Milwaukee-based quartet Vinyl Theater are Fueled By Ramen’s latest “acquisition” and I feel like this band is going to bring much joy to the Atlantic/Warner Music label from now on.
Vinyl Theatre is made of Chris Senner, Keegan Calmes, Josh Pothier, and Nick Cesarz and they have a really cool synth-based alternative-pop sound. They point out The Killers as one of their musical inspirations, and I can certainly feel that “Killers” influence in their ADDICTIVE songs. Vinyl Theatre released not too long ago their debut album titled “Electrogram”, and they will soon be embarking on their first headlining US tour later this month (kicks off in Chicago on November 26th) – after opening for Twenty One Pilots earlier in 2014.
We recently interviewed Vinyl Theatre’s Josh Pothier to discuss about EVERYTHING. From the beginnings of the band, their signature sound and song creating process, “Electrogram”, representing Milwaukee or their upcoming headlining tour. Make sure to read the whole interview below!!! And click here to purchase “Electrogram” on iTunes or click here to stream all the album songs courtesy of YouTube. Vinyl Theatre is such a fun, high-energy band, and that synth-based sound definitely makes them stand out. Definitely worth checking out!
1. Why the name of Vinyl Theatre?
After brainstorming literally hundreds of different names, Vinyl Theatre was the only one that we felt captured both our sound and the overall feel/vibe of the band. When you buy a record on vinyl, it’s often for a band you’re truly dedicated to, and we want to be a band that attracts music lovers and fans with passion.
2. Vinyl Theatre is made of Chris Senner, Keegan Calmes, Josh Pothier, and Nick Cesarz. How exactly did you guys get together?
Chris and Keegan first met during a cross-country meet and started writing together over Skype while Keegan was going to school at Adams State in Colorado. They got Nick on board shortly after, and when Keegan transferred back home, things really kicked into high-gear, and shortly after I (Josh) joined up.
3. What's the song creation process like for you? (both your lyrics and productions kick ass!)
Thank you! The songwriting process for us is a little old-school compared to how a lot of bands approach it these days. We almost always write as a fully-assembled four-piece band, instruments in hand. Someone comes to the table with a melody or a hook they’ve discovered, and then we flush it out and try and turn it into a full song. We also write nearly all of the lyrics as a group. We want to make sure that these songs are a reflection of the band as a whole -- not any one individual.
4. You recently signed a deal with Fueled By Ramen which means you are also now part of the Atlantic and Warner family. How did the signing come about? Tell us everything from the first call to how you feel right now in your new "home".
When we first found out that Fueled By Ramen was interested, we couldn’t believe it. We knew they wanted to come see us play first, but we definitely didn’t expect them to fly out just to watch us in our drummer’s basement! We were super nervous for that meeting as you can imagine. We talked with them, played a few songs, and thankfully they liked what they heard, so a few months later, we signed! Everyone at Fueled By is unbelievably dedicated, and they truly treat us like family. We couldn’t imagine being on any other label.
5. You’re a Milwaukee-based band. It seems the music scene is rather small there. Does it feel more proud to have signed a record deal and be touring all around the U.S being from where you are?
We’re insanely proud to be able to represent Milwaukee. We were all raised in the Milwaukee area, so it truly is home for us. The music scene is definitely small, but thankfully through social media we’ve been able to connect with fans all across the world. Even still, a small music scene doesn’t necessarily mean a bad one! There are lots of great bands in Milwaukee.
6. How important has been Internet in the popularity surge of Vinyl Theater? I read that SoundCloud helped you a lot.
I think the internet has absolutely helped us get this band off the ground. Like I mentioned before, being from a city with a smaller music scene can be tough, but if you make the most out of every social media platform (which there are plenty of), you can still grow a sizeable and dedicated fan base on your own. Soundcloud, like you mentioned, helped us a lot because we happened to get a few songs on the “trending” page, which gave us a new level of exposure.
