October 13

Interview: Playing to Vapors

About a year ago, I played a set on a bill with a solo version of Playing to Vapors back in Columbus, Oh.  Lo and behold, the full band is playing in NYC this Friday (1am) at CMJ Music Marathon – a showcase at Rockwood Music Hall.  I’ve actually been hounding Columbus bands to play CMJ for the past few years, so it’s good to see them out and about in the lower east side.  (Maybe in the future, and with a little luck, I’ll get that yearly Ohio showcase at CMJ that I’ve been wanting to set in motion).  Anyway, I corresponded with Luke and Daron over the weekend.

st. lenox:  So, musicians in Columbus.  I had The Electric Grandmother for an interview a bit ago, and every time I hang out with other Columbus musicians, I’m always trying to get at what they think is special about the Columbus music scene.  What’s your take?

Daron: We’ve been playing in the Columbus music scene for a long time now, and so much has changed in the last decade.  The diversity among genres has truly blossomed, and the quality and professionalism has really developed.  Each year it seems like every band in the city raises the bar one step higher.  This is an exciting time to be a part of the Columbus music community.

st. lenox: Any bands currently in Columbus that you’re a big fan of?

Lucas: Tons!  CBus is a talented town.  The Worn Flints are fresh off a huge opening slot with Alabama Shakes, and we all love those guys.  The Cordial Sins are about to drop a record that will blow minds, and the same goes for Friendly Faux and the High Definitions.  Betsy Ross is starting to develop a bit of a buzz around town, and they have some incredibly catchy rock songs.  Every time I see Turtle Island they impress me more and more.  The list truly goes on and on.

st. lenox: I hear a lot of that later-era Radiohead influence in your music.  I’m sure you get that a lot.  But there’s a lot of other influences that I hear there.  Can you describe some of them? Like who do you think you’re influenced by.

Lucas: We’re all inspired by such a wide array of music that it’s difficult to pin it down to a group of musicians or even a genre.  Recently, we started an album club to keep up with the bands/records that each member is in to.  One album is picked every week by a different member, we talk about it, and rate it on a scale of 1-10.

st. lenox: This album club – what are some of the albums you listened to recently?  What was the standout?  Was there a clunker?

Lucas: Most recently, we listened to Gloss Drop by Battles, and Fashion Nugget by Cake.  Everyone seemed to enjoy those for the most part, but I wouldn’t say they were ‘stand-outs’.  I think Photo Album by Death Cab, Favourite Worst Nightmare by Arctic Monkeys, and Dots and Loops by Stereo lab all received strong reviews from everybody.  Those are the stand-outs in my opinion.     

A few that were negatively received were, Clones of Dr. Funkenstein by Parliament, Welcome Reality by Nero, and (the most heartbreaking for myself) The Swimming Hour by Andrew Bird.  It was hard to hear that the rest of the band wasn’t loving my favorite Andrew Bird record, but I’m sure it was just as hard for Josiah to hear that we didn’t dig Nero like he does … Dr. Funkenstein was weird though, I’m not sure even Zack really enjoyed that one all that much, and he picked it!

There’s always some disagreement, but in the end it’s a good dialogue and we learn a lot about one another.  

st. lenox: Are you working on anything new at the moment?  I realize Glitch in the Void was only released in April of this year.  But are you working on a new release?

Daron: Along with preparing for a busy show schedule in October and November, we have been preparing a number of new tunes that we will be recording this winter.  Our plan is to have a new release this coming summer.

st. lenox: Did you have a particular theme or concept going on in terms of Glitch in the Void?

Lucas: There is no specific theme or concept to A Glitch In A Void.  Even from purely musical perspective, every song has a different method for how it was written.  The fact that it sounds as cohesive as it does is a tribute to how close we were when writing it, and how well Daron did on the mixing/mastering side of things.

st. lenox: What do you think has developed since your release of Identities?  I’m listening to it now.  Aside from a production difference, there’s like stylistic differences there.  How do you feel you’ve developed or changed since Identities?

Lucas: I like to say that when we finished Identities we finally found out who Playing To Vapors was (which is why the EP was titled Identities).  So, for the first time ever, we were all on the same page about our sound during the writing of A Glitch In A Void.  That, combined with the addition of Zack on bass separated A Glitch In A Void from anything we’d done in the past.

st. lenox: Are you excited to play CMJ?  What do you want to get out of the experience?

Daron: We are very excited to be playing CMJ this year, and it’s always a pleasure playing in New York City.  We’ve not been a part of this festival before, so I’m not exactly sure what we’ll get out of it; however, we’re always eager to play in front of fresh ears, so at the very least it would be great to earn some new fans!