1/24 – Pianos, NYC

THE VANSADERS PLAY TONIGHT AT WONDER BAR AT 8 P.M. WITH GARDEN STATE LINE AND TICO.

Check out one of their earlier songs off their debut album, “Stuck in New York City”:

Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.