M897 Artist Spotlight: July 2015
Lansing rock band is 'Starting Over' to prove rock ain't dead
Story by LCC Radio Staff Reporter Sarah Spohn
rock trio Vandalay has seen their fair share of changes, within the band and the
industry; but they’ve learned to rock ‘n’ roll with the punches, year after
For guys that have been playing together for a decade, stocked with heavy riffs and a lofty fan base, switching up its tried & true formula was tough.
Made up of Ben Warner ( guitar, vocals), Dustin Stoner (bass, keys, vocals) and Jake Greenwood (drums, keys, vocals), Vandalay formed in 2012. The songs and stories started long before that though, in a harder rock band. Stoner spoke about the band’s beginnings.
“We all played in a band that was called Cadillac Casket,” Stoner said. “That band lasted for about 5 years before we decided to go in a different direction, which ultimately led to the beginning of Vandalay.”
Drummer Greenwood spoke about the transitional period after one band had come to an ending.
“About eight months after the Cadillac Casket period ended, Ben, Dustin and I decided to start up a new project with a different musical direction (more accessible),” Greenwood said.
The new band’s name is a nod to pop culture’s own iconic NBC television show, “Seinfeld.”
“It’s a reference to the show ‘Seinfeld,’ Greenwood said, “where the character George uses that name throughout the series as his alter-ego and, sometimes, scapegoat in social situations.”
The band hasn’t been dodging any opportunities lately though, as their summer months are packed with live shows and spreading the word about their new EP.
The first material released in years by Vandalay has been a long time coming, if you ask the band.
The group’s EP ‘Starting Over’ was released on Tuesday, June 30. Recorded at Elm Street Recording Studio, the guys spent about three months working with engineer Ryan Wert and producer Scott Owens.
Stoner spoke about the making of ‘Starting Over.’
“The EP is very representative of the current state of the band right now,” Stoner said.
“The sound is something different for us and our fans as well. We were very eager to put it out there and have people dive into it. We are all excited about how it turned out and it is a great reflection of what we are doing with Vandalay.”
The band describes the process as amazing, although lengthy. “Working with Ryan as the engineer and Scott Owens as our producer was an amazing experience,” Stoner said. “They were involved heavily from the beginning and helped to shape and develop every single song on the EP.”
Given years of knowledge as engineer and producer, the band also brought into the studio, years of material to record.
“We took our time more with this record making sure each song was the best version it could be,” Stoner said.
And fans have been waiting eagerly. The band has a strong presence in Chicago – with one of the members living there as well as Lansing- home to another member.
Crowned as the 2014 Q-106 Homegrown Throwdown’s champion, Vandalay saw a surge in Lansing area fans after that winning moment- a moment that almost didn’t happen at all.
“Winning the competition was amazing in so many ways,” Stoner said. “During the first and final rounds, our former lead singer had to make a tough decision and leave the band to seek a different opportunity, leaving us without a singer going into the final round.”
“The moral had dropped and we didn’t know how we were going to keep moving on within the competition. Luckily, a friend stepped in and did a great job singing and ultimately helped us win the competition. Support from our fans during that period was inspiring. After winning and seeing that support, we felt on top again.”
And now the band is riding high again, after the positive response to their newly-released EP. They also snagged the chance of a lifetime to open up for one of their biggest influences growing up.
Performing at the Common Ground Music Festival on Wednesday, July 8, Vandalay performs alongside Jane’s Addiction and Alien Ant Farm.
It's an opportunity the band members are calling surreal. Once the band got an email from a booking agency, they were in disbelief, but quickly accepted the offer to play the festival along their alternative rock inspirations.
Stoner spoke about the upcoming gig. “Being a fan of 90's rock, I have known Jane's Addiction as far back as I can remember,” Stoner said. “They were a staple on that era of 90's alternative rock and are relevant today. I'm still in a bit of shock that we'll be playing the same venue at the same night.”
Besides Common Ground Music Festival, you can see Vandalay at the following shows:
July 17 - Cubby Bear / Chicago, IL
July 18 - Flint Local / Flint, MI
August 14 - The Ritz / Warren, MI
August 15 - The Foundry / Jackson, MI
August 22 - REO Town Art Attack / Lansing, MI
‘Starting Over’ is available digitally at vandalaymusic.com