7. You officially formed Vinyl Theatre in 2012 and have been putting out new songs ever since. Your sound seems to be a blend of indie, rock and pop music. As I already said above your productions are brilliant, and your hooks super catchy. How exactly did you come up with your signature sound? Were you all happy? Maybe someone of you wanted to go more hardcore rock and roll?
The sound developed very gradually. There was never a point where we stopped and made a deliberate effort to tailor to a specific genre or follow what some big band was doing at the time. It was a slow evolution. Some of our older songs have more of a hard rock feel to them, and we may incorporate more of that in the future, but ultimately the songs reflect our feelings at the time, so I guess we have been feeling happy recently!
8. How much have The Killers inspired/influenced Vinyl Theatre’s work?
I would definitely describe The Killers more as inspiration than influence. We do our best to avoid emulating any one band, The Killers included, but emotionally and of course sonically they’ve always been a band that each of us looks up to and admires.
9. Your debut album “Electrogram” was released last September. It mostly includes songs from your independent EP “Chromatic” – which you had released online a few months earlier – as well as some brand new songs. Tracklist is a total of 8 songs. Did you hope to include/record more new songs for the album?
There were other songs that we considered adding, and certainly could have, but we were adamant about keeping the album affordable. We also wanted to make sure that every song was equally representative of us and our vision, and a few of the tracks we thought about adding still needed some work.
10. One of my favourite songs on the album is “Shine On”. It’s a very positive and optimistic record. What’s the story behind it?
"Shine On" is all about perseverance. “Like diamonds, we’re built with time,” is a line that rings true to all of us in the band, and when we wrote “Shine On”, we were going through some stressful times that forced us to buckle down and work our hardest. Instead of turning it into a somber, slow song, we decided to take a positive spin and write a song that could help people persevere through tough times.
11. Although you just released “Electrogram”. Will Vinyl Theatre fans have to wait too long to hear new songs from you?
I doubt it! We are always writing. We’ve already got tons of new ideas in the works that we’re in love with. We don’t have any plans for new releases set in stone just yet, but definitely keep an eye out! We also love doing covers, which you can find a few of on our YouTube channel.
12. You recently finished a tour opening for your label-mates of Twenty One Pilots. Do you have love for Twenty One Pilots? And what was your favourite crowd?
We have tons of love for Twenty One Pilots! We won a contest and opened for them randomly about two years ago -- way before we were even on Fueled By Ramen’s radar -- and we’ve all been superfans ever since. Being able to actually tour with them was a dream come true. I think our favorite crowd had to have been Milwaukee. There were other crowds that definitely went as nuts as the Milwaukee crowd, but having all of our friends and families there to see it was another layer of awesome!
13.You will now be embarking on your first headlining tour across the U.S very soon (kicks off in Chicago on Nov. 26). What will you bring to the new tour that you didn't on the “Quiet Is Violent” tour with Twenty One Pilots? AND, what can first-timers Vinyl Theatre concert-goers expect from your show?
More songs, more energy, and a bigger performance! Our set time will be longer than what we were allotted on tour, and we’re super excited to be able to play more of our songs. Who knows, maybe we’ll throw in a cover or two! We’re still working out all of the details. For anyone who hasn’t seen us before, bring your dancing shoes! We love bringing the energy and just having fun.
14. If you could pick a song from another band you wish you had originally written and recorded which would it be and why?
I think it would be “Who Let The Dogs Out” by The Baha Men. I’m not sure there’s another song that has stood the test of time better. That, or Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega. Same reasoning.
Just kidding. Maybe “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey? Who doesn’t want their song to be the highlight of every karaoke night for the next forty years?
15.Thank you for your time guys! Best of luck with everything. Is there any last thing you'd like to share with our Directlyrics.com readers?
-Thanks! Just make sure that if you come to a show, stick around afterwards and say hi! Being able to meet fans face-to-face is one of the best parts about what we do.
Headlining Tour Dates (get tickets here!)
11.26 Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
11.28 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
11.29 Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club
12.02 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
12.03 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection Front Lounge
12.04 Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
12.06 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
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