2013 is shaping up to be a big year for From Indian Lakes. Riding high on the success of their late 2012 sophomore album Able Bodies, the band is currently spending two months out on the road with Lydia on the Devil North American Tour. idobi editor Eleanor Grace caught up with vocalist/guitarist Joey Vannucchi and guitarist/keyboardist Rick Gutierrez at the Toronto stop of the tour to talk about the new record, their decision to stay independent, the climate of the music industry for independent bands, and much more.
Your new record Able Bodies came out just about five months ago, and five months isn’t a super long time, but it feels like this record has brought you guys to a new level. How do you feel about where you’re at as a band right now compared to right before the record came out?
Joey: It’s completely different. I mean, we’ve probably gained twice as many fans as before this record came out. We’ve done a couple bigger tours — this is a bigger tour, with Lydia. I think the music’s so much more…I mean, I think it’s a pretty huge difference from the first record to this record. Musically, it’s a big change, and our live show is pretty different.
Rick: Yeah, we had to be kind of conservative about new songs before the album came out, so this is the first time we can really just play a lot of new stuff and get it out there.
Joey: It feels like we’re more the actual band that we’ve been for the last year and a half or two years, whereas the older stuff just felt a little more rough around the edges. The new stuff is all much nicer to play.
Obviously there’s a big difference between doing your first record when you don’t really know how everything works and then having that experience to bring to your second record. What were some of the things that you guys approached differently with the new record than with the first one?
Joey: I mean, the guys gave me a lot more freedom to just do whatever I wanted. That was one thing for me personally. I think we sort of approached it like, whoever has the best idea, just go for it. We left a lot of stuff a lot more open this time, kind of got over ourselves.
Rick: It was kind of a “whatever it takes” mentality. Going into the studio, we had to raise money real quick, so we sold our vehicle and just did pretty much whatever it took to get into the studio.
Joey: We just did whatever. Which is cool. I think a lot of bands either become a new band their second record or they are afraid to do anything that’s too different. But for some reason, there just didn’t feel like that much pressure. We just did whatever and it felt like a natural progression.
As you mentioned, you guys are out on the road now with Lydia. How’s that been so far?
Rick: Yeah, it’s been really cool. The shows are topping the last one every night. So it’s been a good experience. Seen a lot of new places this tour, like going down south, New Orleans and some places in Florida and stuff that we’ve never been, so it’s been pretty cool.
Is there anywhere that you haven’t been able to hit up on tour yet that you’re really dying to get to?
Joey: Well, we haven’t really done anything besides America and Canada. So, for me, anywhere else — we’re trying to get that stuff going right now. The UK, all that. We just want to make sure that it’s…we don’t necessarily want to go just to go. Another thing with this album is that we’ve gotten to a point where we get to say no to like, a lot of labels and a lot of tours and different stuff. And we’re not having to do a tour that’s gonna be like, bad for morale. So yeah, we’d like to go to those places when it’s natural. We don’t want to force it.
Rick: We’re all definitely eager, though, to get overseas.
You mentioned something interesting, which is being in the position to say no to certain things. What have you find has been the most difficult and the most rewarding part of that?
Joey: I mean, the big one for us was that we had talked to several different labels last year, and we had the record done for a while, but we were just trying to see what we wanted to do with it. And the big one was saying no to all these different labels and finally almost finishing contracts with one and then backing out of that one. And you kind of see bands who say no a lot and they don’t know when to stop and then you see those bands like, hanging around, and you always wonder why they didn’t go for certain stuff. So I think the scary part is figuring out when to say yes. But — people don’t realize it, but there’s a lot of stuff we’re saying yes to in the background. I mean, there’s a lot of independent bands that aren’t doing the tours that we’re doing and all that So I think that if you’re saying no to one thing but saying yes and putting your energy into other things, it can work out.
What do you guys think about the climate for bands right now with doing independent releases? It feels like there’s a lot more support for that now than even a few years ago.
Rick: I think that the whole label experience is kind of like a old industry where they still play by the same rules with record sales and that kind of stuff. Whereas right now, kids are gonna buy it online or they’re gonna not buy it. So there are a lot more opportunities for kids to get your music than you would think, and our experience at least has been just overwhelming with everybody that has supported us going into independent things. I don’t see why some bands would not want to do it, cause there’s a lot of benefit from it.
