Friday 16 December 2011

I Am The Avalanche . Interview with front man Vinnie Caruana

Wednesday evening in London and the Est.1987 team head down to the Barfly in Camden to check out I Am The Avalanche’s final show here in the UK
We caught up with front man Vinnie Caruana pre show…

Hey Vinnie! So, tonight is the last night of the UK tour- How's it been going so far?

Vinnie Caruana- It's been amazing. We haven't been here in a long time so we just came to have a look and see what was going on. We've been playing small rooms which is perfect for us. We hope people like us, which is nice to know and it's something to build on for sure. It's been nice to come over here and make our presence known again. 

When you first started the band you toured in the UK before America. Is it always nice to come back to the UK where it all began?

VC- Definitely! Last night we played at The Peel and that was where we played our first show ever, so it felt pretty special. I mean the last few years we've been pretty inactive so it's been nice to come back and revisit our first show and see how far we've come. Playing the new record in the place where we played before and didn't even have our old record, it felt good. Whilst playing the songs it was like "cool we made a good record and now we are in the same room playing it". I think we've progressed in a nice way. I was thinking that whilst we were playing yesterday. 

Even though you've been off the radar you seem to have kept your fan base- I guess that's kind of reassuring to see and also a testament to your music?
VC-  I think there's definitely something there- a connection that we have and I don't think that we lost it with people that like us. They're [the fans] very loyal and we're pretty lucky, it's pretty rare. We're not Radiohead, we've always been a small punk band. For us to be able to do that, kind of lets us know that the music we write hits them; they relate and connect with the music enough to not forget about us after all this time. 

I Am The Avalanche

The new record "Avalanche United" came out in October and although it's taken six years for this follow up, you've still been touring and writing in the mean time. Are you fed up of people assuming you've been stagnant since your debut in 2005?
VC-  Yeah! I get really annoyed with people saying "where were you the last six years?" And it's like, we put out a record and then toured for three years, so you can take three years off of that! I would read press and stuff and that would be the lead of every story; "after six years they've made their return" and it’s like well no no no, we haven't released a record in six years but we didn't disappear. We toured for a really long time off the last record. We did go away for a bit too long but luckily we got away with it.

Do you enjoy writing in that way where you don't have a time constraint on turning out an album and let it evolve more naturally?
VC-  Yeah. [laughing] We don't plan on writing for five years next time. But if we put out a record when we wanted to put out a record, like four years ago, it would not have been a good follow up. We were experimenting with a lot of things and it took us a little while to figure out what kind of band we wanted to be and what we were. I'm grateful for the time. I got to spend a bunch of time with my family and my friends and just live at home again which was a nice thing after all the touring, so that was a plus. Also, we wouldn't have had this record; we might have had this record as a third record or something. We were doing some strange things and I go back and revisit it. Some of it we kept and some is just completely not us. 

How would you say the record's changed over the years?
VC-  I think we realised we were a punk band. We didn't know what we were when we recorded the first record and then went on tour. After a month of touring we were playing the songs twice as fast as we had recorded them. We knew the tempo needed to be up then the melodies and everything started coming out in a catchy way. We've never called ourselves pop-punk which a lot of people like to call us; but I don't like it when people call us that. I think we just do our own take on punk music. We don't do what a lot of other bands do and I don't sing about what a lot of other bands sing about and that's really important. I don't want to be “lumped in”, I'd rather just be "I Am The Avalanche", just me. It seems like people enjoy being lumped in these days. It's like "we're this genre" but then what happens when you're not that genre? Are you going to play that style of music forever? We make sure never to pigeon hole ourselves. 

Do you think your next record will change again?
VC-  It will evolve I'm sure. We've already been writing songs. It'll evolve but we're not going to abandon punk rock because that's the kind of music we want to play with each other. That's kind of where we're at; our take on punk music will continue to progress and evolve but the energy and the vibe of everything isn't going to go anywhere. 

Brett Romnes, your drummer produced the latest album; do you feel you had more creative control because he was doing it in house?
Vinnie Caruana on stage in London 
VC-  We had all the creative control. We made our own schedule, we recorded exactly the way we wanted to record it; no one told us "change this part, change that part, sing like this". It was all just us and Brett, we call him The Ratt. I would sit in a room with him and we would just talk about music and my ideas for the vocals and he would help me out with things here and there. It didn't feel like he was producing the record, it just felt like we were making a record together. It didn't feel like someone from the outside was constricting it, which was nice. I don't think we need that. I think that if we had a producer on this record then it wouldn't have come out as it did. Some things would have been compromised. 

The new record seems heavier than the first- was that a deliberate decision?
VC-  Yeah. It's heavier and the tempos are way up so it's more aggressive. That's just the way it came out and the way I sing is just the way my voice sounds now years later. It's a little gruffer and I'm ok with that, it’s interesting, it hurts sometimes. 

How long are you going to wait until your next album?
VC-  We're already writing it and will record it next winter. We’ll tour all next year, record it next winter and have a spring release. 

What does the future hold for "I Am The Avalanche"?
IATA- debut album
VC-  We're just going to keep doing everything that we've been doing; which is play everywhere around the world, make sure that we go back in timely fashion, and make up for everything that we haven't done over the last few years as far as touring and stuff. Things are going well, people love the record, at least they tell me they do and I've read some great things. There’ve been few and far between bad reviews so it's nice and it gives us confidence going into the next record knowing that people are definitely going to listen. But we're just going to build and by the end of next year hopefully we will be playing in bigger rooms and succeeding. It's not like rock stardom, we just want to be able to do this for as long as we can, and we want to be able to write these songs and make our own impact on punk music. It would be nice to just have people look back and consider our records to be important. 

We always like to ask what have you been listening to recently and who do you recommend we check out?
VC-  For the past two weeks on this tour, riding around the English countryside, I’ve been listening to  Billy Bragg, Morrissey, Future Islands, Jets To Brazil, Pedro The Lion, EyeHateGod and Das Racist. 

And here is what happened when I Am The Avalanche took to the stage...

I Am The Avalanche
Lead singer Vinnie admits that the band have been on the road for two weeks now and have smelt better! But I Am The Avalanche [IATA] are a band that seem to thrive from the live shows and the experience it brings. Their ever changing tempo and set is an affect of playing each song live and how it evolves. Tonight is no different; IATA bring to the stage a buzz and enthusiasm that is natural and which draws the audience in. The venue is heaving as charming front man Vinnie and the IATA boys take to the stage opening with the first track of the new album; “Holy Fuck”.

IATA are delivering their own take on ‘punk’ and bring debut album tracks “New Disaster” and “This Is Dungeon Music” back to life, playing harder and faster. The audience is attentive, shouting the lyrics back onto the modest stage here at the Barfly. The raucous and playful “Amsterdam” is followed by the more heartfelt “Symphony”, dedicated to the late Bayside drummer John "Beatz" Holohan.

I Am The Avalanche on stage at the Barfly

Vinnie admits that he isn’t a fan of encores and the set ends in a flurry of crowd sweat and crowd surfing, and that’s just from Vinnie himself. “Gratitude” and the anthemic “I Took A Beating” conclude this evening’s show. The crowd are left wanting more, which I guess is IATA’s ultimate aim; to be that punk band that you come to see time and time again and experience each show in an entirely unique way!