The record starts off with a familiar track in “Juice”. I had seen the group perform this song on Phil Way’s YouTube channel Buck Fiddy Productions. The track reads almost like a vapor wave Pink Floyd with raspy vocals, digestible guitar shred, some nice post-chorus tags, and a healthy synth solo all compound to make the track interestingly representative of the live sound I had experienced via Buck Fiddy.
“Displacer” features a similar groove with a slightly bluesier skin at the onset. This feel begins to have a back and forth with some synth led space that evokes sci-fi motifs, before the track kicks in to double time for a bit of a freak out. One final reprise of the A section closes out the song.
“Fungus Drudge” opens with some watery ethereal synth chords before kicking into the same groove, albeit a bit slower. Some buzz saw power chords definitely harken a bit to 90s and 00s grunge/post-grunge movements, but this effect is offset a bit by the dreamy falsetto background vocals and what seems like a tasteful electric piano/organ mix. Half way through, this vibe is cast off in favor of an interesting 6/8 motif where, for a while at least, one beat is dropped from every third measure (of each four measures). This culminates in a bit of a vamp style jam, which dissolves into a dreamy reprisal of the first section.
“Donye Wump” breaks up the rhythmic feel by steering toward a post-punk disco aesthetic with punches packed by both dynamic dance bass lines and guitar licks that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dead Kennedys track. A hard left turn is taken with a proggy note flurry, which leads into a half time blues jam, which eventually makes a move toward the diabolical. A wild metal section appeared! Truthfully this section did not do it for me, and took me out of my enjoyment for a bit, but surely some will enjoy this. I can understand the irony of this section as it relates to the name of the song, which does indeed lend merit to the section.
“Slag Basilisk” is essentially a radio length prog instrumental. At just over three minutes, it’s a shreddy little number complete with some creepy vocoded vocal samples. In a blink of an eye “Lyndis” begins and we are suddenly transported to George Benson land. Personally, I’m alright with this. Classic Motown style drums and delay laden guitar chords work together with huge sounding reverb soaked vocals to make this track a true standout. The track almost sounds as if it could provide the main samples for a 90s style hip hop classic.
“Mage Hand” provides a welcome staccato intro and some delightfully off time drum work. A Rhodes based breakbeat groove leads to some long sweeping distorted chords, which eventually gives way to a huge synth melody. This song, to me, is an ethereal blur of Japanese video game sounds, and I probably can’t sum it up any better than that.
“Peregrine” is apparently a type of falcon. The musical backdrop of this “falcon rock” is a high octane four on the floor dance groove which alternates between chugging riffs and more open anthemic melodies. Eventually this groove gives way to a fast breakbeat space that just might remind a person of a certain bird taking flight. The falcon jam that takes place could be described as wholly unnecessary yet completely within reason. Chaotic yet serene. Fearsome yet graceful. It encapsulates the living dichotomy of a being that has the ability of flight, yet spends many moments on the ground or in the trees. Like a falcon, this jam takes a calculated dive unto it’s prey, which translates to whipping out the Japanese video game tones again. The falcon jam winds itself down into the peaceful serenity that radiates from the bird who has caught it’s prey. It’s not often that an album has a perfect ending that also involves birds of prey, but this is indeed one of those times, friends.
All things considered, this album from Vaporeyes was quite an enjoyable experience. For their bravery, honor, a noble heart, and elite bird references I hereby award Vaporeyes one squillion falcons out of a possible squiventy flozen falcons. Is this a good score? Probably, but only the bird of prey knows for sure... One thing though is for sure... You are going to get to know the gents that are responsible for this record.
photo by Danielle Marie
photo by Tom Fucillo
EB: Hey gents! First, congrats on the new album. How does if feel to get your second record out?
VE: Thanks a lot! It feels great. It sucks to not be able to tour the record right now, but we are just happy it's done and out now. We're also very grateful that people seem to like it so far.
EB: Where did you record this album? What was the process like?
VE: We recorded the album at More Sound Studio in Syracuse, NY. We also did the first record there. A lot of albums we all love were cut by this team, notable bands being Dopapod, Jimkata, and Root Shock.
EB: Were there any challenges found in the making of this record that had never popped up while making the first one?
VE: Absolutely. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the album. Luckily we all live in the same house, so we perfected the songs we had and ended up writing more. The album turned out longer because of the extra time. Once the studio was able to cautiously open up again, we all got negative tests and went in there and basically didn't come out until the record was done. It was stressful until we walked through the doors and got started. Working with More Sound has always been wonderful, and I just love the studio experience.
EB: Can you tell me a bit of history about the band?
VE: We've been playing for a long time. We've gone through plenty of phases with different members and styles, always with myself, Sean (drums) and Shannon (bass). We always had fun, and that's what it was all about. We didn't really care or necessarily know that we weren't too good for... quite a while. We were just having fun. We played shows with a lot of our living heroes, probably before we deserved it. Once we decided to take the band musically and professionally serious, things started to change. We'd do tours and runs with revamped material from the old days. Soon enough we had started to write what became the self-titled album from 2019 and forming our sound.
EB: Give us a bit of info about your first album. Where was that recorded? What was that process like?