Joey: I mean, I think that labels definitely still have their place. The labels we’ve talked to, where we talked to them and said “No thanks” before, a lot of them are coming back and seeing where we’re at now and realizing that we weren’t being jerks or anything like that — we’re just trying to have a career and be smart about it. And they’re saying, “Okay, we get it.” And they’re sort of changing the way they look at stuff, like, maybe they will understand that we need to keep our digital rights because that’s where our paycheck comes from. You know, that kind of stuff. So, labels are starting to get it. I’m interested to see what happens in the next couple years. But certain labels are killing it still. I mean, there’s a few like Roadrunner and those kinds of labels who have bands like Young The Giant, whose record went gold recently. Like, that label stopped signing like, uh…
Joey: Yeah, well, I mean, you said it. [laughs] They said, “Oh, here’s a really cool indie band, let’s just sign them.” People are starting to think outside the box and they’re doing things the right way.
Would you guys be open to working with a label in the future or are you liking how the independent thing is going?
Joey: I mean, we’re open to anyone who wants to help. It just has to be the right deal. People don’t realize that it’s not like, label or no label. The deal has to be right. Every deal for every band we know is different somehow and there’s all these different details, so I think if we saw the right deal and it made the most sense. We just don’t work with anybody that’s not a fan first and comes at it in a way where it’s obvious that they just want to see the band succeed before they think we’re necessarily gonna make them a ton of money.
I saw on Twitter that you guys were talking with Aaron Marsh of Copeland about maybe working on some guest vocals. Has that developed past the idea stage?
Joey: Well, him and I emailed back and forth a few times, and I think it’s obvious that there’s a strong influence for me with his vocals and Copeland. I’m always surprised when people [make comparisons to] some really really harsh aggressive vocalists because I feel like people like him are more what comes through with all the falsetto and stuff. But I mean, I think that maybe somebody like him singing on something, it would have to be maybe a label or somebody would have to step in because I think financially, we would want to make sure that somebody like him, who deserves what he deserves, would be taken care of. But we’re not necessarily in a position where we want to pay to have somebody sing on a song as like, a marketing gimmick.
What did he have to say about your music?
Joey: He said he really likes the songs. So that was cool. That was a big deal for me — Eat, Sleep, Repeat is one of my top ten favourite records of all time. I know that’s not everybody’s favourite of the Copeland records, but I think with the production on Able Bodies, some people wanted that record to be a lot heavier, but I think that Eat, Sleep, Repeat had a huge effect on the way it turned out as far as how some parts can seem sort of thin and lighter. But I think that’s one of the reasons that it turned out, in my opinion, exactly the way we wanted it. We didn’t want to be a rock band that just went in there and rocked. I wanted it to be more of a journey.
So to wrap things up, I have a couple questions that are based off of your lyrics.
If you guys were to go straight home and look up every flight, where would you go?
Joey: That’s funny. If I could fly anywhere…I mean, I’ve been there, but I love it, so I would probably go to London.
Rick: Yeah, the UK. I’ve never been to London and I’ve always wanted to so that would probably be my first choice.
Joey: We would both go. We’d go together.
What is something for which you have no answers? It could be metaphysical or it could be like, why Blood On The Dance Floor has fans.
Joey: Woooah, nice! I’ve never heard that band.
You’re better off.
Rick: I like dancing.
Something you have no answers for.
Joey: I mean, I would say most things. I don’t know a lot about…anything.
Rick: I have no answers about anything automotive. I’m not a car person and I don’t ever plan on being one. Like, I think I might be able to get into motorcycles, but I will never fix cars.
Joey: I have no idea why anyone would wear shoes but never tie the laces.
Rick: That is a style, believe it or not.
Joey: We’re from the west coast, so we’ve been seeing a lot of that lately and we can’t figure out why people are doing it.
Rick: Really dangerous.
Is there anything that you guys would like to find out the answer to over the course of life, in music or in anything?
Joey: Oh my gosh.
It’s a big question, I know. We’re gonna end on a big note.
Rick: Man, there’s so many things. But I don’t want to know them all too soon.
Joey: I mean, I think eventually finding out if there’s like — there’s the big stuff like if there’s a heaven or hell or any of that stuff. I think that’d be interesting, obviously, but I don’t want to know that tomorrow. I might be depressed. So I guess what I really want to know is what this movie is that Ryan Gosling is in [referring to the movie poster directly across from us]. I’ve never even heard of this, but it’s got him, he’s got all these face tattoos. Ryan Gosling is apparently electric in this movie, based on Somebody Weekly. It’s called “The Place Beyond The Pines”. And Bradley Cooper is in it, and so is Ray Liotta. [laughs]
Rick: In theatres April 5.
Joey: That’s just so confusing. Who knows what that movie could be about.*
*According to IMDB: “A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.”