Off The Record with Vinyl Theatre
Vinyl Theatre is an electronic-alternative band from Milwaukee, WI, consisting of Keegan (Vocals, Guitar), Chris (Keys), and Nick (Drums). The band has found gradual success since they first popped at the scene in 2013. Their success can't be pinpointed by one or two songs but by a body of work that has captured the minds of their most loyal fans. Releasing EP's such as Chromatic and Gold helped launch the band into the electronic-pop scene that has been heavily influencing this generation of musicians. It wasn't until their debut album Electrogram (2014) was released that the band started to see a rise in popularity and a more core fan-base. The breakout hit of Electrogram was the summer tune to listen to "Breaking Up My Bones". The band toured nationally opening up for Twenty One Pilots and making their way onto big festival shows all across America. Now, the band has since released their sophomore album Origami which has found it's own success as well with songs like "The Island", "My Fault", and "Speak My Mind". Recently the band stopped by St. Louis and we had the pleasure of speaking with them about their evolving sound, touring, and what is next for them.
Interview w/ Vinyl Theatre
OTR: Welcome back to St. Louis.
VT: Thank you, we're glad to be back.
OTR: We've been following your career since 2015 when we saw you at the amphitheater opening up for some pretty big bands. What is one thing you guys have learned from those bands and touring?
VT: There's a lot actually that we've learned, I think the biggest thing we learned on those tours when we were opening up is packing lightly. Packing our gear accordingly so we could get on and off the stage as quickly as possible, being practical about gear. We also learned how to perform by watching a lot of those bands, how to move a crowd and when to play instrumentally. We learned a lot and we keep learning a lot more.
OTR: You have been building this big following over the years,Vinyl Theatre fans have even made separate fan accounts for each of you. What are your fan interactions like now that you're back on the road?
VT: When it comes to our fan base they're pretty awesome, they love the band but there's definitely more people interested in watching what Nick does because they're drummers or love seeing what he does. When it comes to Chris I can't count the times people have said how much they love his dancing and his energy on stage. All three of us are trapped behind our instrument and we've embraced that and harnessed that energy for our live shows. Our personalities too, Nick is pretty funny on social media. Yeah, Instagram and Twitter, it's all about the meme's. Chris too, he's always posting the perfect updates about what's happening on tour and even the recording process.
OTR: I'd like to talk about Origami your sophomore album, you can definitely tell that the album IS a sophomore album with you guy's carrying over some of what you did on Electrogram but also allowing yourself to experiment more with different sounds and instruments. Was there any pressure recording Origami?
VT: Not really, we had 30 or so days in upstate New York in a studio with two great producers and it was the most stress free zone. We would wake up at at 11 or 12 o'clock and walk into the studio and record all day until 2 or 3 in the morning. Yeah, I miss those guys, we would make 2 pots of coffee and be on so much caffeine for the entire day. It was still a relaxed environment but it was the also the first time we recorded in a big studio. I guess the only stressful part was before we began recording, picking which songs to record because we had written so many songs. Choosing what direction to go and picking the songs was the most stressful part. It wasn't really stressful but figuring out the direction of the album was hard.
OTR: Writing so many songs for the album was there ever a song or two you wish you could have added but just quite didn't fit?
VT: We feel like that happens a lot, even for this last record. The worst part about creating an album is having other people tell you what should be on it, thinking about why a song should be on it. "This would be great for radio" or "This hits this demographic and this does this". We just want to make songs and we feel cutting us off for those reasons is ridiculous. There's been some songs where we finally feel like we've made some steps forward that people will recognize not just live but on a record. We commit to putting these long instrumentals or weird things and sounds on the signature or whatever and it gets cut because people don't understand it. Someone who isn't a part of a band doesn't understand how important that is for us to grow in peoples minds and do different things. We naturally have always been inclined to do really weird stuff and we feel we get simplified when other people tell you what to make. We're definitely not doing that now and it feels good to be making new songs and ripping down those boundaries I guess. To add to that, when we were working on "Breaking Up My Bones" a long time ago that was more experimental for us. We were just having fun and making a weird track and it caught fire, we were sitting there thinking "this is weird". We couldn't even wrap our heads around this song and what we were doing and then it was done and it did very well. The best thing is not knowing that you made a single, it's an album track and then it does something. We've only done it once but god I hope we do it again [laughs]
OTR: On that same topic, do you ever feel beholden to the fans? Making music they want to hear as opposed to music you want to make?
VT: Definitely, we kinda felt pigeonholed by Electrogram in a way. There was a surge of indie-pop music at that time but we weren't doing anything out of character from who we were, these were the songs we learned how to make together the first time we ever wrote a record together but when we made Origami we weren't trying to be like "forget that old music" it was just a departure in a good way, like this is growth. Like you said, you can see the influence from the previous record but we do feel that sometime's, the pressure, comments from fans essentially telling us "write another album like this, write another song like this". There's always some part of you that wants to give the fans what they want and you kinda hope that they accept the stuff you put out.
OTR: Now that you're near the end of this tour, what is something you guys have discovered about yourselves on this tour?
VT: We had to come to terms on some pretty serious stuff on this tour, I think a lot of us, like our whole small team that run this whole thing and work with us have grown a lot closer. Relationships are very important when you're traveling with seven people in a van, it's hard to maintain that. We've had a ton of great shows and we're just thankful to everyone who has come out to them. We can't emphasize that enough, we never take for granted that people show up. We watch all the ticket sales ourselves and it's nerve wrecking. There's probably a handful of exceptions where we've stayed after every single show that we possibly can and meet every single person who's there. We appreciate it.
OTR: So what's next for Vinyl Theatre? Is there a third album?
VT: The true answer right now is we don't know what is going to happen in terms of making a third record. There's so many songs that blow a lot the songs out of the water which is great because now we can pick and choose what we do but write more of the songs we want. If we had to say any kind of influences, more of a rock record, influenced by more of the bands we like and we're not going to be afraid to do more of the extended cuts on those songs like when you see us live, recreate that live feeling and deliver that experience on a record.
OTR: Thank you for your time, can't wait to speak with you again soon.
VT: Thank you.
Thanks to Chris, Keegan, and Nick of Vinyl Theatre for sitting down with us and if you want to keep up with Vinyl Theatre follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @VinylTheatre across all social media platforms.