Interview: The Vansaders

bill bodkin gets into an empire state of mind with the nyc-born indie band…

The Vansaders walk the line of rowdy and refined. Their bourbon-soaked blend of punk, country and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll is the type of sound that’d easily be the soundtrack to any heavy night of drinking at your local dive bar with a group of close pals as well as those lonesome nights of drinking by yourself. Their music has moments of heart and heartbreak, of celebration and solitude. It’s the type of music Mike Ness would raise a shot to while shooting a look of “hey these guy are good” over to Johnny Cash. And in today’s alt-rock musical culture which keeps racing towards becoming the second coming of New Wave; listening to The Vansaders is both refreshing and exciting.

Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin caught up with the band prior to their record release party at New York’s famed Mercury Lounge on Saturday July 14.

Pop-Break: It’s a simple and almost overdone first question, but, your band has a really unique name. Can you talk the origin of the name of the band?

The Vansaders: Vansaders is our drummer Rob’s last name. It sounded fun, and since we also very quickly became a tight-knit group of friends who hang out together, using a family moniker seemed right.

PB: The style of music you guys produce is an excellent combination of country and punk, but it’s not exactly a style that’s a lot of bands are putting out there today, which I think is pretty awesome. Why did you decide this style would be the sound for the band?

The Vansaders: That’s really nice of you to say, thanks! Definitely wasn’t a conscious decision, but rather just how the songs came out as everyone got their hands on them. We each got to put our individual stamp on them without having to compromise much about it. The style, structure, harmonies, leads, etc. are the result of the five of us working on it together.

PB: You just released a new, self-titled EP (which can be listened to on the band’s Band Camp site). Can you talk about how The Vansaders have grown as a band since you released your last EP?

The Vansaders: It’s a lot like how the songs came together. When you start out some members know each other and their playing style, others are just getting to know how they fit within the gears of the band. We’re all really good friends now and almost always know what the other is going to do or think as a musician. It’s this closeness that makes being in our band fun and helps us create music we are all really proud of.

PB: You’re playing a big show at The Mercury Lounge in New York City this weekend — can you about how you’re feeling going into this show? Is there more nerves here because of the renown of the venue?

The Vansaders: We’re super excited! We worked extremely hard on this record and are really proud of it. We’ve also have had tons of support from our friends who will be celebrating just as much as us at the show. The Mercury Lounge is somewhere we all have wanted to play since we started the band, and easily one of our favorite spots in the city, so getting to play it as our record release show is perfect.

PB: You guys jam a lot in New York City, can you talk about the indie music scene there? There’s just so many bands out there, is it difficult to get gigs and/or noticed by fans and tastemakers? And Doug, since you’re local to the Jersey Shore, can you compare the New York and Asbury scene?

The Vansaders: You are absolutely right. The music scene in the city is so flooded with all sorts of different stuff, which makes it difficult to establish yourself in a particular scene. Getting gigs hasn’t been hard but developing a fan base certainly hasn’t been easy. People have so many shows that they can go see on a given night that we have to work extra hard to make sure they come see us. I find that in Asbury Park, the scene is so closely knit that everyone knows each other which makes the majority of shows packed with friends. It’s also much more focused in terms of musical style which makes it easier for venues to match bands up which provides for awesome nights of music.

PB: Going back to the album, what would you say is the definitive songs on it? A song that someone who’s never listened to you before should download to get what The Vansaders are all about?

The Vansaders: We think four tracks from the full length will really stand out as who we are. “End of the Line,” “Highway to the Sun,” “Silverbacks” and “Revelry.” Those four tunes really run the gamut of what we like to do with our music – the common theme being melody rooted in the rock ‘n’ roll, punk and country music we’ve all grown up with.

PB: Do you guys have any plan of touring?

The Vansaders: We are planning on playing a ton all over the north east for now then touring in the Spring.

PB: Hypothetical — you guys get to tour with two bands that are your peers, who would they be and why?

The Vansaders: There are lots of bands we’d love to tour with but Frank Turner and American Steel come to mind the quickest because of how often we’ve listened to their records together over the past year. George Jones still tours as well, that would be fun.

PB: And finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2012?

The Vansaders: Plans are to play as much as possible and try to get as many folks as we can to check out the record, and come out to a show for a beer or 5.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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