VE: The first album was also recorded at More Sound in Syracuse. The process for this one was great, very straightforward. Steve Sopchak recorded and mixed that one, and he knew exactly how to capture what we were going for. When we record, we play all together, live with a scratch vocal take. Once all the instruments are good to go (any flubs fixed and stuff like that) I'll go in the isolation booth and do the final vocal takes. Then we nitpick for as long as we can in the mixing sessions, and when we can't nitpick anymore we send it off to Jocko the sonic genius for mastering.
EB: Was there anything that you didn’t like about the first album that was considered while making the second album?
VE: Honestly, no. I'm very self-critical and I'm still quite fond of the first record. I think we all feel that way, but just felt more free to get weird and a bit darker on Cantrips.
EB: Can each of the members give a bit of personal background? How did you get into music? What are some of your interests outside of music?
VE: We're all pretty similar. Sean, Shannon, and I (Jonas) all come from musical families. Patrick the guitarist is the anomaly, I guess. He has a music industry degree with an audio engineering minor. Shannon majored in music, I minored. Sean is just like a prodigy or something. You could hand him a piece of trash and he'd play good music with it. Other than that, we love the outdoors, playing D+D, our dog Sydney, and the type of things most people like. Movies, games, music. Food. Alcohol. Y'know.
EB: What are the members individual influences for playing music? This could be bands, players of instruments, and even non musical things.
VE: Our inspirations are kind of all over the place. We all love and are pretty directly inspired by bands like Lotus, Pink Floyd and Vulfpeck, but individually we are kind of all over the place. Everyone’s got a unique voice in the band, but all of our voices seem to work pretty well together. On a personal level, I’ve always been inspired by bands like Pink Floyd, Deftones, and Lotus but what I’m currently obsessed with changes all the time. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of heavy and shoegazey bands like Nothing, Slowdive, Marriages, and Chelsea Wolfe as well as her new project Mrs. Piss (not joking. It’s fantastic.) I love the juxtaposition of soft vocals on heavy or darker music, and I think there’s some of that on the new Vaporeyes record. Sometimes I’ll go on kicks like that. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Aesop Rock, Emma Ruth Rundle, Idles, Miles Davis, Washed Out, Herbie Hancock, Nothing, Tycho, Mac Miller, Cough…. s--t man, seriously I could go on forever. Working at a record shop, I am constantly taking random albums home, falling in love, and going into a deep hole obsessing over an artist’s discography. Inevitably that trickles into my own work, whether it be Vaporeyes, Evil Key, or folk tunes.
We ended up tying the new album into the campaign of Dungeons & Dragons we’ve been playing as a band a bit. Cantrip is an old scot word for "spell", and it is also the type of spell in D&D one can cast at any time. Lyrically, I wrote songs about my real life thoughts, feelings and events as always, but also made them relevant to our fantasy story we were crafting together. To me, this album is personal and real but at the same time fantastical and a piece of escapism. Each song is sort of like a Cantrip, or different spells our party collectively casts. EB: If you could all play at any venue on earth, what is your dream show?
VE: I guess it'd probably be Red Rocks. It's beautiful and I think a place pretty much every band wants to play.
EB: Are there any local musicians that you feel deserve a spotlight or shoutout?
VE: Absolutely. We love what Jimkata is doing right now. They're pretty close by. Pat says Jess Novak deserves a shoutout for her awesome live streams over the lockdown. I'd like to shout out Ian Doherty for his streams as well. There are so many artists and bands in the area that are incredible, but sadly can't do much at the moment. We are thankful every day for the unique position we are in, living together.
EB: Favorite Star Wars film of each member?
VE: I have to go with Empire Strikes back, the perfect sequel and the only one to not be screwed over by the special editions. Shannon and Sean both say Rogue One. Pat says "I'll say Phantom Menace." and then smirks.
EB: How did covid impact the development of Vaporeyes? Did you guys lose a lot of gigs?
VE: We lost a short tour and some other stuff along the way, which was the initial plan of funding for Cantrips. It sucked, but luckily our fans and friends and family wanted to hear the album enough that they helped crowdfund it into existence. We wrote more songs, and we were also able to afford more time in the studio than before. So while it sucked, I think weirdly enough the album ended up better than it would have.
EB: Do you have any advice for musicians that are just starting out?
VE: Either learn covers to start with or deal with the fact that a lot of your early material is going to likely suck. There are of course exceptions to this rule but... we weren't one of them. Just kidding. Don't listen to my BS. But for real, do NOT stop. Everyone that continues to try will get better, and get somewhere. EB: What are the future plans for Vaporeyes and it’s individual members?
VE: We are ready to start messing around with new Vaporeyes material, now that the album is done. But that of course won't see the light of day for quite a while. I recently put out my first rap album under the name Evil Key, and I am deep into the production of another right now. I do folk stuff too but haven't had a release since 2018. That'll happen again before too terribly long. Pat recently put out his solo album "Good Grief" under the name Pat Tato, and it's definitely worth checking out. It spans a few genres, but Google says it's "Neo-Soul" and I think that's actually a great descriptor. Sean also put out a deep house EP under the name Echosonic, and he doesn't talk enough about it. I will blow that sh-t up for him. Check it out.
big thanks to Vaporeyes! great job with the new album guys, and good luck in the future. thanks for reading friend. stay evil....