Monday, 6 April 2015

Vast Robot Armies Q&A

Band name: 
Vast Robot Armies.

Who else is in your band?
John Agee: Vocals, Bass and Guitars
Joseph Wells: Guitars and Bass
Chris Metcalf: Drums
and myself: Jason Thomson Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards

How would you describe yourselves?
I always find the question tougher than it should be. Not from the sense that we have this great, indescribable sound. No, it’s more so from the fact, I think I have a hard time consolidating what I love listening to (what inspires me) and what someone from outside of it all would hear when they listen to us. 
I’ve been told; alternative, space rock, some sort of prog, even 90’s era Canadian indie rock. Personally, I think it lives in all of those worlds. When we were demoing Little Creatures, I often told John and Joe that I was listening to nothing by ELO and Steve Miller, while writing the vocals to the songs I sung. I also recall mentioning to Allen (Epley) our Producer, before we recorded, I felt the sound lived somewhere in the 90’s alt/indie rock stylistically but drew inspiration from 70’s pop for it vocals. Allen said he didn’t hear it. Which made me rethink that. That's what brought me to the conclusion that what I think we sound like, sounds nothing like what others hear. So, I’d describe us as a band that is true to its inspirations and itself in what it is, and sounds like.

Who are your main influences musically?
Ha. Ok, Well, as I mentioned above, some of the classics: ELO, Supertramp, Beatles, etc. But then it goes everywhere: Tears For Fears, The Cure, Ratt, Van Halen. Finally bands we sound closer to: Jawbox, Fugazi, Shiner, Failure, Blinker The Star.

What do you hope to achieve in music?
I hope to achieve an existence or niche where we can continue to do what we love doing as a band - writing, recording, putting out albums. Having special event shows. Given our geographical challenges (we are a band that are based in two countries, Canada & US, and three cities, Kansas, Toronto, Chicago) it makes playing live an interesting challenge.

What has been the highlight of your career so far, and why?
Honestly I’d have to say this record. I’ve been part of seven records and two EPs with various bands. The first Vast Robot Armies record, “Goodnight Myopia” was a fun challenge in that I always wanted to be a one man band for a record. Well, the reality vs the fantasy for that that wasn’t quite what I imagined. It’s lonely and quite hard. With Little Creatures, having met John and Joe only once before we recorded (four-day weekend months prior) and the friendship that organically developed over the last year, was one of my eye opening and favorite experiences (beyond the music). It really was a true “making a rock record experience” it was always about the record. Everything we did for the months leading up to it. Our focus was unshakeable. The distance helped. Sometimes with bands that live in the same town/city, everyday life can get into the mix and gum up the works. Which is understandable. With us, there were no distractions, or at least none that were obvious on a day to day level. You know, that scenario where someone is all shitty, and having a grouchy day in the rehearsal space kinda deal.
When it came time to record we have one, and only one actual practice as a band, which makes this record really special. It truly was a moment captured, for better or worse.

And what’s the moment you want to forget?
Oh that’s easy. My quasi sulk/melt down in the studio when It was my turn to do vocals for the record. The first half day got off on the wrong foot, I completely lost my voice. I don’t mean like no voice, I mean I forgot my range and couldn’t get into any sort of comfortable picket, which was coming through in the vocal takes as struggling, pitchy vocal takes. I allowed myself to go down the negativity rabbit hole. It was helping no one. Thankfully, John Agee is an amazing singer, and we switched to the songs he sang on until I got my shit together (it was a real foot stomping, chain smoking pout I had for half a day). Also the good that came out of that that was we discovered parts I had originally sung, worked better with John and I splitting the load and John taking over some of the parts, which give the album a more dynamic vocal feel.

If you had to pick just one of your songs to represent your music, what would it be and why?
One? Seriously? That’s tough. I guess the song that best captures about 50% of what we do would be “In The Other Room” but really that’s hard question. The record really does go all over the place, and I don’t mean that from a “This is the best thing we ever wrote” band hyperbolic kinda declaration. The record really does sonically move into a lot of different sounds. Allen Epley and Eric Abert at Electronic (the studio in Chicago we did this record) have a huge hand in that.

Where can we listen to it? 

Where can we find out more about your music? 

Anything else you’d like to say about your band/music that I forgot to ask?
I’d just like to say thanks to you, for asking these questions, and thanks to anyone who  has every checked out stuff out and dug it.

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